Use a shovel or pitchfork to test your soil to see if you should water your plants in winter for best results

Low soil moisture, low precipitation and wild swings in temperatures can cause lots of problems for many landscape plants. Many established plants can be harmed, but newly planted plants are especially susceptible to winter damage. 

Remember, keeping your trees and shrubs stress free is the key to success. Healthy and vigorous plants can ward off insect and disease problems much easier than plants that are weak and stressed.

Protect Evergreen Trees and Shrubs from Winter Burn

Was it dry in your region last fall? In areas where very dry fall weather precedes winter, there can be problems like winter burn and desiccation to evergreen trees and shrubs. Dry soils going into winter can also cause root damage, which can affect the entire plant come spring.

We are also seeing very mild winter weather in many areas that typically get lots of cold and snow. Many of these areas have soil that is not frozen. When the soils are not frozen and is very dry, the plants can be susceptible to winter damage. Protect your investment of new landscaping with winter watering.

Use the Shovel Test to See if Your Soil is Dry

Get your shovel or pitchfork out of the garage and stick it into the soil to see if you have any frost in the soil. If you can push your tool into the soil easily, then you should consider adding some moisture to the root zones of plants. This is especially true if you haven’t received lots of rainfall last fall or early this winter.

If the ground is frozen, additional moisture is not going to get into the soil and so is not necessary at this time. If you've gotten good rain or snow fall, you will not need to give additional moisture at this time. 

Which Plants Are Especially Vulnerable to Dry Winter Soil Conditions?

Any evergreens or broadleaved evergreen trees or shrubs, any newly planted trees and shrubs, and any new landscape plants will appreciate some additional moisture added, if the soil is dry and unfrozen at this time.

There are other established plants that will appreciate some winter watering, including all evergreens like Japanese yews, Arborvitae, Spruce, Pine and Fir. Broadleaved evergreens like Boxwood, Holly, and Euonymus transpire water through their leaves all season, so give them water as needed. Birch trees, Dogwood trees, and Maple trees such as: Red, Silver, Norway and Hybrid will appreciate additional watering. Some trees like Mountain Ash, Willows, Lindens and Beech trees will all be happier with additional moisture.

Dry soils that are frost free are tough on many of your plants, so give them a monthly drink if needed. Water during winter as needed for the best health for all of your new and established plants in your landscape!