watering trees from a long distance

Asked March 4, 2017, 6:50 PM EST

Hi MN extension folks, I live on 4 acres just outside Northfield. At the moment a neighbor is making hay from several of these acres but I know that won't last forever and so I need to prepare to add trees. I'm doing a lot of planting right around the house and can manage that sort of watering but I'm confused about how to water trees that will be at a distance not covered by any hose I own or can cobble together from my many hoses. Or, if I could reach that distance would there be enough pressure to water anything...I really don't know. I understand the idea of using e.g. 5 gallon buckets with holes in them but I still need to either lift and schlep them in ways I may not be able to manage or, again, fill them at the site. Can you help me sort this out? thanks! Janet

Dakota County Minnesota

4 Responses

Here are some steps you should consider. First, plant appropriate trees. Check this link for some choices:
Native trees might have the best chance for survival with minimal additional watering.

Second, plant correctly. That includes the correct time of the year. Probably early spring would be best, or early fall, but not mid-summer. Read here.

Third, there are some helpful practices and devices that might aid your long-distance watering. Mulching around the base of the tree reduces evaporation. Tree bags provide water over a long term. Read here:
With four acres, you may want to consider something like a lawn tractor/trailer to help you move water to the remote site.

Hi Dennis,

Sorry for slow response on my side. I somehow missed your timely response and didn't find it until I rec'd a note to give feedback. I will give feedback and give you high marks (!) but I still have questions...

*I should have been clearer that I am doing the things you suggest (only planting "native" and following effective practices) but thanks for that info anyway.

*my question remains though! I suspect that the lawn tractor might be helpful but, again, I still would have to wrestle some weighty things into and out of it and I'm not quite clear on how that would happen. The watering bags I have would empty themselves on the drive--even if I could lift them in and out when they are full of water. Is there a home grown (i.e. not expensive) system like smaller (i.e. liftable) buckets with a way to plug them until they are in place?

*do very young plantings require less water so that I have a better chance at getting water bag or bucket that I can lift? Or maybe if I could really small (like the size of annual flowers) I can plant a LOT and not water and hope for the best (a sort of Darwinian approach)?

I can google this stuff (and have) but have not found any satisfying answers. I hope you can help!


I'm not sure how much I can add. Moving large quantities of water hundreds of feet is going to take either mechanical equipment (which means money) or lots of sweat and muscle (or both). At one end of the spectrum is a pump and piping. At the other is you hauling water 5 gallons at a time (about 40+ pounds). The lawn tractor idea was somewhere in the middle.

Small trees must have regular water. They won't survive long periods of drought. Once established, the trees may be able to fend for themselves, especially if you've chosen species that are drought-tolerant. Mulching is very important to help conserve soil moisture. Your soil's texture (sand vs. clay) is also important. This site might help:

got it. thanks Dennis--I'll see what I can rig up!