Watering Garden In Frost: What To Do?

Most plants and flowers lose their leaves or fade in winter.

But still there are some evergreen plants, so the following question arises: Should you water the garden even in frost?

Whether and if so, under what conditions it makes sense to water the garden even in frost, you will learn in this article.

Garten bei Frost gießen: das gilt es zu beachten

Even in frosty temperatures or night frosts, you should water your garden sufficiently, especially conifers, evergreens and climbers such as ivy. However, only when the ground has completely thawed and is no longer frozen. An adequate water supply protects plants from drying out, especially in the transitional period, because even at low temperatures liquid evaporates due to the still sometimes strong sunlight. You can also cover your plants with fleece, wool or jute bags to protect them from drying out and reduce the necessary water supply.

Especially in autumn or spring temperature fluctuations can make life difficult for all amateur gardeners.

The change between low temperatures and sometimes even frost and warmer sunny days can sometimes be treacherous for various plants.

This raises the question of whether or not to water the garden during frost?

Do I have to water my garden even when it is freezing
In general, you should not water your garden when the ground is frozen and should be frozen for more days according to the weather forecast.

This is because if the ground is already frozen, it cannot absorb any more water. This would only freeze on the surface or on the ground and form an additional layer of ice.

If your soil is not permanently and deeply frozen, it may make sense to water the garden.

This can happen in two main cases:

Isolated frost nights where only the temperature falls below zero during the night. In this case, the soil usually freezes only in the uppermost layers and thaws completely during the day.

If there are frosty nights, you should check during the day whether the ground is still frozen or not. If it is still frozen, you should not water your garden.

If the ground is completely thawed during the day, it can absorb water and you can or should water the plants that need it. You will find out which plants these are in the next chapter.

Several warmer days without frost in the middle of cold periods. Because then you can be sure that the soil is completely thawed and ready to absorb water.

So, the garden should be watered even during frost or frosty nights, as long as the soil is fully thawed so as not to dry out.

As the sun continues to shine or UV radiation hits the dark soil and green leaves in the fall and winter, water continuously evaporates from the garden and green plants.

But what happens if I do not water my garden during frost?

If you don’t water your garden or certain green plants during colder temperatures and possibly with frosty nights, but still without permanently frozen ground, this can sometimes have longer-term consequences for your plants.

Even in autumn or winter, water evaporates mainly through the green leaf surfaces of (evergreen) plants, causing them to continuously lose moisture.

If there is little precipitation in the colder season and the days are still very sunny, this can cause the plants to dry out, which is exacerbated by frost and cold in the winter.

In the worst case, plants can also dry out completely over the winter, so that they no longer have a chance in the spring and must be replaced.

Which plants should you water even in autumn and winter

As already mentioned, you should take care especially with evergreen plants or also with certain perennials or grasses that they do not dry out during the transition period.

Unlike evergreens, deciduous plants shed their foliage in the fall to reduce their water needs, allowing them to get through the winter sparingly and also with little moisture.

Nevertheless, the permanently green plants run the risk of dying of thirst especially in the transitional period. This is because, despite possible frosty nights, it can become so warm and sunny during the day that more water evaporates than reaches the roots of the plants through rain, for example. In these cases, you should water the plants in any case, provided that the ground is completely thawed during the day.

More precisely, it is recommended to provide these conifers, evergreen deciduous trees and climbers with a sufficient amount of water, especially in the fall, from which the plants can feed in the winter.

On average, 30-40 liters of water per square meter of area should be sufficient, which should ideally be applied in October and no later than the beginning of November.

As before, care should be taken to ensure that the soil is not frozen, which may be the case especially on sunny and warm days – despite possible frost nights.

Additional protection for plants from drying out during frosty temperatures
In addition to adequate watering, you can also protect your plants from drying out by using other methods.

Generally, the main focus is on protection from direct sunlight or covering and insulating the soil in order to reduce the evaporation of water as much as possible.

