Don’t forget about your outdoor plants when you head out for vacation this summer They’ll need to be watered while you’re gone, or you could come home to a not-so-healthy garden.
If you can’t rely on a neighbor to give your plants a drink, and you don’t want to just hope for rain, try the following practical ideas for keeping your garden watered while you’re away on vacation.
If you’re only going to be gone for a few days, your plants may be just fine if you give them a good soak right before you leave.
Mulch is crucial for this to work, as mulched plants lose much less moisture than those that are left unprotected. Make sure your garden bed has two to three inches of coverage. Don’t be tempted to add more, though, as too much mulch can block oxygen to the plant roots.
After you water, use a shovel or long screwdriver to poke through the soil under the mulch. Is the soil wet a few inches below the surface? If so, your outdoor plants should survive your short vacation.
For longer trips, watering and mulching may not be enough to keep your plants healthy. A rain barrel can provide a continual supply of water.
Attach a soaker hose to a rain barrel and snake the tubing through your garden. The stored water will slowly run out through the hose and saturate the ground. You still need to water well before you leave, but this method can keep your outdoor plants adequately doused while you enjoy a lengthier vacation.
If it hasn’t rained enough to fill your water barrel, you can fill it up from the tap – that kind of cheat is just fine at a time like this.
If you don’t have a rain barrel, you can create your own self-watering system with recycled plastic bottles.
Remove the caps from a few empty soda bottles and use a nail to poke a tiny hole in each. Or, simply replace the caps with funnel-shaped spikes, available at your local garden center.
Water your plants well, then fill the plastic bottles. Screw on the caps or irrigation spikes, and push the bottles upside-down into the soil next to your plants.
You may need several bottles to water your entire garden, but this system is an easy way to make sure your plants get enough to drink. The slowly dripping water will keep the soil moist until the containers empty.
If your vacation is going to last more than a couple of weeks, you can try using 2-liter bottles. Just be careful to make sure they are stable and won’t tip over.
For more advice on keeping your garden healthy, drop by Millcreek Gardens, Salt Lake City’s favorite garden center since 1955. Our friendly, experienced staff understands the growing conditions of northern Utah, and we can answer all of your questions about growing healthy outdoor plants.