Your First Frost Date: What to Know

Ensure Plant Health by Understanding First Frost Dates

a closeup of a Garden Tower® growing a variety of herbs and vegetables insideAs the weather gets colder, it’s important to prepare your garden for impending frost. Understanding your first frost date is a key point in ensuring that you’re protecting your plants from damage and allowing them to thrive. Ready to learn more about frost? As experts in all things gardening, we’re here to give you the BEST tips on taking care of your garden during the colder months with frost dates.

What is a First Frost Date and Why is it Important?

Understanding How Frost Dates Work

a chart with the USDA hardiness zones and their first and last frost dates

No matter how mild or severe a frost is, it can severely damage or ruin any of your plants—especially the more temperature-sensitive ones. In order to avoid frost damage, gardeners typically create their planting schedule around frost dates. To put it simply, these dates occur when there’s a 50% chance of a certain day being frost-free, meaning this time window gives you a good idea of when your plants will/won’t be safe. There are two different frost dates: your first and last.

  • Your first frost date happens in fall and indicates when it’s no longer safe to have most plants in your garden
  • The last frost date occurs in spring and indicates when it’s safe to start planting your early spring herbs and veggies

As a general rule of thumb, most gardeners will adjust these dates with the “spring forward, fall back” rule to ensure that they won’t encounter any outlier frost. To do this, we recommend waiting until two weeks after your last frost date to start planting and wrap up your garden two weeks before your first frost date. By keeping these days in mind, your plants will be safer from the threat of harsh winter elements.

What is My USDA Hardiness Zone?

Finding the First Frost Date For Your Zone

a photo of the USDA hardiness zonesSo, how are these dates split up? The answer is simple—USDA hardiness zones. Sometimes also referred to as gardening or planting zones, these regions can tell you a significant amount of information about your area’s gardening conditions. Some of this info includes what plants will thrive, when your herbs and veggies are in their peak growing season, and even temperature averages. Plus, knowing your hardiness zone can also help you plan when to start growing in the spring.

To find your USDA hardiness zone, check out the map above or research your specific state for a more precise answer. If you’re very close to two different zones, we recommend choosing the one with the later set of frost dates to ensure that you don’t have a cold surprise that may hurt your garden. 

How Do I Keep Plants Safe From Frost?

Ensuring a Safe Environment For Your Garden

closeup photo of a wheel caster kit installed on a Garden Tower®While frost dates are a great way to gauge when you should start/stop growing temperature-sensitive vegetables in your garden, it’s also important to check the weather trends in your area prior to planting, too. We recommend always playing it safe when it comes to frost—trust us, you don’t want to risk it! To be extra sure, using the previously mentioned “spring back, fall ahead” method makes your garden significantly less likely to experience any severity of frost that may kill your plants. Plus, this also factors in unprecedented cold weather that may be an anomaly in your area. 

Because frost can be unpredictable, with our Move and Grow Bundle OR Wheel Caster Kit (if you already own a Tower), you can move the Tower to a garage

or other indoor area temporarily to avoid early frost or you can bring your vertical

vegetable garden indoors as well. If you wish to make your Tower moveable, please note that the full surface of the container feet must be supported. Screwing casters directly into the bottom of  the feet will cause the Tower to fall over and will void your warranty.

However, if you’re unable to move your garden indoors, covering your plants with garden blankets or other materials during cold weather can minimize damage. These should be draped loosely to allow for air circulation and placed in the early evening when winds die down. 

Whether you’re growing indoors, outdoors, or a combination of the two, keeping your first and last frost dates in mind keeps your garden happy and your plants safe. If you’re looking for more expert gardening tips on a variety of topics, you’ve come to the right place—visit Garden Tower Project TODAY to learn more about creating a more sustainable, healthy garden for you and your family.

Browse Similar

Learning Center

The Health Benefits of Gardening

Learning Center

Benefits of Kids Learning Through Gardening

Learning Center

Hot Tips to Guard Your Garden This Season