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Winter Watering Tips for Trees

Trees are one of the most valuable assets in a landscape. With ongoing drought in Colorado, winter watering is more important than ever to preserve your investment.

In the winter, trees go dormant. This means nutrients and water are not transported from the soil to the canopy of the tree. Instead, the water and nutrients are held in the roots for growth and storage. A tree's roots grow horizontally and can spread two to four times wider than the height of the tree, and wider than the tree's canopy. Here are some winter watering tips to make sure your trees survive and thrive:

  • Water should be applied within the entire canopy of the tree.

  • Water deeply and slowly to many locations under the canopy.

  • To assure the survival of a tree, apply 10 gallons of water for each inch of the tree's diameter, measured at knee height, per watering.

  • Apply mulch within the canopy at a depth of three to four inches, leaving six inches between the mulch and trunk.

  • As long as daytime temps are above freezing and the soil is not frozen, you can water your trees.

  • A good rule of thumb is to water your trees twice a month in winter.

According to the USDA Forest Service, healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value. Having to replace a tree is costly and it often takes years to replace the full value. Paying attention to the specific water needs of trees can pay healthy returns to a property. This means paying attention to trees in the winter too.


Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (2021, Jan. 22). Tip of the Week: Water Your Trees.

Jain Irrigation USA Blog (2018, Jan. 2). 3 Reasons Why You Need to Water Trees in Winter. Author: Richard Restuccia

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