Body, soul and gardening - get a stress-free break

Holidays are supposed to be relaxing, so you don’t want to be worrying about how your garden will cope while you’re away.  The most obvious solution is to enlist a willing friend or neighbour to pop in and water, in return for picking crops and flowers – or pay a local teenager to do so.  Failing that, here are five ways to help your garden look after itself.

Mulch  Ideally do this after a downpour, or give the borders a really good soak.  Weed first, then coat the soil with a thick layer of organic matter such as composted bark to lock the moisture in.  Concentrate on moisture-loving plants such as hydrangea and less so drought-tolerant ones such as iris, lavender, rosemary and sedum.

Deadhead and cut back  As well as deadheading flowering plants such as roses and salvias, giving perennials such as nepeta, geranium and Alchemilla mollis a good cut back can help them have a second flush for your return.

Pick your crops  Remove the new crops, however small, from vegetables such as courgettes and beans to encourage more crops to develop.  Preserve a glut by blanching, pickling, and freezing.  Raspberries and currants also freeze well.

Protect your pots  Move your pots to semi-shade, grouping them together to increase humidity.  Put them on saucers to catch rainwater.  And now is the time to plant anything hanging around in a plastic pot that’s intended for the ground.

Mow the lawn  Do this a few days before you leave, but don’t cut it too short as long grass copes better with hot weather than short grass.  Edge your lawn to neaten it up and clear areas where slugs might lurk.