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Seasonal Maintenance Tips
Winter Tips
Got Frost?
As you may have heard, we are expecting freezing temperatures in the Phoenix area through the weekend. Certainly, many of you are concerned with protecting your plants from damage. Here are a few tips on protecting your plants from damage.

Frost Plant Care Tips
1.     Know which plants in your garden are sensitive to frost. Some of the most common frost-sensitive plants that people in the Phoenix area plant in their yards are Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Natal Plum, Cape Honeysuckle , lantanas and the Red Bird of Paradise. Citrus trees can be frost sensitive. Non-native cactus plants may also be at risk. If your plants are new or actively growing they probably need frost-protection.

2.     If you have frost-sensitive plants in your yard -- I know I do! – re-think where to plant them in the most favorable places to minimize winter frost. The south or west sides of the property, near the pool, close to block walls, rocks or concrete that retain heat from the daytime sun, or under roof overhangs, eaves or patio extensions (but not in full shade). Plant them in a place where there's likely to be more protection and more warmth.

3.     Get a thermometer and compare the actual temperature in your yard to the local news forecasts. That way, if you know that your reading is always about 4 degrees colder, you'll be prepared for frost even if they say it will be a low of 35°F in Phoenix.

4.     To protect plants and trees from frost damage, they need to be covered. Use sheets, light blankets, frost cloth, or burlap. The best way to cover a plant or tree is to make sure that your cover touches the ground. This helps to retain all the warmth under the cloth.

5.     Do not use plastic to cover your plants. That traps the moisture under the tarp and damages the plant. Of course, in theory when covering any plant or tree you are supposed to do it such that the cloth is not touching the leaves or branches. Honestly, I have never constructed any apparatus over my plants or trees over which to place the frost protection cloth. Just don't use heavy cloth or blankets; when they soak up the moisture they can become very heavy and damage the plant.

6.     Citrus trees that have not yet reached maturity, and especially lime and lemon trees, need frost protection. It can be very difficult to cover large trees, but either do the best you can. Unless it is a severe frost, a mature citrus tree will most likely come back from frost exposure the following spring.

7.     Keep watering your plants evenly during the winter. Wet soil absorbs heat during the day. In the winter always water your plants and trees in the morning. That way the leaves will be dry by the time it starts to get cold at night. As always, don't overwater.

8.     Don't remove plant and tree frost covers if it is still dark, and preferably not until late in the morning the next day. Some of the coldest temperatures are just after sunrise.

9.     If frost gets to your plant, don't remove the damaged parts. They might not look great for a couple of months, but those dead branches and leaves provide protection for the part of the plant that is still alive. You can prune frost damaged plants in the spring.

10.     Many of the frost cloths available may be left on for extended periods without risk of harming.


Winter Watering Guideline
Recommendations below are for plants that are established in the landscape (in the ground about 2 years).

Lawn watering: approximately 20 minutes for each cycle/zone.
Summer grass (dormant Bermuda) - once every 30 days
Overseeded cool season grass (rye) - once every 10-14 days.

If trees and shrubs are on the same valve: watering for 3 to 4 hours
Desert Adapted - once every 35 days
High Water Use - once every 18 days

Tree watering: 4 hours
Desert Adapted - once every 45 days
High Water Use - once every 21 days

Shrub watering: 3 hours
Desert Adapted - once every 30 days
High Water Use - once every 14 days

Groundcover and vine watering: 3 hours
Desert Adapted - once every 28 days
High Water Use - once every 14 days

Cacti and succulent watering - if needed

Annuals watering – 20 minutes to an hour ;once every 7-10 days

Wildflower watering – 20 minutes to an hour once every 10-15 days

Note: These recommendations are a general guideline only and may need to be modified for your specific site conditions.

Spring Tips


Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and save your plants.  
  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
  • If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.