When Is Too Cold Not Cold Enough?

A few days of cooler weather in our area has really kick started the color change in the trees around the house. Since we’ve only been there for about four months, it naturally follows that we are still finding out what type of things houses need to have done as the season change. Things like blowing out the sprinkler lines. I’m not all up on the scientific explanation here, but I’m lead to believe that if you take a pipe full of water and put it under the ground when it is really cold outside, the pipe stands a good chance of bursting. If you remove the water from the pipe, chances are it should be fine. I wonder, if you gave the pipe regular sips of hot chocolate when it got cold out, would that help at all? Maybe some hot cider or a nice café latte. That’s the sort of thing I’d want if I were outside in the cold – not to be dried out and left to sit there.

While the ground may get too cold to leave pipes in there with water, it isn’t too cold to still need to water the trees. In our local weekly newspaper, there is a lawn and garden tips section. One of the questions was about why there were some trees around that didn’t have leaves on the upper half of them. (I look outside, notice that a few tree are missing a conspicuous number of leaves on the upper half. I continue reading.)

The “expert” suggested that is was most likely due to a lack of water during the winter. Trees are slow growing, so damage also takes a while to show up. Over winter, it isn’t cold enough to make the root system go dormant. When we don’t have a lot of snow, there isn’t enough water to soak all the way down to the bottom roots. Bottom roots = top branches… six months later the tree has no leaves on the top. 20 gallons of water once a month is supposedly a good amount to water a tree over winter. Gee, wouldn’t it be convenient if we could simply use the drip system built into our sprinkler lines?

Yes, but you can’t. It’s too cold but not cold enough. What sort of catch 22 world are we living in anyway?

The one positive thing about having young trees that can be hurt by lack of water over the winter: nothing in the area is tall enough to get leaves in the gutters. One less thing on the list to do.