Just because your trees don’t have any leaves during the winter months, doesn’t mean they are completely dormant. Trees are using this time to grow new roots and prepare for spring. If you have an evergreen tree, or semi-evergreen, there is still some growth taking place at reduced rate.
When it comes to watering during the winter months people tend to make one of two mistakes – some continue to water at the same rates as in the summer, which leads to a waste of water and can lead to root rot and other issues. Others stop watering all together, which leads to root die back and other drought related problems.
If next summer is anything like our past few summers, we need to make sure that we provide our trees every possible chance, while also ensuring proper start for the next generation of trees planted.
– Winter Moisture: Substantial rain improves soil moisture levels and supplemental watering can be stopped temporarily until irrigation is needed again.
– Soil Type: Sandy soils dry out quicker than heavier soils because they cannot hold as much water. Sandy soils may need to be watered more often but with less water than a heavier soil. Making this adjustment will result in less water waste.
– Mulch: Water evaporates from bare ground much faster than mulched soil. Use a 4-inch layer of mulch to conserve soil moisture by slowing evaporation.
– New vs. Established Plants: Newly planted plants need frequent watering to survive until they develop a more extensive root system to support them. Established plants may only need an occasional irrigation to meet their water needs.
It is a good idea to have your entire irrigation system checked out for damaged heads, broken lines or leaks before winter. Adjust the amounts and timing of your lawn sprinkler system. Regular maintenance performed during this period will help reduce over-watering and keep the trees, lawn and plants properly watered without breaking the bank.