Sprinklers and garden hoses – the most common ways by which property owners water their trees — spray water on the tree and the surface of the surrounding soil; but the tree’s fine absorbing roots that need the water are located a few inches under the ground. This means that it takes some time for the aboveground water to soak into the soil, where the roots can access it. During that time, some of the water evaporates or runs downhill, providing no help to your tree what-so-ever.
Fortunately, there is a way you can administer water directly to a trees roots: You just need to use a drip irrigation system.
The Basics: What Is Drip Irrigation?
Drip irrigation is a method by which you can add water to the soil surrounding your tree’s roots through the use of small hoses and tiny sprinkler heads. The hoses usually hook up to your home’s water spigot, although they can occasionally draw water from rain barrels and similar reservoirs. Small sprinkler heads are placed in carefully selected spots near individual trees, and they spray the water directly onto the soil below. Water pumps and electronic timers help to automate the process, which makes most drip irrigation systems easy to operate.
The Benefits of Drip Irrigation
The primary benefit drip irrigation systems provide is improved water efficiency – some properties will use almost 50 percent less water after switching to a drip-based system. This not only allows you to do your part to save water, but it will save you money too. Also, because the vast majority of the water discharged on the soil percolates down below the surface, drip irrigation systems don’t cause big problems with runoff water. This can help keep our local rivers and streams cleaner, as runoff water frequently carries pollutants from the local roads and streets.
The targeted administration of water also helps to reduce the number of weeds growing between your trees. Because drip irrigation systems don’t coat the trunks of your trees in water, they’ll also reduce the likelihood that your trees will suffer from fungi and decay.
The Challenges Posed by Drip Irrigation Systems
Drip irrigation systems aren’t exactly expensive, but they do represent a significant investment. Most arborists and landscapers would agree that they are well worth the cost, but it is important to factor the costs of the system into your decision-making process.
Aside from the initial costs of acquisition and installation, there is only one other major challenge that drip irrigation systems present: They require semi-frequent maintenance. Over time, holes will develop in the hoses and water emitters will become clogged with minerals, dirt and debris. Replacing small segments of hose or the odd emitter or two isn’t terribly expensive, but it will take some effort to swap out the broken parts.
Nevertheless, drip irrigation systems are helpful tools for maintaining the trees on your property, and their benefits clearly outweigh their drawbacks.
If you are interested in having a drip irrigation system installed on your property, contact your friends at Evergreen Arborist Consultants. We’ll help you determine the water needs of your trees and point out the places where the trees can best use the water you provide.