Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Taking care of lawns and gardens before leaving on vacation requires extra planning.

June 6, 2013
Think of your lawns before leaving on vacation

Ahhh, vacation. Time to get away and do something

 different. A much needed rest. Whether you plan to go far or just up in the hills somewhere to get away from it all, a vacation is a welcome respite. 

A vacation requires some extra work and extra planning. Besides the usual decisions of what to take along and packing, you need to provide care for the home you are leaving behind.

When you return, some things will be exactly as you left them. Others need ongoing care. Pets, for example, still need to eat and to have some shelter. Sometimes Fido can be a welcome participant in your vacation fun, and you can just take him along.

There are limits to what you can take along, however, and the yard and garden are pretty set to stay where they are, but not without some prior preparation. If you are getting away for a couple of days, the problem may be minimal. However, if you plan to enjoy an extended leave, your plants will still expect to be watered regularly. Lawns will continue to grow. Weeds will continue to grow. Houseplants still need a drink now and again.

Getting your yard and garden ready for your vacation requires work. If you wax philosophical, perhaps that extra work to get ready to go will make you appreciate the rest and relaxation better.  Philosophy or not, some garden tasks will need attention before you leave – and probably again immediately after you return home.

In a perfect world, lawns would be self-mowing, weeds wouldn’t grow back after removal, fences secured to keep out marauders (or better yet there would be no need for a fence because pests would not bother your yard), and a pleasant, drenching rain would fall for an hour 3 times a week – preferably very early in the morning while everyone sleeps. Dream on – but prepare for the reality of high temperatures, pests, and drought.

Plants don’t wait for us to pay attention to keep growing. Given the right temperatures, sunshine and water, they will grow without our intervention – even when we are away.

Probably the most important task on your before-vacation to-do list is to make sure that plants will be watered while you are gone. They can go without fertilizer and put up with weeds for a bit, but without water, you will not come home to a historic garden – your garden will be history.

Timed watering systems are amazing tools when they work right. Check your system to be sure that all sprinkler heads are in place and unclogged. Double check the watering frequency and time on your system clock or be sure to leave clear instructions to caretakers on when and how long to water.

This early in the summer, plants are still becoming established and will not adapt well if their water is cut off. The water conservation system of watering deeply and infrequently is just as important while you are away as when you are at home.

Some plants must be watered while others may not. Large, well established trees can go for some time without water.

House plants have their own requirements. As they are confined to a limited amount of soil, they dry out quickly in summer weather. Of course, you can get a neighbor to stop by and add water. However, if that is not an option, try making mini terrariums for them by covering them with a clear plastic bag once you have watered them. The moisture will recirculate and keep the soil moist. Keep the bag-covered plants back from the window where the sun won’t shine directly on them and cook them.

You may have limited time for yard care before a vacation. Set a list of priorities. Think ahead. What would happen if you neglected a given chore for a few days or a couple of weeks? The lawn will be longer for sure. Your lawnmower may struggle through tall grass. But it will still be a lawn, and it can still be mowed.

You may feel the need to cut it to save face from the neighbors. You may not want the world to know by your too-long grass that you aren’t home. You also have the option to hire someone to come mow it for you.

A clean, weed free landscape is the ideal, and although weeds will start up again while you are gone, it won’t be as bad when you come home as if they are already growing. However, in a pinch when there isn’t time for everything, consider the consequences of what you leave. Right now, many weeds are still small. By the time you come back they may be towering over the rest. If they won’t go to seed, they may be less of a concern than those that will develop stickers or thorns or will spread and try to choke out everything they touch.

In any case, once you’ve done all you can, pack up your bags and be on your way. And enjoy the change of pace, relaxation and sights to see.

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