One of the common issues surrounding landscaping is watering, more specifically watering too much or not enough. Often HOA communities are guilty of overwatering everything. When you live in Utah, the summers can get very hot, and for homeowners who like green lawns, this can lead to lawn care workers overwatering lawns. However, underwatering plants in winter becomes increasingly common as the weather turns chill.
Grass likes water. So do trees and shrubs, but trees and shrubs don’t like overwatering. It tends to drown them. But there’s one other problem that we’ve been facing in recent years, and this deals with our drought season.
For the last two winters, we have received very little snow in many of our active adult communities. This coming year is so far not looking like it will be any better, though we can all hope it is. The problem we face is underwatering plants in winter.
How Does Underwatering Plants In Winter Happen?
Every winter, at least here in Utah, most of our trees and shrubs go dormant. This is not new to most residents of our climate. However, what many people don’t realize is that even in dormancy, trees and shrubs need water, for trees and shrubs drink in their sleep.
Normally, this isn’t a problem. Sure, we don’t generally water our yards in the winter, for obvious reasons. Trees and shrubs don’t need as much water in dormancy either. What water they do require is usually delivered through snowmelt.
Utah supposedly has the greatest snow on earth, unless we’re in a drought season. This snow builds up around our yards and plants. Throughout the winter, some of it melts into the ground. A lot of it freezes there, but the roots collect enough to keep the plant alive through the winter. A plant’s needs in winter are similar to a bear in hibernation: they still expend (and consequently need) energy, just not a lot.
Because dormant plants still need water to survive, when we get through a really dry winter, it is not uncommon to see many of our trees, especially the younger ones, along with our shrubs, die.
How to Save The Trees
The obvious way to avoid underwatering plants in winter and keep our plants alive in this situation is to water them. This may go against everything you’ve ever learned about taking care of your yard in the winter, but if those trees and shrubs can’t get enough water from the snow, we need to water them by hand.
It would be nice if sprinkler lines didn’t freeze so easily, we could just set our timers to water automatically once every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, cold temperatures don’t work well with rigid pipes, so if you find that your yard isn’t getting very good snowpack, you might benefit from taking a watering can out to your yard and giving those critical areas a much needed drink.
You can also attach a hose to your culinary water, but be careful. Many exterior spigots, though attached to your house’s culinary supply, will freeze and cause major damage if you leave the hose attached after watering. If you opt to keep your plants alive through a dry spell with a hose, always detach the hose after use, otherwise you may find that underwatering plants in winter is not your biggest concern.
Keeping your plants alive in the winter is not something we generally have to worry about around here, but when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with us, sometimes we need to help things along. You shouldn’t have to water them every week as you do in the summer, just every once in a while when things are getting too dry for too long.