The Q&A Archives: Winter Watering

Question: I have planted shrubs in the past week, it has been a few days since I have watered. We are expecting a freeze tonight, should I water today?

Answer: Keep in mind that the goal with watering is to keep the soil evenly moist like a wrung out sponge, not sopping wet and not dried out. It should be kept damp any time the soil itself is not frozen hard. In cool weather you may not need to water much, if at all. Using an organic mulch several inches thick in a flat layer over the root area will help keep the soil more evenly moist. There is no set schedule for watering because how fast the soil dries depends on the type of soil and also on the weather.

To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp you do not need to water yet. A slow, deep watering less often is better than a daily light watering because it encourages deep rooting. After watering, wait a few hours and then dig down to see how far the water soaked in; it can be surprising.

Since these are new shrubs, check the potting mix right at the roots as well as the surrounding soil, sometimes these can dry out at different rates. Good luck with your new shrubs!

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