Are you concerned about how your garden will survive if you are planning a vacation this summer? The garden can look as good when you return from a trip as it does when you leave for your getaway.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for your time away from your garden:

Stop fertilizing the garden in the late summer, this refers to woody perennials and roses. Over fertilizing is just as detrimental to your garden as overwatering your plants. Cool and moist conditions are the best times for fertilizing. It is best not to feed plants before you leave since that will stimulate growth while you are gone. Slower growth is what you are aiming for during the time you are traveling.

Before you leave for your vacation, eradicate weeds. Once weeds are removed, mulch the garden, and the mulch will deny the seeds of the weeds to receive light. This will prevent germination of weeds.

Try to rid any bugs like Japanese beetles when they first appear before they kill your plants or lay eggs that will multiply. Spraying with insecticidal soap can help the problem. A good soap recipe for eradicating bad bugs: Mix one cup of vegetable, soybean or corn oil to two tablespoons of Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent that has no bleach; then add two teaspoons of the mixture to one cup of warm water. Place in a spray bottle and apply to plants where you want to eliminate bugs.

Water well before your departure. How much you water depends on the length of your trip and the local weather forecast. Most annuals can survive about ten days without supplemental watering; perennials can go as long as two weeks. Established trees and shrubs should be fine for about a month, and allow four to six weeks without water for a healthy lawn.

If your garden is producing a lot of vegetables, try to harvest as much as you can before your trip. There are places to donate what you cannot use such as food pantries, food banks or other such community services. For a prolonged trip of more than a couple weeks, maybe have a neighbor, friend or family person harvest the vegetables and flowers from your garden.

For your container plants, more water will be needed than in-ground plants. This is where a neighbor or friend can help to keep your container plants alive. A simple solution to make watering easier for the person doing the watering is to have your container plants grouped in an area out of direct sun. If possible, place plants where they can receive rain.

With container plants or in-ground plants, pinch back any that have become leggy. Doing this means pinching will enhance their appearance and will be one less chore to deal with once you return home.

Following these helpful tips means a worry-free vacation, and you will not return home to face overwhelming gardening tasks.

Carole McCray resides in Cape May, New Jersey, and is an award-winning garden writer who has been writing a monthly garden column, “The Potting Shed,” for regional newspapers for nearly 20 years. Her articles have been published in The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper, Coastal Living Magazine, Cape May Magazine, Growise Garden Guide and Ideals Magazine. She won the Garden Writers Association Award for newspaper writing for The Christian Science Monitor Newspaper. Contact her at mountain26@verizon.net.