Gardening Etcetera: Tips on the difference of winter watering – Arizona Daily Sun

December 21, 2021 by No Comments

The last time I wrote about winter watering was back in November 2006. That followed one of the warmest and driest Decembers on record, and my advice was to water landscape plants during extended periods of dry weather. Our recent storm provided lots of icy driving conditions but did little to add moisture to the soil. It has been over two months since we have had any real precipitation, so it’s time to recommend watering again.

Long, dry periods during winter can result in death or injury to plant root systems. Because plants often show no visual signs of drought stress in winter, watering is easily overlooked. Affected plants may be slow to leaf out in the spring. There may be unseen damage to the roots, and branches may die back. Damaged trees can also be more susceptible to insect and disease problems later on.

While many landscape plants can be damaged by a lack of winter moisture, woody plants with shallow root systems are particularly susceptible. These include many of the maples, mountain ash, spruce, and fir. Shrubs such as non-native junipers, Oregon grape-holly, boxwood, arborvitae, and euonymus are also vulnerable, especially those growing close to the house or in warm locations. If a dry spell continues, even native plants will benefit from a winter soaking.

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Something to keep in mind is that winter watering is vastly different from summer watering: you only water during dry spells of a month or more, you water during the day, and you’ll water by hand as irrigation systems have been turned off for the winter.

Water only when the air temperature is above 40 degrees and when the ground is not frozen. Apply water in the middle of the day so that it will have time to soak in before nighttime freezing. If water stands around the base of a tree, it can freeze and damage the bark or cambium. Continue to water at least once a month until we get significant precipitation, either as rain or snow.

Colorado State University Extension has some guidelines for winter watering. Apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree diameter. For example, a two-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. Measure the tree’s diameter at chest height (4.5 ft.).

The most important area to water for trees is within the dripline (from the trunk to the outer edges of the tree’s branches). A common watering mistake is to water only at the base of the tree trunk. Tree …….



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