Summer holidays are here! Time to pack up the family and head off for some well-deserved R’n’R. But before you go, give some thought to how your garden will survive your absence.
You’re in luck if a very helpful neighbour/friend/family member is happy to do the watering while you’re away.
Otherwise, here’s some tips on how to help your garden survive your summer holiday:
- Mulch helps retain moisture in a thirsty garden. An insulating layer on top of the soil of pine bark mulch, organic material or pebbles holds the moisture in the soil, reduces evaporation, smothers any new weed growth and, if it’s organic, benefits the soil as the mulch breaks down.
- Added manure and/or fertiliser will ensure your garden is in top form, and slow releasing fertilisers will do the job for you while you’re away.
- Water retention beads will help the soil retain moisture. Mix them through the soil or potting mix before planting, or make a hole close to the roots of established plants and drop a few beads in them. Another good product is Wetta soil – it opens up the soil enabling it to hold water more efficiently.
- Give indoor plants a good dousing before you leave, and make sure they have adequate drainage, otherwise rot will set in. Self-feeding bags which are filled with water and attached to the side of the pot are cheap and they work for up to 2 weeks – connect more bags if you’re away for longer.
- Consider planting drought-resistant plants such as succulents, cacti and Australian natives that add form and texture to garden and require little maintenance.
- In the long term look at creating more permanent shade in your garden. Place your potted outdoor plants in whatever shade you have while you’re away.
- Probably the best and most expensive option is to install a fully automated water system. In theory you won’t have to water your garden again, but unless installed properly these can be a waste of time, money and water. Talk to a professional before you start.
- For a thirsty lawn attach a sprinkler to a self-timing watering system. Set it to come on every second day for half an hour in the evening.
The perfect lawn…
- There are new lawn grasses on the market under the name of Soft Buffalo. They are softer to lie on, more shade tolerant and disease-resistant, and can be sprayed with some weed killers. These new lawns grow well in most areas of Australia where water is available, except for extremely cold areas such as Hobart and the mountains.
- There are several varieties of soft buffalo available:
- 'Sir Walter'
It is low maintenance, disease resistant and shade and drought tolerant. It also copes well with herbicide and pesticide sprays…a good choice if you are away a lot! Available in NSW, Victoria and Queensland (other states to follow), from about $6/m2.
Grows well in the shade, but tends to turn purple in winter and has a low disease tolerance. It is especially prone to fungus attack in humid weather. Available in most states as Shademaster or soft-leaf buffalo, from about $5/m2.
A very good American-bred variety which holds its colour well through winter. It is drought and disease tolerant, and will grow in both sun and shade. Available in NSW as a turf from about $6/m2, and nationally through Hardwarehouse and selected nurseries in Viro-Cells at $25 per 100-cell tray.
- ST85 and ST91
Slow growing, dense, dwarf-leaf lawns that look good but can be slow to cover bare areas. They don't need mowing as frequently as other varieties. ST85 has been available for some time, however ST91 is a more recent introduction. Available in WA, SA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland, for around $8/m2.
- 'Sir Walter'
Equipment and Suppliers:
All garden products came from Bunnings, available nation-wide.
- Pine Bark Fine Banksia 50ltr $8.42
- Pebble Riverina Red 7mm 5kg $8.94
- Garden Essentials Grow Mulch 30ltr $5.81
- Cow Manure 5ltr $3.82
- Fertiliser spikes – Foliage and Flowering 20g $3.08
- Nitrophoska 500g $5.02
- Wettasoil 500ml $7.79
- Rainsaver Crystals 100g $6.82
- Tap Timer/Adaptor $23.95