At Dowco, we often get lots of questions regarding winter watering tips. During a normal mid-November, you would still have plenty of time to plan and prepare but a cold spell appears to be settling in for the remainder of the month so, ACT FAST.
The weather forecast for the end of November 2014 looks bitterly cold with temperatures tracking as much as 20 degrees below normal! It appears we may get an early dose of old man winter.
How to prepare your plants for cold temperatures by watering
All plants, especially evergreens benefit greatly from going into winter with adequately moist soil. What do we mean by adequately? A consistent, moderate amount of moisture in the surrounding soil is the key to winter watering.There are two main reasons you want to be sure your soil has good moisture heading into winter.
1. Provide extra insulation for plant roots and slow the freezing processSoil with adequate moisture provides extra insulation for plant roots and can slow the process of freezing. Think of how much longer it takes for a lake to freeze compared to a bucket of water. Soil with good moisture will have pores that are holding water. The roots of the plants are able to twist and grow through these pores. Winter watering is important because as the water in the pores freezes it provides an insulated barrier between the cold air and the plant roots.
2. Prepare the plant to defend against desiccation
As the soil temperature drops below freezing, the water in the pore spaces will begin to freeze until all of the water that the plants have access to become frozen. The only moisture the plant has available now is what it was able to take up before the freeze.For deciduous trees and shrubs this normally is not a serious issue because they have entered dormancy and their stored reserves will last until spring. Evergreens, on the other hand, still have active tissue in their needles and broadleaves. As the winter winds pick up, they do their best to desiccate the evergreen foliage. Hollies, boxwoods and other broadleaf evergreens are particularly susceptible without proper winter watering. A plant that was able to take up a sufficient amount of water before the ground froze is better prepared to defend against this desiccation. So in these last few days before the ground begins to freeze you can still get the moisture your plant and soil needs to them.To guarantee good moisture Dowco recommends a long slow soak before the threat of dipping temperatures. The cold front coming through this week does not appear to be bringing much moisture with it and the temperatures will be dropping quick and not rebounding for many days possibly even multiple weeks. You can water during the day or in early evening before the temperature drops back below freezing. But always remember to disconnect and drain your hose!
Want to read more on how to avoid winter burn? Click here.
Ready for some help with your winter watering? We service lawns in these areas: Chesterfield, Wildwood, Town & Country, Ladue, St. Albans, Ellisville, Glencoe, Ballwin and more!