But irrigation and soils are key to thriving gardens, no matter the plant selection. However, people generally have a hard time gauging how to determine watering needs because they mostly consider only the plant’s foliage and the soil’s surface. Everything under the soil’s surface seems mysterious partly because "It depends." is the answer they get when they ask "How often and how much should I water?"
“It depends” because one garden that’s based on sandy soils will drain much more quickly than a garden that’s based on clay soils. For both soils, incorporating organic matter like compost will help to both retain moisture and provide drainage while keeping the individual soil particles moist. That magic balance of air pores and soil particles is what keeps plant roots growing well and thriving.
Conserving water use by changing from daily to 2 times a week for 10 minutes each time is a good start for lawns, since the roots are generally only a maximum of 6 inches deep. Watering this frequently for these short periods of time teaches the plants to be shallow-rooted since more water's arriving in a day or two.
But for vegetables and ornamentals with roots potentially going down 12-18 inches, once a week deep watering should be sufficient to keep their entire soil profile moist. Deeper-rooted veggies like tomatoes and shrub ornamentals - to say nothing of trees - need really deep-watering to keep the entire soil profile moist but draining before watering again - perhaps once every 2 weeks even during our summer heat.
Be sure to water in a basin that extends beyond the drip line of the plant or tree, since this will encourage roots to extend beyond that in search of nutrients as well as moisture.
A soil probe is the tool to alert us what the moisture level is nine inches down into the soil. The tree needs watering only when the dial points to almost dry. This is why trees should be planted in their own space, away from lawns and shallow-rooted plants.