Watering in Late Fall

If you want to see healthy outdoor plants in the spring, it’s important to water them in late fall.  Like most all things in life, you can certainly overdo it, but the norm tends to be minimal maintenance after the leaves have been frosted and dropped of the plants.  This usually amounts to a little light raking or removal of the leaves at best.  In addition to leaf removal, maintaining adequate soil moisture is a critical step.

First, check your perennials, shrubs, trees and lawn with a simple screwdriver test.  Push your favorite tool into the soil in several places, then pull it out and look at the blade.  If it shows a dry and powdery residue, water the area with several light applications of water, allowing it to soak in before the next application.  If the blade is muddy, there is no need to water, just keep in mind that the soil surface may dry out if the weather turns to windy and warm in mid to late November.

After watering, be sure to take the hose off the outdoor water spigot to avoid damage to the plumbing.  Then, coil up the hose and bring it indoors to extend its life.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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