Does Drip Irrigation Work Well for Trees?
Proper irrigation is essential for ensuring the healthy growth of trees. If you live in an area that experiences severe drought or extreme temperatures during summer, you need to provide an extra boost of hydration if you want your trees to thrive. How you water your trees is just as important as how much you water your trees for optimal growth and survival. Drip irrigation for trees is a popular option that many homeowners want to explore, but they are unsure of its effectiveness.
So the experts at Mr. Tree have put together this guide to help you decide whether drip irrigation is a good idea for your trees.
What Is Drip Irrigation?
In simple terms, drip irrigation refers to the process of slowly delivering water to trees or plants at ground level instead of watering them from above. A hose or pipe is used either just above the ground or even below ground to trickle water where the roots can absorb it. This micro-irrigation system is helpful in saving water and is also a more efficient way of ensuring that the water reaches the root zone directly. Traditional ways of watering the trees often result in massive wastage of water and water loss due to evaporation. But with drip irrigation, you can tackle both.
Although it might seem more modern, drip irrigation is not a new technology. It has existed since the first century BC in Ancient China. It was popularized in the US in the 1960s.
What Are the Benefits of Switching to Drip Irrigation?
There are several reasons why drip irrigation is more effective for your trees.
As the water gets deposited at the base of the plant instead of leaves, chances of mildew formation are minimal. This helps to minimize diseases that grow and spread on wet leaves. Moreover, since the water penetrates slowly, the moisture reaches precisely where it’s needed. As a result, no stress is created by a lack of water, making it easier for the trees to grow uniformly.
A large volume of water on the soil can often deplete the essential nutrients. But the reduced runoff from drip irrigation minimizes the loss of nutrients and helps in the healthy growth of your trees.
Healthier foliage is another outcome you can expect when you switch to drip irrigation. Overhead watering means the leaves can stay wet for a long time, resulting in discoloring and spotting. But since the leaves remain dry with drip irrigation, they look fresher and healthier.
Drip irrigation is also an effective measure if you want to combat the growth of weeds. Weed seeds around the tree receive no water and fail to germinate, as the water is deposited directly around the roots.
From a utility perspective, drip irrigation is also useful. You can save a lot of money since drip irrigation uses a lesser quantity of water than traditional overhead watering. It also saves time because you can install drip irrigation kits quickly and automate the entire process. And you can install such a system regardless of the type of soil—it works for all types. So you can achieve deep watering without runoff, even if you have heavy or dense clay soil in your yard.
Many homeowners also find that traditional irrigation setups end up leaving a lot of water on the surface of the soil. This means you need to install drainage and get the site leveled to prevent stagnation. Luckily, drip irrigation doesn’t have this issue, as the quantity of water is minimal, and it is directly aimed toward the root system.
In other words, investing in a good drip irrigation system provides a great ROI, which makes a strong case for choosing it over other irrigation methods.
What Should You Keep in Mind Before Getting a Drip Irrigation System Installed in Your Yard?
While there are obvious benefits of having a drip irrigation system to care for your trees, is it really for everyone? Here are a few points to consider:
- The drip line should be constructed in a way that meets the needs of full-grown trees during the hottest time of year. Make sure that the root area is within the drip line.
- Speak with a professional to determine the amount of water needed and the number of emitters, or drippers, you’d need to install for the efficient functioning of the drip irrigation system. Also, work out the emitter size based on your watering schedule. Don’t forget to account for the infiltration rate of your soil and the timing and duration of water availability.
- The needs of established trees and newly planted trees are not the same when it comes to irrigation. The established ones should be irrigated for longer durations but less frequently compared to freshly planted trees since they have a deeper and more extensive root system.
- While DIY drip irrigation kits are available in the market, don’t shy away from hiring a professional if you find it challenging to install them on your own. The last thing you want is an incorrect installation that may end up doing more harm than good.
The bottom line is that drip irrigation for trees is an excellent idea if you want a yard full of trees with a perfect canopy. Dry and curled-up leaves will be a thing of the past, as drip irrigation ensures that your trees are never under-watered.
But it’s important you ensure your drip irrigation system is installed correctly and control the flow rate and spacing of the emitters to suit the soil type and needs of your trees. Without this attention to detail, drip irrigation won’t work. So speak to a landscaping professional for more guidance and water your trees in a new way.