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A simple irrigation system on a timer will help ensure the landscape survives while you’re on vacation. (Photo by Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services)

Vacation plans should include landscape care

Monday, June 14, 2021

Media Contact: Trisha Gedon | Communications Specialist | 405-744-3625 |

Many gardening enthusiasts work tirelessly to make sure they have an attractive landscape. After all those hours working outdoors, plant lovers deserve a little vacation time. But what can you do to help ensure the garden isn’t dead when you return?

With a bit of preplanning, the landscape can look just as good when you get home as it did when you left, said Casey Hentges, Oklahoma State University Extension assistant specialist and host of the popular gardening program, Oklahoma Gardening.

“Outdoor gardening and landscape activities tend to ramp up in the summer, along with vacation plans. Pet owners who go away for several days at a time don’t think twice about pet care, but sometimes people forget about having their landscape tended to while they’re gone,” Hentges said. “The easiest thing to do is to ask a trusted friend or neighbor to water, mow and weed while you’re gone.”

“If you’ve got a vegetable garden, entice the caretakers by letting them keep the fresh vegetables they pick while you’re gone. There’s no reason for any of that bounty to go to waste.”

To help conserve water during the time you’re away, considering putting in 3 inches to 4 inches of mulch. Hentges said this is a good idea whether you’re gone or not. The mulch helps hold moisture around the plants and cuts down on the rate of evaporation, so when plants are irrigated, the water lasts longer. Mulch is a great addition to regular or raised beds and also helps dress them up.

Another option aside from mulch that will help plants hold water is water storing beads/crystals or hydrogel.

“The great thing about these types of products is they can be used with both indoor and outdoor plants. The beads are incorporated into the flower bed or the soil of a flower pot,” she said. “These polymers hold a tremendous amount of water in comparison to their size and the liquid is slowly released into the soil.”

Don’t think hydrogel is a long-term watering solution, however. Beads and crystals can keep flowerpots and beds moist for a couple of days, but they can’t last the duration of a vacation. Check with your local nursery or plant store for other options.

A drip irrigation system on a timer is a great option for garden maintenance and can eliminate calling on a neighbor or friend for assistance maintaining the garden. There are some inexpensive kits available at local gardening stores.

Finally, don’t forget to mow the lawn before leaving town. Depending on the type of grass and the length of the trip, it should be good for seven to 10 days. Anything longer and the lawn may make the home look like no one is home, which could be a safety factor.

“Getting away for a little bit of fun and relaxation is great. Making arrangements with a neighbor or employing other strategies for landscape care while you’re gone will help ensure your previous hard work isn’t wasted,” Hentges said.

OSU Extension offers more gardening information online.

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