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Judy Hedding

A Hard Freeze Comes to Phoenix

By December 29, 2010

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The National Weather Service is predicting a hard freeze for the Phoenix area on Thursday night. Temperatures are expected to go down to the 20s, and, of course, outlying areas of Greater Phoenix may experience colder temperatures than those in town where it is often several degrees cooler. There are two risks here associated with freezing temperatures: frozen pipes and plant damage.
Freezing in Phoenix
Frost-Damaged Bougainvillea
Judy Hedding

On Thursday evening you had best protect your desert plants against frost. Some plants and trees suffer irreparable damage from frost. Gather up all your sheets and tablecloths, burlap sacks and other lightweight large fabric pieces. Here is what you need to know about frost protection for your garden. If you have trees that are too large to cover, you might have to take a risk. A few years ago during our last hard freeze many lime trees died. Mine didn't die, but hasn't borne much fruit since then either. Decorating the tree with Christmas lights, or using a sprinkler at the base of the tree may keep it from freezing. Don't do both, though -- water and electricity mixed can be hazardous to your health!

Frozen pipes are much less common here, since we rarely have a long enough freeze to damage pipes. The most susceptible pipes are those that are exposed to the elements. Caulk any leaks. Make sure that any pipes exposed to the outdoors are properly insulated. If you are going to leave a trickle of water going to mitigate the risk of freezing pipes, you probably know that this is wasting water. Since the coldest part of the freeze occurs just before dawn, maybe you could limit running water to a few hours in the early morning. In any case, if you turn on your water in the morning after a hard freeze and nothing comes out, your pipes may have frozen. Leave the faucet open and call a plumber. Don't ever try to defrost a frozen pipe on your own with any type of flame.

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