Going on holidays for a few weeks? That doesn't mean your garden has suffer. Charlie Albone shares a few simple precautions you can take to help your garden hold up to the neglect.
As you may or may not be aware, I have been at the Chelsea Flower Show for the past 21 days creating a large show garden for Husqvarna and Gardena. As much as I was focused on the job at hand, part of me was worrying about my own garden at home. Leaving an acre of garden for a month usually means spending the next three months tending it back to its former glory.
(You can find out more about Charlie's Chelsea experience here)
To lessen the recovery time, I took a few precautions to ensure the garden held up to the neglect of me not being there.
Before I left, I went on a hedging rampage cutting every hedge back, even if it was a week early to do so. This ensured it didn’t put on too much leggy growth while away.
I then got the herbicide out and eradicated all the weeds in the garden, paths and patios. Herbicide is a useful garden tool, but only when used correctly. Overuse of weed sprays can be bad for the environment and this usually happens when applied incorrectly or in excessive amounts. The majority of herbicides are Glyphosate based which means the plant may not die, or show signs of dying for up to two weeks. Mix the concentrate as per the label and spray the plant to the point of run-off, not until its dripping off the leaves, then leave it, and trust you have done the job properly. A lot of people see no signs of ill health in the plant and then repeat the spraying day after day, which is totally unnecessary and bad for the environment.
I then mulched the garden beds to keep the emerging weeds down and help retain moisture in the soil, in case it was hot while I was away. Upon checking the weather, it was in fact incredibly wet, which the mulch helps with, as it slows the water flow into the soil, making it more effective. I then checked the irrigation system and fitted a rain sensor – luckily!
I find the lawn the biggest issue when I have prolonged periods of travel, as it gets so long when I finally get around to cutting it that the parts at the bottom have yellowed, and it looks terrible for months. So I bit the bullet and installed a robotic lawn mower. I said I did, but what I really mean is Husqvarna came over and did it for me!
Did you know the first robotic lawn mower was created 20 years ago? After living with one for a month before heading off to Chelsea, I really see it as the future. Nigel (as I have named him) takes himself out for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening (there is quite a lot of lawn) and simply parks himself up in a charging station for the rest of the time, no human interaction required. Nigel is GPS guided and needs nothing but a change of $9 blades four times a year.
The way it works is to cut only a millimetre of grass a time and leave the cuttings on the lawn to rot down and feed the roots of the lawn. This is healthier for the soil and grass, and in time the lawn will become greener, stronger and less prone to disease. The sharp action of the blades is also better for the grass as the leaf has a simple straight cut, compared to the fraying action of a normal mower.
The only issue I have found with Nigel is I spend almost as much time watching him cut the grass as I actually did mowing it myself!