In Fort Collins, we finished last year almost an inch below our normal, average precipitation. In the first few months of this year we’re more than one half inch below normal. Then we throw in a little wind. That adds up to a very dry fall and winter.
Our wettest month, March, has been dry. And the forecast doesn’t show a great chance of moisture for the rest of the month. It’s time to get outside and water the lawn, perennials, shrubs and trees.
I think it’s too early in the season to start up the sprinkler system. We can still get some cold weather. If the system is on, protect all above ground parts with insulation. There are some great protective covers for back-flow parts. So without the sprinkler system, it’s back to using hoses to get the watering done.
We use a sprinkler to water the lawn and landscape beds at the same time. We leave the sprinkler in one place for twenty or thirty minutes. That’s about the time it takes to puddle up in our soil. Then we move on to the next spot.
When we have watered the whole yard, we start over. The second pass with water pushes the moisture deeper into the soil. Since the wind is blowing, we will probably do a third pass to make up for the evaporation.
Drain the water out of the hoses every evening. It is really frustrating to go out to start the water on a sunny spring morning and the hose is solid ice. Take the sprinkler off of the hose. Disconnect the hose at the faucet. If one end of the hose is higher than the other, the water will siphon out.
I concentrate on watering evergreens in the fall and winter. This time of year all plants need water. Everything is getting ready to grow. Moisture ensures the nutrient flow for healthy buds, flowers, leaves and new growth. Don’t force new growth with a lot of fertilizer. Like I said we can still get cold temperatures. Plants should grow slowly as the weather permits this time of year.
While the water is on, start some gardening. Cut back ornamental grasses. Cool season grasses, like Blue Oat Grass, are already starting to grow. Cut back the dry tops on perennials. Clean out the winter debris. Spring, it’s here.
Tom Throgmorton, of Throgmorton Plant Management, can be heard on KUNC, 91.5 FM, every Saturday morning at 7:35 and 9:35 a.m.
Originally published on April 5th, 2011. Updated on April 21st, 2011.