First frost means protecting plants, pipes


Frost on the way for western Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. - The first frost of the season is upon us, and that means it's time to start protecting your landscaping investments.

Many plants are unable to handle the bite of morning frost. The icy dew can cause permanent damage. At Garden City Garden Supply in Missoula, special wrapping to protect plants from frost is now on shelves. It works by sticking metal hoops into the ground around the plants and covering them with wrapping that lets water and sunlight in, but halts frost formation. For harder freezes, warm fertilizers are used to keep the roots from getting too cold. Tomato and pepper plants are at risk because they take longer to ripen, leaving them exposed to early season frost.

Even colder temperatures are on the way as we officially enter autumn on Sunday. Below-freezing nights mean a risk to outdoor plumbing such as sprinkler systems. Getting sprinklers blown involves removing water from the system to keep the pipes intact. Paul Ronaldo of Paul Ronaldo Sprinklers doesn't recommend the alternative of keeping water running through pipes. It can cause a layer of ice on nearby sidewalks and can pose a hazard. Ronaldo recommends continuing to irrigate your lawn through the first month of fall to get plants plenty of water to ride out the winter months. These tips can keep your investments from being lost when a cold snap comes to Western Montana.

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