Freeze Warning: 5 Steps to Protect Your Lawn

frosty brown leaf during a freeze warning
frosty brown leaf during a freeze warning


The first freeze warning is coming, and while there isn’t much you need to do to prepare your lawn for it, you can take extra steps to protect your shrubs, flowers, and irrigation systems. Atlanta offers multiple first freezes, so you’ll get plenty of practice.

A freeze warning happens when the temperature threatens to drop below 32° F. The danger is that the water inside plants can freeze and cause the plant cells to burst. Avoid irreparable damage with these five steps.


1. Bring potted plants indoors


If your plants are in pots, the easiest way to protect them is to bring them indoors and share your warmth with them. They’ll return the favor with some fresh oxygen and a decor update.

If bringing plants indoors isn’t an option, shield them from the wind and place your plants close together so they can protect each other. The plants you’ll need to keep an eye on are tropicals, azaleas, tomatoes, petunias, and anything that is a warm-weather plant or a spring bloomer.


2. Cover tender plants


Plants are a living thing, so if you’re bundling up for the cold, you can bet your plants would benefit from this step as well. Take a few minutes to cover the roots of your plants with mulch and pine straw. Use linens or burlap to cover your plants and keep them shielded from the freeze. The cover should reach down to the roots to trap in heat. Avoid using plastics, as this will create condensation on the foliage. In the morning, once temperatures start rising, uncover your plants to keep condensation from forming.


3. Water your plants


It sounds counterintuitive to water your plants before a freeze. However, wet soil can help retain more heat than dry soil. You’ll need to water early in the day to avoid creating a sopping wet mess right before temperatures start dropping. When watering, try to do it without getting any of the actual foliage wet. Wet leaves will form frost that kills faster than just the cold air alone.

You should absolutely skip watering your plants if

  • The ground is frozen
  • There’s a hard freeze (at least four hours of 25° F)
  • The temperature outside is under 40° F

This step is quite particular, and if it’s not done properly it can actually cause more harm to your plants. Today’s Homeowner does a great job explaining the ins and outs of watering plants before a freeze if you need further instruction.


4. Protect your pipes at all costs


If there’s one thing you do during a freeze, it should be protecting your pipes. It’s a simple step that will prevent an expensive fix down the road.

Unhook your hoses and turn off the water that leads to your outdoor spigots. Cover the exposed faucets and spigots with towels or linens. You can also protect the pipes that lead to indoor plumbing by leaving a slow trickle of water running overnight. The last thing you want is to wake up to burst pipes.


5. Walk around your lawn


Your lawn is becoming brittle at this point in the year. When it was constantly growing and regenerating cells, your lawn could bounce back easily from being walked on. Now, you might notice the areas that are walked on consistently will be the last to turn green in the spring.

If there’s frost on your lawn, you can actually break the blades by walking on them. To keep your lawn as pristine as possible until spring comes again, avoid stepping on your grass.



It’s hot enough in Atlanta year-round to forget what it’s like to live in the cold. These freeze warning tips will help protect your lawn. It’s easy to convince yourself that you can use a break from lawn care, but a year-round approach makes your spring transition much smoother. If you need more pro tips, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you during these wintry times.

Other than that, take care to keep yourself warm too!



Topics: Fall Lawn Care, Freeze Warning, Lawn, Lawn Tips, Winter Lawn Care