5 Tips to Protect Your Landscape While You’re Away

by Paul Konrardy

5 Tips to Protect Your Landscape While You’re Away

You’ve got your dream vacation all planned. But what will happen to your garden and flowers while you’re away?

Here are some tips from Ryan Larsen, aka “Dr. Drainage” who is also the Technical Service Manager at NDS, Inc. to keep your plants happy while you’re gone.

1. Check the weather forecast. The most important thing to do before your vacation is check the weather forecast for when you’ll be gone. It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t think to look ahead and make preparations. Knowing if there’s a heat wave coming or a lot of rain in the near future will help determine how you prepare.

2. Put a timer on your sprinkler. With a few easy steps, you can create your own automatic irrigation system. Take a flexible hose and attach a soaker hose on one end and a timer on the other. Now you can set the watering start time, duration and frequency before you go on vacation, instead of relying on a gardening company or neighbor to water your plants for you. Automatic irrigation systems are easy to move around too, so you can re-arrange your watering system if you later decide to change the layout of your garden.

3. Install a dripline. Drip irrigation is an economical and efficient way to ensure that your garden gets the water it needs while you’re gone. Since a dripline releases the water under the mulch, you will lose little water to evaporation. This method saves water and prevents runoff. 

There are many kinds of drip irrigation kits for specific applications at your local hardware or home improvement store. There are kits for flowers, shrubs and trees, ground cover and flower beds, container and hanging baskets and vegetable gardens, and most come with a timer for easy maintenance.

4. Bring together your hanging baskets and containers. If you have your pots spread out throughout the yard, consider moving the containers closer to the main area of your garden before you leave for vacation. In doing so, the potted plants can take advantage of your sprinkler and get the necessary water needed to survive your time away.

You can also reduce the amount of water that your plants need by grouping the baskets and pots together under the shade, which allows them to create their own humid microclimate. If your vacation is for a longer period, cluster the pots within an inflatable kid’s pool with 1-2 inches of water at the bottom, which can keep the plants hydrated for up to two weeks.

5. Mulch well. Mulched landscapes and gardens retain 25% more moisture than those without. Mulch acts as a protective layer between the soil and the hot air. Consider fertilizing your plants and watering the roots, allowing the moisture to seep in before you add the mulch barrier. If you don’t want to re-mulch the entire garden, consider mulching the plant roots, and be careful not to bury the crown of the plant.

Photo Credit: Limor Zellermayer

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