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Plant Damage Due to Freezing Temps

Posted on: April 10th, 2013

Tree, shrub, and lawn damage in Denver and the Colorado Front Range due to freezing temperatures.

2013 Colorado Freeze: April 8th – 11th

photo_156photo_156The recent record setting freezing temperatures in Denver and along the Colorado Front Range will impact your lawn, trees and landscape. On April 9, the low temperature plunged to 9 degrees after a record daytime low high temperature of 22. April 10th’s low temperature of 6 degrees also broke the previous record of 7 degrees. Northeast Colorado received varying amounts of snow. In some locations snow covered the ground providing some insulation while in other places the soil was bare.

Bedding Plants

Exposed annuals and perennials may have been killed or severely damage. Some plants are cold hardy to 15 degrees F. However we experienced temperatures as low as 6 degrees at the Denver reporting station. In some instances, warm soils and snow cover may have insulated plant material.

Grass / Turf

Cold temperatures in of themselves will not injure the lawn. Injury occurs when there is frost on the grass blades and the lawn is walked on. Grass blades break resulting in brown footprint patterns. This injury is short lived, but unsightly. Injury can be averted by saying off the lawn till the frost melts later in the day.

Trees and Shrubs

Many shrubs already leafed out when the freeze occurred. Fruit trees had already leafed out as well. The leaves formed this spring will soon wither, turn black and fall. Some expanded buds look to also have frozen.

This year’s shoot growth may also have frozen. Primarily this applies to fruit trees.

Flower buds are more sensitive to the cold than leaf buds. Trees and shrubs that normally flower and produce fruit in the spring may not do so this year. If the flower buds are frozen they will not be replaced until 2014.

What will happen next?

The good news is most trees and shrubs will leaf back out later in the spring. There could be some twig dieback on succulent growth.

What to do:

Some early flower displays may require replacement.

Wait and see is the strategy on your trees and shrubs. Most of your “woody” plants will leaf back out over the next 2 – 4 weeks. Don’t be in a hurry to prune recently freeze damaged twigs. If they are still pliable give them a chance pruning the bare shoots in June.

Watering, fertilizing and insect control should be completed as usual.

As always, feel free to call us if you have any questions or concerns about your Colorado landscape.


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