The balancing act of watering your trees in the fall and winter is important. Established trees should be watered two to three times a month in the fall season and once a month in the winter season. If not watered properly, trees that get too dry during this time can suffer stress and drought injury. This often does not show up until the heat of the following summer, which then makes trees more susceptible to pests and disease. Fall is the time to set your trees up for winter success.
Other important factors to consider when watering trees:
- Newly planted trees (trees planted within 1-3 years), are more susceptible to damage from dry conditions and should be watered more frequently than established trees. Try watering them to a depth of 24 inches three times a month in the fall and twice a month in the winter.
- Evergreen trees lose water through their needles in the dry winter air. They need more stored-up water going into the winter season to make up for that. Cold, dry winds can strip water from evergreens faster than their roots can absorb it, too. That is why it is especially important to provide enough water in the fall and during dry, warm spells in the winter.
- Even though they lose their leaves, deciduous trees should also not get too dry in the fall and winter. Water acts as an insulator for both the tree and soil. Soil that stays moist will be warmer. Likewise, plant cells that are plump with water will be less susceptible to damage from the cold. Water deciduous trees to a depth of 24 inches twice a month during the fall and once a month in the winter.
- When watering any tree, remember to apply water out to the edge of the tree’s canopy drip line. Most established trees have a root spread equal to their height and beyond. Water deeply and avoid spraying foliage. Watering to the right depth depends on your specific soils, so you will want to measure how much water it takes your soils to reach 24 inches deep. Read this article for tips on measuring watering depth.
One of the best things you can do for your trees in the coming months is to add mulch. Layering three to four inches of organic mulch protects the soil from moisture loss and helps regulate soil temperature throughout the winter. Treebates for bulk organic mulch is available.
Pro Tip: “Watering to the right depth and managing the frequency of watering are both very important aspects of keeping our plants healthy throughout the year, but especially in the fall and winter months,” says Patrick Chavez, Trees of Corrales Wholesale Nursery.