Home Orchard: Best Way to Water Trees Slowly

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Water today, pick tomorrow
Curled persimmon tree leaves are telling me it's time to water
Very thirsty persimmon tree:  What’s a tree got to do to get a drink around here?

Summer comes and goes in the Pacific Northwest with nary a drop of rain. It’s Seattle’s best kept secret. Our summers are Miami’s winters. Unfortunately, such a lack of precipitation (while good for picnics) is bad for young fruit trees; they need watering intervention.

cherry trees
Stressed-out cherry trees: Curled and browning leaves are sure signs it’s time to water.

Newly-planted and young trees benefit from extra watering during dry spells. You have to remember that the fruiting and flowering buds set the summer before, so if a tree is stressed and fighting for survival, next season’s crop will likely be sparse if present at all.

memorable name
Treegator is a lifesaver for my trees.

I’ve tried many methods of watering my 60-tree orchard, and found that watering bags like Treegator  work wonderfully in quenching a tree’s thirst drop by drop over a five to nine hour period. I water my grape vines with a drip line hose as they run on an long arbor, a Geneva Trellis.

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How Tree Watering Bags Work

It's like putting on a raincoat for your tree
A tall drink of water

Basically (and brilliantly) the bag wraps around the trunk and is zipped up to create a water tower of sorts.

zip it up
Zip it!

Simply fill the bag with water (opening under label flap) and let the water drip slowly out through the bottom pin holes. If the tree is older, you can zip two bags together for a larger trunk, and double your watering capacity.

water logged
Hey that’s what I look like in my down vest.

Watering Bag Pros

  1. Easy to use
  2. Durable (been using for three years now)
  3. Each bag holds about 15 gallons
  4. Trees are hydrated slowly
  5. Water run-off unlikely
  6. Easy to store, lays flat when empty

Watering Bag Cons

  1. Bags must be level and centered, or may fall over
  2. Falling over may result is snapping the trunk in half (trust me on this one)
  3. Time-consuming to fill a lot of bags
  4. Sometimes drain holes plug up
  5. A little pricey, between $19.99 – $25.00 per bag.

Manufacturers

  1. Treegator
  2. A.M. Leonard

Disclosure: I am not being paid to endorse either manufacturer’s product.  

belly up to the bar
Pear tree “Happy Hour”

How I water my fruit trees

  1. I water row by row, one row per day, ten trees per row
  2. Following day, I move the bags to the next row of ten trees
  3. 6 days x 10 trees = 60 trees
  4. While a bit time consuming, this kind of watering exercise is a great way to unwind after a long day. And on Vashon Island at the height of summer, we enjoy 16 hours of sunlight.

In closing, I think this is the best way to water trees, for me. I’d add, if you have a well or water source on your property and have a larger orchard, drip line and irrigation are the way to go. I am on a water district with a limited and costly supply of water, so this works best for me in conserving water and finances.  Happy watering, easy picking and warm regards.

Water today, pick tomorrow
Water today, pick tomorrow.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Looks a LOT better than our hokey way of putting a five gallon bucket at the base of each tree (small hole on bottom of bucket) We have a mini pickup truck with a 55 gal drum of water on the back–we cruise around filling buckets. Yes…….we have been called white trash.
    I’ve thought of investing in these…….I think you’ve talked me in to it. But now I need another way to “irk” the neighbors……
    😀

  2. I don’t know Sue, you sound like a genius to me. What a brilliant solution and free to boot. I can always help you find ways to irk the neighbors. 😉

  3. I’ve seen bags like this all over St. Paul the past couple of years. The city has been taking out all of our ash trees (due to the ash borer) and replacing with other varieties of young, disease-resistant trees. Many people have used similar bags to water.

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