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watering remote trees during drought or heat events
NE Portland, OR Cully Neighborhood
167 Posts
July 20, 2021 - 3:50 am

Didn’t occur to me, was in a neighborhood farm store a couple of years ago when an, I believe, retired biology professor was delivering a stack of 5 gallon buckets, prepared with a small hole drilled near the bottom. These were being donated to be given away, for the asking, for the expressed purpose of watering newly planted, young (or any) trees. They were talking about 5gallons a week being a general goal, so I think must be small trees. What a good idea! Why didn’t I think of that? I’m a hand watering sort… never did, yet, set up any kind of irrigation system to get water to my plantings in a more efficient manner. I’ve enjoyed(?) watering my pawpaws emulating rain for years, as it allows a visual tallying of fruit set/development, and is really kind of satisfying in the doing. However, there’s lots of other things to attend to in the watering needs and in general I can find more things calling on my time than time to devote… so to the point…this bucket idea allows me to do some weeding, pruning, other, while the bucket is filling. Remember the small hole allowing water delivery over a sustained period of time for good ground absorption/percolation. 
I have a 55 gallon barrel with three holes near the bottom with, I think, #8 machine or self tapping screws as ‘valves’ (in, out, partially loose, you get it), that I move around from location to location to set the hose into while I busy myself otherwise. Just needing to remember to monitor how much water is going into the barrel. Truth be told, I’ve forgotten at times to get back before the barrel runs over, I just screw the screws in and hold the water for later if warranted. (No. I don’t move the barrel while full) the pawpaws, though, don’t seem to mind, nor does the 17’ circumference cedar on the lot, (missing the rain forest), when it runs over.



495 Posts
July 20, 2021 - 10:36 am

Not a bad idea.  I have a few trees that are inconvenient to reach with the hose. 

I've wondered how important it is to get water in the whole root zone.  If 70% of the roots get no water, do they die, or can they recover in the rainy season?  Is all the root development in the region that gets wet from the 5 gallons of water?

490 Posts
July 20, 2021 - 12:07 pm

Larry from central Oregon who at one time was plumfun around here might have been what your remembering because he taught this. To take your surplus 55 gallon tank full of water another step simply dunk your sprinkler in that water and momentarily turn on the faucet to purge air. Then disconnect the hose from the faucet and with your finger plugged in that end to not loose your siphon and carry that as a reverse watering wand to the next step on your property you couldn't reach. If that area doesn't need as much water then raise the sprinkler slightly higher. Of course the loosening the screw is another option that can be used for the remainder when placed in the appropriate area. 

Yet a 3rd way of doing the same thing is a 10 dollar plastic pump siphon. Works well in my summer Alaska gardening experiences. In my case the hole would ruin my open top fiberglass holding tank.

@jafar. I kind of wonder on the efficacy factor as well.

John S
1064 Posts
July 22, 2021 - 11:02 am

I have been doing versions of this for years.  I have been using a 1 gallon milk jug with a tiny needle hole for when I'm on vacation.  I like the idea of other sizes.  I may adapt a 5 gallon bucket for when I go on vacation for a week.

Another thing that I did that seemed to help was to put panels of plywood on the south side of some plants so that they would be in the shade during that time.  They need less water, burn up less, etc.

JOhn S

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