The following options are available to protect your plants from drying out even during frosty nights with warm days:

Light colored artificial fleece

You can buy light-colored fleece at any hardware store or on the Internet (e.g. here at Amazon*) at a very low price. To cover, simply take an appropriate amount of fleece and generously cover the ground around the trunk of the plant.
Make sure you only use light colored fleece, which will reflect the sun as much as possible, unlike darker fabrics.

Sheep’s wool fleece

Sheep’s wool fleece (such as this version*) is the natural version of light-colored artificial fleece. Similar to artificial fleece, you should spread sheep wool fleece as generously as possible on the ground below the plants.
In contrast to the artificial fleece, the one made of sheep’s wool is usually thicker and thus better insulating, but it is also a bit more expensive.

Reed, willow or reed mats

Such mats are often used as privacy screens and can be purchased at home improvement stores or on the Internet. The advantage of buying online is that there is a very large selection of different sizes and materials, as you can see here.

There are both reed mats, willow mats or also reed mats* in different sizes and colors.

Despite the main purpose as a privacy screen, such mats can also be spread very well as an insulating layer on beds or under plants, depending on the size. Here too, make sure that they are spread generously underneath the plants to cover as large an area as possible.


Brushwood, i.e. very thin twigs, is also very good for protecting the garden from frost and evaporation. To do this, you should spread the brushwood generously and as close as possible under the affected plants to reduce direct sunlight on the ground.
The advantage of brushwood is that it can even be collected free of charge on your own property and can be used for several years if necessary.

Jute sacks or blankets

Jute sacks or blankets are also great for insulating your plants in the winter. The advantage of jute bags is that they are very robust and durable. This means that even when exposed to rough ground, snow, frost, small stones or branches, the bags or blankets can be reused for years or decades without any problems.
Accordingly, an investment in a jute bag, which can be purchased here on Amazon already for small money, is a very worthwhile.

The comparison shows that some of the alternatives differ greatly in price and, of course, have different advantages and disadvantages.

However, if I had to choose a variant to protect my beds from frost, I would buy or already own jute bags for this purpose.

All these methods of covering the plants have another thing in common: the advantage that even when the soil is covered, you can still very easily feel or feel whether the soil underneath is frozen or not.

Thus, despite the cover, you can continue to provide the plants with sufficient water on frost-free days.

What to consider when watering my plants during frost

Difference between air and soil temperature

When we generally talk about night frost, we rarely distinguish between air and ground frost.

However, this distinction is an important factor, especially in the transitional season, because air temperatures are not the same as soil temperatures.

If, for example, there is an air temperature of 2 to 4 degrees at night, this usually already brings a ground frost with it since cold, heavy air sinks to the ground.

This means that even if your thermometer shows plus degrees at night, your garden may have been frozen and you should wait until the ground thaws before watering.

Therefore, it is best to either mount a second thermometer at ground level or check before each watering whether the ground is actually still frozen or not.

However, you should keep in mind that the soil at one meter depth is about 5 degrees colder than at the surface.

If the surface of the soil is thawed and has +2 degrees, it may be that the soil at a depth of one meter still has about -3 degrees and is still frozen.

You should always be aware of this and thus, even during nights with ground frost, do not water again until the soil and thus the deeper soil layers, where many roots are located, have a sufficiently high temperature.

Watering tub plants

Besides the temperature difference at the soil surface and in deeper layers, you should also be very careful when watering containers in the transitional period.

When the garden or a bed is completely thawed, the watering water can be distributed in the soil without any problems.

However, if you water a plant in a container, the water can only be distributed in the bottom of the container. In the transitional period, you should be especially careful not to pour too much water into the pot, because you never know when the next frost will come.

In the case of frost, the water also freezes in the tub and expands, as described in this article about the treatment of rain barrels in winter.

Accordingly, you must always make sure that the water in the tub still has enough space to spread and should therefore water tub plants only moderately but gladly more often in frost-free periods.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *