Our plants need moisture to tough out Steamboat winter | SteamboatToday.com

Our plants need moisture to tough out Steamboat winter

— There are many factors that affect how often to water plants in the garden. Wind, heat, south and west exposures, soil conditions, slope of the land, how established a plant is and mulch all play roles in the frequency and amount of water necessary for plant growth and survival.

Wind and heat can dry our trees, shrubs and plants quickly. South- and west-exposure gardens require more water than north and east gardens.

Healthy soil that contains organic material will require less water. Water tends to run through or run off sandy or clay soils. Add 3 inches of compost to sandy or clay soils and till the compost into a depth of 12 inches.

Land that is sloped requires more frequent watering than flat land.

Plants, trees, shrubs and lawns that have been through at least two growing seasons undisturbed in your garden tend to be more drought tolerant. This allows a plant to develop a good root system that determines its ability to go without frequent watering.

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Organic mulch helps to reduce water needs for plants, shrubs or trees. Add 1 to 2 inches of mulch to reduce moisture evaporation and prevent water-greedy weeds from growing. Cover the crowns of cut-back perennials with organic mulch to protect them from drying winds.

Plants, trees and shrubs continue to require water until snow covers the ground. If the drought continues this fall, we need to water. The most efficient means of watering is a drip irrigation system, but dragging the hoses out works, too.

Watering is best done in the morning to allow the water to reach the plant roots before freezing night temperatures. Water only when the temperatures are above freezing and the ground is not frozen. Water newly planted trees at 1 foot beyond the drip line. Check for dryness by digging 10 inches in the soil; if dry, apply water. Established trees can be watered with a sprinkler because the roots may spread outward up to two times the height of the tree.

Lawns require less water during cooler temperatures. Water will reach the roots of the grass better if you aerate the lawn.

Appropriate application of water to the landscape this fall encourages green luscious gardens next spring.

Camille C. Fisher is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions? Call the CSU Cooperative Extension office at 879-0825 or e-mail to: gardeners@co.routt.co.us.

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