Old Man Winter Is Knocking. EarthWorks Is Prepared to Answer.
As we approach winter, the memories of last year’s storm of the century have likely crept back into your minds. While we don’t anticipate a similar ferocious storm this winter, we wanted to share a few tips with you on properly preparing your plants, trees, and irrigation systems to minimize freeze damage if it should occur.
Last years’ storm left millions of Texans in the dark, without running water, and left parts of the state blanketed in ice. However, it appears to have done more damage to humans than our chloroplast friends. Although many landscapes did experience some damage, much of it was reversible with attention, care, and patience. While we don’t want to experience the fury of mother nature like that for a very long time, our team at EarthWorks would like to share some lessons from the storm.
1 – Shut off your irrigation system
In the event of deep freeze temperatures, the best thing to protect your landscapes is to shut off the irrigation system at the water source as early as possible before a freeze event. Many properties install freeze/rain sensors to detect freezing temperatures and rain levels that automatically shut off the irrigation system. You can read more about those here.
Some irrigation systems have valves and PVC piping that deliver water above ground, which leaves the pipes vulnerable to freeze in cold temperatures. If you recall from science class, when water freezes, it expands. So if the water in the pipes freezes, the pipes cannot contain the expansion of water within them, causing them to crack and leak. This can wreak havoc on your irrigation systems, not to mention your plants and properties overall.
If your irrigation system is installed underground, you are more protected from freeze damage since the soil around the pipes acts as an excellent insulator. While soil acts as an insulator, it also adds extra weight and, in turn, pressure on the pipe, which could cause cracking. Once cracks form in the pipes, repairs are unavoidable and are required before rerunning the system. Keep in mind that maintenance and repairs are inevitable because of the rocky and clay soil found in Texas, which is why we work with our clients to budget for proper inspections and care throughout the year.
Am I Leaking?
If you don’t see pipes above ground, you likely have an underground irrigation system. It is harder to spot a leak from an underground system but it may appear as a wet area on your grass, nearest to where the leak is located. An above-ground system leak is much more apparent. The leak will cause more pressure within the pipe, causing the water to gush out like a geyser. If you are still unsure, give us a call. We would be happy to come check it out.
2 – Trees and Plants Should Be Well Trimmed
As powerful as the storm was last year, our plants and trees in Texas actually fared pretty well, considering what they endured. Did many of their leaves turn an unappealing shade of brown? Yes. Did they look droopy and defeated? Also, Yes. But most varieties of plants and trees bounced right back once the state defrosted, and they were shown a little TLC. Check out this link for a list of plants and shrubs and how they faired in the storm, and what we did to rejuvenate them.
As we watch the mercury drop in the thermometer, we are often inclined to cover our plants to protect them from the cold, but this only makes us feel better, not necessarily the plants. One of the best preventative measures for your greenery is to prepare them well ahead of the storm or cold temperatures.
This can be done by;
- Raising or lifting the canopy of a tree: Removing low hanging limbs will help reduce some of the tree’s weight, adding a layer of preventative protection in the event of heavy ice or snow buildup.
- Cutting Back: Before the cold hits, cutting back perennials such as sages, salvias, and ornamental grasses helps to protect them from the cold while spurring new growth, preventing last year’s spent growth from mixing with the new spring mix.
Like the Scouts Say, Be Prepared
Although we don’t claim to have a crystal ball into the future, we are not anticipating a storm of last year’s caliber, but we feel that we learned something from it – the importance of preparation. If you have any questions about preparing your properties better before Old Man Winter arrives, please contact us today! Our team is here to take care of all your repairs, concerns, and questions.
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