Frost Protection – Tips For Defending Your Garden In The Winter

As the chilly embrace of winter comes, we must prepare to shield their beloved plants from the damaging effects of frost and the colder months.

Frost can wreak havoc on plants by causing cell walls to rupture, resulting in browning, wilting, and even death. But fear not, for you can safeguard your plants and ensure their survival through the cold months with some proactive care. 

In this blog post, I’ll go through some tried-and-true techniques to protect your plants from frost and keep your garden thriving through the colder months.

frosty winter garden

What does frost damage look like? 

Frost damage shows itself as a range of visual symptoms in plants. Affected plant tissues may appear water-soaked, clear, or discoloured, often turning dark or black as they freeze. 

Leaves and delicate plant parts can become wilted, shrivelled, and distorted due to cell damage caused by freezing temperatures. Additionally, frost-damaged plants might display signs of necrosis, where affected tissues die and turn brown or black. 

Stunted new growth might occur, and in severe cases, frost stress could lead to the demise of entire plants. It’s crucial to recognize these signs early to take prompt action and implement frost protection techniques to mitigate further damage.

Choose Frost-Resistant Plants

When planning your garden, choose plants that naturally adapt to cold areas. These hardy species are more likely to put up with frosty conditions without significant damage. 

Examples include conifers, hollies, heathers, and ornamental grasses. Research which plants are best suited for your region’s climate to give your garden a head start in dealing with frost.

Site Selection

The location of your garden plays a crucial role in frost protection. Position your garden in a spot that receives ample sunlight during the day. 

This sunlight will also help warm the soil, radiating heat to the plants at night, minimizing the chances of frost formation.


When it comes to frost protection, mulching emerges as a saviour for your garden. Surround the base of the plants with a layer of organic mulch, choosing materials like straw or wood chips.

This layer acts as an insulator, retaining soil heat and preventing rapid temperature drops. Additionally, mulch helps to maintain soil moisture, which can further aid in protecting plants from frost stress.

watering can


Proper watering is key to protecting plants from frost damage. Well-hydrated plants are more resilient to freezing temperatures. 

Water your garden early in the day, allowing the soil to absorb moisture before nightfall. Moist soil retains heat far more effectively than dry soil, establishing a more consistent microclimate around the plants.

Covering Plants From Frost

On nights when frost is due, a simple yet effective method of protection involves covering your plants. Use blankets, burlap, or frost cloth to drape over the plants. 

Ensure the cover extends all the way to the ground to trap the heat rising from the soil. Remember to remove the cover in the morning to allow sunlight back in.

What is the best frost protection for gardens?

The best frost protection for gardens includes a combination of strategies. These encompass choosing frost-resistant plants suited to your region, positioning your garden in a sunlit area, using organic mulch for insulation and moisture retention, watering early in the day, covering plants with blankets or frost cloth during frost-prone nights, and considering artificial heat sources like string lights. 

These measures also help safeguard plants from the detrimental effects of frost, maintaining their health and vitality throughout colder periods.

Use Heat Sources

You can introduce artificial heat sources to provide extra protection in extremely cold conditions. String lights or holiday lights can emit enough heat to prevent frost formation. 

Be cautious not to place these lights too close to the plants to avoid overheating or burning.

raised beds

Raised Beds to Prevent Frost

If feasible, consider planting in raised beds. Raised beds tend to drain better and warm up faster in the daytime due to improved soil aeration and exposure to sunlight. This can significantly reduce the risk of frost damage.

frost on plants


Cold winds can exacerbate frost damage by stripping plants of their natural warmth. 

Planting windbreaks, such as shrubs or fences, can help mitigate the impact of chilly gusts and create a more sheltered environment for your garden.

Should you water after a hard freeze?

Watering is most effective in the afternoon or evening following a freeze. This allows plants the opportunity to increase their temperature gradually. 

After a freeze, plants with soft stems and non-woody structures, including impatiens, cannas, elephant ears, agapanthus, amaryllis, begonias, philodendron, and gingers, can be pruned back to living tissue.

How to prune frost-damaged plants? 

When growth is concentrated near the plant’s base, opting for renewal pruning is advisable. 

To execute this method, gather loppers and, if necessary, a saw to remove all except the base where growth is apparent. This might entail retaining merely a few inches of the plant above the ground level.

Protecting plants from frost requires a combination of foresight, preparation, and proactive care. By selecting frost-resistant plants, optimizing your garden’s location, utilizing mulch, and employing coverings and heat sources, you can shield your plants from the harsh effects of winter. 

With a little effort, your garden can survive and thrive through the frosty season, ready to bloom with vitality when spring arrives.

If you would like to watch more videos and pick up some more garden tips, check out the Cottage Garden Playlist on YouTube, where you will find a new video every Sunday! Or click here for more garden posts.


1 Comment

  1. October 17, 2023 / 4:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing this article! Another suggestion I’d like to offer is to protect your outdoor pipes and draining hoses by insulating them. You can use foam pipe insulation or pipe wrap to create a protective barrier against the cold. This will prevent freezing water in pipes and pipe bursts.

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