Winter Tree Watering Guidelines

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Winter water is vital to overall plant health during our long dry Colorado winters. A good quality garden hose and some really cold hands are the only tools you will need to get your plants through the winter in top shape for spring.

Supplemental irrigation in the “off-season” is a key component of total plant health care. Water allows the plant to maintain its current root system through our dry, windy, Colorado winters and promotes new root formation even during fall and winter.

Conifers (evergreen trees) actively produce food during fall and winter whenever the sun is shining and temperatures are favorable. Without winter water, conifers can dry out and turn a yellow/brown color, usually on the southwest side of the plant. This can lead to needle drop, stress, and even the death of the tree.

Deciduous (leafy) plants and trees also benefit from extra water in the winter. This is especially true for newly planted vegetation trying to establish a root system. Lack of winter water hinders root formation during the dormant season. This means the plant must use its stored energy to produce roots in the spring instead of using the energy to produce growth and fight insects and disease.

The width of a plant’s root system is usually twice as wide as the plant is tall. When watering, it is best to water not under, but outside the area under the tree or shrub. To allow water to soak into the soil it is best to water late in the morning when temperatures are expected to stay above freezing. General guidelines for the amount of water needed per month throughout the fall and winter seasons are as follows:

Type of Plant
Gallons of Water
Large Tree
100 gallons
Small Tree
40 gallons
Shrubs
20 gallons
Perennials
5 gallons

For more information about general tree maintenance or to request a consultation, please contact City Forester Chris Lichty at 303.335.4733.