Garber: Freeze protection tips for your yard
October 13, 2012
Both plants and sprinkler systems are vulnerable to freeze damage. With temps going lower, it’s critical to protect both plants and the sprinkler system.
Whether plants survive at around 27 degrees is questionable because several factors apply: the exact temp the thermometer hits in your yard, the type of plants, how well they are protected by buildings and other shelter, and the material you use to cover them. All of these factors play into a plant’s survival below 32 degrees.
If you love your plants, it’s worth making the effort to get them through the next two nights so you can enjoy them through Indian summer.
What you can do
> Cover annuals and veggies overnight – but avoid using plastic as it does not insulate.
> Use fabric – such as a towel, sheet or blanket as a covering.
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> Leave some air space below the cover so the plants can breathe.
To minimize losses, harvest un-ripened tomatoes, peppers, etc., and bring them indoors. Green tomatoes will continue to turn color after they are inside.
Be strategic and protect the most expensive part in your sprinkler system: the backflow prevention device.
This part is required on all systems because it keeps the water that’s in your sprinkler system from backing into the domestic water inside the house. It’s also the most vulnerable part of your system if there is a freeze. Find it outside the home and usually, next to the foundation.
There are two small parts on this device that can freeze:
> The bonnet and poppet assembly. If it freezes, it will blow apart and water will run until it’s shut off. The flooding can cause serious property damage and lead to a $100 or more repair bill.
> The valve. A broken valve is another problem and another $100 or so in repairs.
How to protect the backflow device from freeze damage:
> Turn the valve handle at a 45 degree angle.
> Wrap the device with a towel to provide insulation.
> To keep moisture out, cover the whole device with a plastic bag that you secure with duct tape around the bottom.
If you have not yet scheduled having your sprinkler system winterized by blowing out the lines with compressed air, schedule your service appointment soon.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.