INFORMATION SUPPLED BY LYNNE YATES AND LOREN SHIRLEY-CARR PHOTOGRAPH LOREN SHIRLEY-CARR

If you’re going on holiday and there’s no one to look after your garden, don’t panic. Follow these tips to ensure it doesn’t look like a desert when you return

Container plants

If you’re only going away for a week, add water-retaining granules to the soil. This helps to keep the soil moist for longer. Move the pots into a shady spot to minimise water loss, water them well before you go and add a layer of mulch.

If you’ll be gone for longer, set up a wick watering system. Bury one end of a wick or a thick cotton shoelace in the soil, about 8cm deep, near the roots, and place the other end in a bowl or bucket of water placed higher than the pot. Water flows down the wick through capillary action and waters the plant. If you have an automatic irrigation system move your pots to a spot where they’ll also be watered.

Lawns

For a short holiday, don’t worry about it, it should survive. Just mow it at the usual height the day before you go and water it deeply if it’s allowed in your area. For a longer holiday, mow it on the day before you leave, setting the mower down a notch, and water if you are allowed. When you get back, raise the mower two notches before mowing. Don’t cut more than one third of the height of the grass at a time.

Read more about the secrets to a lush lawn

Flower beds

Water beds before you leave and mulch the beds with a thick layer of leaves to keep the soil cool and prevent evaporation.

You can also make your own drip irrigation system from two-litre plastic cool drink bottles. Cut the bottom of the bottle off and drill a hole in the cap. Bury the necks of the bottles in the ground close to your plants and fill the bottles with water.

Veggie gardens

Weed thoroughly before you go. Check for pest infestations and treat these immediately. You can also give everything a preventative spray. Pick anything that’s ripe or about to ripen and stake and tie plants that need support. Install some sort of shade protection for leafy crops such as lettuce and spinach. Water thoroughly before leaving and mulch.

Swimming pools

Clear the debris from the weir and pump baskets and clean the area around the pool. Check the pH balance and adjust accordingly. Shock, vacuum and backwash. Put in a chlorine floater and add an algaecide. Set the automatic timer to keep your filter running for a couple of hours a day. If you’re going away for a long period, put a cover over your pool to keep out leaves and dust.

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