Hot Temps, Low Moisture Make Immediate Tree Root Watering Essential on Colorado Front Range
Many Colorado landscapes are littered with scorched leaves. Some trees are already looking like fall. This is really no surprise when you think about the summer we just endured. Eighteen days with record high temperatures. Over 65 days have topped 90 degrees or above. June and July were the hottest months on record. March deserves honorable mention as being the second hottest on record. And for the year, only a paltry 5.4 inches of precipitation made it to the rain bucket.
When you walk outdoors looking at the scorched trees and shrubs, it is hard to imagine – these plants are actively growing. While landscape canopies are preparing for winter, the roots are beginning an active growth cycle. Roots don’t directly provide beauty, shade or even the branch to tie a swing to. Rather, roots do their work behind the scenes, below the soil surface by providing plant stability and absorbing water and nutrient.
This year especially, fall root growth is critical to landscape plants. Just as the above ground plant parts have suffered damage in this heat – so have the roots. But now, the roots have the opportunity to begin growing again in anticipation of spring.
What we are leading up to here is, now more than ever it will be critical that Colorado landscapes, particularly tree roots, receive fall and winter water. This isn’t a wait and see proposition. You know – “If it gets really dry this winter – I’ll water.” In order for the roots to prosper, soil moisture is essential. Don’t hold off hoping for rain and snow.
Watering will be needed even after your irrigation system is turned off for the season. Concentrate on trees and shrubs outside of your irrigated lawn area. Include plants that might be on drip irrigation systems. Drip is great for saving water, but rarely are these systems updated as the plants grow. Outdated drip systems are a primary cause of landscape drought in Colorado. Trees and shrubs in the lawn may be getting enough water while the turf is still being irrigated.
Tree root watering may be done with a soil probe, hand wand or just your regular old sprinkler head at the end of the garden hose. Avoid just letting the garden hose run and / or putting the soil probe in the ground for extended periods of time. The water needs to be applied slowly and evenly over a large space. Tree roots may grow way past the canopy edge.
In the summer, apply between 5 and 10 gallons of water for every inch of tree trunk diameter (trunk diameters are measured 4.5 feet above the ground). Small and recently transplanted trees and shrubs may need water once a week. Water large established trees twice a month. In the fall, extend the interval to every other week for transplants and monthly for larger plants. During the winter months when the soil is dry and no snowfall, watering will be needed every 4 – 6 weeks.
In addition to this regular watering, you might consider Swingle’ supplemental ReCharge™ treatment. The water we use contains Yuccah®, a natural plant extract that provides needed moisture to the soil. This helps trees and shrubs make better use of water from sprinklers and any moisture Mother Nature delivers. ReCharge™ is currently available for $75 for three trees and $15 for each additional tree, with additional discounts available.
Late summer and early fall is a magical time in Colorado. Back to school events, football games, pumpkin patches…This is a glorious time to be outdoors with friends and family. Enjoy it all the more knowing you’ve protected your investment with the best landscape care available.