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Getting Ready for Winter
Just because it is close to winter doesn’t mean that you outdoor gardening is done. There are just a few more things to do before the snows come and getting out in the garden is only a dream until spring comes. The past few years, our falls in the Midwest, have been dry. This year we have been getting ample rain. Our trees, evergreens and perennials should be all right. Depending on where you live and the amount of moisture your area has received, you should probably do some watering.
Evergreens, spruce and fir trees need that extra bit of water to make it through the winter. Evergreens continue to use water until the ground freezes hard. Deciduous trees go dormant during the winter months, but evergreen trees continue to grow. If these trees don't receive enough water going into the winter months, they will have winter damage. The best way to tell if they had damage is if their needles turn bright orange or brown when spring comes. Those needles will die, and fall off. The branches will be bare of needles and no new needles will grow in their place because of the damage.
How Much Water
By watering your evergreens before it becomes too cold to do so, you can prevent this damage. Simply put your hose on a slow trickle around the tree's root system. An inch of water a week will give your plants what they need to get through the long winter months.
There is an easy method to know how far down you have watered. After watering with a trickle hose for about 50 minutes or so, simply stick a trowel into the ground to see how deep the water has gone. If it is wet six inches, that means you have an inch of water that the plants need.
Watering Deciduous Trees
Trees and shrubs go dormant through the winter. In fact, as soon as their leaves change color, they no longer take up any water through their roots. It is important that you make sure they have enough water to survive before that happens. Watering requirements are the same as evergreens.
Perennials may look like they have finished growing until spring, but they still need the extra water before their winter slumber. What you need to do to prepare your perennials for winter is to cover them with 3 to 4 inches of mulch. This will keep them from heaving out of the ground during the freeze and thaw times.
Adequate and thorough watering for your perennials, shrubs, trees, and evergreens in the fall will keep them happy through the long winter months. A layer of mulch will help ensure that your perennials will come back when spring comes next year. The less winter kill you can prevent, the less planting you will have to do next spring.
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