Watering Trees in Turf Creates a Water Management Opportunity
Properly watering trees in turf will make the difference between the success or failure of one of the biggest investments in your landscape. Trees are expensive to buy, and expensive to plant. If a mature tree dies on your property it will take years to replace the aesthetic value. Turf is typically watered with spray heads not designed to provide deep watering. Trees require deep watering. Watering your trees planted in turf areas requires out of the box thinking for your irrigation system, but the results will reflect positively on your landscape’s most valuable asset.
- Create a separate watering zone – Your trees need to be on a separate valve from your turf. In general, trees should be watered enough to penetrate the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches. Very few of the properties I visit have trees on a separate zone from their turf. If you don’t have separate zones, this means you are probably going to have to dig a few ditches to lay an additional irrigation pipe. Considering the length of time you hope to have the tree, a little bit of digging will pay off as a sound investment in your landscape. This will enable you to water your trees less frequently and much deeper. This improves plant health and water conservation. If you have several trees or an orchard here is a link that shows you how to install emitter tubing. Installing this at my home I would make this installation subsurface.
- Deep watering is key – One of your main goals for tree watering is to encourage the tree roots to grow deep. This will help your tree to become more drought tolerant. You need to water your trees less than you water your turf, but the time of watering will be longer. The longer watering will push water down deep into the soil and the tree roots should follow. Here is a great guide to use to help you figure out how much water to use.
- Too much water kills – When you overwater, the water takes the place of oxygen in the soil and your trees end up drowning. Make sure your soil drains properly and consider purchasing a soil moisture probe so you can see how well the water is penetrating the soil. These are relatively inexpensive tools that are easy to use and provide great information about how much water is in your soil.
- Make a well around the tree – The first year of watering for a tree can impact the growth of the tree for life. Because the root ball is small when trees are first planted, they need more water around their base. When you first plant a tree it’s critical you water the root ball completely. If you make a well around the tree you automatically divert water to the root ball.
- Move the water away from the trunk – Think about how your tree receives water naturally. Water hits the tree canopy and runs off and drips down on to the soil. How can you reproduce that effect? Try moving drip irrigation away from the trunk as your tree gets bigger. This will encourage wide and deep root growth which is essential for tree health.
Often trees are the most valuable part of our landscapes. According to the USDA Forest Service, healthy mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value. Having to replace a tree is costly and it often takes years to replace the full value. Paying attention to the specific water needs of trees can pay healthy returns to a property. These are just five tips to improve water management and water conservation on your property for trees. I’m sure many of our readers have more. Let me know your thoughts in the comment area below. If you enjoyed the post please consider subscribing to the blog or following me on twitter at @H2oTrends.