If you’ve ever experienced the discouragement of lawn winter kill or dead landscape plants in spring, you may want to try winter watering.
Even though landscape plants are dormant and brown, they should be watered periodically. Dry winter months often kill plants through dehydration. By choosing to winter water, your lawn and landscape plants will have a much better chance of greening up beautifully when the warm weather of spring returns.
A word to the wise, too. Shrubs and trees that don't receive regular water will search for hydration on their own, oftentimes in your wastewater pipes. Roots are a common cause of pipe damage, and repairs can be messy and costly. Service lines are the homeowner's responsibility, so have pipes checked at least once a year or more if you live in a long-established, heavily-treed neighborhood.
Finally, keep in mind that your wastewater bill is calculated using the amount of water used Dec. 1 through the last day of February.
When to water
- Choose a warm winter day with air temperature above 40 degrees F and unfrozen soil.
- Water one to two times per month from November to April.
- It is most critical to water in March and April when the new roots are forming.
- Water at mid-day so it can soak in before it freezes.
What to water
- It is most important to water newly planted lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers.
- Established lawn areas and trees, especially those in sunny, windy, or exposed areas should also be a high priority.
- Established shrubs, flowers, ornamental grasses and groundcovers will also benefit.
- Do not winter water cacti, succulents, buffalograss, blue grama and very xeriscape plants.
How to water
- Use a hose-end sprinkler or watering wand since automatic sprinkler systems are off during the winter.
- Remove the hose from the spigot after watering to prevent freeze damage.
- Water slowly so it can soak in.
- To figure out how long to water, put out cups to catch some of the water. Water until you can measure 0.5 to 1” deep in the cups.