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Dealing with Fall Drought

Late fall is a critical time for lawn care and moisture. Even though we've had a couple good snows, we are still experiencing drought. Taking care of your lawn, trees, and shrubs now can ensure that they return healthy and beautiful next spring.

Keep watering even after your irrigation system is winterized. Haul out the hose and sprinkler and keep watering as needed as long as our temps are warm. Don't water, however, when a hard freeze is expected. That may result in damage to your plants.

Water by temperature, not by date. Water when the air and soil are 40 degrees and above, and only water then. Don't water if there is snow covering your lawn. Water mid-day to avoid an overnight freeze that can damage your turf.

If your lawn is moving into dormancy and drying out, make sure it gests sufficient water. Push a screwdriver into the soil to see how hard the soil is. It should go down several inches easily. Dry ground will be difficult to push through. If that is the case, then you need to water.

Paying special attention to fall watering is also important for trees to mature buds and enter dormancy in a healthy condition. Colorado horticulture experts recommend watering underneath the branches within the circle bounded by the drip line. Water to a depth of 12 inches. You can water trees one or two times per month from October through March, two times monthly for young trees and for evergreens.

In dry years, established shrubs will need additional amounts of fall and winter watering. Apply 5 gallons for a small shrub (less than 3 feet), and 18 gallons for a large shrub (more than 6 feet) on a monthly basis from October through May. Newly planted shrubs will require more water, twice monthly using these same amounts at each watering. Be sure to mulch shrubs to help retain moisture.

Follow these guidelines and you will be promoting a healthier lawn, trees, and shrubs that will be more apt to thrive come Spring and Summer.


Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. (2020, Oct. 30). Tip of the week (email newsletter).

PlantTalk Colorado (1751-Fall and Winter Watering: During Drought).

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