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Proctor's Garden: Tips for winter watering

Long, dry periods during fall and winter will cause injury or death to parts of the root system of trees, shrubs and perennials.

DENVER — Yes, it’s cold out and yes, it’s still necessary to water. One thing we tend to forget once the temperature gets so cold is winter watering. 

Because Colorado has dry air, low precipitation and big swings in temperatures, winter watering is crucial to the success of our gardens come spring.

Long, dry periods during fall and winter will cause injury or death to parts of the root system of trees, shrubs, and perennials.  

Newly planted gardens and lawns that are still getting established need supplemental water when Mother Nature isn’t cooperating and providing us snow or rain. For example, a newly planted tree can take up to a year to get its root system established, and water is crucial to that process.

Water when it’s above 40 degrees and when the ground isn’t frozen.  Mid-day watering is best, so the water has time to soak in before possible freezing at night.  

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Some areas on the east and north side of my garden are still under a little blanket of snow or ice, so those areas are OK. However, the gardens that are exposed to the sun all day, every day need winter watering.

My south facing gardens receive heat reflected off the house, walls and fences, while the north side is subject to our drying winter winds.

Now through March, continue to keep an eye on your soil and how much precipitation we receive. If a month goes by and we haven’t received decent snow or rain, water one to two times per month.

Winter watering is a labor of love, this is not the time to turn your sprinklers on. Use a hose, watering can or bucket and please make sure to disconnect your hoses and drain them when you’re all done.

Wintering watering is a little like washing your car this time of year.  As soon as you do it, it’ll snow the very next day.

> More information on winter watering can be found on Colorado State University's Extension website.

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