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Out for the holidays, how to deal with the watering

How to water when absent

Before leaving to go on holiday, a few good tips can ensure that your garden plants will still be in great health when you get back. But in case of dry spell, watering must be both carefully planned and not excessive.

Are you traveling away from the garden for a week or more? First on your checklist is looking up the weather forecast to see how to set things up in your absence. If a few showers appear in the coming days, you won’t have much to plan for. If drought seems to be the trend, you’ll have to set up a watering system, and determine which areas deserve attention and which ones can cope with not being cared for.

Match the schedule to each type of plant

Set up irrigation systemsPlants with the highest water needs are usually in the vegetable patch (tomato, bean, zucchini, lettuce…): set up a drip system or micropore tube activated with a timer that flips the switch on and off every evening. Don’t forget to harvest ripe fruits and vegetables before leaving!

Garden boxes and pot arrangements also require a lot of water: place them in the shade and stake each of them with an upside-down water bottle for which the cap has been pierced with small holes. Special porous caps bought in stores can be screwed on standard bottles to ensure a regular flow of water. These are also great for indoor plants, too.

Watering cansFinally, give a thought to each of your young trees that you’ve planted the year before. Their roots are as yet too shallow to reach water in deeper ground. Set up a watering system nearby or ask a neighbor to come water. New options include “water bags” that slowly drip their water to the ground.

Your annuals, trees and especially your lawn will have to go without water, this is what responsible watering means! But don’t worry, they can cope with it very well!

Watering and environmental common sense

Watering during the holidays: here, a hose on the wallTo reduce damage and wastage due to droughts, a little bit of common sense comes in handy. Choose plant varieties that are adapted to local climate conditions, first of all hardy and resilient, and just go for extreme mulching. Grass clippings and pruning trimmings, straw: whatever covers the earth and retains moisture.

Also remember to weed to avoid competition from water-thirsty weeds. Finally, mow your lawn high, 2½ inches (6 cm): it will resist much better.

Laure Hamann

Images: CC BY 2.0: Ivan Radic; Pixabay: Jeyaratnam Caniceus, Jasmin Sessler, Kristy Marett
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