The Q&A Archives: Winter Watering

Question: We live in Central California and average 5-6 inches per year of rainfall. Our winters are damp and foggy. We have a large yard with flowers, bulbs, grass and trees. My husband thinks watering at all during the winter is wasteful and that there is enough moisture in the air to water everything including my winter rye. Your comments?

Answer: When plants are actively growing, they need about one inch of water per week. Some plants require more, especially during the hottest summer months. However, many plants go into a dormant state during the winter. Trees, shrubs and bulbs are examples of plants normally going into a rest period during the winter months. Some warm season grasses will die out, but cool season grasses will continue to grow as long as the temperature is about 40F. So, the answer to your question depends upon what you're growing. If plants are leafing out and producing flowers in your yard during the winter months, they'll need regular watering. If they've lost their leaves. or are not producing new leaves, buds or sprouts, then they're probably dormant and can get along without supplemental watering. Established trees and shrubs usually don't require winter watering, but tender plants like annuals, perennials and grasses, if they're actively growing, should be watered regularly, regardless of the season.

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