Don’t let holidays away fill you with watering worries, security concerns or propagating predicaments. Here are a few hints and tips to ensure your garden is taken care of while you’re away getting some well-earned R & R.
Safe and sound
During holidays away, there are some simple ways to keep your garden secure.
Make sure that high value items like kid’s bikes, lawn mowers and your garden tools, that are usually stored outside are moved to a more secure setting—in a garage or a locked shed.
You should also write your postcode on the bottom with a UV pen, so it’s stamp marked as your property and the police can check if it is recovered.
Garden sheds and greenhouses with windows can be covered from the inside, so that the contents inside are away from prying eyes.
Stack the odds
In the heat plants are at risk of water stress. Why risk all of your hard work when just a few simple adjustments can quench their thirst while you’re out of the picture.
A particularly windy spot will dry vegetation out quicker.
If you don’t have a natural screen in the form of hedging or densely protective foliage, plants can be kept sheltered by building your own screen from prevailing winds.
Moving potted plants into a shady spot will help them to maintain hydration as they are out of the drying sun, but I’d always avoid using the shade under the eaves of your house–as this will prevent any natural rainwater from being able to reach them.
You can buy soaker hoses which can fit onto a timer on your outdoor tap as a homemade irrigation system.
A square metre of vegetation can use an average of 3 litres of water a day, so conserve water by adding in mulch, like bark chips and well-rotted manure.
This is just the ticket to providing a protective layer that reduces water evaporation during the heat of the day.
You can also ensure that beds are thoroughly weeded before you go, as weed will compete with your choice plants for vital nutrients and zap the soil of its resources.
A quick way to get a water supply to plant pots all at once is to position them on capillary matting in the greenhouse or home.
This matting sits underneath the pot and the roots suck up the water from this absorbent layer. A homemade version of this is to collect all your houseplants together and situate them in the bathtub.
Put a little water in the bottom and a damp towel to soak up the excess—plants will benefit from being grouped together like this too with the added humidity in the air.
Care for crops
Plants that are fruiting or producing flowers need extra attention. Stake up any that will need support as the fruits and flower heads get bigger, it’s best to prepare just in case.
Anything that’s ripe can be picked now and you can freeze your glut of chillies or peas and beans right at home—ready to thaw and consume as and when you need them.
Any strawberries and tomatoes can be harvested early and left to ripen in the fridge, which is better than leaving them to spoil.
I’d recommend gathering young beans, peas and baby courgettes before you leave too.
If left to mature on the vine, these will stop the plant from producing.
If need be, you can also slow the growth of any leafy green crops that may spoil, like cress and lettuce, by providing them with more shade.
Use the time away to take a break from mowing. Many people mow the lawn as short as possible so it’ll last until they’re back, but the opposite is true.
I always leave my lawn to grow slightly longer just before a holiday, so that the grass can hold more moisture and recover itself if there is a dry spell. Plus, when you return, a fresh trim will mean it looks better than ever.
Those of you are who are feeding birds and hedgehogs in the garden, please make sure you leave them a supply while you’re away.
I make a point of providing plenty of food and fresh water for the birds and bees will need it too.
Garden wildlife get used to gathering food from your garden and if the supply suddenly stops, they can get disorientated and some may go hungry or dehydrate.
Pop out enough to last the week and clean over the feeding stations so they’re still looking great and are hygienic to use by the time you return.
While you get some rest, keep your garden looking its best with these easy-breeze techniques this summer.
Wait to weed without the wind!
If it’s windy, your hard work weeding could actually spread
wind-dispersed weed seeds, like dandellions and
bittercress, to other parts
of the plot.
How do I use trees in my garden design?
Trees will bring height and texture, as well as colour to the scene. Some produce flowers and edible fruit so they’re great for attracting wildlife and they can be used as a focal point too, perhaps at the end of a path or in the centre of the lawn.
How high can I allow my hedge to grow?
It’s usual to keep a hedge within 1.8-2.2m tall. This is high enough to create a sense of privacy in the garden, depending on how thick your hedge is. It’s also a manageable height to trim and won’t obstruct neighbouring views.