Trees – a vital part of our green infrastructure – may be dormant now, but they are still susceptible to cold and dry conditions. Lack of water through the winter season can damage root systems. The weakened trees may look normal in the spring, but will usually die back later in the summer.
Protect your trees with these winter watering tips:
– Water only when the temperature is above 40 degrees with no snow or ice on the ground.
-Water early in the day, so the water can soak in before the temperature drops at night.
– Use a soaker hose to focus water on the roots and avoid spraying branches or evergreen foilage.
– Water trees one or two times per month until they begin leafing out in the spring.
Use this week’s warmer weather for a Fall water check.
1. Find and fix leaks in sprinkler systems, broken heads and exterior walls (look for water damage to outer walls). Tiny openings may have allowed below freezing temperatures to freeze a pipe last week.
2. Insulate water pipes in unheated areas by wrapping with heat-tape and insulation tubes. This will allow hot water to reach your taps faster and save energy on water heating.
3. Locate your property shut-off valve. The faster you can turn off the water during a major leak, the less property damage and less water wasted.
Continued melting means flowing snow melt and runoff. Check street gutters and storm drains near your home to make sure they’re clear of debris and functioning properly.
Clogged storm drains can cause neighborhood flooding, icy back up and nutrient overload as debris decays in the drains.Removing leaves, one of the largest urban sources of phosphorus pollution, from street gutters and drains can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban runoff by 80% (USGS 2016).
Annually, more than 50% of phosphorus in our surface waters comes from leaves in the street according to a 2016 study by the United States Geological Survey, making leaves one of the largest sources of urban phosphorus pollution.
As rain falls and flows through leaves, phosphorus leaches out much like a tea bag in water. This “leaf tea” flows through our storm sewer system to the North Platte River.
Too much phosphorus causes large and potentially dangerous algae blooms that can block sunlight for aquatic plants, clog the gills of fish, reduce levels of dissolved oxygen, and produce toxins that are harmful if ingested. It only takes one pound of phosphorus to produce 500 pounds of algae (Vallentyne 1974).
Removing leaves from the street before it rains can reduce the amount of phosphorus in urban stormwater by 80% compared to no leaf removal (USGS 2016).
Protect your waters, by sweeping leaves back onto the lawn or garden as mulch, composting them, or putting them into the City’s yardwaste container.
1. Change the Timer. Cooler weather means lawns require less water.
2. Do a thorough sprinkler system check and make necessary repairs. A line puncture 1/32nd of an inch in diameter wastes up to 6,300 gallons of water per month, which is higher than both Scottsbluff and Gering’s monthly minimum water use rate. (Rates increase for water use above 5,000 gallons per month in both cities.)
3. Plan(t) Ahead. Fall is a great time to introduce native perennials and grasses to your landscaping. They establish root systems during the fall and, once mature, will use less water and chemicals than traditional landscape plants.
Lawns can go dormant in a dry spell, but trees and shrubs remain active during growing season. We’re in the dry part of summer now, with moderate drought conditions when surface water level declines and plant growth can be stunted so please continue to water trees and shrubs.
When you water, wet the entire root area of the tree and soak the soil approximately 12 inches deep. A 6-to-8 foot tree uses about 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of water once a week.
Soaker hoses, trickle or drip systems can feed the root zone with minimum surface wetting and water waste. Alternatively, a berm around the tree or shrub base may be filled with water for slow infiltration and percolation into the root zone.