Are you like many homeowners we work within the Boulder, Colorado area who have an irrigation system ready to water your landscape during the growing season but may not realize the importance of watering your trees and shrubs after they go dormant in the winter? Winter is a critical time to also water your plants when some root development may occur, especially for any recently planted shrubs and trees. Without water, whether it be from snow or a hose, the plants may dehydrate and die before spring. 

Why do your trees need additional water in the winter?

During the winter months, there may not be snow cover to nourish the soil. Without an alternative source of moisture, you’ll need to provide that moisture (in the form of water) to your trees and shrubs with a winter watering regimen. Moisture in the soil facilitates the uptake of vital nutrients, and winter watering ensures your trees and shrubs get what they need when Mother Nature takes a vacation. A general rule is that your plants need additional watering if they have not received at least one inch of moisture in a month, which is roughly equal to one foot of snowfall.

Winter watering can help save your trees. Even though trees are dormant during the winter, their root systems need moisture to remain alive during the winter months. Since winter temperatures and moisture levels in Colorado fluctuate greatly from week to week and year to year, it is best to closely observe soil conditions to determine the best time to water. 

Just a Little Winter Watering Is All Your Plants Need

Since much of your vegetation is dormant during the chillier seasons, that makes watering even easier as plants during dormancy require much less water and other nutrients during dormancy. Evergreen trees and shrubs can suffer much more during the winter as consistent strong winds can dry out needles more quickly and frozen ground can limit the uptake of moisture into the plant

We in Colorado are lucky, as much of our vegetation and plants receive most of their water needs and nutrients during the rest of the year, requiring only a few inches of winter watering to keep the landscape beautiful and green year-round. 

Winter Watering LID Landscapes

A Few Tips for Winter Watering:

  • Water your deciduous and evergreen trees up to two times a month between October and March.
  • Check soil moisture levels around the dripline of the tree to determine how much water is needed. To accurately determine soil moisture, dig down at least 4-6 inches.
  • Water during the day when temperatures are above 40 degrees to allow the water to soak in before freezing night temperatures. Do not water if the soil is frozen. 
  • Hand watering, soaker hose or drip applications are recommended up to two hours per area with no day or time restrictions.
  • Soaker hoses, soil needles or hoses with a soft spray attachment can be used to water trees in the winter. 
  • Do not turn on your irrigation system to water your trees.
  • How much water your tree should receive depends upon the tree size: A general rule of thumb is to use approximately 10 gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for each watering. Measure trunk diameter at knee height. General formula: 
  • The most important area to water for deciduous trees is within the dripline (from the trunk to the outer edges of the trees branches). For evergreens, water 3-5 feet beyond the dripline on all sides of the tree.
  • Maintain mulch 4 inches deep around trees and shrubs to retain moisture. Pull mulch back from the tree trunk. If you are in need of a fresh application of mulch, be sure to reach out to one of the Account Managers at LID Landscapes and we can get you a fresh coat.
  • Well-timed fall and winter watering may help a tree to survive on less water than a regime of plentiful water applications during the growing season.

A Few Benefits of Winter Pruning

Fall or Winter pruning to Prep for Winter Plant Care

We recommend you prune in late Fall or early Winter while plants are dormant. This also makes the pruned plants less susceptible to damaging storms and pests.  Dormant pruning will make your landscaping look more beautiful and then requires less nourishment in order to sustain strong health after trimming. 

Winter Pruning LID Landscapes

Fire Mitigation Benefits of Pruning

For those living in the foothills and mountains here in Colorado, wildfires are an ever-present concern. Pruning also adds another important benefit to your landscape which is fire mitigation. Pruning helps to create adequate spacing between trees and other plants to reduce or slow the potential for fires to spread. 

 

Removing dead or unhealthy plants

Before you head into Spring we also suggest you remove any dead or unhealthy plants from your landscape. This ensures the halting of any spreadable diseases to the rest of your healthy plants.