Irrigation, When Itís Most Needed For Your Trees

By: Ross Latham

Summer is here, with exclamation points, no doubts on the matter whatsoever. Time for barbecues, sunscreen and, of course, hitting the pool to cool off and beat the heat. After all, it can sometimes get brutally hot out there, and you need to be able to withstand a whole 3 months (or more) of it. Right?

Well thatís right, but there is another member of your home that can get pretty dehydrated in all of that sun--the trees in your yard.

Summer means hotter and longer days and comparatively low rainfall, which is one of the harder things for a tree to survive; a newly transplanted tree even more so (the first year is the hardest.) Moreover, what little rain does fall during the summer is usually deflected away from the place it most needs to go--the rootball--by the branches and leaves of the tree. So a newly transplanted tree definitely needs a lot of help from the homeowner to help it survive the season.

The simplest and most effective solution is drip irrigation.

You may be thinking of watering the tree daily by hand. I caution you against that. The simple truth is that this is the 21st Century and people, by and large, are very BUSY. Keeping a schedule of regular watering for the privacy trees in your yard may seem like a really good idea right now, but not everyone keeps up the schedule every day. Most of the calls weíve had from people with tree problems in the summer have admitted they selected manual watering and missed a few waterings.

Constant drip irrigation is a system of watering that slowly distributes water directly at the root system of a tree (or any plant). Small drip emitters are installed in the desired area and a constant flow of water is delivered for a short period of time for a day (15-20 minutes).

Once installed, itís normal to set the irrigation system to one interval of watering every other day for the tree, but I recommend changing this to once a day if the temperatures get above 80 degrees. Check the soil moisture every two weeks, knowing that on a day to day basis the tree is being cared for by the irrigation system and stands an excellent chance of surviving the weather. A majority of tree problems are handled by this simple system of watering.

If youíve had problems maintaining the trees in your yard, give this a try. Your trees will thank you!

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Ross Latham is owner of Big Trees Inc. ( in Snohomish, WA, one of the largest Seattle tree nurseries specializing in tree transplanting.

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