Holiday Garden Preparation

Summer Holidays

Gardening To-Do List and Preparation

If you’re going away on a, no doubt well-deserved vacation; prepare your garden for the Summer holidays by doing these few clever tricks to ensure that all the hard work done in your garden over the past year is preserved and that your plants, pool and garden beds survive while you are away…


  • If you’re only going away for a few days or a week, add water-retention granules to your plants in pots and hanging baskets. Adding EXLGel or Wonder Stockosorb Waterwise Crystals to your soil will increase your soils water retention, which is perfect for when you’re going away and won’t be able to water your plants as often. Move them to a semi-shaded position or a position where they will only receive early morning sun. Water them well and top with a layer of fine mulch or perlite just before you leave.

  • Weed the garden thoroughly, water well and spread a layer of mulch or compost on all the beds to help keep plants’ roots cool, retain moisture for longer and suppress any weeds that might sprout. Water the whole garden well again just before you leave.
  • Mulching your garden is the single most effective way to ensure your soil stays cool and retains moisture. It also prevents weeds from permeating your precious plants. Lifestyle has a wonderful range of choices available, from peach pits and coco husks to bark nuggets. Clay aggregates are another option. This medium works in an amazing way to allow increased aeration and better drainage, whilst the centre of each clay pellet holds nutrients. These can be worked into soil and added to compost to increase nutrient value to your already valuable “black gold”.

  • If you’re going away for a longer period of time, you will probably have to enlist the help of a friendly neighbour, friend, gardening service or house sitter to water the garden and, especially your potted plants, every other day if it doesn’t rain. Try and make the task as easy as possible for this person and be sure to inform them of any plants with special needs.
  • Ensure that your irrigation system is functioning properly and that the person in charge of your garden understands how to operate it. Make sure it is set to irrigate during the times stipulated by water restrictions. In the Johannesburg area that would be from 6pm to 6am during the summer months. Most irrigation systems are now equipped with a rain sensor which assists in saving water when it rains. Lifestyle Home Garden has several varieties available from Gardena and Gro, and they are simple to set up and use.

  • Move all your contained plants together in a group, as above, to make watering easier for your caretaker. It will be even better if you could place them in an area where they can be watered by your irrigations system as well.
  • For potted plants that need more regular watering or are too cumbersome to move we suggest slow-release watering. The Smart Irrigator and Diffus’o are both simple yet effective ways keep pots watered whilst you’re away. Both have fixtures at the top which allows a bottle of water to be attached. The inverted water bottle is then placed into the pot, and water is released slowly. We also have a slow-release watering balloon called the i-drop. Simply fill the glass vessel with water and the ceramic section at the bottom will allow water to penetrate slowly into the surrounding soil. Perfect for salad crops and small pots.

REMEMBER to always water your plants thoroughly before placing the slow-release watering gadgets into your bed/pot – it is essential that the soil is already moist when the gadgets start working.

The Vegetable Patch

  • If time allows, consider installing drip irrigation in your vegetable patch, attached to a timer on your tap. This will ensure thorough and regular watering of your veg around the root area, where it is needed, and not on the leaves (this often leads to fungal disease in most vegetables).  Remember to weed and mulch your vegetable patch and water deeply before leaving.
  • Stake and tie up all plants that need support.
  • Check for signs of insect infestations or disease and treat before you go.
  • Chances are that some of your vegetables, like tomatoes and peppers, will bear fruit while you’re away. Although you will be missing out, rather encourage the person looking after your veg to pick and use leafy veg (before they bolt) and ripe fruits as this will encourage more fruiting.  Before you leave, pick all ripe fruits and take it with you or freeze if possible.

The Lawn

  • Weed the lawn thoroughly.
  • Avoid mowing the lawn too short because you’re going away as this may cause browning and long term damage. Leaving the blades a bit longer also helps to retains some moisture.  Just take it one notch down and water very well just before leaving.  When you return, set the lawnmower on a higher setting and avoid mowing off more than one third of the blades in one go.

Indoor Plants

  • The above mentioned slow-release watering methods can be employed in all indoor pots too! It’s an excellent idea to ready your fiddly fiddle leaf fig with some extra hydration so that it remains content during the hot December days.
  • Alternatively, there are ways to DIY watering systems for your indoor plants! We have found a useful step-by-step guide to making a super simple watering system for when you won’t be around. Click |HERE| to check it out.
  • Mulch the top of your pot plants with moss or fine mulch and water well just before you leave.
  • If you don’t have anyone to water your indoor plants, either invest in a few water bulbs or Smart Irrigators or place all your plant on a drenched blanket or towel in the bathtub or kitchen sink. Another option is to spread a layer of pebbles in a tray or plastic basin, add water until the pebbles are just covered and place the plants on top of this.
  • Leave the plants in a cool, airy room, like the bathroom with the curtains open for enough light, but no direct sunlight.

Don’t forget to sparkle

  • Your crystal clear pool will remain exactly that way over the holidays with Month Mate 5-in-1 multi-action chlorine pool floaters available from Mica Lifestyle. They even come with an adjustable tab at the base so that you can choose how much chlorine is being released.


  • If you feed the birds in your garden on a regular basis, either gradually reduce the amount of food before you leave or ask your house sitter / neighbour to feed them while you’re away.
  • Add lawn clippings to your compost heap. Sprinkle some compost activator over, add water and turn so your compost can continue working while you’re on holiday!
  • Clean all tools and store away.


Mulching is aMazing!

We have included a link to a video about food forests in drought-stricken areas. In the first few minutes mulch is mentioned- have a look at this eye opening video!

Click |HERE| to watch.

We wish all our customers a wonderful holiday season!

We hope these tricks will assist you in keeping your garden alive if you are going away!
But if not and you do find your garden looks worse for wear when you get back; you know where to come to for replacements ?

For those of you staying at home this holiday season, see our December in the Garden guide of what to do in the garden this month for fun tasks to keep you busy and outdoors. Plus we will be open with our usual trading hours right through the festive season; only closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day.

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