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Winter water plants and trees

By Patte Smith with information provided by Colorado State University Extension

Colorado is experiencing a very dry year with little moisture. Winter months can be hard on trees, shrubs and perennial plants. The dry weather conditions the community is experiencing can damage root systems of plants and trees.

To help prevent damage, plan to water trees, shrubs, lawns and perennials when the weather permits this winter. The best time to water is when the temperature is above forty degrees and there is no snow covering plants to avoid freezing.

Photo of Tree Drip Line area
Castle Pines Parks & Open Space Manager Craig Miller explains, “Most of a tree’s absorbing roots are in the top 12 inches of the soil, and root systems can spread two-to-three times wider than the height of the tree. Apply water both within and just outside the dripline, deeply and slowly, so it moistens the critical root zone to a depth of 12 inches. Apply water to many locations under the dripline.”

Miller emphasizes that fall and winter watering – October through March – should be done one to four times per month, depending on weather, temperature and soil conditions. “Consistent moisture is needed; drought-stressed plants are more vulnerable to disease, insect infestations, and branch and twig die back.”

The City of Castle Pines offers information, “Caring for Trees in Dry Climates.” For information, visit



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