Winter Storm Recovery for Lawns and Landscape

Resources for Freeze Damage


Texas A&M Forest Service: What To Do With Trees Recovering From Winter Storm Uri – Article from July 28, 2021

Texas A&M Forest Service: Oak Trees Are Still Recovering from the Winter Storm – Article from May 2021

Texas A&M Forest Service After the Storm Website:

Ice Damage and Oak Wilt

Can These Trees Be Saved?

Irrigation Systems

How to Find Your Water Meter:

Backflow Prevention Device:

Woody Shrubs

  • Wait to see if shrubs start to put out leaves this spring.  Be very patient and see if plants will come back.
  • Do the scratch test: If you can scratch the bark and see moist, green tissue, that wood is still alive.  Give it time to leaf out again.
  • When you do start pruning, start at the end of the stem and cut small pieces until you get to live plant tissue.  If you don’t find any live plant tissue, that stem or branch is gone.  Wait a few weeks or longer before you start removing plants.  Some might come back from the roots.
  • Shrubs that usually bloom might have delayed blooms or no blooms this year.
  • Look at the stems, if you see vertical cracks that is freeze damage and that stem is probably dead.

Crape Myrtles

Fantastic advice from the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney:

The keyword for your crape myrtles after the February 2021 Freeze is PATIENCE!  With more than 120 varieties of crape myrtles in the nursery marketplace, you can expect quite a lot of difference in mature sizes, growth forms, colors – and winter hardiness.  Did your crape myrtles survive the February cold intact, or will they suffer dieback? Here are some quick tips to help you know:
  • In our plantings of 40,000 crape myrtles across the city of McKinney in the past 20 years, we have seen frequent dieback of five specific varieties: Natchez, Tuscarora, Muskogee, Sioux and Country Red. It is probable that these will be damaged this year, and possible that others will, too.
  • Watch crape myrtles in your neighborhood. If you have a plant that lags behind in leafing out by more than two weeks, it’s probably frozen back to the ground.
  • If that’s the case, you can retrain your plant by cutting it back to the ground as you remove all the deadwood. Select the strongest shoots that it puts up from the ground and train them to be its new trunks. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll have a handsome new plant.
  • For the record, this is the same technique The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney recommends for salvaging plants that have previously been topped.
  • Crape myrtles benefit from applications of nitrogen fertilizer (same as you apply to your turfgrass). Feed crape myrtles in early April, early June and early August.
  • If you have a crape myrtle that needs to be transplanted, get that done in the next 3-4 weeks while it’s still dormant. Dig it with a ball of soil intact around its roots. Replant it immediately, and water it deeply.
  • If you have been troubled with aphids or crape myrtle bark scale in the past (either of which can give rise to the black sooty mold), treatment time to prevent them is mid-May. Watch for details here at that time. There is no call to action now.
For everything related to crape myrtles, visit


  • Cut dead fronds now, and wait to see if the plant survives.  Dead fronds will be tan and look dried out.
  • Sago palm (not a true palm) is cold hardy to temperature dips down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.  The extended cold probably killed most sago palms.  The growth point is in the center, so wait to see if it survived.


  • Many perennials will come back from the roots.  Cut away the dead stems and wait to see what happens.
  • Warm days and nights will help these plants leaf out.
  • Native perennials should survive because they have the genetics for cold hardiness for these infrequent freezes.
  • Some varieties of lantana may not survive the severe cold, especially the trailing lantana.  Cut it back to the base of the plant and see if it comes back.


  • Foliage might be damaged, but they will regrow from the bulb/corm/rhizome in the ground.
  • Any bulb that was already starting to bud before the freeze will probably not bloom this year.


  • Many herbs will need to be replaced.  They originate from the warm, dry climates of the Mediterranean and are not adapted to a severe freeze.
  • Rosemary seems to have varying degrees of survivability.  Some in protected areas might be ok, but many of the rosemary plants in unprotected areas are dead.


  • Cut back anything that is mushy.
  • Some plants might come back, but many succulents are not adapted to severe freezes.

Turf Grass

  • Our warm season turfgrasses go dormant in cold weather, so they look very brown right now.  We will probably see winter-kill in St. Augustine grass because it is our least cold-tolerant grass.  The St. Augustine might just die back in patches or areas depending on the location and health of the grass before the freeze.  Bermuda and Zoysia grasses should handle the cold better.
  • Be very cautious about applying pre-emergent herbicides this spring, especially in St. Augustine lawns.  Most pre-emergent herbicides are root inhibitors and should only be applied to healthy grass.  The grass is more stressed from the freeze, and the root inhibitors will affect the existing grass.
  • Wait until at least mid-April before you fertilize your lawn.  The general rule of thumb is to mow actively growing grass two times before you fertilize.


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