Tree hydration system made from recycled diaper material minimizes stormwater runoff

Unlike standard watering bags that must be filled, the TreeDiaper Advanced Hydration System absorbs stormwater and gradually releases it to plants as needed. The product also provides protection from weed growth and extreme temperatures. It retains water well enough to keep plants healthy for weeks or months at a time. Photo courtesy of Hailing Yang/Zynnovation LLC.

Unlike standard watering bags that must be filled, the TreeDiaper Advanced Hydration System absorbs stormwater and gradually releases it to plants as needed. The product also provides protection from weed growth and extreme temperatures. It retains water well enough to keep plants healthy for weeks or months at a time. Photo courtesy of Hailing Yang/Zynnovation LLC.

Using watering bags to nurture young trees can help ensure a moist soil environment as the plants develop root structure. But standard watering bags require constant refills, and do little to deter stormwater runoff pollution. However, a new product made from the same material used in disposable diapers can catch and retain rainwater before releasing it super-slowly, allowing low-maintenance survival for young trees even in inhospitable growing conditions.

Named the TreeDiaperTM Advanced Hydration System, this technology received a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant in 2013. The collar-shaped device can keep young trees and other plants hydrated for weeks or months at a time. And, by absorbing and distributing less water than standard watering bags, the TreeDiaper system largely mitigates stormwater runoff.

 

A new way to water

According to Hailing Yang, president and CEO of Zynnovation (Ashland, Va.), this solution is made from agricultural-grade, super-absorbent polymers wrapped in geo-textile fabric — the same types of absorptive polymers used in disposable diapers. A version of the product made from unused, industrially rejected diapers also is available for special orders.

The TreeDiaper can sustain plants in most regions using just 2.5 cm (1 in.) of stormwater each month, Yang said. In arid climates, the systems can be “recharged” with a fraction of the water that typical irrigation systems require. Unlike standard watering bags, this system also offers protection from extreme weather, helps to control erosion, and inhibits the growth of weeds. It can be used both indoors and outdoors, and ranges in diameter from 25 to 121 cm (10 to 48 in.) to suit a wide variety of plants.

 

Looking ahead

After inking a nationwide manufacturing and distribution deal with ACF Environmental (Richmond, Va.) in November, Zynnovation now is focused on research and development in hopes of making the recycled-diaper version of the system economically feasible for mass production.

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7 Responses to “Tree hydration system made from recycled diaper material minimizes stormwater runoff”

  1. Jan Kirsh
    October 4, 2018 at 12:56 pm #

    How do you drain the tree diaper when finished using for the season?

    • Dr. Wei Zhang
      December 24, 2018 at 11:53 am #

      replied below. And if you have more questions, feel free to send us an email at info@treediaper.com

  2. Dr. Wei Zhang
    December 24, 2018 at 11:52 am #

    Jan, Sorry for the late response. We don’t monitor this site often. And this is a great question!

    You don’t need to drain TreeDiaper when the growing season is over. Instead, you leave them out and let it charge up with the winter storms (rain, snow, ice or freezing rain). In the spring time, they will be ready to use right away.

    This also eliminate your labor requirements from installation and removal.

    In addition, winter drought can kill a lot of trees because trees don’t usually display water stress on leaves. Most irrigation system are turned off in winter months to prevent freezing damages. So TreeDiaper will reduce the chance of winter drought killing trees.

  3. jade
    April 9, 2019 at 11:54 am #

    I bought one of these, and the problem I had was not w/ the diaper material, but with the casing which did not hold up to UV ..any solutions?

  4. Joe
    April 30, 2019 at 3:13 pm #

    Put some mulch on top so the sun doesn’t wear it out.

  5. David Stengel
    July 6, 2019 at 6:39 pm #

    How do we know the root system can actually penetrate or receive water from the polymers?

  6. Lori
    September 12, 2019 at 10:24 am #

    Underneath the tree diapers is a white powdery substance. Wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t removed the tree diapers. Can the tree diapers cause mold due to lack of air circulation or something similar?

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