August is one of the most popular months for families to fit in one last summer vacation before school begins. Though your garden may be the last thing on your mind as you busily prepare for your trip, it really does need some attention too. Do yourself and your garden a favor by completing these ten tasks before you leave.
In addition to remembering to pack Jacob's swim trunks and Abbey's favorite flip-flops, there are a few garden tasks you'll need to complete before leaving on the family vacation. Making the effort to do these now will save you time, money and frustration when you return.
Photo Courtesy of Susan Martin.
Pull the weeds. Letting weeds grow and set seed while you are gone will result in much grief for months, even years ahead. Prevent it by taking the time, or hiring someone else, to pull the weeds in your garden before you leave. If you'll only be gone for a week, focus on pulling the largest and most mature weeds before they set flowers and seeds. If it's going to be a long trip, pull every weed you see.
Deadhead your flowers. While this may seem like an inconsequential task, deadheading your flowers will prevent them from seeding around the garden while you are away. Deadheading also often results in a second round of blooms later that season. In some cases, as with coleus, plants may decline after going to seed, so deadheading them now will keep them actively growing longer into the season.
Leave your lawn long. The temptation to mow your lawn extra short may be strong if you will be away for a week or more. But mowing it very short during the hottest part of the growing season can easily cause it to scorch. Longer grass can tolerate dryness more easily, which is especially important if you do not have an automatic sprinkler system to keep it moist while you are away.
Pick your produce. By bringing in as much of the produce as you can from your garden, you'll prevent waste and deter animals that otherwise would have had a feast while you are away. Pick every bean you see, small zucchini squashes, tomatoes with any color at all, and baby cucumbers. Then invite your neighbors and friends to harvest the rest while you are on vacation.
Water your garden thoroughly. Shortly before leaving, water your container plants and garden beds thoroughly. If possible, hire a garden sitter to water while you are away. If that's not an option, congregate your containers into one grouping in part shade, preferably in the path of your automatic sprinkler system. Take down hanging baskets and set them atop inverted 5-gallon buckets, adding them to the grouping. Though they may not get as much water as they would normally, at least they will receive some water from your sprinklers. Be sure to give them a good soaking upon your return.
Spread Plantskydd Animal Repellent. When animals sense inactivity on your property, they tend to lose their fear and they can throw a party bigger than your teenage son while you are away. Protect your plants by spreading Plantskydd Animal Repellent all around your gardens before you leave. Sprinkle the granular formula on the ground around your plants to deter short four-legged pests like voles, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and opossums. Spray the liquid formula on plants 12 inches and higher to deter taller garden pests like deer, elk, and even moose. Don't forget to protect the container plantings and hanging baskets you've just grouped together, too. Since Plantskydd is OMRI Listed for organic gardens, this all-natural product is safe to use on all your plants including edibles, and won't harm your kids or pets.
Check your sprinkler system. If you'll be relying on your sprinkler system to keep your garden and containers watered while you're on vacation, do a test run before you leave to make sure everything is working properly. Also test any drip watering systems you may have set on timers. If you normally supplement your sprinklers by hand watering, increase the length of time each zone or drip hose runs while you are away.
Turn off your outdoor faucets. There is no need to spend money on water to run fountains when there is no one there to enjoy them, and a leaky faucet can add up to big dollars over time. If your faucet isn't servicing a necessary drip line, shut it off.
Bring in outdoor cushions. Before you leave, store the cushions from your outdoor dining set along with any linens or pillows in a watertight container or in your garage. You know the rule of thumb—if you leave them out, it will surely rain.
Share a bouquet. Before you leave, cut a fresh bouquet from the plants that are in full bloom in your garden and share them with someone you care about. Since you won't be there to see them bloom, why not use them to brighten someone else's day?
Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
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