Just imagine the trunk of your tree growing out of the hub of a bicycle wheel. The spokes are all the feeder roots on the surface drawing up water from daily spray irrigation. If you create a ring of drip emitters around your tree like the rim of that bicycle wheel, you can maintain a circular ring of active root growth. This ring keeps all sides of the tree able to take up rainwater or an occasional flooding with living roots. When the system is turned off for the rainy season, it’s easy for the tree to make its transition to absorbing rainfall.
This is why irrigation design and maintenance is the most important aspect of any drought related changes to a landscape. Adequate delivery won’t cut it. Plants need efficient, well designed coverage with quality products you can obtain, repair or replace for many years without failures. Find a good irrigation contractor or gardener with great skills to review your older plants and make sure they’ll be properly watered this summer.
The rush to remove lawns and change our landscapes to a whole new kind of irrigation is not allowing much time to work out the transition effects. All over the West, folks forgot about their trees in the process, perhaps because they once survived on deep ground water. Last summer they started whispering their grievance, If not remedied before high temperatures arrive, they will punish our omission with an unprecedented rate of attrition.
Maureen Gilmer is an author, horticulturist and landscape designer. Learn more at www.MoPlants.com