In many areas of the country, the winter months offer a respite from the gardening chores that take up so much of our time in summer, spring, and fall, and as the snow falls gently to the ground, blanketing our yards and gardens in white, we watch warm and happy from the window in our living rooms. In Arizona, however, winter is not the break we may think we deserve! Mild temperatures and semi-frequent rainfalls make this season the one where a majority of the work on our gardens is done, but don’t worry; you will still get a break when summer rolls around again and scorching temperatures have you watching the world go by your window as you stay cool, comfortable, and happy inside your home sweet home! This guide to watering in the winter, will help keep your plants, trees, and flowers strong and healthy enough to endure the summer heat that you try to avoid.
We Don’t Water Trees, Do We?
This is a big misconception that many transplants from other states often share, especially if their home state is lush, verdant, and features frequent rainfalls. If you have spent at least one full year here, however, you probably have seen the results of not watering far too often as you drive by neighbors homes that are newly “decorated” with fallen trees and roots that are above the ground instead of under where they belong. It is important to water your trees, and most trees should be watered every two weeks during the drier winters and every four weeks during the wetter ones. Desert trees, such as palo verdes and mesquites, are drought tolerant will thrive with watering every four weeks—possibly five if the season has been especially rainy!
What About the Grass?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to winter grass in Arizona, and the answer on whether to water or not depends on which school you fall under. Those who want the lush and verdant green of winter rye grass will obviously have to water it to keep its rich emerald color; the question they may have is how OFTEN should the grass be watered? The answer changes with the amount of rain we have during the winter. In a rainy year, lawn caretakers can get away with watering every seven days, but if it is dryer than normal, watering every three days is recommended. If you belong to the group that prefers letting their Bermuda grass go dormant during the cooler months, no watering is necessary, as seasonal rain offers enough moisture to keep the grass alive.
Vegetable Gardens Require Less Watering in the Winter
There are a large variety of vegetables that do well in the desert, especially in the winter, including (but not limited to) the ABCs of vegetables—arugula, broccoli, and cauliflower. Watering needs do change when the mercury drops, and we at New Image Landscape and Pools have the info you need to keep your winter vegetable garden alive and thriving. The general rule is that one inch of water per week is the acceptable amount (and this includes when it rains), but if the season is especially dry, you should double the amount of water provided. As the temperatures rise over 60 degrees, consider watering an extra half inch for every 10 degrees of rise in temperature.
As you may expect, nearly all plants, trees, grass, and yes, bushes, need water in the winter to survive, but for your bushes and hedges, they will need less than what you give them in the summer. As a matter of fact, they may do ok without water if the Phoenix area is experiencing a wetter winter, such as the one we lived through in 2018. There was so much rain that year, it often felt like we were living in the tropics, NOT the desert, and the wildflowers that bloomed that spring were spectacular! But fast forward to the winter of 2020-2021, and except for a few sprinkles interspersed throughout the weeks, it has been extremely dry, making it necessary to water regularly. Once a week should do it, but if the dry trend continues, you may want to up the watering schedule to twice a week.
The Beauty of Wildflowers in the Spring
Yes, wildflowers grow in the spring, and this article is about winter watering, but for dormant seeds to sprout, the more water they get, the better. Of course, if the season is a wet one, you can plan on watering less—about once every three to four weeks. In dry winters, however, the lack of moisture may signify a dull spring, as the wildflowers fail to bloom, but there’s always the hope that next winter will be wetter and your seeds will blossom fully!
You may be surprised there is so much to think about when it comes to watering your plants, but we’re not! We make our living by ensuring we know all there is to know about landscapes and pools. Give us a call today and let’s get your yard in tip top condition!