Remember to Water Tree Roots in Winter Months
It may seem like your trees hibernate for the winter, but the truth is that there’s still plenty of action going on below ground. Roots continue growing beneath the soil, and they need water and nutrients year-round. Adequate winter watering, along with occasional fertilization if indicated, ensures healthy trees when spring blossoming comes.
Winter Watering Challenges in Colorado
Winter watering of trees and shrubs presents some special challenges in Colorado’s cold, dry winter climate. Because much of our soil is compacted clay, water isn’t absorbed as quickly as it is in looser soils. And frozen ground won’t let water penetrate, so you need to water when the air temperature is at least 40°F and the snow cover has melted.
The key to effective watering is getting sufficient water deep enough to reach the active root system, and that means either slow watering with a soaker hose or deep-root watering with an injector. Because of the time it takes to deliver adequate water with a soaker hose, start watering in late morning or early afternoon so the water has time to penetrate before the ground freezes overnight. Deep-root watering is quicker, so it can be done any time the soil is workable.
How Much Watering is Enough?
Your trees may need more water than you think. Snow melt can provide some of the required moisture, but winter snow in Colorado tends to be powdery and dry, so unless there’s a lot of it, you’ll still want to supplement it with watering. Colorado State University recommends 10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter spread evenly across the tree’s root zone, typically the area below the spread of the branches. Smaller trees (up to 3” diameter trunks) should be watered weekly; medium trees (4-8” trunks), three times per month. Larger trees can be watered twice a month at 15 gallons per trunk inch.
Deep Root Watering and Fertilizing Services
If you want to avoid the hassle of winter watering, Donovan Arborists offers Deep Root Water and Fertilizing Services. We use injectors to deliver water to the critical root zone 6-12” below the soil surface. It’s quick and efficient, and we can add fertilizer if the need exists.
In addition to winter watering, Donovan Arborists seasonal pruning, and shearing services in the Denver area. We’re happy to give free estimates to homeowners and property managers for any services you may need.