Winter Watering Tips for Trees and Shrubs
Care and Watering Tips for Your Outdoor Trees and Shrubs
Your Christmas tree lives indoors, but your outdoor trees need love this winter too! Why do I need to water my trees in the winter? It’s not hot outside. We tend to remember to water our trees when we feel like we need water- during the spring and summer months. The truth is, fluctuation in temperature, dry air, and lack of precipitation are all important factors.
Denver experiences dryness and drought during the winter months. The fluctuation in temperature and low soil moisture can cause trees to sustain serious damage if they aren’t properly cared for. Snowfall is sparse in Denver, so you definitely can’t count on snow cover to provide enough water for your trees! A consistent watering routine throughout the winter months will prevent root damage and boost the collective health of your trees and shrubs.
Your trees and shrubs may not show outward signs of suffering, but don’t assume that they are doing fine. Without supplemental water, the root system of your trees and shrubs will become damaged. Signs of damage may not appear until late summer. At first, trees will use stored food energy to recover, but this takes a toll. In a weakened state, your trees and shrubs are vulnerable to attack and disease. In extreme cases, part or all of the plant can die when summer temperatures rise!
Certain woody trees are especially susceptible to drought injury during winter, including European white and paper birches; Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain and hybrid maples; lindens, alders, hornbeams, dogwoods, willows, and mountain ashes. Evergreen plants that benefit include spruce, fir, arborvitae, yew, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, and Manhattan euonymus. Not exactly sure what type of trees you have on your property? Contact one of our arbor experts to identify them for you.
Have you recently added new trees and shrubs to your landscaping? You expect to enjoy watching them develop and grow for years to come. This is an investment worth protecting! According to research from Colorado State University, newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury. Trees generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. Take especially good care of your new additions with proper winter watering.
How can you protect your trees and shrubs from the dry Denver winter? Follow these winter watering tips and guidelines from Colorado State University:
- Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F
- Get in the routine of watering at midday so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.
- If you have any of the woody trees mentioned above on your property, be sure to mulch around them before the onset of winter. The freezing and thawing of the ground during winter causes a great deal of stress on these trees. A layer of mulch will help to protect their shallow root system and retain soil moisture.
- Recently planted trees and shrubs need special attention. They require more water than established plants. Newly planted medium-sized shrubs require 5 gallons of water two times per month during the months of October- March. Large established shrubs and trees (more than 6 feet) need 18 gallons every month. Apply water within the dripline of the shrub and around the base.
- Trees take in water most effectively when it is allowed to soak into the soil slowly to a depth of 12 inches.
- Possible methods of watering trees include sprinklers, deep-root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand.
- For best results, apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible. If you plan to utilize a deep-root fork or needle, do not go any deeper than 8 inches into the soil.
- As a general rule of thumb, provide 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree trunk. For example, a four-inch diameter tree should get 40 gallons per watering. To measure, use a ruler on the base of the tree at 6″ above ground level.
Trees and shrubs do not go dormant during winter. They are not hibernating, they need to drink! You need a watering routine to implement during the months of October-March. Don’t wing it! These are busy months, full of holiday fun and other commitments. You could easily forget to water your trees and shrubs if you haven’t established a plan for watering. Our experienced arbor experts can help you implement a custom watering plan that suits the unique needs of your trees and shrubs. The first step is to schedule your complimentary on-site inspection. Help your plants survive and thrive this winter!
Common Christmas Tree Myths
Your Christmas tree brings joy and beauty to your home for the holidays. Learn how to keep it, and all your trees, healthy and thriving with proper watering this winter.
A fire crackling in the hearth, stockings hanging on the mantle, and ornaments glistening on the tree- tis the season! The holidays are here and preparations aren’t complete until the Christmas tree is up. Trekking out to the Christmas tree farm, choosing just the right tree, and cutting it down yourself makes for a memorable family outing. Gathering to spend an evening decorating the tree is a cherished family tradition.
Sadly, the Christmas tree is often neglected after the initial set-up is over. It is left untouched as we try to accomplish shopping, wrapping, and everything else on our to-do list. Forgetting to water the tree daily will damage the tree and cut its lifespan short. Don’t take the majesty of your Christmas tree for granted. Keep your tree in tip-top shape by following these tips for watering from the National Christmas Tree Association.
As you tend to your tree, steer clear of these Christmas tree care myths:
- Do not cut the base of the trunk at an angle or in a V shape. Definitely, do not drill holes in it! These misguided methods will not help your tree take on more water.
- Do not ‘doctor up’ or add things to the tap water for your tree. Bleach, vodka, aspirin, sugar, lime soda, copper pennies, and vodka will have no positive effect on your tree. In fact, they can actually hinder proper water uptake!
- Beware of spray-on fire retardants and other products advertised to keep your tree fresh. They can be harmful to the overall health of the tree.
Christmas trees sometimes get a bad rap for being messy or dangerous (fire hazard) to have around at the holidays. But all the complaints against Christmas trees are negated if you care for it properly. For example, Christmas trees are only messy if the needles are bone dry and shedding everywhere like prickly dog hair. A fire would be a result of a severely dried up tree and lights left on too long. Each scenario could be avoided with proper watering and care.
You really don’t need a green thumb to keep your Christmas tree looking like the holiday treasure it truly is. Proper setup and diligent watering are all it takes to enjoy your festive tree throughout the entire Christmas season!