Fall & Winter Watering in your Yard
After all the leaves have fallen from the trees and shrubs, the flowers have stop blooming, and the grass has stopped growing, the plants in your yard still need watering during a warm fall and during the winter, especially if it is warm, dry, and if there is little or no snow.A prolonged warm, dry autumn can result in damage to the root systems of plants, and these plants may seem fine once the spring has come, but they will begin to show signs of stress when they can’t get the nutrients they need from the soil because the root system has been compromised. These stressed plants and trees will become more susceptible to disease and insect infestation.One way to minimize moisture loss in trees, shrubs, and perennials during extended dry spells is a good blanket of mulch around the base of trees and in shrub or flower beds.”Colorado winters can be dry in more ways than one,” says Dr. James Feucht, a landscape plants specialist with CSU. “During extended periods – particularly in January and February – when there may be little or no snow cover, the lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water.” During a dry fall or winter, continue to water trees, shrubs, and flowers. J.E. Klett, a horticulture specialist with CSU, and C. Wilson, a horticulture agent with Denver County, suggest watering “… only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.”Also, Klett and Wilson state that ground covers and perennials in open areas where freezing and thawing occurs can open cracks in the soil that expose the root systems. Klett and Wilson add, “Winter watering combined with mulching can prevent damage.” Woody plants with root systems in the top layer of soil need some type of watering during extended dry spells in the fall and winter. Lawns can also sustain damage during fall and winter dry spells, especially lawns with a southern exposure. Wind can dry out plants and lawns quickly, and more water will be needed for these exposed, windy areas.Newly planted trees, shrubs, and lawns are especially prone to fall and winter dry spells and will need more water than established plants. Trees should be watered under their dripline with a sprinkler, a deep root needle that goes into the ground, or a soaker hose or spray wand. Take the time to water in several places under the tree and let the water soak into the ground for best results. For new shrubs during a dry fall and winter, 5 gallons twice a month within the dripline will be enough. Small established shrubs (under 3 feet) should get a 5 gallon drink monthly while shrubs more than 6 feet tall should get about 18 gallons per month. Perennials planted in the fall should get some water during a warm dry fall, or as stated earlier, during the winter when there is little or no snow. For lawns, if your area has not received any rain or snow in 4 to 5 weeks, give it a good, deep watering. This article was written by Peter Alexander of Neils Lunceford Landscape Design/Build (www.neilslunceford.com) with help from the Colorado State University Extension website at http://www.ext.coloradostate.edu. Peter can be reached at (970) 468-0340, or at email@example.com
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