Randy illustrates the concept...
Here it is, a lecture and a visual HOW-TO about deep root
watering/feeding of trees. On the GardenLine radio program I probably hammer home the point and importance of Deep Root Watering/Feeding of trees at least once every hour. People call because their trees aren't growing much since they planted them two years ago; people call about older trees and their roots coming out of the ground etc. etc. These are all examples of trees that are in dire need to Deep Root Watering/Feeding.
This email tip could go on forever, like a book on the subject. However, since I'm limited on time and space, I hope the artwork that will follow at the end of this tip will give you more of a concept of these fundamentals.
I talk about developing holes that go down 18 inches into the soil. These can be developed many ways. With Ross Root Feeders, Soil Augers, Post Hole Diggers, or your own tool fashioned with something ala a piece of steel rebar. The bigger the holes that are augered the fewer holes you will eventually need. The smaller the hole with tools like the Ross Root Feeder, the more holes you will need to develop. If the holes are bigger than an inch wide, you will need to fill them with pea gravel or organic matter, like mulch or compost. The smaller the hole, the apt we are to let Mother Nature fill the holes gradually and naturally
Now, here's where it gets real simple. Yet, it's also where many of you will want to complicate it. The holes are developed to make it easy to Deep Root Feed and Deep Root Water. Mother Nature and your irrigation system will provide plenty of moisture to trickle down in the holes. You don't necessarily have to water each individual hole. (I'm sure there are some people breathing a huge sigh of relief) The same concept holds true for feeding them. If you have holes that are 2 inches wide or bigger (such as the post hole sized ones) You can soak those areas specifically with Organic Foods or Soil Activators to Deep Root Feed a tree. The smaller the holes, you will just have to soak the entire area with something akin to a spray-on organic liquid. Or you can even allow compost as a "fill dirt" on the surface to slowly work its way down.
A couple of other concepts are worth noting to bring this Deep Root Water/Feeding together. First, remember that these holes need to be augered both inside and outside the drip line (If you don't know what a "drip line" yet, see the art work below). Plus, you should start them at least two feet away from the trunk of the tree. Secondly, and probably most importantly remember how tree's roots want to grow. The picture below will show you what I mean. We tend to think of them as growing only laterally, when in fact they like to grown down in well-watered, organic soils. Finally, remember that this process is an on-going idea. Even when you've got a healthy tree, remember that years later it will be helpful to come back and auger some new holes.
Words of warning:
Just feeding with granular synthetic foods actually eats up the beneficial microbes that we are trying to increase down in the root zone - that's why I emphasize organic foods for the roots of trees.
If you're auguring with a drill bit bigger than 2 inches wide, it's often wise to have gas, phone and other utility lines marked prior to drilling.
Again, don't forget to increase your holes outside the "drip line" as the tree matures.
Hire a tree company if you think this is too much work, for they have helped pioneer the concepts of which I speak.
And now for the picture that you've all been waiting for to bring this full-circle visually… Here is a deep root grid plotted inside and outside a drip line of a fully-grown tree, a drip line and a logical look at how roots are trying to grow down in the root zone.
Until next week, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
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