Most people seem to either do too much or too little...
This is a constant question we receive and a difficult one to answer. Typically, most people do the extremes—and I would estimate that 50-75% of the time Mother Nature takes care of watering on her own and no excess watering is needed. Plants mostly just need help with their water supply when they are young, during rain gaps, and when newly installed to get through without stress.
5 Rules of Thumb:
1) Think 1" of water per week. If you have irrigation, run each zone with a bucket in the center and see how long it takes to get one inch. Then run half that time twice a week and no more. Remember to turn off the system when it rains.
2) Check new plants daily the first 1-2 weeks depending on the season. Every other day to every 3rd day after the first two weeks.
3) Water until the soil is saturated. This can take some time with 2-3" of mulch cover. Place your hand in the soil next to the plants root ball. If the soil is crumbly—it’s too dry. If the soil is mushy—it’s too wet. You should be able to just make a nice mud ball. If mushy no more watering until only slightly moist and confirm the planting hole is draining. This can be extremely difficult to accomplish for tree planting in new modern developments (due to poor soil structure destroyed by house construction and heavy equipment).
4) Water in the mornings. If this is possible with your schedule, it allows less water loss and less waste of money!
5) Foliage does not need to be wet. Water is taken in through the roots and many annual flowers and roses actually prefer dry foliage. So, water only the roots, not the foliage. This is impossible with overhead irrigation. (See #1 above to adjust time.)
Does this sound complicated?
It can be, but we are here to assist! My analogy: Watering is like taking care of young sick child—constant monitoring and tweak the care as needed. The younger the person (or plant), the more work and time is involved!
Now for the kicker: You did not need an irrigation system this year in Central Ohio! Good healthy plants and turf have had PLENTY of rainwater. The first 4-5 months were well above average rainfall and we are already 4” above normal for July—with one more week to go! Unless you are running a golf course in your back yard, there has been no need for supplemental watering. If you want the perfect lawn, then maybe 1-2 watering times a week will keep that premier golf course look in 2017.