Monday, November 17, 2008

landscape and Turf - Frost Heaving

Frost heaving occurs in winters with significant freeze and thaw cycles. The following is an article on the subject.

Frost heaving results from the alternate freezing and thawing of soils. Heaving exposes the roots to cold and desiccation and is especially a problem on newly planted or shallow-rooted plants. Fall planted ground covers, perennials and small container shrubs are highly vulnerable (as is late planted turf grass). Ground cover plugs and small container plants should be fully planted in soil. This may sound obvious, but with a tendency to plant high, these plants are often found planted in the mulch rather than completely surrounded by soil. In addition, a uniform mulch layer aids in preventing rapid soil temperature fluctuations. In larger container plants, planting high in the mulch layer may expose the upper level of the root system enough to influence plant quality the following spring. Proper planting technique is the best defense against frost heaving. In turf, timely planting so that the grass puts on good fall growth and the use of straw over grass seedings will reduce frost heaving.

Perennials that frequently frost heave:
Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
Coral Bells (Heuchera)
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum)
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
Pigsqueak (Bergenia)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis)
Seathrift (Armeria)
Whirling Butterflies (Gaura)
Foamflower (Tiarella)
Foamy Bells (Heucherella)
Garden Mum (Chrysanthemum)
Painted Daisy (Tanacetum)

Frost heaving in Heuchera exposing roots to dessication.

Some information from a section of "Abiotic Plant Disorders - Symptoms, Signs and Solutions A Diagnostic Guide to Problem Solving" by Robert E. Schutzki and Bert Cregg, Departments of Horticulture and Forestry, Michigan State University Michigan State University. Go to for the full factsheet with photos. Other information and photo from an article by Cindy Haynes, Extension Horticulturist, Iowa State University.

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