Vail Landscape Logic column: Help your yard cope with a warm, dry October
November 6, 2016
At mid-week, Colorado was tied for the fifth-warmest October on record. What does this warm/dry weather mean for our yards?
If your sprinkler system was winterized early in the month, then the lawn might need another drink. Check the soil moisture, especially on south-facing lawn areas that get full sun. They can dry quickly and will thank you for dragging out the hose one more time to water them.
If the sprinkler system is still operational, then water again before it's winterized. If you installed new sod this year, then it will likely need consistent water in the weeks ahead because the lawn's roots are not yet fully established. Winter watering may also be required.
Pansies and bulbs
Pansies will bloom throughout the winter during warm spells; keep them adequately watered to keep them blooming.
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Bulbs, though tucked under the soil, may still need water. New bulbs are now developing their roots. If the ground is too dry, bulbs can dry out, which will deter root growth and hinder the plant's ability to bloom well in the spring. In springtime, if the ground is dry, water bulb beds even before leaves emerge.
If trees have not been watered during the past few weeks, then they should probably be watered — and definitely newly planted trees. If the warm/dry weather scenario flows into winter, then be prepared to water trees regularly throughout dry months.
Why trees need consistent water: Trees are not like most of the lawns in Colorado. Lawns go dormant under drought stress as their coping mechanism and can usually be revived by watering. Trees, on the other hand, are not so resilient.
Any combination of three weather events can be the strikeout that kills a tree. For example, drought stress plus insects or disease problems plus winter storm damage in combination add up to three strikes that can out a tree. Since we have little control over insects and disease and none over the weather, providing water is the one strike we can manage.
Keeping a tree healthy by watering it regularly will also help it fight off pests and disease. Fertilization and proper pruning also bolster its viability.
Trees are the most expensive plant investment in our yards and, consequently, the most expensive to replace. Proper watering is one critical thing you can do to help maintain that investment.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.