Planting Flowers Early in May can be Risky in Vermont

Flower beds can be planted early if you keep an eye on the weather – and stay ready to cover.

Now that Spring has really arrived and temperatures are reaching the 70’s, we are all getting that itch to see some budding greenery, grass and colorful flowers. Just realize that even though we’ve pulled out the t-shirts and shorts and put away the skis and heavy jackets, early May is still a bit risky for planting annuals that are susceptible to frost. As Spring clean-up kicks into high gear, we see many homeowners and businesses that are eager to get some flowers in the ground to create some long-awaited color around their properties. After all, it has been a long winter and we’ve seen nothing but white and grey for a long time. Some residents of Killington still have three foot mounds of snow in their yards while in lower-lying areas lawns are nice and green already.Early May planting is O.K. as long as you realize that up until Memorial Day Weekend, the risk of a random frost still exists in many parts of Vermont. Knowing this, you should be prepared to cover delicate new plantings at the first hint of frosty night weather. Just keep an eye on the weather so you don’t lose all your new flowers and have to start all over.

What varieties of flowers are best to plant early?

Some annuals are heartier than others and can withstand some frost, so choose carefully. Varieties such as Pansies, Calendula, Godetia, Lobelia and Violas are the best to get early color and not worry about covering when the temperature drops at night, so long as it is not a hard frost, also known as a killing frost  – below 25F. In any case, if you are planting early, just be prepared to cover the delicate varieties so you can enjoy the flowers of your labor. Happy planting!
Early May Flowers for Color
Frost Heave Ahead Warning Sign

Frost Heaves in Walkways and Driveways

Repair Tripping Hazards in Walkways and Driveways

As Spring finally comes around and it the temperature begins to creep above freezing, we enter a period of repeated freeze-thaw cycles at night. When this occurs, you may start to notice frost heaves in your walkway, patio or driveway. What you are seeing is not unlike the frost heaves you experience driving your car. You know –  when you see signs along the road that say “Frost Heave” and you’re wondering “Where?” And then, BOOM, you nearly hit your head on the roof of your car. THAT’S a frost heave.

Drainage is the Key

Your walkway may do the same thing as our buckling roads depending on the base of the walkway or driveway, the drainage in the area, or the integrity of the surface, meaning if it seals out water or sheds it well. Depending on the type of finished surface you have, it may be designed to allow water to flow right through it and away from the base or it may be crowned to shed water without creating puddles. When either of these design elements are compromised, water will get underneath, puddle below the surface, and push the bricks, stones, timbers or pavement up, creating an unsightly condition and a tripping hazard as well.

The solution is to either prevent water from penetrating the surface, or to ensure it drains away properly instead of sitting below and expanding enough to ruin your finished surfaces.

Frost Heave Ahead Warning Sign