shovel_snow1.jpgShoveling snow is a kind, courteous thing you can do for the pedestrians and joggers in your neighborhood (thank you!!), but this week, I realized that there is another great reason to make the effort to shovel snow. Getting the snow off of hard surfaces and onto turf areas, dormant vegetable beds, and perennial beds makes really good sense in our arid (DRY!) climate.

We had a pretty decent wet, heavy snow a few days ago, a snow like I don’t remember having in a very long time. As I was enjoying some quality time with the snow shovel after that storm, I suddenly had the thought “I’m winter watering!” (more…)


Drought-stressed American Elm

I fear I’ve started to sound like a broken record these past few winters (“We’re having another DRY winter,” etc, etc). Yes, we’re having another very very dry winter, AND we’re having exceptionally warm temperatures. Usually I wait until early in January to send out a winter watering reminder, but this year, it feels really important to get the reminder out now. (I promise more on our current water situation will be coming soon.)

Local tree services are reporting big increases in calls about failing established trees and shrubs, including lilacs! Even I’ve never really worried too much about winter watering my established lilacs. I’m sure some of the problem stems from not-particularly-xeric plants that were not adequately watered the past few winters or during the summers (which have also been dry). But even drought-tolerant species need a minimal level moisture, and recently, they’ve been rather challenged to get it! So this is a bit of a wake-up call to not just focus on our new trees and shrubs when winter watering during these dry years. (Take a look at some of the downtown medians if you want to see what happens when we neglect big, established trees during drought.)

xeri_winter.jpgWe are experiencing (yet) another dry winter here in the Pikes Peak area, and that means we get to participate in that unique western (or southwestern) gardening experience, winter watering.

When I first bought my house here, it never occurred to me to put out the sprinkler at any point between October and May. Hence, after our second winter in the house, we lost half of the backyard – the half that was never shaded by the garage or the trees. Since then, I’ve learned that many plants in our area need to be watered during dry spells in the winter.

Why Water in Winter?
Yes, our plants are mostly dormant over the winter, and so it can seem strange to water when they aren’t actively taking up and transpiring water. So why do we do it? Well, even though the tops of most of our plants are looking pretty dead right now, they still (hopefully) have live roots in the soil. Those roots aren’t taking up water, but if the soil around them is dry, the soil will slowly take moisture from the roots, drying them completely. So, when we winter water, we’re actually watering the soil! (more…)