Winter Watering

January 21, 2015
  • Dormant grass in winter

Winter Watering

It may seem like taking care of your lawn is a summer activity, but there are things you should do to keep your lawn healthy even when it seems lifeless over the winter.

Winter can be extremely dry, causing plants to suffer from dehydration the same way they can in a summer drought. Winter watering is an important way to make sure your lawn stays completely healthy.

Plants that have suffered from winter dehydration may seem fine in spring as they survive off stored energy, but by late spring or early summer the damage will become visible. Dehydration damages root systems and can also make your plants more susceptible to insects or disease. Soil that gets too dry can also dry and crack, letting ice in to damage root systems.

Many people worry that if they water their lawn and the temperature drops, the frozen water may damage their plants. In reality, correct winter watering is completely safe for your plants.

Winter Watering Tips

Here are some helpful tips on winter watering to best take care of your lawn over the cold winter months.

  • Water your lawn midday, so the water has time to absorb before the temperature drops at night and only water when the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Water your lawn one to two times a month November—April, especially during March and April when plants are putting down new roots.
  • Newly planted trees, shrubs, and flowers need more water because their roots are less established. Plants in sunny areas, areas close to buildings, or in windy areas also need more water.
  • Water slowly, so the water has time to soak in. When fully soaked, you should be able to push a 6” screwdriver into the soil.
  • A cup or rain gauge can be helpful to tell how much is enough water. You should water until you have between .5 to 1 inch water measured.
  • Do not water succulents or cacti. Do not overwater winter plants such as pansies, as they are already good at surviving in these conditions.

You should also be sure to unscrew your hose from the spigot once you finish watering to avoid freeze damage. Make sure your automatic sprinkler systems are shut off as well, as they waste water and often run too early in the morning (which means water freezing on your lawn or running into the street to freeze there and be dangerous).

A little bit of attention to your lawn during the winter can make all the difference when things start warming up again. Practice winter watering and your lawn will thank you when it comes back strong and healthy in the spring and summer.

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