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How To Water Your Garden While Traveling

Going on vacation is meant to be a stress-free activity that allows people to leave their worries at home and escape responsibility, while enjoying new destinations and experiences! But when the garden you've worked so hard to curate, maintain, and grow is at home, alone, and uncared for—how can one not constantly worry while away?

greens and herbs grow in a raised bed

Do not worry! There are multiple options for watering while you're away. Outside of convincing your neighbor to take over maintenance, we will look at the various options for keeping your garden alive, watered and thriving while absent.

Plant Watering Options

A number of variables exist when considering the best watering options for your plants. How big is your garden? Is it inside or outside? How hot will it be outside during your absence and might it rain? How exposed are your plants to the sunlight and heat?

The answers to these questions should inform your decision on the best way to water while away. Having said that, here are some options to consider in preparation for your next getaway.

1. Pair a Timer with Your Sprinkler/Soaker Hose

Modern sprinkler systems come equipped with a convenient timer that can be used to water your garden. However, if you've only got a hose and an attachable sprinkler, you can still leverage a timer to get the job done.

manual sprinkler waters a garden in Ohio

Programmable and analog timers that attach directly to your hose will allow you to water each day or on a periodic schedule for a desired time. You can even scale this approach by attaching multiple hoses and sprinklers, making this a great options for large outdoor gardens. Some timers even come equipped with a rain delay to prevent overwatering if it does rain.

Depending on your needs, you can utilize a sprinkler, soaker style hose, or perforated hose to get the job done.

2. Water Heavily

If you're leaving your garden for only a few days, or perhaps the conditions are expected to be wet or mild while gone, you might not need to do anything while away. Simply soak the garden well just prior to leaving, ensuring that the top 1-2" of soil are saturated.

mulch in garden soil

After doing so, make sure your garden has a layer of mulch on the surface, as this will significantly help to retain the moisture delivered to the soil. Without it, the soil will dry out quickly, robbing your soil and plants of all moisture.

3. Create Self-Watering Jugs

If you're looking to be cost efficient and creative, some gardeners have resorted to creating self-watering jugs out of old home items, like milk jugs. To do so, simply create small holes on the sides and bottom of the empty and clean jug. The rate of watering will be dependent on the size and number of holes, so some experimentation might be necessary.

You can also partially bury the jug, then fill it with water to get it started. Be sure to test this method out prior to leaving to better understand your setup and its performance.

4. Water Bulbs or Gadgets

watering bulbs

If you're unwilling to create your own self-watering devices, there are some that could suit your application. Depending on the size of your garden, water bulbs are excellent at delivering water gradually to a targeted plant or area of your garden. The water, which is slowly released as the soil beneath it dries, typically lasts between 1 and 2 weeks.

If you're feeling the need to leverage technology, there are other gadgets on the market that can deliver controlled amounts of water to your plants. 

5. Garden Sitter

Ok, maybe you don't want to bother your neighbor, family members or friends with the task of watering your garden (Or maybe you don't trust them). But what if you could hire someone, even a professional, to take care of things while away?

Some house sitting or lawn and gardening services do provide this service. If you're looking for a concierge service to execute specific care instructions for your plants or garden, this might be your best option. However, this approach does come at a steep cost.

A Smarter Way?

Not all gardens require daily, or even weekly attention and maintenance.

The 21st Century has seen many new farming and gardening innovations, most meant to improve efficiencies and maximize yields. While many of these are realized and enjoyed in the commercial world, some creative solutions have made their way to the hobbyist home gardener.

One such innovation is the smart garden. Simply put, a smart garden is one that can largely take care of itself or alert a human when intervention is needed.

smart lights provide sunlight to indoor garden

Smart garden features can include automatic lighting and watering cycles, periodic nutrient sampling and feeding, as well as other sensors meant to detect plant vitals and conditions. With such controls in place, gardening no longer requires that a human is present and maintaining the garden on a daily basis. Some gardens require minimal and periodic maintenance, like adding water or nutrients to the system on a weekly basis.

Smart gardens come in a variety of sizes and types, from single plant herb growers, to garden towers to multi-level gardening systems. Some are state-of-the-art hydroponics systems, while others use traditional soil. The less sophisticated systems, which are limited to self-watering, are even available as outdoor pots and planters that can sit on your porch.

Smart Garden Examples

As mentioned, smart gardening systems do not require daily watering, as traditional outdoor home gardens do.

Take for example the EVE Indoor Hydroponic Home Garden system by Just Vertical. This system requires that water and nutrients be replenished in the system about once every 3 weeks. Between refilling, the plants are automatically fed and watered. And lighting? The full-spectrum LED lights are cycled using a built-in timer. They never need to be turned ON or OFF.

smart garden lights illuminated with greens

Suddenly, it's entirely possible to leave on vacation for WEEKS at a time without worrying. Prepare the system before you leave, and you are certain to return to a more mature garden than when you left. No worrying. No stressing. And no favors called in to your neighbors.

Other systems, like the Aspara Smart Garden, are controlled by a phone app, allowing you to remotely monitor and control your garden while away. For the obsessed plant parent, this is a welcomed feature.

Conclusion

Whether you have a busy schedule or are going away on a long-awaited holiday, there are options to keep your garden alive and thriving while away. Worrying about your garden should never be an obstacle to traveling. Before going, just prepare by doing your research to determine which is the best method.

And if you do lose a few plants while away, it's not the end of the world. Once you return to caring for your garden, things will improve and the harvest will return!