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Taking care of your garden while on vacation

An automated irrigation system with a timer can keep your flowers and plants well watered while you’re on vacation.
An automated irrigation system with a timer can keep your flowers and plants well watered while you’re on vacation.

Q: How do I keep my plants healthy while I’m on vacation this summer? — Joyce R., Atascadero

A: It’s so sad to return from summer vacation and find that your garden suffered terribly while you were gone. There are a few things you can do to avoid that terrible scenario.

If your entire yard is watered with automated irrigation, check your timer, sprinkler heads and drip emitters to make sure everything is in working order — better safe than sorry. If you don’t already have this set up, consider installing one now, or connect timers to hose bibs to automatically run sprinklers, soaker hoses or drip kits where needed.

Drought-tolerant or native plants and established trees and shrubs will usually hold up just fine if they go for a week or so without water, but give them a good soak before you leave. Make sure all plants have a layer of mulch to help maintain moisture and regulate soil temperatures.

Vegetables, annuals and potted plants dry out quickly in the heat and may not survive an extended period without water, so make provisions for them. When relying on a care taker, don’t assume they know how to properly water your plants. Meet with them in advance and show them where and how much to water. Group potted plants together in a shady spot where they can either catch water from a sprinkler or where they can be easily watered by hand.

Make sure your vacation plans don’t keep you from the Drought Tolerant Plant sale from noon to 2 p.m. June 21, following the Advice to Grow By Workshop on summer pruning, at the Garden of the Seven Sisters, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. We will feature numerous drought tol erant plants, California natives, Mediterranean climate plants, succulents & much more. Master Gardeners will be available to answer plant questions.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu.