Skip to main content

Drip irrigation could save your trees – here’s how

Trees sometimes have a reputation of not needing much care. They’re big, with deep roots, tall branches, and get everything they need by themselves. But even gardening tips from the pros include suggestions to help even the toughest,  every once in a while. If you have young trees, or trees that seem to be struggling, the answer to your problems may just be drip irrigation.

What is drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is a method of watering your garden via a tube. Water runs from an outdoor faucet or spigot and through the tube or tubes. At several points along the tube water is released, dripping out into the soil to water nearby plants. It’s similar to a sprinkler system, but, rather than covering large areas at once, drip irrigation targets specific areas or plants.

What are the benefits?

Drip irrigation is an easy way to get consistent water to your trees or other plants. Once it’s set up, the only thing you have to do is turn on the faucet or spigot and let it run, which saves a lot of time.

The steady method of delivery is very good for plants, lessening the chances of overwatering and giving you a lot of control over what plants get water and how much they get. Since this method is steady and reliable, it gives your plants a sense of safety and allows them to devote resources to growth.Small black tubes running parallel to the ground, dripping water

This method also allows water to get where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, without wasting too much excess water. Since it is targeted to specific areas, you don’t have to worry about losing water to empty patches of ground or the air, or getting too much water on plants’ leaves.

In addition to saving time by eliminating the need for hand-watering, it also allows you to continue being in your garden while the watering occurs. Sprinklers often make it difficult to work and water at the same time without getting wet. This isn’t a problem with drip irrigation, though!

What are the drawbacks?

There are really only two drawbacks for drip irrigation. The first is that setting it up can seem complicated and tricky. There are different kits and methods and DIY tactics to consider. It can be a lot. It really isn’t as bad as it seems, though, and once you get started this drawback all but vanishes.

The second drawback, which does not vanish, is that this method is really only useful for targeting specific plants. If you have a wider space, such as your lawn, this method doesn’t work nearly as well. For lawns and other wide spaces, a sprinkler system or your water hose will be much more effective.

How can I set up drip irrigation?

There are a few different methods you can use for setting up drip irrigation. Kits are available online. If you choose to get a kit, follow the instructions carefully and test your system out before leaving it on for longer periods of time. If you’re interested in doing it yourself, here are some important things to know.

Pay close attention to sizes. Measure your garden or the distance between your spigot or faucet and all of your trees carefully to make sure you have enough PVC pipe and tubing. When getting pipes, tubes, and connectors or valves, be certain that you’re getting the same diameter for each. If two pieces of pipe, for example, are different widths, they may come unattached from each other, leading to a massive leak.

Depending on the exact layout of your garden space, the arrangement of your irrigation system will vary. The easiest system to set up is in a straight line, but for corners there are elbow joints, and PVC pipes with multiple connection points. If you only need it for one tree, you can even form a ring around it.

Small brown tube encircling a tree trunk

The basic parts of the drip irrigation are the supply line, which carries the water from the spigot or faucet, and the drip tape, which has regularly spaced holes allowing water to drip out. You may also want a pressure regulator, although this isn’t strictly necessary for smaller spaces. A timer can be added, to make things more convenient. You may also want shut off valves for any place where two pipes or tubes connect.

Drip irrigation, from an outside perspective, may seem too complicated or like a waste of time. Once you set yours up, though, you’ll wonder how you managed to go so long without it! It’s a great way to water your garden, and your trees will surely thank you.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Could Kalanchoe blossfeldiana be the perfect addition to your outdoor succulent garden? Here’s how to grow it
Caring for kalanchoe blossfeldiana outdoors
Light orange kalanchoe blossfeldiana flowers

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a popular houseplant -- and for good reason! With bright flowers and easy care requirements, these succulents will brighten up any room. But did you know you can grow them outdoors as well? The care is a bit trickier, but they really stand out in a sandy outdoor succulent garden. Just follow this simple guide to care for Kalanchoe blossfeldiana outdoors.
Planting Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
Like other succulents, drainage is important. Make sure you use sandy and well-draining soil before you begin planting. Kalanchoe blossfeldiana plants don't like to be crowded, so it’s important to space them correctly. They need at least 8 to 10 inches of room in order to grow properly. Choose a location that gets plenty of morning sun. However, they can burn under intense, direct light, so provide them with shade in the afternoon.

Caring for your Kalanchoe blossfeldiana
If you’ve kept Kalanchoe blossfeldiana as a houseplant before, then there are some care aspects you’ll be familiar with. They are sensitive to overwatering, so make sure to only water them when the top few inches of soil are dry. If overwatered, they can develop fungal infections, such as root rot.

Read more
Loofah plants are unique and interesting vegetables – here’s how to add them to your garden
How to grow and care for your own loofah plants
A ripe loofah gourd on a vine

Summer vegetable gardens are often filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans, but there are other options for more adventurous gardeners. The loofah plant, sometimes also spelled luffa, is a prime example. Loofahs are tasty, useful, a great conversation starter, and even make wonderful gifts. Want to know more about growing this unusual vegetable? Here’s your simple guide to growing loofahs.
What are loofah plants?
When you hear the word loofah, your first thought is likely the sponges — and you’d be right! Loofahs are a member of the cucumber family native to South and Southeast Asia. When the vegetables are young, they’re edible and have a flavor similar to zucchini. If the vegetables are left to mature and dry, then they can be harvested and turned into sponges.

Loofahs are warm-weather vegetables, and they don't tolerate the cold. Additionally, they are annuals. If you want to keep growing them, you’ll need to plant more each spring.

Read more
How to grow better tomatoes: This TikTok tip will help your garden thrive
Grow stunning tomatoes with this simple trick
Ripe tomatoes on a vine

There are tons of places across the internet you can go to for great gardening tips, and TikTok is quickly rising through the ranks. While not every video is a winner, we’ve found one we think you’ll love! The TikTok video below from GardeningSimplified explains how to grow tomatoes more easily through the use of companion planting. Not sure what companion planting is or how it works? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

@gardeningsimplified Tomato plant tips I’ve learned along the way #gardening #gardening101 #gardeningtips #gardeningtipsforbeginners #gardeninghacks #growingtomatoes ♬ Love You So - The King Khan & BBQ Show Tomato plant tips I’ve learned along the way #gardening #gardening101 #gardeningtips #gardeningtipsforbeginners #gardeninghacks #growingtomatoes
What is companion planting?
Companion planting is simply the technique of planting veggies and other plants near each other. Plants that have similar preferences for things such as water, sun, and soil type typically make good companion plants. Pairings, where one plant provides a benefit to the other, make exceptionally good partners. These benefits could include adding nutrients to the soil, providing shade, or even keeping pests away.

Read more