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The holiday season is here and whether you’re going near or far, no one wants to return to a garden that’s suffered from inattention.

Here are some practical ways to avoid horticultural heartbreak on your return.

  • All new plants need TLC when first planted, so put any new planting plans on hold until you return.
  • Tidying before you go will keep things blooming. Spent flowers should be dead-headed and don’t be sparing about those already in bloom which are nearing their best.
  • Ardent lawn aficionados often like to cut their grass once a week, but for the rest of us a two-week absence of mowing won’t cause any problems even in very hot spells. Aim to cut your lawn as near to your departure date as possible.
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Watering tips

Give your garden a thorough watering before you go, getting water to plant roots. Water needs to penetrate several inches below the surface, so give it a good soaking not a light sprinkling.

Before going away, water well for a couple of days and then add a 3-5cm deep mulch on top to retain moisture.

Plants can be irrigated by using water bottles with holes in the bottom, staked to keep them in place.

Alternatively, water bottles spikes can be used.

To stop container plants drying out, applying a 3-5 cm layer of horticultural grit can slow evaporation.

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Placing plants in pots together in shadier spots will help reduce water loss but don’t put them under the eaves of a house as that’ll stop rainwater getting to them.

Ultimately pots will need watering and enlisting a neighbour to help will provide peace of mind, but make sure they have clear instructions about how much and how often, especially if they’re non-gardeners. If you have crops ready for picking, you can incentivise your neighbour by inviting them to help themselves! They’ll not only get the dietary benefits but all the restorative joys of spending time in a garden.

Alternatively, if you are likely to be away frequently and don’t want to call on your neighbour’s goodwill too much, it could be time in invest in an automatic irrigation system.

In the long run, planning what to grow and when can save problems, such as plants being in need of harvesting while you are away.

With a little thinking ahead, you can enjoy your holiday knowing your garden won’t be a headache when you get home but a place where you can continue to relax.

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