Although your trees lay dormant during the winter, they are not immune to the effects of the cold and dry conditions. Trees do experience the stress of harsh winter weather, and most often, a lack of water will do the most damage. Long, dry periods without supplemental watering can damage tree root systems and even kill your trees. Even if they appear normal, trees that have been weakened over winter may often die back later in the summer. By practicing the following tips for watering your trees in winter, you can help your tree survive the season and remain healthy throughout the year.
When to Water
Water can act as an insulator to both a tree and the soil. Soil that stays moist stays warmer, and plant cells plump with water are less susceptible to damage from the cold. When there is little or no snow cover or precipitation, plan on watering trees one to two times per month until the spring. If the site is particularly windy, the trees may require more water. Once the ground thaws, you can resume your regular watering schedule.
You should only water your trees when the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no snow or ice near your trees. Water early in the day so your tree can absorb the water before the temperatures drop in the evening.
You can check soil moisture by inserting a garden trowel into the ground about two inches and creating a small trench. Use your finger to touch the soil, and if it is moist to the touch, you do not need to water more. When watering trees, apply water out to the edge of the root spread, and avoid spraying on foliage if watering an evergreen tree.
Adding a layer of organic mulch around your trees in the fall protects the soil from moisture loss and helps regulate soil temperature in the winter. If your plant site is exposed to freezing and thawing, cracks in the soil can form, which dry out a tree’s roots. Mulch can act as a blanket and prevent this damage.
Watering Evergreen Trees
Evergreen trees lose water through their needles, so they need more stored-up water when they enter the winter season to make up for the loss. Cold, dry winds can strip moisture from evergreens faster than their roots can absorb new water. You may want to consider doing an
anti-desiccation treatment on evergreen trees and shrubs to reduce moisture loss due to winter weather conditions.
While it may seem strange to water dormant trees and plant life, you don’t want to risk weakening your healthy trees by ignoring them entirely during the winter. Practice watering trees regularly in the winter, and prepare to enjoy healthy, vibrant trees in the spring and summer.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!