When Should You Stop Watering Your Plants in the Fall?

Asia's Tech News Daily

When it comes to fall garden maintenance, shutting off your sprinklers shouldn’t be the first task on your list. Make it one of the last so your plants will be better equipped to make it through the winter. Let’s take a closer look at why.

© Guido Mieth/Getty Images

Why Watering Plants in Fall is Important

Falling leaves may indicate the growing season is over, but there’s something going on underground — active root growth. Energy drains down from the tops of the plants and heads to their roots. Because the soil stays warmer than the air in the fall, roots continue to grow until the ground freezes.

Plant roots need moisture to grow. If your area receives abundant rain in the fall, you won’t need to providing supplemental water. But if you garden in a dry climate, or the usual fall rains just aren’t coming, it’s time to run the sprinklers or haul out the hose.

When your plants aren’t well-hydrated going into winter, they’ll lose foliage and branches, or the entire plant may perish. Sometimes a water-starved tree or shrub will appear to make it through the winter and leaf back out in the spring, only to die when the summer heat returns. In such a case, the death can be traced back to lack of water the fall prior.

Which Plants to Water in Fall

Your entire yard doesn’t need to be watered in the fall if you’re getting decent amounts of rain. Focus first on any perennials, shrubs or trees you planted or transplanted this year. Their roots have not yet extended deep into the soil, so providing water around the base of the plant will help their rootball stay hydrated.

Second, focus on evergreen plants. That includes broadleaf evergreens like rhododendrons and camellias, as well as needle evergreens like pine and spruce. Evergreen plants never get a break from the sun and wind because they don’t lose their leaves, so they require extra care to stay hydrated through the winter. This is especially true for evergreens planted this year.

Colorado State University Extension horticulture specialist J.E. Klett recommends providing supplemental water to shallow-rooted trees and shrubs in the fall. These include European white and paper birches; Norway, silver, red, Rocky Mountain and hybrid maples; lindens, alders, hornbeams, dogwoods, willows, mountain ashes, spruces, firs, arborvitaes, yews, Oregon grape hollies and boxwoods.

Lastly, water your trees or shrubs planted in windy locations. This is especially important for evergreens and any plants just getting established.

A newly planted broadleaf evergreen in a windy or sunny location will be especially susceptible to winter damage. Moisture transpires from its leaves during the winter, but because the ground is frozen the plant can’t get rehydrated. Burnt, browning foliage often indicates winter damage from dehydration.

How Much to Water Plants in Fall

In the spring and summer, 1- to 1-1/2-in. of water each week is sufficient to keep most plants hydrated. In cooler fall weather, the soil won’t dry out as quickly so you won’t need to water as often.

Water must saturate the soil down to the root zone, typically 12 inches deep, to be absorbed by the plant. Watering for a short amount of time more frequently does not help your plants. Watering less frequently but deeper will make them less vulnerable if drought occurs.

Here’s a good way of checking if you’ve watered deeply enough: Make a slit in the ground with a shovel. If the soil feels dry at the bottom of the slit, you need to water longer to allow the moisture to sink further.

When To Stop Watering Plants in Fall

When the air and soil temperatures consistently fall below 40 F, it’s time to stop watering. The ground can’t absorb water once the top few inches freeze. Continue to water your plants up until this point so they’re as well-hydrated as possible going into winter. That can make the difference between life and death for your plants.

If you live where the ground doesn’t freeze, continue to water all winter, just as you did in the fall.

Keeping your home safe

We chatted with Fred Turra, ADT Custom Home Sales Manager for the San Francisco Bay Area about what you should consider keeping out of your front yard as well as what you might want to put in it to outsmart burgers away.

Broken or old home security sign

One of the biggest alerts for burglars that you might not have a security system is actually having a sign in your front yard saying you have one—specifically, a sign in disrepair. When you have an old one, you’re essentially advertising that while your home may have once been protected by a security system, that time has passed.

Tura says that experienced burglars will study home security systems as much as the company’s that install them. “They know what to look for,” he says, which means they know that sign in your front yard is old and out of date. These are the 21 other secrets a burglar won’t tell you.

Expensive items in your yard

Having expensive-looking planters and decorations might look nice, but they also might alert burgers that even more expensive items are inside your home. That’s why Tura suggests you keep expensive items out of your front yard. Your front yard is one of the 22 signs your house is vulnerable to being robbed.

This is the first room burglars will look in when they break in.

Large hedges and vegetation

Another thing that might look nice in your yard but attract burglars is large plants and vegetation. Tura says that both can “act as a hiding place” for potential thieves when they’re located next to windows and doors, blocking the view of those places from the street. If you do have plants and hedges near your windows, keep them well-trimmed. Learn 13 sneaky things FBI agents do to protect their homes.

Keep your smart home devices secure by knowing the most vulnerable smart device in your home.

Put away your ladder

If you have a two-story house, leaving a ladder out can ultimately lead to you giving burglars a way to break into your home, using your own equipment, Tura says. A passerby likely won’t think a person on a ladder in the middle of the day is up to no good, but while you’re away at work that ladder can be used as a tool for burglars to break into your second story. Worse, Tura says home security systems are likely protecting your first story while leaving that second story exposed. If you must leave your ladder out, lock it up to something using a bike lock, he suggests. A ladder is one of the 35 things that make your home inviting to burglars.

Trash cans

Trash cans are another thing Tura says burglars might use to try to access another floor of your home. If you have large, sturdy trash cans, consider securing them somewhere where burglars can’t see or use them. By the way, this is the most common time for burglaries—and it’s not at night.

These are 42 home security risks lurking around your home.

Glass doors

While glass doors are not a preferred method of breaking into your home, according to Tura, they can be used. Make sure yours is secured, and if possible, replace it with something sturdier and less see-through. If you do have one, he recommends having a glass-detection beacon inside your home that will be able to detect when that glass door has been broken. Try these 13 inexpensive ways to theft-proof your home.

Audio/video doorbell

Audio/video doorbells have “revolutionized the industry,” as far as home security goes, Tura says. Oftentimes, Tura says that burglars will case a neighborhood during the day to see if people are home. By answering your door verbally with the doorbell, even if you’re far away, you’re letting that person know your home is being monitored and they’ll be less likely to break in. Ready to invest? These are the safest smart doorbells for your home.


If burglars are going to break into your home at night, they’ll be looking for somewhere dark where they can go undetected. Lights that are controlled remotely or activated by motion can be a deterrent for burglars who want to break into your home under the cover of darkness. Inversely, Tura says leaving a light on during the day is “kind of a giveaway” that you’re not home. Make sure you’re turning off things like porch lights during daylight hours. This is the state where you’re most likely to get robbed.

Hide your spare keys in any of these spots and burglars will grab them.

Mail and newspapers

Before you head out of town, make sure you’ve discontinued your mail and newspaper service. Tura says having several newspapers in your driveway or mail piling up can alert burglars that you’re not at home. “If you’re not discontinuing those services, have a neighbor pick them up,” he suggests. Smart homeowners also do these 14 things before leaving town.

Easy-to-open garages

If you have trouble getting your garage door to close completely, make sure you fix it ASAP. “The garage is a common entry point,” says Tura. He also recommends avoiding garage doors that have glass in them. Burglars can break the glass in that garage door and then use a coat hanger to disengage the motor of your door and get into your home. He also suggests to “put an actual lock on your garage door.” Yes, it will require you to get out of your car in order to use that garage, but it can make your home, and specifically that garage, a lot safer. Next, read on for the secrets a home security installer won’t tell you.

watering plants while away
watering plants while away
best fall plants
best fall plants
evergreen plants for full sun
evergreen plants for full sun

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