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Best times to water your garden in winter – Our top 6 winter watering tips

Last updated on March 31st, 2022

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Winter weather gets cold, and if all you have is snow and ice outside, you might be wondering whether you should continue watering your plants. In many areas, watering your plants through the winter is still a good idea, especially if your plants are rather young but it must be done the right way. Even if the weather is cold, assuming your plants have the right level of protection you will still need to give them a drink, especially if these plants are also evergreen and planted in containers.

Below you will find 6 of our top winter watering tips that explain not only the best time to water your garden, but how.

Tip 1

Always water if there is a period of time without rain and the soil becomes dry

If you don’t get much rain for a period of time or it’s fairly windy (which dries out the soil and draws moisture from the plant’s foliage) we recommend you water your plants in the winter but only if they need it. Even though your plants are in a dormant stage and not actively growing, they’re not dead and are basically just resting. When in dormancy plants still have essential metabolic functions, and those functions only work if the roots can collect water from the soil. If you don’t water in the winter the roots tend to dry out and that’s what causes damage to your plants.

Tip 2

Water early in the day when the ground is not frozen

Don’t worry about injuring the roots because of freezing temperatures. Instead, water your plants early in the day so that they have time to absorb the water before the temperatures drop into freezing conditions at night. Remember that the soil functions as a trap for heat and as long as your plants have been properly watered the soil will help your plants to remain slightly warmer when it gets cold outside. If you have insulated covers like horticultural fleece around your plants, that extra level of heat can go a long way towards protecting your plants from any damage in the winter.

Tip 3

Don’t overwater to avoid root rot

Giving the right amount of water is equally as important. When your plants are in dormancy, they don’t need as much water as they do in the spring and summer, but you should still be watering them deeply a few times each month. If you have trees or any larger shrubs, you should water them between the drip line and the trunk. Any smaller plants can be watered right next to the crown. The trick here is to make sure that the ground doesn’t get too soggy but instead just gets a little wet. If it gets soggy, it ends up suffocating the plant because of root rot.

Tip 4

Only water when the soil is dry to touch

You should only water when the soil is dry to the touch. You can help prevent root rot by making sure you test the soil before you water with a moisture soil tester if needed.

Tip 5

Only water when the weather is mild, above 4°C

Do not water when the temperatures are below 4°C. This will go a long way toward helping prevent freezing temperatures from adversely affecting your plants.

Tip 6

Don’t water on windy days

Avoid watering when the wind is blowing. Drying winds can blow away a lot of the water that you want to be absorbed by the roots. So try to avoid watering when the wind is heavy. 

Following these tips will help you to keep your plants healthy during their dormant stage in the winter so that they can return in full bloom come spring. 

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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