Everyone deserves a refreshing rest after a series of hectic months at work. Summer then becomes the perfect time for you and your family to have a good time before the kids return to school. July and August is that time of the year to put most of the things on hold.
As you head off to your well-deserved summer vacation, whether for days, weeks or months, you still have concerns about your beloved lawn. When you’re gone, the lawn still grows and this means it has to be attended to.
However, finding a willing neighbor or relative to help you out might be unattainable at times. There are still ways in which you can keep the lawn watered, nourished, and well-kept even in your absence.
These tips on how to take care of your lawn when you are on vacation will help ensure that you come back to your usual lavish lawn.
1. Mow the Lawn Before You Leave
Mowing your lawn before you leave for vacation is an awesome standard procedure. In principle, it is meant to compensate for the days that you will be away. However, it is one move that most lawn owners get wrong in their attempts to overcompensate for those longer holidays.
It is a measure that often achieves the exact opposite of what you had intended. Mowing your lawn too short exposes the soil to the scorching sun during summer which in turn exposes it to scalping. I get it, you are trying to keep it from overgrowing by the time you come back.
Of course, your mowing height will correspond to how long you will be away. There are also grass types that will grow at a slower pace in summer when most people have their vacations. The trick is, therefore, to mow it at the recommended height.
Generally, do not cut more than a 1/3 of the grass height. This rule of thumbs should apply at any time you mow your lawn and not only when going on vacation. For a 3-inch-high lawn, only mow off 1 inch of grass. If you plan on staying away for longer, consider getting some help with the mowing.
2. Keep the Lawn Adequately Watered
Averagely, a lawn requires about 1 ½ inches of water to remain lavish. This amount of water translates to about 20 to 30 minutes of watering, depending on your irrigation system and the grass type. A better idea would be to condition the lawn to use less water by deeply watering it, but less frequently.
Essentially, this measure encourages the growth of grass roots deeper into the soil to obtain water. Do the deep watering the day or so prior to your travel day if you haven’t been practicing it. The grass then becomes accustomed to getting its own water, even when you are on holiday.
In case your lawn isn’t used to less frequent watering, then making abrupt changes would damage the grass. A great alternative when on vacation would be to install an automatic lawn irrigation system. These systems allow you to pre-program the watering frequency at will.
When you plan on installing one, make sure it works effectively before you leave. Check for water pooling areas of the lawn. You would want the sprinklers to evenly distribute the water on the lawn. Prolonged pooling could be disastrous for some of your plants.
Even with an auto-watering system, try to have someone check up on the lawn in your absence. A system failure could dry out the lawn before you get back.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have an irrigation system in place and you will be a way for just a couple of days, deeply water the lawn in the morning and not at night. A wet lawn might attract diseases and fungi overnight if it’s too wet.
3. Hold onto That Fertilizer Application
In attempts to provide the lawn with the nutrients it might need in your absence, lawn owners tend to apply fertilizer right before leaving. In reality, you should not apply the fertilizer as it causes a growth spurt which might lead to other issues.
I would, therefore, advise you to hold onto the fertilizer until after the vacation. Vigorous growth means you would return home to a jungle that you had not prepared for. More growth also translates to more frequent watering to satisfy the increased grass appetite.
A better way of providing nutrition would be to channel the grass clippings back into the lawn as you mow. A longer vacation would then give the grass a chance to decompose, then act as natural fertilizer to the grass.
Additionally, remove any objects on the lawn that could starve it of essential elements such as air, water (rain) or sunlight. These objects could be toys or lawn furniture. Remove these before you leave for the vacation.
4. Be Mindful of the Weather Forecasts Back Home
This tip might look like a no-brainer, but it actually helps you plan better care for your lawn. Most people only focus on the weather forecast for their vacation destinations. Little or no attention is paid to what the weather will be like back home.
A dry weather forecast would then necessitate that you provide adequate watering for your lawn. Among your preparations for the dry weather would be an application of compost, mulch, grass clippings or leaf mold. These will provide the grass with some form of shading hence aiding in water retention
You would also be able to have the lawn ready for the dry days ahead. Similarly, a rainy forecast would require that you adjust the sprinkler timings, or have them completely off. Unless yours is a smart sprinkler, you shouldn’t have them on while it rains at the same time. That would be a waste of resources and could translate to increased water bills.
5. Inspect the Lawn for Pests and Diseases
The last thing a lawn owner needs is to come back and find his beloved lawn infested with pests. A day before the vacation, do a thorough inspection of the lawn to ensure you don’t miss on anything that might harm it while you are away.
If you spot any weeds, then use a selective herbicide to get rid of them. Also use a special herbicide to spray the lawn if you suspect it could be infested by diseases. Those who have plants on the lawn should also groom them so as to keep them tidy. Use a weed wacker to get rid of the grass around obstacles.
6. Ease the Traffic on the Lawn
Avoid storing/keeping anything heavy on the lawn while you go for your vacation. Some of you at times leave their cars on the lawn, not knowing how unfortunate this is. Having anything heavy on the lawn compacts the soil underneath, which takes time to rectify.
Even passersby should not use your lawn in your absence. Lawn soil compaction introduces weeds that are difficult to eradicate. In addition, the grass on that area would develop stunted growth too.
As I had earlier mentioned, objects on your lawn tend to starve your grass of essentials in addition to compacting the soil. As a result, keep your sporting equipment, furniture, or children’s toys in enclosures. During a storm, these could become hazardous projectiles.
7. Delay Major Renovations Until After the Vacation
Aeration, re-sodding, de-thatching or any major renovation on your lawn must never be carried out before a vacation. After a renovation, you always have to be around to monitor the progress and health of the lawn.
Otherwise things might go south in the short while that you will be away. In more extreme cases, you could end up re-doing the lawn afresh. Hold on for just a little longer then proceed with lawn renovations.
Nothing can ever replace your attentive gardener skills on your lawn. However, with adequate planning, and probably a trusted helping hand, you can be sure to keep your lawn healthy and thriving until you return.
As you prepare for your vacation to wherever your heart feels like, have a safe journey and enjoy yourself as much as you can. After all, you deserve every bit of it.