Friday, May 30, 2014

Remember Lawn and Garden Before Leaving on Vacation

Contact: Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- An overgrown lawn and garden can be a signal to burglars that a family is away on vacation.

That is why taking a few steps to tend to both your lawn and garden are essential before leaving on a summer trip according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

“Water your home lawn and garden well prior to leaving, especially if there has been little rainfall. A thorough, slow soaking will provide a lasting supply of moisture,” Byers said.

Byers also recommends putting a two- to three-inch layer of mulch on or around all flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, shrubs and newly planted trees to conserve moisture and hold down weeds.

Flowerbeds and vegetable gardens are vulnerable to drought while away.

To water automatically, place either soaker hoses or sprinklers to cover beds and areas of your landscape. Connect them to hoses attached to a timer at each faucet you use for irrigation. Set the timers to come on twice a week and stay on long enough to thoroughly soak the area.

Timers should be set to come on at difference hours in order to maintain water pressure. It is also best to do irrigation in the morning hours.

Be sure to water and cut the lawn before leaving, and plan to have it mowed during your absence. Most lawns require mowing at least every seven to 10 days.

“Besides becoming a tell-tale sign that you are away, overgrowth is unhealthy for your lawn. The grass will be unattractive and stressed when it finally is mowed if you ignore it too long,” Byers said.

Byers also recommends doing a few other things in your lawn and garden before leaving:

Cut flowering annual and perennial blooms to encourage new growth and flowers. Old blooms and seed heads left on the plants can retard continued flower production.
Harvest all ripe, near-ripe or harvest-size vegetables to avoid waste and promote continued production. Consume, freeze or give the harvest away. Have someone check and regularly harvest vegetables such as okra, squash and cucumbers while you're gone.
Weed beds, and make sure your mulch is at least two inches thick. Because of the rapid growth of weeds, a small problem can develop into a major disaster while you are gone.
Be sure walks and beds are neatly edged before leaving. This is another situation where the buildup of growth while you are away will be difficult to manage when you return.

For answers to garden, lawn, soil or plant questions, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension center or contact the Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 881-8909.


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