Taking that well-deserved vacation is all about leaving your responsibilities at home, even the ones you enjoy—like tending to your garden. Although you can take a vacation, your plants certainly can’t. Does that mean you have to sacrifice a healthy garden for your me-time? No way! Just take these guidelines into consideration before you leave, and you’ll return home to a thriving oasis.
Protect Pots and Planters
With less soil to hold moisture, pots and planters necessitate more consistent watering and attention. Before you leave, water thoroughly, and consider applying a layer of bark mulch to the soil surface to help hold in moisture. To further conserve water, create a microclimate by grouping containers close together in a spot that’s shaded for most of the day. If you’re taking a longer vacation, you might consider grouping them in a kiddie pool, filled with one to two inches of water at the bottom. This should keep plants healthy for up to two weeks. You could also use a My Design Sprinkler Kit. Perfect for container gardens and pots, the kit allows you to customize your watering system to your plant’s layout. After setting it up, attach the kit’s hose to a watering timer, and let it take care of the rest.
Set Up a Watering System
With a few staple watering tools and a programmable timer, you can set up a worry-free watering system for that space you’ve worked so hard on. First, drag a flexible, durable hose out to your garden (the Flexogen Super Duty Hose is a good option, as it’ll hold up against direct sunlight and other outdoor elements when left out), and connect it to a weather-resistant soaker hose. Ideal for new plantings, shrubs, bushes and raised beds, the Soaker Hose will drip water straight to the roots of your plants, ensuring that they receive moisture right where they need it. For delicate seedlings, sprouting vegetables and wildflower gardens, spike an elevated sprinkler into the ground. With its circular spray pattern and 1,200 square feet of coverage, it’ll prove a trusty sidekick that waters lightly without pooling water.
On the other end of your hose, attach a timer. If you’d like to set up a timer for two different watering areas (like one for your garden and one for your containers), a Dual Outlet Electronic Timer would suit your situation. Simply set the timer according to the appropriate start time, duration and frequency for each spot, and let it take care of your watering while you’re away. It even has a safeguard feature that turns the water off when the battery is low, so you won’t have to worry about an endless flow occurring while you’re away. At least a few days before you leave, experiment with different timer settings and see what works best for your space.
Build a Mulch Barrier
Mulched plants lose 25% less water than un-mulched plants. So, to encourage your plants to better retain water, apply a layer of mulch around your garden, such as grass clippings, bark mulch, leaf mold and compost, to shade the soil. Not only will this help control weeds, but it’ll also put a barrier between the soil and hot air. Before doing so, fertilize your plants for a quick boost, and water the root zones just before you leave, allowing water to soak in prior to getting their new protective layer. You can also hang shade cloths over large portions of your garden to diffuse light, which will prevent delicate plants from burning in the heat of summer.
Conduct a Pest-Check
Don’t forget to check on pests before heading out. If you see signs of animal munching or an aphid infestation, be proactive by getting rid of pests the natural way. You can also prevent future damage by picking ready-to-harvest edibles that would otherwise attract unwanted irritants.
Gone for 2+ weeks?
After working so zealously to keep your plants beautiful and bountiful, you certainly don’t want to abandon the quite-literal fruits of your labors. If you’re gone longer than two weeks and know your plants will grow significantly, tie any plants that will need support when they’re bigger. You may also consider getting a garden babysitter, like a neighbor, friend or family member. Make their job easier by following the aforementioned steps and leaving out any supplies they’ll need. You could also offer them any of the ready-to-harvest vegetables. Harvesting encourages continuous fruiting, so you won’t miss further harvests when you’re back home.
You want to return from vacation revitalized—so why not make sure your garden feels the same upon your return? With a touch of preparation ahead of time, you can have a carefree vacation, free from the worries of your garden’s well-being back home.
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