Orchard irrigation can be accomplished in a variety of ways, from low-pressure micro sprinklers to driplines formed into rings known as “Tree Rings” to deep watering stakes. Orchard and tree irrigation is easier and more efficient than ever before. There are many ways to ensure your orchard remains not only healthy but productive and bountiful. Below I will discuss the advantages and limitations of these types of systems in regard to orchard irrigation.

Micro sprinklers

Micro sprinklers excel over traditional sprinkler methods in that they operate at lower pressure and thus achieve greater efficiency. They operate at a low enough pressure that their droplets are “rain-like” rather than "mist-like", and are thus less prone to evaporation. The volume, while still more than sufficient for tree irrigation, is lower than traditional methods which significantly helps reduce runoff.

Their spray diameter can ensure that all of the roots near the surface, from which most trees drink, receive water. Traditional sprinkler methods often promote disease and rot; their spray gets the bark of young trees wet, and wet bark is an environment in which detrimental conditions can proliferate. Micro sprinklers are often equipped with deflectors that force the water in a more downward trajectory while the tree is young. As it matures, this deflector can be removed to allow the micro sprinklers to achieve their full spray diameter. When a deflector is not present, something as simple as a stick placed between the tree and the micro sprinkler will deflect the spray away from the bark. 

Micro sprinklers have recently found a use in the prevention of freeze damage. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, soaking the trees during the course of a freeze event can prevent freeze damage. It takes energy for water to freeze, and when it freezes this is expressed as the “heat of fusion”. This is not as niche as it may sound; it is considered more economical than overhead impact sprinkler freeze protection systems, more efficient than smudge pots or kerosene heaters, and is seen more and more often in recent years. That’s not to say that during a freeze event you can simply turn on your micro sprinklers and protect your plants. Proper planning and calculation are still necessary, but given its growing popularity and success, it merits mention. 


  • Large diameter for full coverage of root zone
  • The high volume of water, shorter watering cycles
  • Can be used in other applications, such as preventing freeze damage 
  • Often available with a deflector to help keep the bark of the trees dry and reduce the opportunity for fungus and disease 
  • The easiest method to install


  • The volume of water can quickly overtax the flow rate of a water source
  • Insects like to make nests in the spinners
  • May not allow for the bark of the tree to remain dry
  • Using to prevent freeze damage takes considerable care, planning, and calculation

For more information specific to micro sprinklers and their applications, you can check out our Microsprinkler Buying Guide.

To browse some of our popular micro sprinklers, see this link: Microsprinklers.

Tree Rings

Tree rings are simply driplines formed into a ring that circles the tree. Tree rings are largely regarded as more efficient than micro sprinklers, as there is no airborne spray; all of the water drips directly from the inline emitters into the soil. While it may seem like micro sprinklers are more thorough in covering more of the root zone, this is basically untrue except in the sandiest of soil types. Beneath the surface of the soil, water will spread pretty far from the point of drip in most soils through its capillary action. 


  • Gets water to all sides of the tree’s root zone
  • Low flow and efficiency, delivers water right to the soil, with no spray to evaporate or run-off
  • Ring size can quickly and easily be changed to accommodate different sizes of trees
  • Economical


  • In sandy soils, the coverage from a single ring may not be sufficient
  • Takes longer to install than micro sprinklers 
  • The low profile makes it easy to miss when using landscape maintenance or similar tools 

Here is a link to our listings for ¼" and ½" drip line. ¼" dripline is the size primarily used to create tree rings, however larger trees stand to benefit from rings made with the larger, ½", dripline size: Polyethylene Dripline.

Here is a link to kits we offer that utilize ¼" dripline to create tree rings: Tree Drip Irrigation Kits

Watering Stakes

Watering stakes are a method of deep irrigation.  The Deep Drip Watering Stakes come in several sizes (8” up to 36”) and are pushed or pounded into the soil near the tree root zone. The holes along the watering stake deliver water to the tree’s roots beneath the surface of the soil. This provides for deep, efficient irrigation. An internal, integrated filter helps keep dirt, rocks, pests, and other debris out. 

These do not see as widespread use in orchard irrigation as the two methods illustrated above. Watering stake applications tend to lean towards irrigating large, older trees. However, they can and are used in orchard applications. Like a dripline, most of the action with watering stakes occurs beneath the surface of the soil. 

There are many ways to get water into the stakes, from drip emitters to garden hoses to uncapped microtubing. Simply run the hose or tubing/emitter over to the stake, lift the cap, insert the desired water delivery method and then secure the cap back in place. If you're using ¼" micro tubing as in the illustration above, there is a small cut-out in the cap that allows the cap to slide on over the tubing without crimping it. For fruit tree irrigation, Greenking recommends using the 24" 


  • Deep, thorough irrigation that also aerates the soil
  • Durable
  • Stakes work over a wide variety of tree sizes 
  • Very efficient, virtually no evaporation or run-off possible


  • Not as economical as the other two methods mentioned
  • More labor is required than the methods above
  • Not as easy to move from one location to another 

Here is the link to the Deep Drip watering stakes: Deep Drip Watering Stakes.

If you would like to learn more, here are some links that will prove invaluable: 

Tree Kit Selection Guide -- If you are planning on a residential or smaller orchard (up to about 100 trees), this guide can walk you through the selection process to find the most compatible tree kit. 

Drip Depot Planning and Installation Guide -- This guide can walk you through almost the entire process of drip irrigation design and installation. 

Thank you for reading. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please Contact Us. We read and reply to every message we receive and would love to assist with your questions and learn from your feedback.