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Getting ready for Jack Frost

Garden professionals give advice about how to prepare for the first hard frost

December 1, 2011
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - The first hard freeze is on its way - the only question is when, but probably sooner rather than later.

It's definitely time to start thinking about protecting lawns and trees.

"Lawns, it's probably too late, but we usually recommend a winterizer, a fertilizer designed to get them started in the spring," said Jason Farber, manager of Greenwood Nursery. "It's not too late for trees. They need a tree wrap to protect them from sun scald and rodents."

Farber said in the wild trees get stunted and don't grow as fast as well-cared for trees, and are vulnerable to girdling by deer. When deer chew the bark in a circle around the trunk, it cuts off nutrients and kills the tree.

Clinton Wostrel, hardware and seasonal manager at Wal-Mart, agreed it was probably too late to do anything about lawns.

"You still can put it down but I wouldn't recommend it at this point," Wostrel said. "There is probably a freeze coming and the ground is too hard."

Wostrel recommended taking smaller plants inside if possible and putting up plant protectors of wrapping shrubs in burlap to prevent freezing.

Rona Hansonl, department manager at the Wal-Mart Garden Center, recommends plant protectors and mulch.

"For the trees, it depends on what tree," Hansonl said. "You need to put a tree wrap on them to protect them from critters, and mulch around them. I use grass clippings and pack them around the roots."

According to Hansonl, snow actually provides insulation for the roots of trees, but when there is no snow a thick mulch is necessary to insulate them.

"Without snow you really want to put a lot of mulch on them, "Hansonl said. "With roses, clip them and put a rose cone on them."

A rose cone is styrofoam with a hole at the top so the plants can breathe, Hansonl explained.

Christine Lehman and Kim Jergenson are co-owners of Blue Green shop in Marshall, which has a variety of ornamental plants.

"They need to keep watering until the hard frost because they need all the water they can get until it freezes," Lehman said. "It's been so dry."

Jergenson said evergreens can be protected against moisture loss with a commercially available spray.

According to the National Weather Service forecast for the Marshall area, the temperature on Wednesday night was predicted to drop to as low as 23 degrees F, and 13 degrees tonight, rising to only about 32 degrees on Friday.



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