Going on holiday? These hacks will make sure your garden survives without you

Get your garden summer holiday-ready with these top tips before you go away.

How much time do you take to prepare for a holiday? For some, it’s all part of the holiday experience – getting your hair done, buying a few new outfits, and picking up the latest page-turner to read on the sun lounger. But how much time do you spend preparing your garden, so it’s pristine and primed to endure your getaway, rather than neglected and woeful when you return?

Back garden on a summer day with patio, lawn and rockeryCredit: Shutterstock/Artazum

There are lots of jobs that always need doing in the garden, but if you take a holiday during the summer months, you’re not only faced with a build-up of regular tasks, but potentially the after-effects of a lack of water. If you’re a keen gardener, there’s nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing break and feeling that before you’ve even unpacked your suitcase, you need to go out and tidy up the garden.

We’ve put together some top tips on how to get your garden holiday-ready, so you can kick back and relax while you’re away.


1. Get watering

Give your plants a soak

We asked Cassie King, PR officer at British Garden Centres, what she considered the most important job to do in the garden before going on holiday. “Give your plants a really good water,” she says.

Give them a good soaking to allow the water to travel down to the roots. If the water is on the surface level, rather than allowed to penetrate deep within the soil, it will quickly evaporate.

2. Mulch your plants

Reduce moisture loss

Once you’ve given your plants a water, think about topping them with a mulch. “Mulching helps retain up to quarter more water and prevents weed growth,” says King. Anything that reduces weeding sounds like a good idea to us.

One of the most common mulches is bark chippings, but gravel can work too. Smith particularly recommends using slate as it absorbs “heat during summer while keeping moisture from evaporating from the soil”.

Gardener wearing white gloves adds mulch around plantsCredit: Shutterstock/Maria Sbytova

3. Protect your hanging baskets and containers

Move them into the shade

“The British weather can be unpredictable,” says King. “If a hot spell is forecast, move hanging baskets, window boxes and containers to a sheltered spot for shade and heat protection. Clustering them together will keep the temperature constant and create a microclimate for your plants to thrive.”

She suggests placing them against a wall, fence, or under a tree to allow rainfall to reach them.

Terracotta pots will need more water

Terracotta pots will also dry out much faster than plastic ones, so will need an additional water before you depart.

4. Deadhead spent flowers

Have a tidy up to encourage new growth

Apart from removing any spent flowers, grab your secateurs and snip away any new flower heads too. Although it might seem a shame to remove them, it will avoid any new flower heads going to seed. And on your return, you’ll be able to enjoy some fresh blooms.

Woman deadheading echinacea flower headsCredit: Shutterstock/Radovan1

5. Tend to your lawn

Give your grass a mow and remove any weeds

A neatly cut lawn can instantly give your garden an uplift, so treat it to some TLC before you go away. Give it a mow and cut and trim the edges to help define its shape, and remove any weeds. But check the forecast first, because if it’s going to be dry then your grass will be best kept slightly longer. If you have different cutting levels on your mower, raise the blade up a notch.

6. Give your veg a feed

Nourish your crops

Your homegrown crops will appreciate a feed with a slow-release fertiliser before you depart. It’s a low-maintenance option that your crops will thank you for. Some slow-release fertilisers come in pellet form and will need to be pushed into the soil.

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7. Pick your crops

Make room for new growth

If you enjoy growing fruit and vegetables, make sure you regularly pick any ripe crops before going on holiday. If you can’t eat everything before you go away, excess produce can be popped in the freezer. And if you’re friends with your neighbours, invite them over while you’re away to share your bounty.

King explains why continuing to harvest your crops is important for your plants. “It will result in higher crop yields when you return and prevent rotting fruits and vegetables from attracting pests.”

Thompson and Morgan also recommends covering crops with specialist netting “to avoid damage from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies”.

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8. Set up self-watering planters

Give your plants a regular drink

Self-watering planters can help regulate the amount of water your plants get and are an ideal way to keep shrubs hydrated when you’re away. Although it’s not a practical option for your whole garden – unless it consists entirely of containers – self-watering planters can be a useful addition to keep your prized specimens healthy while you enjoy a holiday.

9. Avoid potting-up any new plants

Plan your planting

It’s best to avoid planting any cuttings or adding any new plants to your garden in the lead-up to your holiday. These plants are more vulnerable and will need watering and checking on for those first few weeks before they’re established. If you don’t plan ahead, you could return from holiday to find your hard work, time and money have been wasted.

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her


With her 30 years of experience, Camilla Sharman has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader.