It’s typical. Just as you start looking forward to your summer holiday, your garden seems to look lovelier than ever! As such, you have to start thinking about making those necessary arrangements that will ensure the survival of your precious plants and flowers while you are away.
Failing to take the necessary precautions when it comes to watering and maintaining your garden may see you returning to a space that’s overrun with weeds, plants and flowers that are in acute distress; and to fruit and vegetable plants that have prematurely turned to seed.
So, what can you do to keep your garden alive whilst on holiday?
Here are our tips for keeping your plants well watered:
1. Plan ahead by mulching
In the spring, mulch the soil with a protective layer as this can help retain up to 25% more water. It will also help keep weeds at bay.
Weeds love summer and may grow like fury during warm weather. Pull them out from the root before you leave to prevent them from having a negative impact on your crop and stealing nutrients and moisture from the soil.
2. Implement holiday plant watering solutions
During times of heat waves and droughts, it asks a lot of even the closest of family and friends to take on routine watering for more than a few days at a time. You can avoid asking too much of them by implementing a do-it-yourself garden watering system in your garden.
Simply stand a bucket of water up on bricks so that it is higher than your container plants or flowers. Then drape a damp dishcloth or plastic pipe over the edge and into the soil. This will act as a water wick and can help to keep the soil hydrated.
Alternatively, punch some tiny holes in a plastic water bottle before submerging it into the soil next to your plants. Then fill it with water to slowly release water into the soil.
3. Position containers together in the shade
Before you go away, gather up all of your containers and put them close together and in the shade. They will benefit from forming a little microclimate where they all contribute to humidifying the atmosphere around them.
Give them a complete soaking before you go. You may find that they will last for a week without any further intervention, especially if you use a water bulb or globe to top up just in case.
Position your pots away from your house – including your hanging baskets. The walls of your house can end up sheltering them from any much-needed rain that falls while you away. The bricks may also retain and throw out more heat onto your plants during hotter spells, which will only contribute to them drying out faster.
4. Use slow release plant food and water retaining gel
Water-retaining gel soaks up 400 times its weight in water and then releases it into the soil as your plants require it. It’s a great way of maintaining moisture in pots and containers for longer.
Simply mix the gel with the compost and fill up the bottom of the pot or container before watering to charge up the gel, or create finger-sized holes in the compost and fill with the gel as directed.
As well as watering plants, it’s as equally important to feed them, especially if they are young or still growing. Slow release plant food can be easily added to the soil and will give your plants a much needed nutrient boost for the weeks you are away.
5. Choose drought-loving plants
You may wonder how long a plant can survive without water. Well the answer is it depends on how hot the weather is, the plant’s position, how it is planted and – most importantly, the type of plant it is.
There are some drought-loving plants and flower varieties that will be able to survive a two week dry spell without water better than others. These include geraniums, verbena, cosmos and poppy. Putting them either straight into the ground or in glazed pots and out of direct sunlight will help them along the way. Avoid using uncoated terracotta containers, however, because they are porous and do not retain water well.
6. Pick vegetables and dead-head before you leave
Pick and prepare any fruits or vegetables before you go away otherwise the plants may prematurely turn to seed. If you are planning on going away for more than two weeks, you may need to turn to neighbours to help harvest ripe fruit and vegetables to help extend the crop.
The longer you are away, the more vigorous you’ll need to be when it comes to dead-heading and picking, if you want to return to enjoy your fruit and veg into the autumn.
7. Be selective
With so much work to do before you leave on your much needed break, it pays to be selective. Try not to worry too much about established grass or shrubs – they will survive periods of neglect for two weeks or more and will quickly perk up once you give them a good soak on your return.
Giving your lawn a mow before you leave and then leaving the clippings on top of it is a good way of retaining moisture and protecting it from drying out too soon from direct sunlight.
8. Seek the right help
Finally, if you go away often, or for prolonged periods of time, then one of the most effective solutions is to seek professional help with installing a more permanent, timed irrigation system into your garden. These typically consist of:
- Drippers to deliver targeted watering for plant pots and containers.
- Sprinklers for large areas of garden and lawns.
- Soaker hoses to snake around plants in the garden to allow for water to seep into the ground and keep roots moist.
- Timers and controllers that attach to your garden tap and allow for regular watering to happen whilst you’re not there.
There are many automated garden irrigation systems available; including cloud controlled garden watering solutions that can be operated from your mobile phone wherever you are in the world. The smartest ones can even draw on data from sensors including weather forecasts to determine watering requirements. This will not only help you save water, you’ll avoid drowning your plants if the weather decides to take a turn for the worse in your absence.
Not only do these systems help whilst you’re on holiday, but they are also an efficient way of saving water in the garden by ensuring that what you do use is targeted to the areas that need it most (i.e. the soil and roots, rather than flowers and foliage).
To go even greener, these system can also be attached to water butts instead of an outside tap.
Not only can Thames Valley Landscapes help with setting up automated irrigation system, we are also experts in helping homeowners keep their gardens healthy whilst on holiday or out of the country for long periods of time.
Our garden maintenance contracts take all your everyday garden chores off your hands for complete peace of mind. We’ll water, mow, prune and plant so you will be welcomed home to an organised, healthy garden when you return from your break.
Call us on 01628 629720. We’ll be happy to help!