The root system of a tree changes with age. A young, newly planted tree has a limited root system that is localized around the root ball. At this stage, irrigation is best concentrated close to the trunk and slightly beyond the root ball to encourage roots to move out into the surrounding soil.
As a tree grows, the area of watering should expand. Irrigate established trees starting halfway between the trunk and the dripline and extending well beyond the dripline. In the case of very large shade trees, the entire yard may need to be watered.
Whenever possible in landscapes, plants should be zoned or grouped during planting according to similar water requirements to help make irrigation more efficient. Setting up the irrigation system to water beds separately from the lawn may be a common practice, but trees develop extensive root systems that underlie lawns as well as shrub or flower beds. As a result, it becomes difficult to water only the lawn or just the flower beds without also watering a portion of a nearby tree’s root system.
Methods of irrigation
Sprinkler. Sprinkler irrigation is the most common form of watering for homeowners and is often automated using a clock or timer. However, irrigation schedules designed for lawns are not adequate for trees. To avoid chronic water stress, trees must be watered deeply and infrequently, yet only certain grasses like turf-type tall fescue and the warm-season grasses (zoysia and buffalograss) will live under that type of regime.
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