When Old Man Winter comes around, he brings plenty of challenges for your landscape along with him. Frost heave is an often overlooked but important one to be aware of because it is so easy to avoid.
WHAT IS FROST HEAVE?
When temperatures are cold enough to cause the ground to freeze, any water trapped in the soil freezes into “ice lenses” that push surrounding soil up as they expand. In south central PA and northern MD, the average winter frost depth is 18” but can be as deep as 28”. This means that depending on the extent of cold weather, any poorly drained soil in this 28” depth has the potential to freeze and cause heaving.
HOW CAN FROST HEAVE AFFECT MY LANDSCAPE?
Frost heaving can damage anything with a footer that is too shallow or poorly drained- deck, fence and mailbox posts are frequent victims. Paver patios and walkways with a shallow, poorly drained base can also be damaged by heaving. Finally, plant material that was not planted in properly sized holes or with adequately draining soils can be heaved right out of the ground. When this happens, the exposed roots will likely freeze and kill the popped-out plant.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO AVOID FROST HEAVING?
The easiest solution is to hire a reputable landscape professional and make sure they are certified installers of plant and hardscape materials and can explain how these certifications guide their installation practices. Hively Landscapes staff includes Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturists and Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute Certified Installers. As long as the proper preparations are performed during installation, your landscape should survive all but extremely long and deep freezes without any issues. If you experience frost related problems and would like a free consultation to discuss repairs, contact Hively Landscapes and relax, we’ll do the dirty work.