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How to Prevent Spring Frost Damage in Herb Gardens

by Melissa Lewis

Growing herbs in the garden provides fresh flavoring to your favorite dishes during the growing season. If you also dry a portion of your harvest, you can reap their benefits year round. Because these plants are frost-sensitive, don’t get ahead of yourself in spring. A couple warm days might spark garden fever, but bide your time to ensure success. Perennial herbs already planted in the garden might have minds of their own, or a late spring frost may swoop in and damage annuals planted early. Either way, some preventive measures can prevent spring frost damage so you can enjoy a successful harvest sooner rather than later.

Plant annual herbs outdoors after the last spring frost. If you are starting them from seed, start them indoors about six weeks before this date to reap an earlier harvest, if desired.

Apply 4 inches of mulch in winter after the ground freezes to protect perennial herbs in spring. This mulch keeps the soil cooler during warm spells in spring so the herbs do not shoot up too early. Remove mulch only when growth emerges from within the mulch or the last spring expected frost has passed.

Cover herbs if they are not protected by mulch and frost is in the forecast. Use boxes or buckets as an easy means to cover these small plants. Alternatively, set outdoor chairs over them and drape a sheet over top until it touches the ground. Place these covers in the evening before the frost and remove in the morning. Repeat as necessary. Ensure that the covers and sheets do not touch the herbs.

Items you will need

  • Mulch
  • Box or bucket
  • Chair
  • Sheet


  • If you use cardboard boxes to cover the herbs, you can, if desired, cut the bottoms off and set them on top of the plants. Close the top for the night and open during the day.

About the Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images