One of my neighbours asked me to have a look at her garden. It wasn’t performing well. It was straggly and sickly looking with a lot of yellow leaves; a nasty black fungus on one plant, white mould on another. On her snake-vine (mother-in-law’s tongue) a plague of rust was deforming the leaves. And there was a rotting smell …
“What can I smell?” I asked. “That’s the horse manure. See, I do everything I can. I feed it, fertilise it, water it. What more can I do?” As we walked across the damp grass, the penny dropped. “Did you have the sprinkler on this morning?” I enquired. “Every day”, she nodded sadly. “Stop” I told her. “Just stop. You read all the things that you must do to make everything thrive, but you’ve become a victim of advertising. You are killing your plants with kindness.”
I might as well have slapped her with a bunch of weeds, she was so shocked. “But, but, but … Okay.” As I walked home, I thought about this. I decided to neglect my garden and see what happened. The results were mixed. Seedlings suffered. Other plants (including the ferns that I usually soak) thrived. Fungus shrivelled!
So, my conclusion is: turn off the watering system and selectively water plants on a needs basis. Group your plants not only for soil-type and sun-type, but also on water requirements. Plant the cactus well away from the hydrangeas. And save yourself a fortune in water bills.