Help with drip line and fruit trees

Hello everyone. I’m sure most of you have gone over this before but I can’t find answers to a few specific questions. I will post a few pictures with what I have done so far but I think it is wrong and overkill from the research I have been reading😩.

I have several mixed fruit trees that are 2 to 3 years old and all semi dwarf with a few dwarf. All of them are spaced around 12 to 15 feet other than a few in an area on the north side of my yard. On that side I am trying to do a Dave Wilson style with a few trees. In all of these areas I will be placing a layer of cardboard and 4 to 6 inch layer thick of wood chips. They also have a flow control valve with a filter in each area.

So the first set of trees are on the southside in a row and there are six of them. I am also going to be planting down the side of the fence A blueberry bush, row of raspberries, blueberry bush and so on all the way down the fence. For a total of five blueberry bushes and five rows of raspberries.

The second set of trees are in an L pattern on the North and west corner of the fence. There are eight trees. Three on the northside and five on the Westside. I will be putting in strawberries in rows in between some of the trees or in front of them. A few dwarf blackberry bushes in between other ones.

Then on the southside of my property I have several trees in a different type of pattern. Some are planted close to each other. 2 peach pair. Nectarine and pluot pair. Single peach and a persimmon tree. In between these trees I’m going to put small grow boxes for squash, melons and pumpkins. They will be tied in with watering of my garden that is on the north side of my house.

When I first set up a watering system for my fruit trees I thought of doing spirals around the trees and drilling small 1.4 mm holes every 1 foot. I was going to try and see how it would water without drip emitters to try and save money With the plan that if it did not water properly I would replace the holes with drip emitters. They work amazing but One of the challenges I have had during the summer is the water that is left over in the tube in between waterings builds up calcium as it evaporates and has been plugging the holes. After re-drilling several holes I have decided to look into drip emitters. I have researched a ton and called several nurseries and can’t get answers.

Every nursery that I have talk to and most of the Internet sites Suggested setting up a drip system and generally you will put two 2.0 gal dripping emitters on each side of the tree when they are first planted And water X amount of hours to get X amount of gallons per week. I understand that part. I decided in the end to go with big water wells underneath the newly planted tree as suggested when reading a blog on this site. Thank you to that because my trees have growing amazing. Rarely do any of the sites/nursery talk about the set up of a mature fruit tree and watering. I talked to a landscaping gentleman who told me the most I would ever need is 4-5 drip emitters and one large circle of the drip line of my tree that put out 2 gallons per hour and run X amount of hours. This goes against my whole plan of putting in one drip emitter every foot in a spiral around my tree. It also does not seem like it would be enough for the tree and it’s root growth. I would imagine that if I am only supplying 4 emitters in a 15 foot circumference that there would be dry spaces in between the emitters and roots would not grow there. I would like to give my fruit trees and garden the best chance possible to provide good fruit. I have already purchased a lot of 1/2 inch drip emitter tubing so to switch to a different watering method would be a huge waste of money. if one ring around the tree is sufficient though I could use the drip tubing for other areas of my yard. My grandpa used to just throw down a hose at the base of each tree and forget about it for a day. It worked perfect for him. LOL his trees were amazing. So after my big long explanation :wink: here are my questions.

If I install drip emitters will I have the same calcium buildup problem?

Do I need to consistently cover the entire area underneath a canopy of a mature fruit tree with drip emitters? And if I were to do this like I thought I would run one drip emitter every foot in a spiral Which would equal 50 to 60 emitters ( this is what I think might be overkill after reading a lot and also cost a lot)

Would one circle underneath the drip line of the canopy with a emitter every foot water the tree enough to grow properly? With increasing the rings size as the tree grows( i realize I would have to calculate the amount per wk but would this style provide enough?)

Is it more about the amount of water that is put out under the tree then the location of emitters?

One YouTube channel I watched only had four 2gallon emitters About 3 ft from the trunk in a square pattern for a large apple tree. It was underneath a lot of wood chips but appeared to work. I just don’t understand what would be the best set up for drip emitters underneath a mature fruit tree in the end. My plan was to set everything up now, cover it with wood chips and forget about it for the next several years. Well , just maintain and check them to make sure they are working. But that’s it. If the suggested way to do it is one single ring around each tree that is what I would like to do. It would seem like it would be less to maintain than several circles around the tree in a spiral. Also less costly with drip emitters. Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated. Even if you tell me I’m crazy. LOL i would love to see photos of anyone’s set up if you have them also.

Also some of the line is side to side only because I Wanted gravity to help the flow of water.

First question is do you even need irrigation for your trees. I see you are in 7a, do commercial orchards in your area have irrigation systems? First year trees in more moderate climates of say PA or NJ might require irrigation during the hottest times of the year, but should be fine in subsequent years provided there aren’t extended periods of drought.

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How much do you think the sun heating up the lines is causing the evaporation? Mulch could help, I’ve got no experience with hard water though. Also, could you flip the lines so the holes are pointing down and the water drains?

