First Frost Date and Related Garden Tasks

first frost

Frost is a thin layer of ice which forms outside when the temperature is below freezing. The ice will cover everything at ground level and any low-growing plants and shrubs.


The ‘first frost date’ is the average date when frost is likely to occur in a region. To find the date for your area, do an online search. So what is the significance of the first frost date for gardeners and landscapers? There are several jobs around the garden that should be completed before the first frost date.


Tender house plants should be brought inside the house where they are protected from low temperatures. Also, tender bulbs should be dug up and stored inside.


Any summer vegetables (tomatoes, summer squash) should be harvested. Alternatively, they may survive the first frost if they are covered with a protective material such as garden fleece fabric.


Dig up and dispose of any diseased plants and weeds to prevent recurrence the following year.


Add compost to the soil followed by a layer of mulch. The compost makes the soil more fertile and the mulch prevents roots from being lifted by the ‘freeze/thaw’ process during the spring.


Now is the time to create new planting beds by removing any grass and covering the area with a layer of compost and leaves. In the spring the beds will be ready.


Plant spring flowering bulbs – daffodils, snowdrops, tulips and hyacinths. Add a sprinkle of bulb food to the planting hole to give the bulbs a good start.


Sow seeds for cold weather vegetables and make a note of where existing crops are planted so crops can be rotated next year.


Rodents and rabbits sometimes gnaw the bark of trees and shrubs during the winter, so it may be a good idea to encircle the trunks with a fine-mesh wire fence.


It’s a busy time – there’s plenty to do before the first frost to prepare a healthy, productive garden for the following year.

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