Damson Cottage Garden

Leaving the garden while on holiday

Summer holidays are coming – Yippee! Leaving your garden to its own devices can be a bit daunting. The ideal plan would be to have a friendly gardener pop around to take care of it. Otherwise friends, family and neighbours are all brilliant to enlist in your gardening team. If this is not possible I have some tips for you to keep the garden in shape while you are away.


Irrigation system are the best choice. They can be easy to set up from an outdoor tap and will save you time watering even when you are not on holiday. You can link some irrigation systems to a water butt which can be handy if you don’t have an outside tap.

Watering the garden when you are away on holiday

Irrigation system connected to an outside tap

If you don’t fancy an irrigation system, you could set up a sprinkler and put it on a timer to water your garden every evening while you are away.

Watering the garden when you are on holiday

Set an automatic sprinkler

You can use up-turned plastic bottles to water plants while you are away – just pierce small holes into the top of the bottle and wedge them into the soil at the base of your plant. This will keep the roots moist for a couple of days.

Plastic bottles to water plants

Plants in greenhouses are the most problematic to leave. On a hot day they will dry out very quickly. If you are only away for a day or two, plants can be happy if left well watered and plant saucers filled up. You can even leave a soaking wet towel in the greenhouse to keep the moisture level high. If you are leaving the plants for longer, irrigation systems or getting someone to pop in and check on the plants is the best option.

Which ever method you choose make sure you give the plants a good soak before you leave.

Water retention

Its a really good idea to mulch around plants – compost, rotted manure, bark chipping, newspaper, and grass cuttings are all great to stop water evaporation – they also reduce the number of weeds that will pop up between your plants and rot down to add nutrients to your soil. Its best to add a thick mulch – about 3 or 4 inches if you can. We have a very large stack of slates which are handy to place on the soil to reduce weeds and help with water retention.

Slates to reduce water evaporation

Slates to reduce water evaporation

Move potted plants into the shade, and put them all together. This makes watering easier if you have asked a neighbour to come in and also reduces surface area for evaporation. Also, shade-netting can be handy to put over plants if you are leaving them when very hot weather is predicted.

General control

Cut back plants a little more than you usually would – this reduces evaporation from the leaves and reduces the chances you will come back to an overgrown jungle!┬áHarvest what you can before you go, have a good weed and hoe the ground. Hopefully your mulches will reduce the invasion of weeds.

If you are away in the Summer, the plants will be growing quickly and will need support.┬áStake all the plants that you think will need it – especially beans, tomatoes and peppers.

Stake chillies

Stake chillies

Let me know if you have any great tips for leaving the garden while you are away, happy holidays! Jane

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