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Learn how to water trees and shrubs with a drip irrigation system.

How to Water Trees and Shrubs with Drip Irrigation (and Tips!)

August 30, 2018

Ever been torn between running up a pricey utility bill or seeing just how little H2O your plants can survive on?  

There’s no need to choose! The trick? Drip irrigation systems automatically deliver the right amount of water to trees and shrubs. So, you get to soak up the savings (and more free time). 
Though, they do take a bit of work to install. Once you do that, it’s easy sailing! Here’s how to make it happen.  

All the Info You Need on Drip Irrigation for Trees and Shrubs

Instead of using a hose or sprinkler, try a drip irrigation system. It provides a slow, measured flow of H2O straight to tree and shrub roots. 

Why Water Trees and Shrubs with Drip Irrigation

Watering this way has three major advantages: 

  1. Drip irrigation systems emit exactly how much H2O your trees and shrubs get, which means you’ll have a better idea of when they do–and don’t–need hydration. Say farewell to the guesswork that happens when using a hose! 
  2. This setup delivers water right to the roots, instead of having it pool on the surface. Your plants will love this because they can focus on growing a deep root system.  
  3. Because the water drips down to the roots, there’s not enough time for it to evaporate or run off. That can reduce waste (and your utility bills!).

How to Install a Drip Irrigation System for Trees

Grab a pre-made kit at your local garden center to make installation short and sweet.

Most come with these supplies: 

  • A hose fitting to connect the system to a faucet 
  • A tube that will run from your water supply around the perimeter of your tree or shrub 
  • Emitters, which transport the H2O from the tube into the tree bed 
  • Stakes to secure the tube to the ground 


  1. Lay the tube around the tree about halfway between the trunk and the edge of the canopy. 
  2. Attach the emitters to the tube and stake them into the soil. 
  3. Connect it all to a faucet using the hose fitter. 
  4. Secure the tube, and voilà!

Can I create a homemade drip irrigation system for trees?

Yes! With a 5-gallon bucket or even a large garbage bag, you can make your own tree watering system in just a few steps.

Any tips for using a drip irrigation system for trees and shrubs?

  1. Check the system about once a month to make sure it’s not clogged. Flush it out if needed. If your water is hard, plan to do this more frequently.
  2. Periodically check if the system is keeping the soil properly moist. If you find the soil is drenched because of added rain or dry due to a lack thereof, adjust the system.  
  3. If you live in an area with cold winters, drain or cover the apparatus with mulch in the fall to avoid winter freeze damage.

Wondering exactly how much water trees need weekly? Click to find out.

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