Winter Lawn and Plant Care

Dormancy doesn’t mean drought tolerant. In fact, root die-out and root damage during the winter will happen without water and rear its ugly head in spring and summer when trees and plants begin to leaf out and flower. Watering is essential year-round even if the frequency changes by season.

Winter Watering Tips for Trees and Shrubs:

  1. Water is a good insulator for roots and plant cells. Water makes them less likely to be harmed by the cold.
  2. Watch your evergreens! They are more susceptible to drying out because they can quickly lose moisture through their needles in dry winter air. Plants such as Chinese Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense) will experience leaf curl and damage in northwest winds. So don’t let them dry out.
  3. Water 2X/month over the winter. Rule of thumb amount is to keep a moist soil at least 2” down. This may require less than 2x/month depending on weather.
  4. Water while temps are 40 degrees or higher.
  5. Water slow and deep out to the extent of the root spread. A “run and soak” method that repeats in a cycle during the watering time. This lessens water run-off and is even more important if ground is frozen.
  6. For new trees and shrubs, water out to the branch length. And for established trees and shrubs, out as far as the tree/shrub is tall.
  7. Water by mid-day to give time for soil to absorb and not sit at night when it’s coldest.
  8. Keep your mulch in good order to help regulate the soil temp. Maintain about 3” of soil in beds.

Winter Watering Tips for Lawns:

  1. Change automatic sprinklers for the winter. Dormant lawns, whether Zenith Zoysia, Zeon Zoysia, or Bermuda, need water, BUT NOT as much as during the summer and fall.
  2. Clean yard of debris, toys, and other items that might sit on the lawn. This will help keep mildew and pests to a minimum.
  3. Water so that the top 6 in. of soil can be punctured with an 8 in. screwdriver without much force. About 1 inch of water a week.
  4. Water by mid-day so water doesn’t sit into the night. This reduces mildew and fungus.
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