winter irrigation

Landscape in Denver /

Its Time to Water Plants

The spritz of snow we had this week is a drop in the bucket when it comes to moisture needed to keep plants healthy. This is not a time to be complacent about dry plants. We need +/- 10 inches of snowfall to equal 1 inch of moisture.

Most winters along the Front Range, there is not enough snowfall to give plants the moisture they need.

Remember, this is dry Colorado and even leafless trees and dormant lawns need winter water. This year’s exceptionally dry fall means watering is already in order.

Adding supplemental water during the fall and winter keeps roots from drying out. Plants that receive water consistently will enter the spring as healthier plants.

Did you plant new trees, shrubs or perennials this season? If so, they are likely long overdue for a good soaking if they have not been watered since the sprinklers were winterized. Plan to check soil often and water throughout the winter.

What about other plants? Any plants, if the soil is dry down to a 3-inch deep, need water.

When can you water? Anytime daytime temps are above freezing and the soil is not frozen, plants can be watered.

What about lawns? Even though lawns appear dormant, they still need supplemental water especially areas of high sun exposure which tend to suffer winter kill.

How should you water?

  • Trees and shrubs are watered most effectively with a hose and a deep-root watering device attached. Because you insert it well into the soil, you will get more water into the root zone than by simply watering the surface of the soil. Water in a circle that corresponds to the area on the ground where the tree branches end. Place the device at about 18-inch intervals as you water.
  • For lawns, use a garden hose with a sprinkler. Water long enough so that the soil is thoroughly soaked without run-off. Water sloped areas in shorter periods, but more than once so water soaks in without running off.  (Credit to ALCC)

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Landscape in Denver /

Winter Watering Protects and Enhances Your Landscape

The residential landscape is not only an outdoor living space but is an investment and an asset. Plants are an essential piece to the value of that investment but do require proper care. Overall the care for plants is simple but it entails year round attention. Located in a high mountain desert landscape our winter conditions are very dry with fluctuating temperatures. These conditions will weaken the root structure and can cause plants to die in the warmer summer months. A damaged root system may not show signs of stress until the warmest times of the season when a plant is more apt to evaporation and requires a higher frequency of watering.

To protect the longevity and aesthetics of your plants practice a simple winter watering routine. For the best results plan on watering your plants when the ground is not frozen and free of snow and the soil and air temperatures are at least 40 degress farenheit. It is ideal to water around mid day to provide ample time for saturation before sundown and lower overnight temperatures.

New Plantings are the most susceptible to these risks because they have not had enough time to root in and adapt to their settings but existing plantings and trees still must be watered as well.


Watering should not be done using an automated irrigation system but instead should be done by hand.To reduce the consumption of water; apply water directly to the critical root zone under the drip line of the plants branches and avoid using spray systems.Established trees may require subterreanean watering.

Trees: 10 gallons of water for every inch of its diameter. (ex. 3″ diameter=30 gallons of water)

New Shrubs: 5 gallons of water 2 times a month

Small Established shrub: 5 gallons once a month

Large Established shrub: 18 gallons a month

*Reduce amount of watering to account for times of precipitation


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