Watering the Landscape in Winter

watering young trees and shrubsIt’s been getting up into the low 50’s around Casper for the last three days.  I drug the hoses out and watered my flowerbeds, paying special attention to soaking the ground around the shrubs I planted last fall. It may seem strange to be watering this time of year in the northern parts of the US, but it’s a good idea to make this part of your normal gardening routine.

Our winters can be very cold and very dry. Even though we get a fair amount of snow, the snow is usually low in water content and high winds can strip the top layers of soil of any moisture during periods of no snow cover. Young shrubs are especially susceptible to damage under these conditions.

Dry is dry, and no plant can withstand dry soil around the roots for very long – even if the plant is dormant.

Dormant does not mean dead.

Dormant plants still need moisture and oxygen to maintain healthy roots. Picture yourself digging up a dormant plant in the winter and hanging it from the clothesline. Would you expect it to survive this treatment even though it is dormant? Would you expect you could leave that plant hanging on the clothesline for a week or two, stick it back in the ground, and it would come back to life next spring?

It’s a good mental picture that reminds us to water our plants – even in the northern winters. When you have no snow cover, a few days of above freezing temps and the soil thaws out, give your perennials, shrubs and young trees a drink.  You’ll be rewarded with much less winter die off come spring.

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