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I am having a problem with keep the grass around my trees green. Half a dozen trees died in the area last year, so I am trying to make sure that doesn't happen to more. I suspect I am not getting enough water to the area despite having almost maxed out my water rationing.

I remembered awhile back seeing a rod that you would stick in the ground that water a few feet below the ground level in order to keep the roots growing deep and not pulling water that the grass needs. Here is an example on Amazon. I wasn't able to find one at my local hardware store and the selection is very small online. This has got me wondering if they really don't work that well.

So, are these actually helpful to use? If not, is there any approach I should be taking to try to get enough water to this area?

My current water rationing allows me to water 2 days a week for a total of 10 hours during each of those days. Split this across 10 zones and I am maxed out at an hour per zone, 2 days a week. Currently I am watering this area for 45 minutes, 2 days a week.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'd be more concerned about the trees dying from lack of water than the grass which surrounds them, frankly. Have you considered cutting away the grass at the base of the trees and replacing with a mulch instead? A humus rich mulch such as bark chips or good composted material applied in spring, when the ground is moist, would conserve moisture for the trees, and you wouldn't then have brown grass at some point in the year. You could shape the edge of grass left further out from the trees to give a neat finish, and in an area where water is a scarce commodity, that certainly might be a better solution than trying to work out how to keep the grass green. Bear in mind that any mulch you choose to use should not be heaped up around the base of the trunks of the trees - you need the 'soil' (or in this case, mulch) to remain at its current level immediately against the trunks. How useful this might be as a solution does rather depend on the size of the area of grass which doesn't stay green and the number of trees concerned though.

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I never realized the mulch would help conserve moisture for the trees; makes sense though. I've been wanting to create a bed around them for atheistic and ease of mowing anyways. I suppose this will help me get motivated to do the work. –  Kellenjb Jul 22 '12 at 17:53
    
Ah, well, the energy to do the work is another matter! I'm sure the presence of browning grass might galavanise you into action - its a job I'd do over winter, but I guess you have much longer snow covering than we do. –  Bamboo Jul 22 '12 at 18:33
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I agree that in your case I would probably remove the grass under the tree and replace with mulch.

Additionally, I have a suggestion for watering the tree - if you have a 5 gallon bucket, you can poke a few holes in the bottom of it, place it under the tree you want to water, fill it with water, cover it, and let the water slowly seep out into the ground. You should plan about 10 gallons of water, per tree, per inch of trunk diameter, per week. This will tell you how many times you need to refill that bucket. If you have one bucket per tree, it can make it much easier to get all of your watering in with the watering restrictions.

Good luck!

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