The Kansas City area has been in a drought for quite some time now, with one of the driest and hottest years on record. At the current moment all of the counties in the area are in D2 category of drought condition with some eastern parts of Leavenworth County coming in at D3 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Drought Monitor is a collaborative effort between a number of federal agencies including NOAA/NWS, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center. The D2 drought condition is defined as; crop or pasture losses likely; fire risk very high; water shortages common; water restrictions imposed, whereas D3 is major crop/pasture losses; extreme fire danger; widespread water shortages or restrictions.
This will negatively affect all plants, but some plants in our landscapes are more prone to drought. Lawns and deciduous trees are more tolerant to drought conditions than conifers or evergreen trees and shrubs. That is why care should be taken to prevent evergreen or conifer plants from drying out in the winter. Evergreens could actually die by spring if not watered in the winter to prevent desiccation of the plant. Evergreens are actively growing and photosynthesizing throughout the whole year, while turfgrass and deciduous trees go dormant in the winter time. That is why special care is needed to keep these plants healthy in winter months.
Watering these trees and shrubs during times in the winter when the soil isn’t frozen and the temperature is above freezing is the best way to care for evergreens. Slow deep watering is the best practice for getting the plant hydrated. Let a hose run with a pencil sized stream until the entire area under your tree or shrub is soaked. Using gator bags or a 5 gallon bucket with a small hole punctured in the bottom of the bucket on the side also works well. This allows a slow deep watering with hardly any runoff. Don’t forget to unscrew your hose from the hose bib and drain when finished watering to prevent freeze damage. If you have any questions or concerns regarding winter watering practices for your lawn, trees or shrubs in Overland Park, Olathe, or other cities within the Johnson County area, please give us a call and we will be more than happy to help you out.