Winter Watering 101 for Your Colorado Landscape Design

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Winter is here. That means it’s the season for snowfall and cozy days spent by the fire. Before hibernating, it’s important to protect your landscape with winter watering so your evergreens survive during the winter months.

Here in Colorado, the semi-arid climate typically produces mild and dry winters with humidity levels ranging from 9% to 13%. As you can see, this is not a lot of moisture. Even with the snowfall, one foot of snow creates only an inch of water, so you can’t rely on natural precipitation to provide adequate water for your plants.

LifeScape Colorado is your top residential and commercial landscape design firm serving properties in Denver and across the entire Colorado Front Range. Whether you need landscape design ideas, watering ideas, construction, property care, or ongoing maintenance for your outdoor space, we have the experience and professionalism to meet all of your landscaping needs. Below is our quick and easy cheat sheet for winter watering so your landscape can thrive next spring.



  • We recommend applying water every two weeks manually if sufficient natural precipitation has not fallen.
  • Water only when air and soil temperature are above 40 degrees with thin to no snow cover.
  • If you use a garden hose for watering, make sure to disconnect the hose immediately after use.
  • Even if snow has fallen, consider those sheltered areas that do not receive natural moisture and ensure that they get enough moisture.
  • Snow is not available moisture to plants. Much of Colorado’s snowfall will evaporate before it has a chance to melt and seep into the ground soil.
  • Scratch down through mulch and evaluate soil moisture levels.


If you’ve added plant life to your landscape within the last year, your new investments need supplemental water to stay healthy until spring. Consult with a landscape or irrigation professional to determine which plants need watering and how often to prevent damage or death.

Newly planted trees and shrubs that haven’t had time to root are much more susceptible to dry conditions regardless of the temperature. Deciduous and perennial plant material will need less frequent watering once dormant, once per month or so. Evergreens will need water every two weeks.



Mature needle evergreen trees and shrubs are vulnerable to desiccation or drying out. Why? During the winter, trees and shrubs pull water from the soil via transpiration. When the ground freezes, the vegetation relies on the water stored in their leaves and stems. With Colorado’s humidity levels of 9% to 13%, the reserve of water goes fast and is damaging to evergreen trees and shrubs that don’t protect themselves by dropping their leaves.

LifeScape Colorado recommends applying a minimum of one inch of water per width of tree trunks. To put this in perspective, most trees should get ten gallons per inch of trunk diameter. Most soils will not accept this much water all at once. Applying water slowly in several positions around root balls is suggested.



Remember, the most important plants to water throughout the winter are plants that keep their leaves year-round (a.k.a. broadleaf evergreens) because they perspire water through their leaves. Boxwoods are the most common example of broadleaf evergreens in the Denver area.


Colorado’s cool-season turf goes dormant throughout the majority of the winter. This means that it usually does not require supplementary water. Exceptions to this are south/southeast facing areas and newly installed turf. New turf (installed September or later) will require water throughout winter months roughly every two weeks or so like the rest of your Colorado landscape.

Conclusion – Winter Watering 101 for Your Colorado Landscape Design

Even during the cold winter months, your trees, shrubs, and garden will be thirsty—even as they’re more dormant. Make sure you water throughout these months, especially the broadleaf evergreens. Apply an appropriate amount of water per inch of trunk diameter for trees, and don’t assume snowmelt will do the job for you. While irrigation systems are winterized for cold months, consult with a landscape or irrigation professional if you are not sure how to care for your Denver landscaping this winter.

Looking for even more landscaping ideas and tips? Whatever your budget, vision or timeline, Lifescape Colorado is here to help. For more than 44 years, we have been Colorado’s trusted source for full-service landscape architecture, construction, and complete property care. We offer beautiful design solutions for Colorado landscapes to truly transform your outdoor space.

Contact us today at (303) 831-8310 or so we can help you protect your Colorado landscape properly in order to have a beautiful next year.