Zones that have trees and plants


We Are you new to the community and would appreciate any help. We have two zones that have either palm tree’s with plants, or fruit trees and plants. What should I set the zone as? Should the zone be trees or should it be shrubs?

As a new smart-controller user,I am wrestling with the same issue. So I am looking forward to any responses you might receive. So far there seems to be at least a couple of options: (1) put these zones on a separate fixed schedule or (2) adjust some of the input parameters that you selected when you set up the zone. Sorry that I cannot be definitive since I am still climbing up the learning curve.

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The mixing of zones is the number one problem in legacy irrigation systems (in my opinion), particularly drip systems. I wish someone had educated me on this many years ago. Root depth is king. You simply cant mix a plant with 4 inch roots with one with 24 inch roots on the same controller valve and get good results. It is as simple as that. If and when i lay out my yards again, i will run two lines to all major locations (except grass). One will be for short and one for long (trees) roots. I will even move young trees from short to long after a few months of growing, which will be easy if the pipe is right there already.

At the end of the day, until you adopt a two valve system, you have to water to the most sensitive plant, the 4" root, which will eventually kill the tree due to saturated soil and low depth roots. You can improve the situation if you turn off watering to the trees during all but the summer growing season, and instead water it monthly by hand, but keep an eye on it. Most plants require an inch of water per week in the peak growing season to the root zone, so that might help with your calculations.


Just curious, could not some of this (talking drip systems with varying plants with varying root depth) be controlled with the number of emitters and how much water they put out?

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This is the problem. Should I change some of my sprinkler heads to a drip system around the trees?

Nice landscape. The cop-out answer is yes and no. The real answer is no. Changing the number and type of emitters changes the amount of inches of water per week (assuming you dont change the numbers in the zone file). What it doesn’t change is how often it will water the zone, which is why the deep root items will eventually have saturated soil from 6 inches to 24 inches down leading to root rot, as well as shallow roots. There is nothing consuming the water under the surface at a rate that it is applied. Making sure the trees are under-watered weekly and occasionally manually soaking them with 3 inches of water (say three times during the summer) is about as good as you can do until you give them their own zone with deeper root settings.

I put a manual drip line ball valve on each my trees which i turn off from early fall to late spring for this exact reason. It is not ideal, but it is what i have for now. Trees want the deep soil to dry out from time to time when they can handle it (low stress times).

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That makes sense. Luckily, I will likely change some of how I have drip lines and can keep this in mind.

Ok, so should I have those zones set up as shrubs or perennials then?

I concur with the opinion that mixing trees/shrubs with annuals (i.e. differing root depths) in the same zone means that watering frequency will favor either the trees/shrubs or the annuals. Either way one benefits at the expense of the other.

Fortunately in my situation most of the trees & shrubs are planted in large tubs with gravel in the bottom of the tubs & exit holes for any excess water. So more frequent watering for the annuals is not particularly detrimental to the tress & shrubs. However, since I have more trees & shrubs in the zone than annuals, the parameters I plugged in for the flex daily schedule result in less frequent watering (which the annuals are not happy with). So my tentative plan is to put this zone on a fixed schedule instead. But I am open to other ideas.

Frustration has gotten the better of me with this system.

While I understand the premise to keep these ALL separate (Tree/Shrubs/annuals) because of varying root depths, one would then need 3 different low pressure zones just in one area all running next to each other. Not to mention the need to run those 3 in each area (Front/Back, other) or have super long pipe runs to keep with that running thought (pipe that goes to only trees 4 in front and 2 in back)…which doesn’t include a cornucopia of 1/2" to 1/4" irrigation pipe from each zone to deliver said water. Unless someone out there does all their landscaping with each plant type grouped all in a distinct areas (and no one does that really - a landscape will have a variety of different plants. Like a couple trees, mixed in with some bushes and some annuals).

I believe I have come to terms that this system is not for anyone who had a legacy system with high pressure (grass) and low pressure zones (all other plants) because the design work behind it would be hellishly different for each yard.
I for one would need to dig up each and every pipe and redesign it to fit and work with this controller as mentioned above. I have 4 zones (Front yrd low pressure, back yrd low pressure, upper rock wall low pressure and high pressure grass).
I would have a lot of $$ to replace plants (from digging up all the plants to get to pipe) and $$ for replacing all pipe. Since that is not feasible, I should have stuck it out with another dumb controller vs the over expensive smart controller/turned into a dumb controller.

I personally would not recommend this system to anyone with a legacy setup. Only for new irrigation systems that have not gone in yet - which would be the only way to follow the advise of keeping with 3 different zones per plant grouping. Still would be a lot more pipe to do such a task which I don’t believe is feasible.