Trees in urban and suburban areas are susceptible to drought injury, even in the winter. To carry trees through the colder months and into the growing season, homeowners will need to water occasionally. This is especially critical for newly planted trees.
In North Texas, the soils rarely freeze in the winter and never more than a few inches deep. As a result, the root system of a tree is active and can dry out if there is not adequate moisture in the soil. Turf grass and other plants also require moisture in the winter to carry them through to Spring.
Winter watering tips for trees:
1. Water if there is no appreciable rain for three weeks.
2. Water when it is above 40 degrees, and there is no snow or ice on the ground. Apply water to entire area of the root zone, not just up against the trunk. The root zone of a tree is the circle around the tree that extends out beyond the edge of the crown.
3. Water slowly, or if using an automatic sprinkler system, run through the zone at least three times to achieve a deep soaking. Allow for 10 gallons of water per inch of the tree’s diameter. For information on setting your sprinkler system for trees, please see our post on Watering for Trees and Grass.
4. Apply organic compost if there is turf grass on the root zone. If there is no turf grass, apply mulch. Compost and mulch help the soil to retain moisture. This is important during winter months as well as in the summer. Be sure to leave the base of the tree trunk free of mulch. The trunk and its root flares should be left exposed.
5. Monitor soil moisture levels to ensure that your tree, turf grass, and other plants are getting adequate water.
Maintaining a watering schedule for your trees during the winter months will help to keep your tree in top health throughout the year. If you have any questions about the specific application of the above tips, please do not hesitate to call Tree Shepherds to schedule an appointment with one of our ISA Certified Arborists.