The summer holidays are looming and before we head away it is important to undertake some pre-holiday preparation, to ensure your plants get the right care and attention, while you are on vacation.
A few simple tricks to have a stress free holiday, involves some preparation in the weeks leading up to your break.
Pre- holiday preparation
Weeds are undesirable plants and compete for plant nutrition, weakening the desirable species and making them prone to pest and disease. Ideally, pull any weeds by hand, before they seed, or spray them with vinegar if you do not want to use herbicide. Difficult to kill weeds need to be bagged in plastic and left in the sun to rot, before composting.
Rejuvenate the soil
They key to maximising plant vigour and health is a healthy soil. Conditioning your soil helps retain moisture. Adding organic matter and compost annually, willl improve soil texture and structure and promote soil micro organisms.
Using mulch in your garden controls weeds and keeps the soil cool and able to retain moisture. In new garden areas, soil wetting agents can be added to improve moisture penetration, prior to the addition of mulch.
There are numerous choices of mulch, including organic (sugar cane, pine bark- below ) and inorganic (scoria, gravel and pebbles).
For optimimum results, a 75 mm layer needs to be added and it is important to ensure a well is created around tree trunks, to prevent rotting.
Water well after the mulch is laid.
Install an irrigation system
Irrigation systems can be complex, especially if you have an electronic system. However, there are simple to install and very effective DIY systems available from your local hardware supplier. These inexpensive systems can be programmed, for a determined length of time, by using a simple battery operated digital timer.
You can choose a sprinkler systems or dripper systems, depending on your garden requirements and pop up systems can be installed in your lawn areas. It takes a little bit of planning to design a system, but it ensures your lawn and garden are regularly hydrated, while you are relaxing at your holiday destination.
Indoor and outdoor pots
If you are away for less than a week, indoor plants will survive if you water before you leave and place them in a cool area. For longer periods, place them in a tray of wet sphagnum moss. Alternatively you can place them in a bath or shower tray on a wet towel. The plants will draw the water up and survive in this manner for 2- 3 weeks.
For outdoor pots, group them in a cool shady spot (see below)and water thoroughly, add a wetting agent and mulch with wet sphagnum moss. Drippers from irrigation systems, can also be added to individual pots. Alternatively you can get a friend or neighbour to check on them, if you are away for extended periods.
Choose waterwise plants
The choice of plants with good drought tolerance can make your garden more waterwise. Succulents (see below), such as Senecio, Sedum and Aeonium and perennials such as bird of paradise, grevillea and westringia are great waterwise plants and are aesthetically pleasing.
So get out this weekend and give your garden the pre-holiday preparation it requires, then you can enjoy a relaxing and stress-free break away.