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Is your home ready to withstand winter weather?

While they’re rare, hard freezes do happen in South Texas. A little planning will go a long way in preventing major home and landscape disasters.

Freezing temperatures are forecasted this weekend. Make sure your pipes are prepped and your irrigation systems are turned off.

Water run-off from irrigation systems is one of the most common hazards in San Antonio. Excess water spray freezes on sidewalks and roadways, resulting in black ice that creates dangerous driving and walking conditions.

All irrigation systems should be shut off for the winter. Don’t know how to turn it off? Check out our how-to videos whether your system is below ground or above.

Around your home and property:

  • Cover exposed pipe or faucets with foam, fiberglass sleeves, or even thick cloth (the thicker the better).
  • Seal openings that may be exposed to cold air or wind. Cold winds can speed up the freezing process.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Leave one cold water faucet on a slow drip overnight when temperatures drop into low 20s or teens.
  • Watch these simple, informative “Be Ready” videos to guide you on what to do for your pipes and other outdoor systems.

To help reduce potential damage to your landscape:

    • Do not apply excess water to your plants prior to a freeze event.
    • Pile mulch or leaves around and against plants and pipes 24-72 hours before the freeze. Remember to remove mulch once the weather warms.
    • Sheets, blankets, rags, etc. may also be used. Add a heat source if possible and safe.
    • If using store-bought materials, use woven products and allow plenty of space around the plant. Don’t skimp. Air is excellent insulation.
  • Avoid plastic — it doesn’t breathe and can trap moisture, compounding the freezing event. Plant tissue will freeze and die if it touches plastic.
  • After the freeze, plant tissue that has died can take several months to appear. Make your pruning decisions at that time. Patience is key.

Finally, one of the key lessons we learned from the winter storm in February 2021: native species survive, non-native species do not.

Remember to visit GardenStyleSA.com for weekly watering advice and landscaping tips to keep your yard thriving.

Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson is a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you’re likely to find him hiking San Antonio’s wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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