Gardening doesn't end with summer's warmth! Your landscape still needs your attention even when the temperatures drop. So while you're dreaming of spring, don't forget an important part of garden maintenance even when the temperatures drop and plants are sleeping.
Usually, Mother Nature provides everything your garden needs. Once winter's snows arrive, that white blanket provides moisture and insulation. For gardeners in areas where the ground freezes all winter and can enjoy snow cover all winter - watering may not be necessary. However, it shouldn't be far from your mind either.
Sometimes there's no white Christmas, and plants are left gasping, even when dormant. Unexpected warm spells add to the troublesome temperamental nature of Ma Nature in the winter months!
Dormant plants may not be growing above ground, but new root formation continues below throughout Autumn and even during mild winters. The fall is excellent for initiating new roots and getting your plants a jump start on spring.
For Evergreens, remember these plants transpire water when temperatures are above freezing, losing moisture through the foliage, with no soil moisture to replace it with. So it's important for you to provide it to keep your plants healthy year-round!
Fall and winter watering should be done if the ground is dry and not frozen. Without moisture at the root zone, plants suffer. If it's been dry and unseasonably warm and you know a freeze is on the way… water!
Your plants eventually use less water when dormant, so depending upon your soil type and these other factors above, watering may only be needed once a month.
Hook up your hose and water at the root zone only, soaking it thoroughly. Simply run the hose open about half speed soaking the entire root system, letting the water soak in deep.
Often it's recommended to turn off the water once it has pooled, let it soak in, and then water until it pools once more, and then repeat a couple more times until the entire area is fully saturated but not waterlogged. You can find out more about proper watering practices and Finger Test watering in our Garden Blog.
Windburn (aka: sunburn/winter burn) occurs on Evergreens and on Broadleaved Evergreens when they dry out in winter or are planted where they are exposed to cold drying wind. The effects may not show up immediately; it may take until spring for the discoloration to show up with brown or damaged foliage on one side of the plant.
Any tree or shrub that's high on a hilltop, exposed to constant wind (windbreaks and shelterbelts), or located in exposed areas with no protection is susceptible.
Making sure the soil is moist before it freezes in fall, not letting them go into winter dry, is the first step in averting damage. If your plants or your location are particularly susceptible, you can use an anti-desiccant - a spray that coats the foliage and keeps them from drying out - preventing windburn.
Often affecting Hardwood trees, Frost Crack occurs when the inner and outer tissues in the trunk expand and contract at different rates when subjected to drastic temperatures changes.
After a sunny, unseasonably warm day and the temperatures drop to freezing at night, cracks are caused by moisture rapidly expanding within the tree's xylem and phloem, causing a split to occur the length of the trunk.
Prevent frost crack in deciduous trees by not overwatering and leaving tree roots in soggy soil before a significant freeze. Stop fertilizer in July so new growth has had time to be ready for the cold and don't prune too severely whenever possible.
There are tree trunk wraps available that are white or light-colored, reflecting the bright sun and help prevent frost crack from occurring. Do not use black drain tile or black or dark-colored trunk protectors as they heat up until the sun drops and creates cracking.
While Frost Crack doesn't spell instant death, it does mar your tree and can lead to future issues if not healed or treated by an Arborist. Insects and diseases can enter the tree's insides easily through these cracks if left untreated.
When you are done watering, you will need to drain your hose and turn off the faucet in your basement to prevent costly damage. Never use your underground sprinklers or drip irrigation in winter. You also should have mulched your plants for the winter.
Just a small amount of forethought and effort ensures your tree and shrub's survivability during the toughest parts of the season. With some adequate moisture, you will be able to help your plants through the bleak winter months for a colorful spring!
Let NatureHills.com help you plan your garden, even in the bleak winter months, and help keep your landscape looking its best all year long!
Learn about the Top 5 Winter Interest Plants, so your winter garden is just as beautiful as the rest of the year!