The Q&A Archives: blue spruce

Question: I planted 11 blue spruce for a customer last year as well as a dogwood. I noticed that the irrigation guy had a sprinkler in front of each tree about 5'-6' away which would spray onto the needles on the tree but not over the root ball. I suggested a drip line but figured the irrigation guy knew what he was doing. They have since replaced these trees and are now taking me to court to pay for the service and the trees. Am I wrong about the watering or is that the proper way of watering? All the other spruces we planted last year are doing fine. The common denominator here is the way they were watered since all of the trees have died.
Thank you!

Answer: I'm not clear why anyone would set up a watering system to spray onto the foliage. Water is best applied at the soil level where the feeder roots are actively taking up water and nutrients. It's important to ensure that water soaks deeply through the entire root zone, both vertically and horizontally. This area moves outward with the canopy as it grows. I'm going to suggest you contact your local Michigan State University/Oakland County Cooperative Extension office for further advice on how to proceed. They have a horticultural agent on staff. I work at an Extension office in another part of the country and our commercial horticultural agent will make site visits for this sort of thing, but every office is different. The address I show is 1200 N. Telegraph Rd., Pontiac, MI, 248-858-0880 (my reference book is a couple years old). Good luck! (P.S. In my personal experience, many irrigation folks don't know the basics of how to properly water plants!)

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