Looking after your garden while you're away

Have you got a summer holiday booked?  Lucky you!  The challenge can often be keeping your garden alive while you are enjoying your break.  Even if you have armies of friendly relatives and neighbours willing to pop in, there are plenty of things you can do to keep it going until you get back. 

  1. Water well before you leave. Preferably in the cool of the evening or early morning, give your garden a good drenching. If it’s been dry for a while, you may need to dampen the ground lightly to break the crust before the water will really soak in.
  1. Deadhead like a mad person before you leave. Removing any spent (or nearly spent) flowers will encourage the plant to keep growing new ones rather than decide it’s done its job and start to die down.
  1. Mulch. After you’ve watered, mulch your borders and containers with something to keep the moisture in and keep the roots cool and shady. Something organic is best but gravel or chippings work too.
dog watering
  1. Stand pots on trays of gravel and water the gravel well. If you don’t have large enough trays, even just grouping your pots together can help them shade each other and retain moisture.
  1. Make or buy drip feeders. Cut the bottoms off plastic bottles and pierce small holes in the cap to make your own. Bury the bottle near the base of a plant, cap pointing towards the roots, then fill the bottle with water.
  1. Take down hanging baskets and move them into the shade (remember that the wind can be very drying too). If the basket is made of something that won’t rot, consider sitting them in shallow water too.
  1. For your houseplants, consider standing them in the bath in just an inch of water. Move them into shadier parts of the house if they usually sit on sunny windowsills or in conservatories.
hanging basket
  1. Leave greenhouses and cold frames open to prevent them over-heating.
  1. Use water-retaining gel or granules when you plant. Although they don’t replace the need for regular watering, they can provide a useful boost for short-term breaks.
  1. If you must, invest in irrigation or sprinkler systems on a timer but please remember that tap water is a precious and limited resource. (Currently drip-irrigation systems are exempt from hosepipe bans but sprinklers are not).

Further reading this summer

Planning for dry weather:
Caring for your garden in dry weather
How to plan a drought tolerant garden

What to plant now:
August – Hydrangea and Hibiscus
July – Hemerocallis and Echinacea

Jobs to do in the garden:
Jobs for July
Jobs for August




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”