Should I Still be Watering Trees in Winter?

Yes? When? How Much?

Watering trees

Now that leaves are falling and plants are gearing up for the dormant season, you may be wondering if you should still be watering trees. The short answer: yes. Learn when and why a tree may need more or less water during winter.

Why You Should Still Be Watering Trees in Winter

Even though trees are dormant during the winter, it doesn’t mean they’re completely safe from cold and dry conditions. The harsh, dry winter weather stresses a tree and dry roots exacerbate the problem. Plus, now that the trees have lost all their leaves, you have one less sign to tell you a tree needs help.

While trees can still get water from rain and melting snow, you can help them out by keeping them properly watered. It won’t need as much as it does during the growing season, but you should still pay attention to the weather conditions to gauge how much.

Not only is water one of the life forces of a tree, but moist soil acts as an insulator to help keep the roots warm. Under the right conditions, you can help keep the soil moist and your tree resting a little easier this season.

When to Water Trees in Winter

If there’s little to no snow accumulation or precipitation during the winter months, it’s a good idea to water trees at least once a month. If you live in an area with a lot of wind, you may want to water more since this can dry the plants out faster. Use this checklist to pick the right time to water:

  1. It’s warmer than 40F. No sense in watering if the water will almost immediately freeze.
  2. There’s no snow or ice around. This will eventually melt and you don’t want to overwater and create too much moisture.
  3. It’s early in the day. Plants will have more time to absorb the moisture before the temperature drops.
  4. There are at least two inches of dry soil. If there’s any moisture closer to the surface it doesn’t need water.

When you do water, trees prefer slow, deep soaks instead of short bursts, especially if it’s an evergreen or newly planted tree. These need extra care and attention.

Other Ways to Water

There are some ways you can help your trees this winter without breaking out the hose late in the season. Before you winterize your hose, give your plants a good, deep drink in the late fall. Then add a layer of mulch to the soil to act as an insulator and hold moisture in. Once the ground freezes, limit the water to every few weeks while there is no snow on the ground.

Watering your trees throughout the winter may seem silly, but you’ll see the difference with a healthy tree that beautifully blooms in the spring.