If you’re an avid gardener, or invested at all in the appearance of your lawn, then the prospect of going out of town during the warmer months can seem daunting. Who wants to go on vacation just to come home to an overgrown lawn, wilting flower beds and even a dead vegetable garden? Is it even worth going out of town at all?
It can be, as long as you take steps beforehand to prepare your lawn and garden and ensure that they’re well-cared-for in your absence. It’s a good idea to get a friend, neighbor, relative or even a professional to come and look after your lawn and garden while you’re away, especially if you’re going to be gone for longer than a week or, at most, two. Before you go, prepare your lawn, garden beds and container plants, so they stay healthy until you come home.
The most important thing you can do to care for your lawn and garden while you’re away is to find someone else who you can trust with the care of your grass and plants while you’re gone. You might have a friend, relative or neighbor who understands plant and lawn care and can be trusted to follow your care instructions, but often, it’s a good idea to hire a professional lawn service to keep your grass watered and trimmed and care for your plants.
This is especially true if you’re going to be gone for an extended period. If you plan to be back within a week, you probably won’t need to worry about who’s going to cut the grass while you’re gone. You might even get away with leaving for up to a week or two, if you put your lawnmower’s deck on its lowest setting and cut the grass short before you leave — although, of course, this isn’t great for the grass.
But, if you’re going to be gone for two weeks or longer, you probably don’t want to burden your neighbor, elderly in-laws or busy friends with the task of cutting your grass for you. Caring for large garden beds may also be too much of a chore for a neighbor or friend doing you a favor. However, even if you hire professionals to do the more mundane chores, you might want to see to it that someone is coming over to harvest any ripened vegetables and fruits or even just to cut bouquets from your flower beds.
Prepare Your Plants
You can minimize the need for lawn and garden care while you’re away by preparing your plants before you go. Even if you’re only leaving for a few days, making sure your plants are well-watered and healthy before you pack your bags can help ensure that they’ll be able to tolerate some minimal stress. Take care of any weeding, deadheading, mulching and other maintenance tasks that may need done. Treat for pests with insecticide or soap spray. Doing so will reduce the sources of stress your plants face while you’re not around to dote on them.
Most importantly, make sure your plants are well-watered before you leave for even a brief trip. If you have an irrigation system — even a soaker hose on a timer — you can relax and enjoy your trip, knowing your plants are watered even if your plant-sitter drops the ball. A layer of mulch around the base of your plants will keep the soil moist and the roots cool and inhibit weed growth. Give your lawn a good soaking, too, because a well-hydrated lawn is less vulnerable to pests.
You’ll have to take special care with container plants to make sure they’re safe, even if you’re only going to be gone for a couple of days. Containers can dry out in just one day in the height of summer, but you can keep container plants watered for up to a week by placing the containers in a kiddie pool filled with about two inches of water. Add mulch to containers to keep the soil moist and the roots cool.
Growing a healthy lawn and garden takes a lot of work, and it’s easy to feel that you can’t afford to leave your precious plants unattended for even the briefest trip. But you don’t have to forgo a trip out of town to take care of your lawn and garden. With the right prep and a little help, you can keep your lawn and garden looking green and lush while you’re away.