There's so much more to a great yard than just mowing the lawn.

Hooray for the Big Meltdown

I keep hearing the statement, “I’m so over the snow. I can’t wait for spring.” As uncomfortable it can be for us humans, our landscapes are drinking their fill just when damaging dehydration often sets in.

snowmanFebruary and March are such critical months to ensure the soil is moist for our plants. As the snow melts, the moisture is soaking into the ground. It hydrates plant roots and makes a great environment for new root formation. These benefits will have impacts all summer long.

We’re lucky that mother nature has taken care of providing moisture to our plants. That means that means most of us won’t have to winter water for the next few weeks. Not only does that save us some effort, but it will save us some money on our water bills, too.

The trick with spring snowstorms is that they have to be heavy enough to actually contain some real water. A light dusting won’t do it. We’re talking inches to make a difference.

manzanita in snow

Panchito manzanita will benefit from the moisture released by the melting snow.

So how much water do we really need? The answer is at least 0.5 inches of precipitation (the depth of water once the snow is melted down), but 1 inch is better. That amount of water will moisten the soil to a depth of 6 to 12 inches. That’s the magic number because that’s the depth of soil that contains the vast majority of landscape plant roots. So a depth of 0.5 to 1 inches of water over a landscape will moisten the roots of most of your landscape plants.

So how much snow is that? Most experts say on average, ten inches of snow will melt down to one inch. That’s a good general rule, but it’s just an estimate based on the average moisture content of snow. It can vary from to the light powder that skiers and snowboarders love so much to the wet heavy dump that breaks tree limbs.

NWS Precip MapWe have better tools today. With the wonderful advances in the internet and mapping-and thanks to the National Weather Service- you can figure out how much precipitation you’ve had in your area recently. It gives you a pretty good estimate down to about 2 square mile areas, which is pretty darn cool. You can also change the time frame from the last 120 days to the last few hours, to include or exclude various weather events.

You can see from this screen grab that my part of Colorado has gotten 1.5 inches of precipitation over the past 14 days. Woohoo! That’s like winning the lottery.

Check out this link to access the maps yourself. Now that we don’t have to winter water, we have plenty of time to surf the web. Enjoy!



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