Home and Garden, News

Holiday-proof your garden

It’s depressing coming home to a neglected garden. But a few simple jobs before you go away will help your garden survive for a few weeks without you. Here are 10 things to do before you head off on your travels.

  1. Move your pots to semi-shade, grouping them together to increase shade and humidity. Put them on saucers to catch rainwater or on soaked capillary matting. (But check the forecast, as plants don’t like to be in standing water.) Or consider installing an irrigation system. Any favourite plants that easily dry out can be sunk into soil to keep them cool, drenching the surrounding earth and giving it a mulch.
  2. As well as deadheading repeat flowering plants like cosmos, think ahead by removing the flowers as well – or pick a bunch of flowers to give to friends and neighbours.
  3. To avoid coming back to a weedy mess, it’s really worth removing as many weeds as you can before you go away, digging out the whole root of perennial weeds such as thistle and bindweed.
  4. Mulching your borders with bulky organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure or bark will keep weeds down and moisture in – make sure you drench the soil first. Or just concentrate on newly planted or thirsty shrubs and perennials and don’t worry so much about drought tolerant ones like iris, lavender and rosemary.
  5. If you go away at lot think about growing more drought tolerant plants. As a rule grey/silver plants like Stachys byzantina, small leaved herbs or fleshy leaved plants such as sedum will survive without much water once they’re established.
  6. If the forecast is for lots of rain, remember to protect plants like hostas from slugs – try organic wool slug pellets or try making beer traps by sinking a jar of beer into the soil.Clearing dead foliage will also help remove places for slugs and snails to hide.
  7. Check that the stakes on tall perennials are secure – wind and rain can easily knock them over and damage surrounding plants too.
  8. Pick as many peas and beans as you can, blanching and freezing anything you can’t eat. Raspberries and currants can also be frozen. And pick all courgettes even very small ones, which are particularly tasty, to avoid coming back to marrows. Remove weed seedlings with a hoe or by hand, especially anything close to plants. Water thoroughly before you go but ideally persuade a friend to come and help.
  9. Edge your lawn to neaten it up and clear areas where slugs might lurk. Mow the lawn a few days before you leave but don’t cut it too short if the weather is going to be hot and dry – long grass copes much better with drought than short grass.
  10. As with outdoor containers, it’s worth moving houseplants to a shady spot while you’re away, watering them thoroughly first. Anything particularly thirsty or in smaller pots will benefit from sitting on a damp cloth or in a sink or bath.