Watering Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Phoenix, AZ
Question by bobsearles
March 11, 2002
My son is installing a yard and tree watering system and is wondering how to set up the system for watering trees, some
citrus and other yard trees. Is it best to water near the trunk? What kind of heads should he use?

Thanks again, Bob


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Answer from NGA
March 11, 2002

0

Always water slowly, deeply and infrequently. If you remember nothing else, this method will help your plants thrive.

Desert soil and water both contain salts, which can accumulate in the root zone over time. This salt buildup forms where the water stops penetrating. If you ?sprinkle? plants lightly and frequently, salts will build up in the top layers of soil and damage or kill your plant. Deep watering?or leaching?prevents this by flushing the salts past the root zone.

Roots also need oxygen to survive and soil that is continually wet doesn?t provide it. Use a soil probe (any long, pointed piece of metal or wood to poke into the soil) to check how far water has penetrated. The probe moves easily through moist soil, but stops when it hits hard dry soil. For trees, water should reach about 2-3 feet deep. There are numerous variables involved for watering schedules, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. Use the information above to determine how moist the soil is before automatically applying more water.

As a tree grows, its new roots tips, where nutrients are being absorbed, spread out laterally. If you are watering only within a few-foot area at the base of the tree, it's not really being watered effectively. Expand your watering zone out PAST the tree's canopy. As the tree grows, continue expanding that water zone. If you have an irrigation system, you need to move the emitters out. If you use a hose, just drag it out further. In any case, water slowly and deeply to ensure water penetration and to leach salts below the root zone. There are numerous variables involved for watering schedules, such as type of soil, how fast or slow it drains, sun and wind exposure at your site, temperature, age and condition of the plants and much more. It?s important to learn the specific needs of your landscape, both for its health and your water bill. For newly planted trees, water should reach about 2 feet deep, expanding to 3 feet as it matures. You probably need to water about once a week until the root system establishes, or keep the soil consistently moist for a month or so. Then gradually taper off. Depending on the summer heat, you might need to water once a week, or maybe every two weeks. Yes, different trees have different water requirements. Native adapted plants will require less water than trees from rainier climates, for example. Citrus trees are big water users. Drip emitters or soaker hose are better than sprinklers, which waste alot of water. Wet foliage and trunk tissue is also more susceptible to disease. Hope this helps.

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