Garden survival guide: For the holidays

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DIY and how-to

The holiday season is upon us, and while you are excitedly planning your vacation, don’t forget to add garden maintenance to your checklist. Use these nine gardening tips to prepare your garden before you leave and you’ll be rewarded with a happy garden on your return.

1. Mow the lawn…

…then give it a good soaking – it’s best to do this the day before you leave. Upon your return, you may have to mow it in stages, initially just cutting off the top growth and gradually lowering the mower blades until the desired height is achieved.

2. Add a layer of mulch.

Adding mulch will keep the soil moist and prevent weeds from growing too fast. When adding mulch, make sure it’s not too thick and not too thin, the perfect layer of mulch is 5cm to 7cm thick. Also ensure that you’re done with the weeding and the soil is damp before applying.

Insider tip: If you are mulching around trees and shrubs, don’t be tempted to add an extra-thick layer of mulch around the trunk, as this can encourage pests and diseases.

3. Deadhead your flowering plants.

Deadheading flowers is very simple. Simply pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Repeat with all the dead flowers on the plant. This will encourage new growth while you’re away so you don’t return to fallen petals.

4. Place outdoor plant containers on top of saucers and in the shade.

Placing outdoor plant containers and pots on saucers or trays is a great way to reduce the need for constant watering while you’re away. Give your container garden a good soaking right before you leave; any moisture the plants don’t take up will run out of the drainage holes and into the saucer below.

5. Remove houseplants from sunny windowsills.

A great gardening tip for your indoor plants is to place them on a damp towel in your sink or bath. This will keep them moist and away from direct light while you’re away.

6. But place succulent plants or cacti in the window.

Keep one or two drought-tolerant plants, such as cacti or succulents, on your front windowsill to prevent your home from looking deserted.

7. Keep large indoor plants moist.

Fill an old wine bottle with water and stick it neck-down into the soil of your large indoor plants. This will provide a slow and steady supply of water to your pot plants while you’re away.

8. Pick herbs and harvest veggies.

Pick your herbs, chop them finely and freeze them in ice cubes for use later in the year. This method preserves the flavour of the herbs far better than drying them.

A must for veggie garden maintenance is harvesting of crops. Make sure to pick any fruits or veggies that are ripe. If you’re going away for more than a few days, pick anything that’s nearly ripe as well.

9. Lock away gardening tools and decorations.

Make sure all your gardening tools and ornaments are clean and safely stored away in case of strong weather or theft.

For more tips on holiday garden maintenance, read these blogs: