Trees and Irrigation Systems Don’t Always Mix: Preventative Steps for Long-Term Irrigation

Trees do a lot for every property. They add a lot of curb appeal and beauty that prospective tenants are looking for, especially in an apartment complex and multi-family residential properties. They provide shade and mitigate flooding after heavy rains. They can even lock down the soil so you have to do less erosion maintenance. But trees can develop their own problems over time.

The root systems are particularly troublesome. No matter what properties you’ve owned in the past, you may have had to deal with the difficulties that come from tree roots being too close to the property line. The root systems can start to dig into the foundation and make it crack or shift. Trees can make roads crack and sidewalks buckle. If developing root systems can cause this damage to hardy structures, irrigation systems are also at risk. Here are two ways to protect both your trees and your sprinklers:

Move your irrigation pipes before they spring a leak.

Commercial irrigation systems work best when they’re submerged. Not only does this help with water pressure, it protects them from the damage of foot traffic. (It also protects you from potential liability of obscured but protruding pipes.) Professionals will install these pipes away from tree roots, but they may need to be relocated if your trees grow larger or closer. Look for an irrigation company that specializes in both irrigation and landscaping; they know how to keep an eye on the trees to catch potential leaks before they start.

Schedule deeper, less frequent watering cycles.

Shallow frequent watering encourages shallow root systems. This is true both for your grass and your trees. Shallow tree roots are the source of most shifting problems and system damage. They’re also vulnerable to disease and overwatering. Program your water schedules for deeper watering cycles so your trees’ roots don’t start to grow towards your pipes and up to the ground. Experts can also recommend the right sprinkler and pipe types for the right cycle types based on the surrounding vegetation.