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Cold Exposed Areas

The cold climate gardener often faces limitations in plant choices due to low temperatures and desiccating winds. To ensure success without relying on winter protection, it is crucial to opt for the most resilient plant species that can withstand the harsh conditions.

Wind Scorch

Gardens located in exposed areas often endure strong winds and challenging winter soil conditions. The soil may become dried out due to the strong winds, or saturated with water from heavy rain- this can lead to waterlogged conditions. The cold weather can also cause the soil to freeze. These problems combined can cause wind or leaf scorch- resulting in scorched, brown, dry leaves.

The best way to prevent this from happening is providing windbreaks- they can be created using various materials like netting or woven hurdles. 

Timing

In cold areas, the growing season is often shorter. Start planting as soon as the frost is out of the ground in spring and try to extend it as long as possible in the fall. Use cold frames, cloches, or row covers to protect young plants from late spring frosts or early fall freezes.

Planting

  • Soil– Cold exposed areas might have soil that is less fertile and slower to warm up. Enhance your soil’s quality by adding organic matter like compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss
  • Position– If possible, plant on a south-facing slope. These areas receive more sunlight throughout the day, which can help warm the soil
  • Mulch– Apply a thick layer of mulch (straw, wood chips, leaves) around your plants. This will help retain soil moisture, regulate temperature and suppress weed growth. It also acts as a protective layer, against freezing and thawing cycles.
  • Watering– Even in cold weather, watering is essential. Plants may not require as much water as they do in warmer months, but still need consistent moisture.

 

Top Tips:

Try to purchase plants that have been cultivated in the same conditions they will be grown in

Many plants are susceptible to spring frosts- try to choose varieties that flower slightly later in the season or those that repeat flower