Hi all! This may be a silly question, but I'd like your thoughts on watering deciduous trees in the winter when the ground is frozen. This spring I planted a 60 tree orchard. The trees are mulched with wood chips and I made sure to water them really well before the ground froze. The word frozen implies that there has to be moisture in the ground to freeze. If the ground is frozen does that mean there is adequate moisture for the trees until the ground thaws? I live in zone 5b and we haven't had much moisture so far this winter but the soil under the trees still seems to have some moisture in it. I may be being paranoid but I have lost a few evergreens during dry winters and I have a lot of time and money in the orchard and don't want to lose my trees. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Hi Kent, welcome to Permies! I think you don't need to worry about it. If the trees were alive in the fall and you watered them well before it froze, you did everything you were supposed to do. I believe evergreens die off in the winter due to lack of water because they're trying to stay "green" all winter. Deciduous trees are dormant so they don't need to use much (if any) water over the winter.
If it makes you feel any better, I planted over 100 trees and shrubs in sandy soil and I didn't water them in well this fall. Not that I know much but at least you're well ahead of me
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If the trees were well watered just before ground freeze, the trees should be fine, the watering is to keep the roots coated in water so they don't freeze (think of oranges and other fruits that are sprayed with water mists as the air freezes, it is done so the fruit is coated and thus protected).
Conifers are always looking for water to bring into the tree, so their water needs are, as Mike mentioned, more demanding, also their roots tend to be closer to the soil surface than those of deciduous fruit and nut trees.
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Actually in colder climates, all smaller tree roots freeze solid as frost goes up to 4 feet deep. This is normal, and no they do not need more water until late spring. Too wet will kill them faster than too dry.
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