In some areas of the country, the snowfall during the winter simply isn't enough to keep plants healthy. If your region suffers from low precipitation during the winter, or if harsh winds tend to dry up any useful moisture, you may need to actually water your plants and trees, even during the winter months. Check out these tips for handling the winter watering schedule effectively.
Understand the Risk of Not Watering
Here's an interesting fact: it takes about 10 inches of snow to provide the same effect as one inch for rain. So, without sufficient snowfall, your lawn and plants will essentially be in a drought all winter. You might be nervous that watering trees and shrubs will lead to frozen roots and death, but actually the lack of water makes it harder for plants and trees to survive the winter. Lack of water results in root loss, frost damage, and dry-out that can lead to death.
Check Moisture Levels
You'll need to invest in a moisture meter so that you can know for sure when your soil is drying out and when it has sufficient water. Shop for a probe that has a length of at least 6 inches, preferably 12 inches, so you can get a reading from all the way down at root level.
Water During the Day
Don't water your plants too early in the morning or too late in the evening. This rule goes against what you might be accustomed to for summer watering; but it's important for plant health. Water too late, and the temperature could be too low. Plants may freeze or go more deeply dormant during the cold nights, and they won't be able to absorb the water you give them. In the early morning they will also be too cold or frozen to absorb it properly. During the winter, the ideal time for watering is noon or shortly thereafter.
Aim for Twice Monthly Waterings
Usually we recommend that you water your shrubs, lawn, plants, and trees a couple times per month throughout the winter. If you have received less than two inches of snow and very little rain, this is especially important. Space out the waterings with a couple weeks in between sessions.
Monitor Conditions for Watering
When you do water the lawn and plants, it's important to do so under the right conditions. If there's a blanket of snow, or if the temperature is below forty degrees, avoid watering. You'll want to wait until any snow cover has cleared and the temperature is around forty degrees or a bit higher. Water for a few minutes, then give the water time to soak into the partially frozen ground. Then do another cycle of watering.
Sprinklers and hoses with attachments work well for widespread or targeted watering. If you need lawn care supplies, explore the Kurtz Bros., Inc. website to find those products. You can also call us and consult with our lawn care specialists about the right way to handle winter watering.