TX Organic Research Center



Protecting Plants and Landscaping in Winter Weather


There’s quite a bit of advice out there about plant protection and other precautions in harsh weather. The best advice is to use native plants and tough , well-adapted introductions.  Here’s an updated version of our winter weather advice.

Floating row cover placed over tender landscape plants and vegetables will give you 4-8 degrees protection. Being organic and spraying Garrett Juice or any mix that contains seaweed will additional freeze protection on an ongoing basis.  Floating Row Cover.

Misinformed folks start throwing rock salt, table salt, ice cream salt and high salt fertilizers out to try to prevent slipping on ice.  These techniques and products are bad.  They are bad for the soil, bad for the plants, bad for the water and bad for the environment in general. 

Here in Texas, concrete sand is primarily used by the Texas Highway Department and seems to do a good job on highways and is non-polluting.  Some work has been done in Texas and other states with magnesium products and other relatively non-toxic choices.  What we recommend for home and commercial office building use is lava sand or granite sand. 

Lava Sand

Other effective products include alfalfa meal (a natural fertilizer), wood ashes (for acid soil areas), coal cinders and zeolite. These materials are not only non-toxic, but they are also good for the soil and the plants as they are washed or swept from the paving into lawns, right of ways and other planting areas. Sure, the sand products can be tracked inside, but so can the salts and toxic products. Give it a try – it works very well.

Here’s a shot of my post office showing the wrong method – salt.

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