No one likes coming home to a dead garden after spending weeks away from home! Unfortunately, not all of us could afford a gardener who could look after our plants while we’re away. You can always ask a friend or a neighbor to keep an eye on your plants while you’re away but what if you cannot find anyone who’s free to garden-sit for you? What can you do to keep your garden green and alive while you are on a holiday? We’ve already outlined some tips in this guide but we’ve got more gardening tips to keep your plants healthy while on a break:
Water Your Plants Deeply
Assuming that you will only be away for a few days to a week, you can probably get away with deep watering your plants to keep your garden alive until you are back. This goes if your plants are the drought-resistant kind otherwise this strategy might not work. It’s also worth checking out the weather a day or two before you leave. Deep watering will work on mild weathers when the soil and plants are not drying out too much from extended sun exposure.
If you are watering the plants deeply before leaving for a short break, expect some plants to wilt. You can still rescue wilting or stressed plants with lots of TLC. However, you might still end up losing a plant or two due to the intense heat if the weather is extra dry or it’s in the middle of the summer season.
Did you know that un-mulched plants lose about 25% water than mulched plants? A layer of mulch helps keep the soil moist for longer, which is helpful if you are not at home to water your plants. Mulch helps insulate plants during the cold season in case you are planning to head to a warm destination during the winter months.
You can either use organic or inorganic mulch to prep your garden before your break. Before adding a layer of mulch, check if the soil in several areas of the garden is moist. Using a shovel, push through the soil to check for moisture. The soil should be wet several inches below the surface prior to mulching. and check
If your garden has a few inches of mulch already, there is no need to add more. You don’t want to add too much mulch because it’s unhealthy to bury the plants too deeply. If your garden beds have to be re-mulched, there is no need to layer the mulch on the entire bed. Just layer the mulch around the plant roots.
Install Drip Irrigation
If you have time, we highly recommend installing drip irrigation before your trip to save your garden while you’re away. A drip irrigation system could be put together in just a few hours. You can either DIY your way into installing a drip irrigation system or buy a kit to make your life easier. Either way is fine!
However, it is important to install the drip irrigation system at the start of the growing season. That’s because laying the hoses is much harder when the plants are already fully grown. Still, you can do this in the middle of the growing season; just know that laying the hoses will be taxing. Also, this system is designed to care for individual plants. If you want to cover a larger expanse of space, you should opt for sprinklers and soaker hoses instead.
If you want to lighten your watering load just before you go on a holiday, make a point to collect rainwater using rain barrels, a large tub, or even a few pails. Set the rain barrel under a downspout to collect rainwater and attach a soaker hose so the water runs through your garden. Water your plants deeply before you go and let the soaker take care of the rest.
Do note that collecting rainwater in some regions is illegal due to water rights restrictions. In the US, most states allow rainwater collection except for states like Nevada, which requires a water right to harvest rainwater in rain barrels. Our advice is to check your local region’s water rights restrictions before building your own rain catching system.
Install a Timer
If say, your garden does not need a drip irrigation system, install a timer on your sprinkler system instead. A timer will automate the plant watering and most timers work well with regular garden sprinklers. However, you may have to purchase a couple of connector hoses and more sprinklers if you have to cover a larger expanse of space.
If you are installing a drip irrigation system, you should also install a timer for the spigot. This way, you can automate the watering and adjust it according to the weather. Some timers could sense the volume of the collected rainwater and will adjust the watering accordingly.
Make Your Own Self Watering Jugs
If you’ll be away for a few days and you have a garden full of plants to take care of, consider making your own self-watering jugs to keep your plants happy while you are gone. You can use any type of plastic beverage containers to make self-watering jugs. Just poke tiny pinholes in the lower side of each container then dig a hole near the plant and bury the holey side of the jug. When you are about to leave, fill each jug with water. The water will slowly drip into the soil, keeping the plant roots nicely hydrated for several days.
If you have a large garden, you’ll have to make several self-watering jugs. You can use one jug to water about 4 plants. But for thirsty plants that demand constant hydration, they’ll need a jug each. Installing self-watering jugs are best for plants that are planted in-ground but the system could also work in a container garden.
Move Potted Plants Closer Together
This tip is for growers with a container garden. Instead of scattering your potted plants all over the garden, set the plants closer together. This way, the plants will get more water from the sprinklers.
Clustering potted plants inhibit moisture loss, which keeps the soil nice and moist for longer. When the plants are set near each other, they also create their own humidity, which keeps their growing environment ideal for plant growth. In addition, grouping plants together minimize wilting during the day because the dense foliage protects delicate leaves from sun exposure.
Protect Delicate Plants from the Sun
Delicate plant foliage could wilt or turn brown from excessive heat and extended exposure to sunlight. If you are off to a vacation and you cannot keep an eye on your plants, take your potted plants away from direct sunlight. Set your houseplants near a window with sheer curtains to filter the sunlight. You can also take some of your yard plants indoors to protect them from harsh winds.
Use Polymer Mix with the Soil
Keeping the soil moist is critical to maintaining healthy plant growth even when you are away. If you are not there to water your plants, we highly recommend mixing moisture-retaining polymers with the soil. These polymers absorb more water, keeping thirsty plants hydrated for days on end. You can buy moisture-retaining polymers at your local nursery.
Avoid the horror of coming home to a dead garden. With these gardening tips, you can plan out your water-saving strategies to keep your plants well hydrated even in your short absence. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest gardening tips.