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      Stop frost from ruining your backyard

      As temperatures in mid-Missouri become progressively colder, there are several steps homeowners can take to protect their backyards.

      Bursting pipes, cracked bird baths, dead plants, and frozen garden hoses can be avoided with a few simple steps:

      - Flush your garden hose so that no water remains inside. Leave both ends open, and store the hose in a safe, dry place.

      - Inspect outdoor pipes for cracks and leaks. If necessary, insulate the pipes or flush them to prevent them from bursting during a freeze.

      - Empty your bird bath before freezing temperatures hit. That way, water can't seep into cracks and destroy it.

      - If you have a water fountain, drain it and store the pot and the pump in a dry place. Frost can ruin water features.

      - If you have fall vegetables, cover them in a blanket during cold spells. Do not use plastic for this purpose, as plastic won't keep the plants warm.

      - Bring annuals, perennials, and tropical plants inside. Many of these plants can't survive a light frost.

      Bob Call of Longfellow's Garden Center says his shop is available to answer gardening-related questions, seven days per week. Log onto their website to find out more.