Garden Survival during your holiday
At this time of year, a pressing concern for those lucky sorts who manage to escape to the sun for a week or two is how their garden is going to cope whilst they’re gone. Although it is fair to say that there is always an element of risk (unless there is a neighbour on hand to tend to things), there are a few steps which you can take in order to reduce the chances of coming home to an under-watered or overgrown garden.
If you have a greenhouse or an indoor plant space, leaving doors or windows ajar to get some much needed ventilation and putting up greenhouse shading are good ideas in order to recreate the sort of environment that they would experience on a day to day basis when you are normally around. For watering, one solution is to place one end of a strip of dish cloth into a plant and the other end into some water. Where possible, lift the root ball out of its pot, place the cloth into the bottom of the pot and sit the root ball back in on top of the cloth, but if this isn’t an option then placing the cloth on the surface of the soil should be fine.
Pots & Hanging Baskets
Firstly, group together any pots which you may have in a sheltered, shady spot. This will help reduce the immediate evaporation of moisture, and help to harbour humidity. It also goes without saying that everything should be given a very thorough watering at the last available opportunity before leaving. If you are likely to be away for a while, standing pots in water is best. A partially filled paddling pool for example would be an ideal spot to leave them.
Cutting your lawn before you leave is advisable, but it is important to remember that trimming grass too short can in fact encourage it to grow back even faster. Shorter grass can also dry out more quickly, so take these factors into consideration when mowing. If your lawn is brand new, it is important that it continues to be watered twice per day when the weather stays dry. If there is no one available to do this for you, a garden sprinkler with a self timer on the hose, set to water twice daily is an option but ensure that the sprinkler covers the entire lawn before you go, otherwise those places out of reach are likely to have browned off before you return.
In order to ensure that your flowers continue to thrive whilst you are away, pick any flowers which are open before you go. Make sure you also dead-head any spent bedding plants in order to prevent seed from forming. Giving all your pots, baskets and plants a feed before you leave is also extremely beneficial.
Planning Ahead For Next Year
On your return from your holiday, start planning ahead for next year. Firstly, placing mulch around plants in beds will help to retain moisture and thus prevent drying out. It is also a good weed deterrent. You can improve your soil by digging over beds and adding some garden compost or organic matter each year. It will add nutrients, improve soil structure and also help to retain moisture. With pots and baskets, use water retaining gel when you are first planting up your pots and baskets in order to help once those summer holidays do come around. Lining them with newspaper will also help and similarly, lining any pots with plastic when potting up is useful too. If you are away regularly, think wisely when choosing plants and ask for advice where necessary. It may also be worth considering purchasing an automatic watering timer for your hosepipe.