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Installing irrigation under the canopy

irrigated plants under tree

Cutting roots when installing irrigation lines under existing trees can severely damage the tree. Many roots are located just below the surface of the soil. Adjust the location of the lines to avoid cutting roots under the canopy. Even cutting small (less than one-half inch) roots under or outside the edge of the canopy for long stretches can cut off water supply to the tree. This can cause the tree to decline or die during the next several years.

An air excavation tool can be used to blow open a trench without damaging roots (click here to view air excavation tool). This will allow irrigation lines to be placed under the shallow tree roots without cutting them. This will take more time than simply cutting a trench with a mechanical trencher. Every irrigation company that installs lines near established trees should have access to this device and the training that allows it to be used appropriately.

Install irrigation wisely when mature trees are present. Irrigating the bed area in the photo could cause problems if the base of the trunk and main roots are kept too moist. It is better to keep plants a few feet from the trunk so the trunk does not receive water from irrigation.