There are several things you can do to ease your plants through a dry summer and even improve your landscape at the same time.
1. Assess your priorities. Survey your landscape: What areas or individual plants do you want most to save? Give top priority to irrigating established trees and shrubs; they're virtually irreplaceable. Consider perennials a second priority.
2. Identify root zones. The roots of various plants grow to different depths; the trick is to apply just enough water to moisten the roots. Most tree roots are located in the top 2 feet of soil. The dripline of a tree or shrub, which runs around the perimeter of the canopy, outlines much of the root zone. Focus water there.
3. Try a root irrigator. The hose-end device has a needlelike shaft that injects water into the ground, irrigating roots directly so no water is lost to evaporation. Check garden centers for root irrigators like the one from Hound Dog Products (about $20; 800/694-6863). Insert the shaft 6 to 12 inches or deeper into the soil around trees and shrubs. After watering in one spot along the dripline, move the irrigator to another spot until you complete one round-trip.