Winter watering is essential this year.

The weather has been exceptionally dry this year, with very little precipitation up and down the Front Range of Colorado. This means that most trees are getting VERY thirsty. They’ll need winter watering in order to avoid the possibility of serious damage and/or death.

This is something you can easily do with a hose and sprinkler if the soil around your tree soaks water up fairly quickly, such as areas of mulch, lawn, or other growing groundcover. If you have bare soil that doesn’t like to soak up water and/or a slope that water would tend to run down, you may want to use an irrigation needle — view the video at the link below for more information about those.

I use a sprinkler that can be turned on low to cover an area about 5 feet wide, and adjust the spigot until I get the coverage I want. Then, I let it run for half an hour or an hour before moving it to the next spot around the dripline of the tree (see picture below). When you irrigate this way, place a number of open-topped plastic containers in the area covered by the sprinkler, and watch them to see how much water you’ve applied. This way, you can get a good idea for how long you need to run the particular sprinkler you are using. Aim to put down at least an inch of water.

You may need to water several times per winter. Water once a month if it doesn’t snow very much.

Trees that don’t have enough soil moisture can die of drought, but they can also be seriously weakened, making them more susceptible to disease or insect damage. Avoid these risks by keeping your trees irrigated.

Here are some additional resources on winter watering:

Winter watering video from Tagawa Gardens.

Fall & Winter Watering from CSU Cooperative Extension

Winter Watering from Colorado Springs Utilities