The lasting impact on your trees, shrubs and plants following February’s winter shakedown.


By ELISE SWANSON


(Publishing note: Elise Swanson is a student at Tarleton State University enrolled in a news gathering and writing class taught by Dr. Liza Benedict. Elise wrote this piece as a class assignment and sent it to Beneath the Surface News. I hope you find it as informative as I did.)

A historic freeze hit the state of Texas in February, causing damage to plants and trees that are now trying to recover.


Parker County extension agent Jay Kingston has some tips for home gardeners on ways to help their outdoor areas thrive again.


Kingston explains that patience should be practiced before doing any pruning, especially when it comes to live oak trees. As eager as North Texans are to get their trees and shrubs looking their best, it is ideal to wait it out.

“In terms of trees, most of them are going to be cold-hardy enough to survive with little damage, but the live oak trees are what I’m worried about. I’d give it a full month before I’d make any decision on tree branch trimming. On live oaks, I would not do anything until the wintertime.”


As for plants and shrubs, the once-in-a century storm made its mark in a negative way. The temperatures that occurred are normal for the Texas Panhandle, so Kingston said palm plants are likely a loss and the outlook on the popular Indian Hawthorn shrub looks grim as well.

Moving forward, Kingston said that the Weatherford/Stephenville area will remain in the same planting zone it always has been in, which means it will have the same recommended species of trees and shrubs for that area.


Fruit trees, such as the prized Parker County peach trees, appear to have handled the freeze well. As long as there are not any more freezes this year, that species should be out of the woods. Some residents lost limbs or had trees collapse from the storm and Kingston suggested the wood can be repurposed.

“What we ran across during the storm is that people were needing firewood, so that would be my number one recommendation. You can keep the firewood for yourself, or potentially sell it. For the smaller stuff that is kind of brushy, making it into mulch is a great way to return it back to use in landscape.”


The good news is, the Bluebonnets and other wildflowers are now thriving, despite the freeze. Colorful patches now dot the hillsides of 281 on the north and southbound route around Stephenville.