There is still a drought in Kansas City. Even though we recently were showered with more than an inch of rain and then a dusting of snow, we need to consider our thirsty plants and vegetation need water. After all, many of us have made significant investments.
We become rightfully concerned about our landscape. Our home foundations are an issue too. During a winter drought we should water trees, lawn and shrubs by using sprinklers and soaker hoses.
Water can be applied to landscape plants any time the temperature is above freezing. Warmer temps reassure us the soil is not frozen and the water can soak into the ground. Once the water is applied, the temperatures can drop below freezing and there will be no harm to the plants.
As a general rule of thumb, soak the soil to at least a depth of 6 to 8 inches. This holds true for the lawn, flowers and some trees and shrubs. This depth provides moisture to the crowns and a vast majority of the feeder roots. Other trees should be soaked more deeply. Research may be necessary.
How long to let the water run depends on the system applying it and the water pressure. The best way to measure your water output is with the use of a rain gauge. For example, to apply an inch of water using an impact sprinkler in a full circular pattern often takes four hours or more.
A soaking every two to four weeks is normally sufficient. When in doubt, probe the soil using a screw driver or metal rod. When the soil is dry, reapply water according to the above recommendations.
Plants most likely to suffer from winter moisture shortage are fall-established lawns, young trees and shrubs which are five years of age or less, and especially evergreens, which are at the greatest risk during a winter drought.
The rains will come again. It is already February and April showers are not that far away.