During this time of year, plants store most of their nutrients in the roots and find shelter in the ground. Also, this is the time of year to winterize your irrigation system.

To avoid damage to your irrigation system we recommend setting it to the OFF position. Since it is important to make sure your landscape stays healthy in the winter during times of drought, find a warm day once a month and deeply water your plants if we don’t get snow or rain. After watering, set your system to the OFF position again, and to avoid costly repairs, we recommend that homeowners take the following steps after watering:

1. Disconnect the water supply to your irrigation system.

2. If you manually water using a hose or if the irrigation system is attached to an outdoor spigot, you should disconnect it and cover your hose bib using a faucet cover.

3. If you have a below-ground irrigation system, locate your shut-off valve (often hidden in a 3” PVC pipe; often with a white or yellow cap, as shown in the photo). Turn it to the right to shut it off. Be careful when turning so you do not break the valve.

4. Drain the water from all pipes, valves, and sprinkler heads. Learn more about protecting your irrigation system here see the article

How much should I water this winter season? 

  • Water trees thoroughly once a month, to support your tree’s winter hardiness. Give individual trees 100-250 gallons.
  • Water turf only twice a month for about 5-7 minutes.  

How can I keep my landscape healthy this winter season?

  • Mow your lawn to 2-2.5 inches. Grass left too tall over the winter can develop brown patches.
  • Aerating and dethatching your lawn will give it a chance to breathe before the grass goes completely dormant. This also provides relief from any compaction that has built up during the warmer months.
  • Rake or blow off the leaves that have fallen on your lawn. Leaves that are left on the lawn could become moldy, which invites disease.
  • Apply a thin layer of compost. Compost acts as a fertilizer adds moisture retention capacity and improves overall turf health.
  • Add mulch but keep it away from the trunk base of your trees. Mulch helps maintain the ground at a constant temperature and helps retain moisture.
Author:   Carlos Bustos, Water Conservation Manager, Water Resources Division
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