The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Water Trees in Winter

We’ve enjoyed a mild, warmer winter thus far in the Omaha area but it has been very dry with very little snow and rain. There is one very glaring precaution while we have been enjoying such a mild winter….your landscape. Trees and shrubs need water to survive and the climate just has not produced.

To keep your trees and shrubs healthy this winter you will need to supplement the moisture they are not getting naturally. Break out that garden hose and allow a slow stream of water to saturate the ground for several hours in and around your trees and shrubs. The ground is frozen so it will take a long time to soak in. 4-5 hours of a mild trickle to the edges of the drip line should save the trees from winter kill. Maybe try to water 2 trees a day ensuring the whole drip line is saturated.

DO NOT forget to remove the hose from the spigot each night prior to the nightly freeze.

Most of us don’t think about the fact that trees need water during the winter. They drop their leaves and go into an apparent dormant state, so we tend to forget about them. What we don’t realize is that beneath the ground there is still plenty of activity going on. The roots continue to grow throughout the winter and need adequate water to survive.

There are few outward signs of drought stress on deciduous trees during the winter. During months when they have leaves, drought is noticeable because of leaf yellowing, wilting, curling at edges, brown tips, and dropping leaves. During the winter though, there are no leaves to act as drought indicators. Evergreens on the other hand, may turn yellow, red or purple. They also may turn brown at the tips of the needles and the browning may progress through the needle towards the twig.

Often times, drought stress may not kill a tree outright but it will set it up for more serious secondary disease and insect infestations in following years. To insure a good growing season, care must be taken to supplement the water needs of the trees throughout the year.

Trees should be watered to a depth of about twelve inches below the soil surface. The soil should be saturated within the drip line which is the area out to the outer edges of the trees branches. This will ensure that water is dispersed to all of the roots. On evergreens, water should be distributed 3 to 5 feet beyond the drip line on all sides of the tree.