As winter approaches, one thing we can do to protect our perennial plants from winter damage is to make sure that they go into winter with moist soil. No sense in adding to an already stressful year. If we don't do some watering, trees could even survive the winter only to leaf out and die when it turns hot next summer.
All perennial plants can benefit from watering, but evergreens get the most good. Moisture continues to be lost from their foliage. Attention should also be given to newly planted trees and shrubs more at risk due to limited root systems. Only trees established more than four to five years seem to tolerate droughts like we've seen of late.
Avoid light sprinklings, instead using deep watering, working to get water down at least a foot in to the soil. Why so deep? We need as many roots as possible having access to water. Roots that actually absorb water are killed when the soil temperature reaches 28 degrees F. Those near the surface do not last long here, so we must rely on roots that are deeper, and provide moisture for them to absorb.
Check watering depth with a metal rod or wooden dowel. Either instrument will easily penetrate moist soil but will stop when dry soil is reached.
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