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The Salida Tree Board reminds homeowners that it is important to water both established and newly planted trees during the winter months. Precipitation during the recent growing season has been about normal, but November has been dry, and the long-term forecast is for below-normal snowfall.

Giving trees additional moisture during the winter ensures that they will be ready to grow and thrive in the spring. The Colorado State Forest Service notes that, “Overly dry trees become susceptible to root and branch die-back, and subsequent insect and disease problems.

Water slowly: Apply the water with a soaker or drip hose, a watering wand, or a sprinkler on a low setting so that the water will penetrate deeply. Apply 10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter.

Image Courtesy Salida Tree Board and Ryan Wiegman

Water when it is warm: Trees should be watered when any snow has melted and the air temperature is above 40 degrees. Winter watering is especially important for evergreens as they do not go dormant for the winter. If the ground is frozen, it is especially important to water slowly so the moisture will infiltrate.  Check for frozen soil by inserting a long, thin screwdriver.

Water a wide area:  For established trees, root systems can extend out several times the height of the tree, with most roots in the top 12” of the soil. Both recently planted and established trees should be watered over the entire area between the trunk and the drip line (the distance to the outer-most branches), and even beyond that for established trees if possible.

Mulch thickly: Apply mulch 2-4” deep in a circle to the dripline or for larger trees, in a circle up to 3’ wide.  It is important to keep the mulch 3” from the trunk!  The mulch can be wood chips, bark, leaves, and evergreen needles, gravel, or decorative stones. Organic mulches will need to be renewed periodically.

Repeat as necessary: Trees that were planted within the year should be watered every two weeks if there is no snow cover. Trees that have been in the ground for less than three years should be watered monthly. Water more mature trees, if there is extended warm weather with no snow on the ground,  monthly or bi-monthly.

If you have questions, contact the tree board at