October 16, 2015
The Importance of Fall Watering
When we think about watering our plants, we typically think about the spring and summer. You know, just before life bursts through the soil and right as the heat sucks the moisture out of the ground. What you may not know is that it is equally as important to water in the fall to prepare plants for the cold winter months. And, here is why…
Fall happens to be the time of the year when the entire landscape begins to prepare for winter. The sun is in the sky for shorter periods of time throughout the day, which signals the trees to drop their leaves. Perennials are beckoned back into the ground by frost, and most importantly, the plants are hectically trying to store sugars and various other nutrients in their roots to withstand them through the winter.
To make this transition easier for the plants, it is important that we adequately water them up until the ground freezes. This is especially true when the summer season reflects the one that we had this year – hot and dry! Of course, newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials need the extra attention as well to ensure their roots have properly taken to the soil.
Plants may not need as much water as they may have needed in the summer. However, the biggest issue we see is that folks will water through the summer and then stop watering in the fall. This is practically setting plants up for disaster for the upcoming spring. Like I’ve said before, water up until the ground freezes. Your plants will thank you come spring!
Here are a few general rules of thumb for watering in the fall:
– Water one to two times a week for trees
– Water two to three times a week for shrubs and perennials
– Shrubs and trees should have 10 to 12 inches of moist soil
– Perennials should have four to eight inches of moist soil
NOTE: watering will always be weather dependent. If the weather is drier, you may need to water more frequently or visa versa.
It would be easy to say, ‘when in doubt, water!’ But, during the dormant season the transpiration rate (the process of water movement through a plant and its evaporation from aerial parts, such as leaves, stems and flowers) of plants is much lower. Therefore, this action can cause a problem over time. If too much watering is done, airspace in the soil can become displaced with water. This can cause the trees to go into a state of stress or even die from the lack of oxygen in the soil.
As you can see, by properly watering plants in the fall it can effectively minimize injuries to trees and shrubs in the winter. It will give them a smooth transition into their dormant season. But don’t worry, if this seems like an overwhelming task and you’re unsure of just how much to water your plants, just ask! We are here to help!
Jessie Tanski | Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator
David Jones | Horticulturist, Arborist, & Customer Service Specialist