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Water Conservation Tips from Rain Bird

Irrigating Trees - Part 1

Having a few trees in your yard is more than just a great way to beautify your landscape.  Trees also provide shade which helps keep your yard cool, so your lawn, plants and flowers need less watering.

Trees are frequently overlooked when planning an irrigation system.  It is a common misconception that tree roots will naturally “grow towards water.” On the contrary, tree roots do not grow through dry soil.  They require proper watering that encourages roots to grow deep and spread out to provide a sturdy base for the tree.

Here are a few irrigation tips to help keep your trees healthy and vibrant:

  1. In general, trees should be watered enough to penetrate the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches. The type of tree and the season will determine your watering schedule.  Check with a professional landscaper if you're unsure how much water the trees in your landscape require.
  2. Proper watering of new trees is very important, especially during the first year after planting. New trees require more water at the base than established trees, since new trees have not yet spread their roots out into the surrounding soil.  If you have just planted a new tree, you should completely soak the root ball and the area beneath the canopy when you water.  Make a basin by mounding up a ring of dirt around the tree to help direct water towards the root ball.
  3. Unlike newly planted grass, trees should be watered for longer periods of time, but the watering should occur less frequently.   The longer soaking will reach deeper into the soil which encourages a deeper, drought-resistant root zone. 
  4. It is important to remember that too much water can kill a tree as easily as too little water.  Overwatering prevents tree roots from getting the oxygen they need to stay healthy.  Make sure the root area is moist, but do not let the tree stand in water for more than a couple of hours before it soaks in.  If you have heavy clay soil, mix some coarse compost into the soil, or raise the area to improve drainage.
  5. For established and mature trees, proper irrigation continues to be important.  As a tree matures, you should stop watering directly onto the base of the tree and expand the watering zone out around the tree.   One way to effectively meet a tree’s watering needs is to use drip irrigation around the tree reaching out as far as the canopy.   By expanding the irrigation in a loop around the tree, you will be encouraging the tree to develop an expansive and healthy root system.