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

Vacations and the Yard & Garden

July 10, 1997

Summer typically includes family vacations on the agenda. Being away from home for a week or two often brings concerns about yard and garden care. There are some ways to help avoid plant problems while out of town.

Vegetable gardens are probably the one type of planting that can suffer the most when not given care in mid-summer. Mulching plants can help them survive longer without water, in addition to keeping weeds at bay. 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 also could be done by neighbors. Also, plan short-term crop planting accordingly, so harvest is not needed in your absence.

Don't forget about window boxes, patio planters, and hanging baskets. All of these 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.

There are a few tips to have annual flower plantings looking great when you return from a vacation. First, mulching benefits flowers the same as vegetables. Also, 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.

Other than mowing, vacation lawn care is very simple. If the lawn is growing at a fairly rapid rate, it may need mowing before you're back from vacation, so make arrangements to have it done. On the other hand, if the lawn has slowed down in growth, mowing right before you leave will probably be sufficient until you get back. Remember, however, that an unkept lawn is one of the first signs you are away, so have a plan for mowing in your absence.

Finally, fruit trees, apples in particular, 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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