I don’t quite know as far as it goes with commercial orchards. I will have to look into it. I do know that in the heat of July and August it dries out quite a bit. If I were to leave them without watering once a week or every other week I think they would struggle.

I could try and flip the lines. It might help some but even on some of them that I did try that on they still clogged with calcium. I even thought about blowing out the lines with air after weekly watering but that didn’t work either. At that point I would be spending more time and it would be the worth the money to buy emitters. I just don’t know if some emitters are more prone to calcium buildup or not.

I have one 1 GPH emitter on my 7 year old dwarf apple trees and two 1 GPH emitters on my 6 year old peach trees.(one on each side) The pressure is about 20-25 PSI and 12 hours of watering works except for a severe drought where I run two 12 hours watering cycles each week… Some calculations show this will produce the equivalent of about 1 inch of water.

Most large commercial peach growers in the part of NC with sandy soil (sandhills area) use one mini sprinkler per tree which consume about 6 GPH.

I don’t have a problem with calcium buildup but I do have a problem with algae buildup in the emitters from time to time. Every year I remove the clogged emitters and soak them in clorox and hot water and plug them back in. The Netafim emitters I use cost about 25 cents each. The mini sprinklers cost about $4 each

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I think you need to get rid of the entire drip irrigation scheme unless you are in the desert.
That looks like a great area for a back to eden system which is put in about 6-12 inches of wood chips the first year then keep it at a few inches in subsequent years.

Here is the irrigation system that I use. What I like about this approach is its adaptability — as the tree grows, the flexible lines can be moved around, added, removed, etc. I’m in California with a dry season (zero rain) that lasts for about six months per year.


Cool. :pray: I’m looking into Netafim droppers also. What type are they?

That was part of my plan but I wanted to add additional water for July and August. Even with the 3inch layer of mulch this year under them it still got dry. I’m going to do more mulch next year though.

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Cool. Are those bushes on the same line as the trees?

Sounds cool. In my location it never gets that hot or too dry for too long.
Sometimes it gets hot and dry for a month but never more.
I am mulching my young trees with 12 inches of wood chips.
Occasionally if it is really dry I water by hand.

Where is your general location?

I have 20 lines with two controllers (10 lines per controller).

In Clinton Utah. 7a. I only fear July and August where it is 90-100 every day and doesn’t really rain. Maybe the wood chips will fix that


Anyone else have input on this? I love any and all suggestions.

In terms of the peach and nectarine. They need very little rainfall. Water deprivation of these trees will produce very sweet fruit. I see Clinton only gets about a 1/2" of rainfall for July and Aug, so you might add a bit of supplemental water those months. But I’d imagine it wouldn’t take much, if any.

Peach and nectarine trees have an amazing ability to scavenge water, if their roots are healthy. I once planted a bunch of peach trees and it really didn’t rain all summer with temps 90+ and sometimes 100+. I never watered them and they grew 5’ that summer. The caveat is that our soil does hold moisture better than sandy soil, so there was perhaps a decent reservoir of moisture in the soil starting the summer.

However, that same summer I also planted lots of new blackberry plants and new apple trees, of which many of died of thirst. They aren’t nearly as drought tolerant as peaches.

Thanks for your input🙏 My peach tree grew like crazy this year. Almost too much if that’s even a thing. Lol
Good to know they don’t require as much water as I thought. It’s sounding like a good thick layer of chips and maybe one ring of drip tubing at the drip line would be enough. Only water when needed in July and August. Do you use drip emitters or flood with your orchard?

I’ve not used any water on my peach trees. Most years we get quite a bit of summer rainfall. But we have had years very dry.

In 2012, was the driest year for us, since I’d started growing peaches. It practically never rained from the end of April till the third week in August. It rained some in Kansas City, but we were far enough south we missed those rains, or got something worthless like 1/10th of an inch. It was dry enough that summer a lot of people got cracks in their basements. There was very little hay and in some places farmers were selling cattle because their ponds were dry. It never rained enough to water the trees at all. The new ones I planted never missed a lick, but we did do a very good job that year on weed control for young trees, so they didn’t have to compete with any weeds for moisture. Some older peach trees looked stressed, but did fine in the end. The fruit was smaller but excellent quality (i.e. flavor).

Of course we watched closely for borers, which could have possibly added too much stress on the trees in during that summer.

I should probably mention again, we have good water holding capacity soil here. Plus the soil had decent moisture at the end of April. It wasn’t saturated, but the moisture was decent at that time.

Your soil where the trees are looks pretty sandy to me, so you may have different results. However, the grass in the pictures looks some green. There was no green grass here during that dry summer.

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Ugh. That sounds like it was a rough summer. It’s good to know how resilient they are though. Yes that’s the hard part about my backyard is the sandy soil in some areas. Half of my backyard is Sandy soil and the other half is more clay loam. It’s just because of how they backfilled our property. I’m sure I could throw down a good thick layer of wood chips and then manually water every so often but on the sandy soil areas I will definitely need to put something down. Thanks for your wisdom!