Time to help a tree out

After Denver’s hot, dry summer and warm fall, your trees and plants will need some extra water this winter.

November 16, 2020 | By: TAP Staff

You turned your sprinkler system off to protect it from the cold, but your trees and plants still need you to help them through this fall’s dry periods — especially on the heels of the hot, dry summer that just ended.

Last summer was the hottest and driest in Denver Water’s records. And the warmer, drier pattern is repeating itself this fall.

So treat this as a chance to get outside and hang out with your plants for a bit, while giving them a good drink from a hand-held hose. They’ll thank you come next spring.

“The occasional hand-watering of trees and bushes in the winter is good, and especially helpful for newly planted trees, shrubs, plants and grass,” said Jeff Tejral, water efficiency manager at Denver Water. “A few gallons go a long way this time of year.”

use nozzle to water brown spots.
Extra water in winter, using a hand-held hose, can help trees, shrubs and plants make it through dry spells. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

While you’re taking care of your plants this winter, Denver Water’s supply and drought experts will be watching weather forecasts, drought levels and soil conditions in the state’s mountains in preparation for what those factors might mean for water use in the metro area in 2021.

Watering one or two times per month during dry stretches will prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant. Tejral also recommends starting by identifying trouble spots in your landscape.

According to experts at the Colorado State University Extension, in winter, each time you water your trees you should give them around 10 gallons of water for each inch of tree trunk diameter. Shrubs need between 5 and 18 gallons of water per month, depending on the size of the plant.

Apply the water in the area under the branches of the tree or bush, and especially in the area at the outer edge of the plant’s branches. Putting the water in this area, called the “drip line,” ensures that the water can reach the plant’s roots.

The “drip line,” the best place to water a tree in winter, is the area at the edge of the tree’s branches. Image credit: City of Santa Barbara, Calif.

 

Other winter watering tips include:

  • Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit with no snow on the ground. Use the screwdriver test to make sure your soil isn’t frozen, as frozen soil won’t absorb water.
  • Put mulch in the area under the plant’s branches to help keep moisture in the ground.

And while you’re tending to your trees and plants this winter, it’s also a good idea to look ahead and think about changes you want to make to your landscape in the spring and summer.

The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado has a number of tips, ideas and resources for redesigning your landscape.

ReSource Central’s Garden In A Box program offers a simple approach to water-wise gardening.

“There are plenty of ways to rethink and reimagine your landscape to save money, time and water, all while keeping it beautiful and functional,” said Tejral.