The weather in Colorado is a representation of extremes. The winter months of January and February can be some of the state’s driest, while March and April bring record breaking snow falls. To date, this year has been no exception. The dry windy conditions that have been blowing across the state are not only causing unseasonable wildfires, but are also hazardous to lawns, trees, shrubs and perennials. Although its winter and there has been a freeze, outside plant life needs periodic moisture to survive the season and flourish next spring.
When to water?
According to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, homeowners should water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Watering should be completed mid-day allowing the water to soak into the soil before freezing later at night. A solid layer of ice that sits on the lawn for over a month can cause suffocation and harm the grass. Homeowners should watch weather conditions during the winter and water one to two times a month when there is no snow cover.
How much to water?
During prolonged dry periods, homeowners should water 15 minutes in each zone every three or four weeks. The object is to allow the water to run long enough to wet the soil between six and eight inches deep. One way to “test” the soil’s moisture is to take a screwdriver and insert into the ground. If the water has not penetrated far enough, the screwdriver won’t easily enter the soil said Nancy, the nursery manager and certified arborist at Tagawa Garden Center and Florist.
It may be hard to determine if plants have been affected from long periods of little or no moisture. Next spring they may appear healthy and resume growth, but plants that did suffer over the winter months may be weakened. Dry winter conditions may cause injury and death to parts of plant root systems. Those that were adversely affected may die in late or early summer as temperatures rise. These weakened plants could also be subject to insect and disease problems.
For more information about winter watering, check with the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.