Question of the Week: December 7, 2017

Photo: Watering in winter requires more careful observation of your plants and their soils.

“Neil, how often should I water my lawn and landscape over the winter?”

My stock reply to that question has always been, “Whenever they’re dry.” This week’s showers aside, much of Texas has been quite dry for the past several months.

The advice still applies in the winter, except that it’s a lot more difficult to tell if they’re dry when the lawn is brown and the trees are bare. Here are my guidelines.

First and foremost, save every possible drop of water. If restrictions are in place in your city, always respect them. But yes, you probably will need to water this winter.

That said, you are probably always going to be OK if it’s been more than 10 or 15 days and you haven’t had rain (or snow!) and if you haven’t watered your plants. But unless you live in Deep South Texas or the Rio Grande Valley, you probably won’t have to water much more often than that.

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I always look at the soil. If it’s turned a lighter color, I reach down and feel it. Your eyes, your fingers and your own experiences and intuition are your best tools at determining when to water.

I have a sprinkler system, and I just turn it off over the winter. It has a “smart” controller, so in theory it would only run on an “as-needed” basis, but I just don’t want it to run unless I give it the command to do so. Some winters where we live (north of DFW), I don’t run the sprinklers at all for three or four months.

For those areas that I water with a hose and a sprinkler, I always remember to disconnect the hose and drain it after I finish. Hoses left attached to faucets can freeze and cause burst pipes in the walls of your house. I had that happen one time, and it won’t happen again!

Potted plants are an exception. Since their root balls are above ground, they tend to dry out more quickly. I water them every four or five days.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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