when DOES the ground freeze?

sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)September 26, 2005

Hi everyone!

I'm just north of Chicago, and was wondering when I should expect the ground to freeze around here. I know the average 1st frost date is Oct. 15, but want to do some planting/moving of perennials and small shrubs. What's the latest I can do this and still give the plants/roots enough time to reestablish themselves?

(ballpark figure will suffice!)

Many thanks for your help!


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Sandy, if no one here can help with the answer, you might try contacting your local extension service to see if they have the answer. I know in the area of Indiana where I lived (west central), when the ground froze could vary wildly from year to year, depending on the winter trend of temps (and it sometimes thawed for awhile in Jan./Feb. for awhile) but maybe it's more predictable where you are.

However, when it's too late to plant/move things may depend more on the air temp and time of year. Frost heaving of perennials could be a problem if the roots aren't established into the new ground so you don't want to plant too late, whether or not the ground is about to freeze. If the plants are too far into dormancy/going dormant when you move them, they won't be able to send roots into the new soil. Shrubs I'm not so sure about but some are better moved in spring anyway. Again, check with the extension service or ask around at your local nurseries. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:38AM
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Oswegian(Z5 IL)

Seems like I heard in the Trib that it varies with snow cover, too. If there isn't any -- and they are predicting a dry winter, just like the summer -- it will freeze easier.

And they said that if the snow cover is deep enough, it doesn't actually freeze much or deep; for an example, they used the Michigan upper penninsula, where they get like six or eight feet of snow, but doesn't freeze much. I don't know from personal experience. It's just what I read.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 4:27PM
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I can't imagine the ground freezing much before early December, but you do need to have the plants in a while before that. I've moved stuff until early November in central WI.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:11PM
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The ground doesnt freeze here until mid-late december, but it all depends on the weather. Even around New Years, here in the NW suburbs the ground hasnt been frozen at times, so it all depends when winter really starts. It's even later the closer downtown and to the lake you are. If you want to move plants you should get on that soon, they arent going to establish too well if you wait much longer. A freezing ground is one thing, getting plants to establish is another.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 5:22PM
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sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)

Thanks so much for all of your responses! You've all been very helpful.

Happy Autumn,


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 6:18PM
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