As we transition into November here in Middle Tennessee, we are about to experience our first freeze. Don't panic when your deciduous trees and shrubs defoliate, or when your lawn gets frosty. This is all part of the natural transition of the seasons.
Mother Nature always has a way of helping us to adjust to change. More often than not, a front bringing in cool weather is accompanied by a soaking rain. This is the best assistance Mother Nature offers to help plants to adjust and naturally go through the fall transformation of dormancy. The presence of moisture in the soil and the plants' root zones act as insulation to the roots to keep them from freezing.
There are a few things that you can do to prepare for a frost. Below is a checklist to make sure that your garden is ready for the upcoming freeze.
1. Disconnect hoses from spigots and disconnect spray heads from hoses.
2. Insulate exposed spigots with covers.
3. Flush irrigation systems.
4. Bring tropical plants inside, or store the bulbs to over-winter.
5. Bring in non-hardy plants and herbs.
6. Mulch perennial beds with 3"-5" of mulch to insulate (but not suffocate) the roots during dormancy.
Rest assured that this is the normal rhythm of fall. It is normal for deciduous plants to defoliate, and for other plants to slow growth as they focus their efforts underground. Taking some steps to prepare your garden for the cooler weather will ensure bright blooms and vibrant foliage in the spring. Embrace the changing season, and enjoy the late-fall weather!