Colorado has some of the most stunning landscape in the country and is a popular place to visit year round. But Colorado’s winter weather is very dry, which can be the real reason behind damage to the landscape rather than the cold itself, which is why continuing to water your plants in the winter is essential. Dry air and winter winds can remove water from plants and trees, and when the ground freezes, any underground water turns to ice crystals that cannot be absorbed by plant roots. Water acts as an insulator for root systems, protecting them from damage during colder temperatures. 

How much water is enough?

When it comes to fall and winter watering of your plants of grass, Colorado State University has some expert guidance for homeowners and plant lovers regarding the necessity of winter watering. Because the combination of dry air, low precipitation, little soil moisture, and fluctuating temperatures are typical in many areas of Colorado, it is often necessary to provide additional soil moisture from October through March to keep plant and tree root systems healthy and thriving, especially during times of little to no snow cover. Trees, shrubs, perennials and lawns may suffer damage during fall and winter if they do not receive supplemental water. Here are some quick tips from the CSU Extension program on when to water your plants and landscape:

  • To give your plant adequate soil moisture as they head into winter, water plants when the leaves begin to fall in the autumn.
  • Water trees, shrubs, lawns, and perennials during prolonged dry fall and winter periods to prevent root damage that affects the health of the entire plant.
  • Water only when air and soil temperatures are above 40 degrees F with no snow cover.
  • Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night.
  • Established large trees have a root spread equal to or greater than the height of the tree.
  • Apply water to the most critical part of the root zone within the drip line.
  • Plants receiving reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are more subject to damage. The low angle of winter sun makes this more likely on south or west exposures.
  • Windy sites result in faster drying of sod and plants and require additional water.
  • Lawns in warm exposures are prone to late winter mite damage. Water is the best treatment to prevent turf injury.

Following these guidelines of watering your plants during winter season can help ensure your landscape remains healthy and beautiful throughout Colorado’s colder months.