Horticulture is a very important sector in every economy. “Drip line” is a very common term in horticulture. It may carry different meanings depending on the context. The drip line of trees is the area directly under the outer branches of the tree. When a tree’s canopy gets wet, water is shed to the ground on the drip line. It is at the drip line that water absorption is most active and not near the trunk or the center.
In drip irrigation systems, drip lines gradually transport water via a hose for more precise watering. This kind of irrigation is most common in areas that are dry, and water conservation is a prerequisite. Drip line irrigation is relatively cheaper and easier to install as compared to a high-pressure sprinkler system. When coming up with a drip line, it is important that water is spread evenly in the whole root system. If this does not happen, the result could be an unhealthy plant with some roots over developing and becoming dependent on more water supply as other trees whither.
What is a root zone?
This is the area of soil and oxygen around the roots of a plant. Nutrients and water from the oxygenated soil around the roots in the root zone are pumped to all the parts of the plant. A good and healthy root zone is one that spreads past the drip line of a plant. In various plants, roots branch out densely and grow up reaching the surface of the soil around the drip line to absorb rainfall and runoff as can be held by the roots and root zone.
A healthy shrub should have a root zone of about 1 to 2 ft deep and go past the drip line. The root zone of healthy trees should be approximately 1.5 to 3 ft and extend past the drip line of the tree canopy. Generally, healthy plants have a root zone extending past the drip line, however; other plants have deeper or shallower root zones. Poor watering and compacted soil may lead to plants have a tiny and weak root zone which does not absorb water and nutrients needed by plants.
Finding the drip line of a tree
To get the drip line of a tree use a tape measure and follow the following steps:
Study the shape of the tree to get the widest part of the canopy and the widest branches.
From the tip of the widest branch, mentally draw a line straight down then walk to that particular point and put a stake into the spot. Repeat the same on the other side of the tree.
Place one end of the tape at the trunk of the tree and feed out the measuring tape to the stake. Repeat this on the other side of the tree. Take the larger numbers of the tape measure as the drip line of your tree.
The measurement can be used to spread mulch, water the tree and apply fertilizer as this is the right root zone for the tree.