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What to do for your plants after a hard freeze
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GO: Guide to Growlers

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Well, we have gotten through this freeze and it’s time to figure out what got damaged and what did not.

One thing to keep in mind is sometimes it takes a few days to notice any significant damage to your plants. Therefore, scout now and double check a few days later to ensure you did not miss anything.

It’s unlikely, but we still can get a cold snap. So do not act too quickly and begin pruning damaged areas on your plants. The dead tissue can act as an insulator against more damage that might occur with another freeze.

My suggestion is to wait until you can see new growth in a couple of weeks and prune the dead material at that point. Prune down to a healthy live bud and let that be the new growing point.

This year also may be a good time to prune several times throughout the growing season. This will help thicken any shrubs that get spindly. Take it slow and prune only a little at a time. You can always take off more later. 

One thought coming to mind is to fertilize the shrubs and lawn thinking it will help it recover. Now is not the time to fertilize. Wait until you know we are past a threat of cold weather and you have significant new growth on your plants.

Plants need to be actively growing before they utilize any fertilizer. If not, the fertilizer will just run off and contaminate the waterways and Lake Lanier.

The same goes for your lawn. Unless you have a tall fescue lawn, wait till you see 50 percent of it green before fertilizing. A fescue lawn can be fertilized now since it is actively growing.

The only good thing about the freeze is its effect on crabgrass. Any plants that have germinated probably got nipped back, but plenty of seed is out there and can still germinate for the year. However, it’s not too late to apply a pre-emergent herbicide for crabgrass control.

It will take a while for things to get back to normal in our landscapes, so be patient. It looks like our next big hurdle is the continuation of the dry weather and the drought that will start again this spring.

Let’s all hope for rain this growing season.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension office in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears biweekly and on

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