So far this winter season precipitation has been 30% below normal for New Mexico. According to the National Weather Service statewide average day temperatures are 56.6 degrees, which is 2.1 degrees above the normal of 54.5.  

With that said, we are starting out the year with intensified drought conditions. Your landscape needs more care and attention when we are facing higher temperatures and low precipitation.

Here are a few suggestions for minimizing plant damage and mortality in times of drought:

  • Water mid-morning (around 10am) with a hose when it is above 40F. This way, water can soak into the ground and be absorbed by plants before the evening’s freezing temperature returns. Disconnect your hose and roll it up to drain after watering.
  • Don’t prune back shrubs and flowering plants yet. Let any additional plant material act as insulation that helps keep plants protected and, ultimately, healthier.
  • Top dress planters and beds, or around shrubs and trees, with your leaf litter or a 3” layer of shredded wood chip mulch. This will help insulate and regulate the root zone. By doing this, less water is needed to keep plants healthy.

Watering isn’t always needed in the winter when landscapes are dormant, but in times of drought follow this watering advice to keep plants healthy:

  • Trees and shrubs: Water plants deeply, trees especially, at least once this month unless we receive more than a half inch of rain or more than 6″ of snow.
  • Turfgrass: Water your lawn every other week this winter. NMSU conducted research on winter lawn watering and determined that in order to maintain optimal year-round health, your lawn needs to be watered twice a month in the winter.
  • Evergreens: Conifers are particularly susceptible to wind, which dries them out.  Water them deeply a minimum of one time this month, but you’ll want to add about ¼ more water to evergreens than to other trees or shrubs.

As always refer to our Watering Recommendations for guidance. Download the .pdf for your refridgerator here.

Author:  Carlos Bustos, Conservation Manager & Richard Perce, Irrigation Efficiency Specialist with the Water Resources Conservation Department for the Water Authority. Have a question about the article?