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A good soaking for the winter

By Gregg Eyestone

The forecast for rain never really turned out this year, so winter watering may be necessary. It becomes more challenging on equipment when potential freezing is possible. A watering can or bucket becomes useful during the cold months.

I suggest a good soaking for your plants before winterizing the irrigation system. Apply enough water to reach the total root zone. For established trees, that can be several feet into the soil. Newly planted plants along with shrubs and perennials will have shallower root systems. Run your sprinkler and push a rod into the soil to check the depth of irrigation. Stop irrigating when moisture has reached the desired depth.

Most of my irrigation equipment has been put away for the season. I got out a sprinkler for the weekend to soak some boxwood shrubs that were planted last year. The faucet attached to the house has caused me troubles. Everything was set up and water was just dribbling out of the sprinkler. A change of sprinklers made it work.

Check your equipment as it is stored. I found an insect of some kind wintering in the first sprinkler. The insect was as black as the nozzle. It had plugged it up.

Flushing any drip lines you have is a good idea before winter. Inspect drippers to insure that no drippers are clogged. Filter screens should be flushed and cleaned. I put my hose filter in the basement for the winter. The tubing I just leave in place with the ends open. Now is a good time to plan any changes to the emitters as the landscape matures.

Garden hoses are my supply lines to the various drip, soaker, lawn tractor or sprinklers I use. These hoses last longest when drained and stored for the winter. Drain hoses by stretching them out and coiling them for storage. Water will drain as you pull the hose toward you for coiling. Store the hoses in a protected place from UV light which make hoses brittle over time.

Soon it will be time for me to put my rainbarrel away. It is suggested to drain the barrel and turn upside down for the winter. Two of my rain collectors are metal milk cans which are stored in the shed for winter.

The best way to water this winter would be by some timely snows.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website located at

You can contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail:

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