Water “Stinger” Plants Trees Fast

Gary Cammack has a slick way to plant trees for wildlife habitat and to stabilize cut banks. He uses water pressure and a device he calls a Waterjet Stinger to drill a hole in the soil. He then inserts a willow or cottonwood “stick” harvested from thick stands of established willow and cottonwood trees.

“Normally it’s nearly impossible to get these trees established in heavy gumbo soil,” says Cammack. “With 200 lbs. water pressure, I can blow a hole 4 to 6 ft. deep in the heaviest gumbo in less than a minute. Doing it this way, we’ve had a 50 to 60 percent success rate.”

Cammack suggests the success has to do with the depth of the hole that gets the sticks into subsoil moisture. He likes to have about 3 ft. of stick above ground and at least 4 ft. in the ground. Shallower holes would dry out before the sticks could root.

“We harvest dormant willows and cottonwood from what we call a dog-hair stand,” explains Cammack. “We clip the branches off to get a 6 to 8-ft. stick, 3/4 in. to an inch in diameter at its bottom end. We clip the top at about 3/8 in. diameter.”

Cammack had assistance from the local NRCS in developing the Waterjet Stinger. It uses a gas-powered, high-pressure pump. The Stinger component is a 6-ft. hollow pipe with a T-handle and a stainless steel nozzle. The unit is effective and fast.

“Four of us planted 200 trees in an area in a couple hours one Sunday afternoon,” recalls Cammack. “We went back to one area two years later, and there were enough branches and leaves that we found bird nests.”

Cammack and his family had no problem finding components as they operate a ranch supply business. He says they can fabricate Waterjet Stingers for others, or he is glad to answer any questions about making and using one. Detailed information about fabricating and using a Waterjet Stinger is also available from the NRCS.