Have you ever wondered why in the Spring your plants look like they’ve been uplifted from the ground leaving your roots exposed?  No need to be alarmed, frost heaving is normal and it comes from the freezing and thawing ground temperatures that happen during the colder months.
This fluctuation creates excess soil moisture underneath to push the dirt upwards and lift up the plant root, thus resembling a miniature volcano.  When the moisture on top freezes, it creates pressure down below and the cycle begins again.  Frost heave can occur in all soil types, but your soil is more susceptible if it does not drain well (i.e. clay or compacted soil). This phenomenon is also seen on public roads and concrete driveways.

So if want to protect your garden from frost heave here are 4 ways that will reduce your chances of having a miniature volcano come Springtime:

  • Add Organic Mulch – Make sure your roots are well insulated. Heaving will most likely occur in areas where there is no insulation. Mulching in the fall will insulate your plants and at the same time add beneficial nutrients.
  • Rake low spots – Heaving starts where there is a depression in the soil. If you have low spots you can rake and level.
  • Compost – Amending the soil with compost will improve drainage as well.  You can also add lime in the Spring and again in the Fall.
  • Plant selection – Some plants are not suitable for cold temperatures so make sure you choose hardy plants and select plants that do well in your zone.
Here are some perennials that suffer from frost heave if not protected:
  • Pincushion Flower
  • Coral Bells
  • Shasta Daisy
  • Coreopsis
  • Garden Mum

Take the time now to reduce the effects of frost heave in your garden before you have snow covering the ground. And of course, if you have no time feel free to contact us to protect your plants.

Do you experience frost heave every winter? What have you done to combat it?

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