University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Yard and Garden Concerns During Vacation

July 20, 2000

Getting away for a week or more of vacation is a highlight of summer for many of us. Yet while away, what about caring for the yard and garden? There are some ideas to help avoid plant problems in the yard while out of town.

Unkept lawns are one of the first signs a home is vacant, so if you will be gone for any length of time, have a plan for mowing. With significant rainfall in northern Illinois so far this summer, lawns have been growing at a fairly rapid rate and may need mowing before you're back from vacation. Certainly if the weather pattern turns drier and lawn growth slows down, mowing right before you leave will probably be sufficient until you get back.

Mid to late summer usually means vegetable gardens are producing crops and need attention. Mulched gardens can survive longer without water and will have fewer weed problems. Insect pests are difficult to control for an extended period of time, however, unless a neighbor or friend is able to check on the garden. In addition, it is important to harvest crops as they mature, which once again could be done by neighbors.

Window boxes, patio planters, and hanging baskets also need regular attention. These planting sites are very prone to drying out in the summer heat. Make arrangements to have these watered on a regular basis while you are gone. The same holds true for houseplants.

All plantings of annual flowers, whether in landscape beds or some type of planters, can look great when you return from a vacation. Before leaving town pinch off flowers and well-developed flower buds, so when you return the plants are likely to be loaded with flower buds just starting to open. Mulching flower beds provides the same benefits as mentioned above for vegetables.

Finally, apple trees are prone to insect pests over the next several weeks. Apple maggot and codling moth are a concern. Plan cover sprays—either insecticide or multipurpose fruit spray—accordingly. Usually making an application right before leaving town should carry through until you get back. Apple maggot may also be controlled to some extent using red spheres covered with sticky material and hung in the trees.


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