Should You Water Trees in Winter?

Should You Water Trees in Winter?

Should you water your trees in winter? If so, what are the best tree watering tips for winter weather?

Winter impacts everyone, and that includes the trees in your yard. Most people believe that since trees remain dormant during the winter season, the cold and dry conditions do not impact them. But that is far from the truth.

The reality is that trees also experience the stress of the harsh winter season. You may not be able to witness the impact of winter on trees, but internally they are impacted unless you take proper steps to provide them relief.

Editor’s Note: Keeping your trees healthy can involve more than proper watering. Dead tree branches should be removed to maintain optimum tree health. A battery-powered chainsaw is a handy tool to have in your tool shed!

Protect Trees in Winter

When it comes to providing relief, you must first know how the trees are affected by winter. Most people do not realize that if trees head into winter with dry roots, it can cause them major trouble during spring.

If your trees go without supplemental water for long periods, it can damage their root system to such an extent that they may die. Even if they may look normal during the spring season, chances are that they won’t be able to sustain beyond summer and will be dead later in the season.

To ensure that your trees survive the harsh winters without their root system getting all dried up, you need to water them. But you just can’t take out the hose and begin watering. There are certain things to consider before you go about doing that.

Here, we share with you some effective tips for watering your trees during winter.

a boy waters a tree with a hose

Maintain a Watering Schedule

Don’t completely stop watering your trees just because it’s winter. Maintain a minimum watering schedule to ensure that trees do not suffer from overly dry roots during the winter.

Before the winter season begins, water trees them regularly from early spring through fall.

Then, when winter begins, continue to water your trees adequately until the ground starts to freeze.  (In many North American climates, the soil can begin to freeze in late October or early November.)

When the cold weather continues and the ground freezes over, continue monitoring weather conditions. There may be warmer weather during the winter that will thaw the soil. When that happens, it’s an opportunity for watering your trees.

Decide When and How to Water

Most people know that they need to follow tree trimming tips for tree care in winter. That is why they take measures to get rid of lifeless branches using tree loppers to protect the trees from further damage due to snow and winter winds. But what they miss out on is that such efforts will not be enough for keeping their trees healthy if they do not water them properly.

Did you know that when you water trees in winter, you are helping to insulate the tree? Water can serve as an insulator to both the soil and the tree during the cold season. If the soil stays moist during the winter, it will remain warmer. Similarly, if the tree cells are filled with water, they have a better chance of withstanding the damage from the cold.

While watering trees in winter, remember that dormant trees won’t need to be watered as often as during the growing season. When the weather brings little to no snow, water trees about once or twice each month until they sprout new leaves in the spring.

If you live in a particularly windy area, your trees may need a little more watering. When the ground begins to thaw in the spring, get back to your regular watering schedule.

a tree branch being trimmed by a pair of loppers

Water Trees in Winter: The 40 Degrees Fahrenheit Rule

One rule-of-thumb to follow for winter tree watering is to water only when the temperature is 40 degrees F. or above. This rule holds true for not just trees but also seasonal winter plants and plants with a yearlong appeal.

Make sure that there’s no snow on the ground when watering the plants. Also, water early in the day so that your trees get enough time to absorb the moisture before the temperature dips at night.

Remember, trees like to be soaked slowly. If you have newly planted plants, they will need more frequent watering. When watering established trees, do not forget to apply water to the edge of their root spread. For most trees, the root spread is the width of their branches. This is often called the “drip line,” because that’s where rain drips down from the leaves and branches.

To water trees in winter, you can use a soaker hose to water them deeply. But take care to avoid spraying on foliage if you are dealing with an evergreen tree.

Layer with Mulch

Mulch is an effective way to conserve moisture for trees heading into winter. By layering a bed of organic mulch in the fall, you can prevent the soil from suffering moisture loss. Mulch can also help in regulating soil temperature during the cold season.

If you have planting sites, know that they remain exposed to freezing and thawing. This can create cracks in the soil and result in the drying of the tree roots. Mulch can prevent such damage by acting as a blanket.

there is no need to water trees in winter when snow is on the ground
There is no need to water trees in winter when snow is on the ground.

Water Trees in Winter: Final Thoughts

The cold season may not seem to be the time when you need to take out the hose and water trees in winter. But doing so is important if you want to keep your trees alive and healthy.

Don’t let your trees suffer from overly dry conditions in the winter. Water trees in winter to ensure they will flourish in the spring and greet you with beautiful foliage.

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