Maintenance: Water

Water may not really seem like a maintenance component, but it is. While the goal may be to transition to natural irrigation or rainfall, some seasons are dryer than normal. Without supplemental irrigation, you may lose everything that you have worked for. It’s important that when you do water, it is deeply. Shallow watering encourages shallow roots, so make the plant’s roots follow the water to the depths. 

Winter watering is also important. Not only does it water the plants, but it protects their roots. Moist soil insulates against the cold far better than dry soil. It’s best to winter water on warm, sunny days when there has been a long break in precipitation. I generally winter water my yard 2-3 times between January 1st and mid-March, depending upon the winter. If you try to put a stake into the soil and it is frozen hard, no need to water.

You can also pile snow in sunny areas to help supplement winter watering. Just make sure that it’s not in a shady spot where plants will be suffocated by persistent snow and ice.

Mulch may need supplemented every few years. In my experience it needs replenished the next year after a landscape installation, then every 2-3 years thereafter. If you don’t like the look of fallen leaves in your garden beds, put mulch down after all the leaves have fallen. That way the leaves are working their magic, but you don’t have to see it.