Get up to speed on garden chores
Do a little last-minute maintenance just before you go. Giving the lawns a mow (a higher setting is best) and pulling any weeds means you’ll return to less of a jungle after the holidays. If you have a few fruit trees or a vegie patch, pick and freeze (or gift) everything you can, then try roping in a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on water and weeds in return for helping themselves to any ripe produce – waste not, want not!
Prepare for the big dry
The biggest concern, of course, is that your garden might dry out while you’re away – Sydney summers can deliver daily downpours or a month-long drought, the latter resulting in a sizzled mess to welcome you home. Check the irrigation system is in good working order before you leave and that the timer has been changed to a summer schedule of more frequent watering. The garden beds should have already been mulched, but if not, treat the soil with a wetting agent first, as it will already be feeling the burn.
Without irrigation, pots are at greatest risk of drying out. That helpful neighbour is the best solution here, but if that’s not an option, try moving the pots to a shady spot or even sinking them into a garden bed so they can take up water from the soil.
Protect outdoor furnishings
Outdoor furniture is built to withstand the elements, but harsh weather conditions will still degrade settings over time. Bring cushions inside or invest in waterproof furniture covers – they’re no bother to take off and on when you’re not home to use the furniture anyway, and may stretch out the life of your favourite outdoor sofas.
Anticipate the worst conditions, weather-wise, and pack away anything that might be knocked over or sent flying around the neighbourhood if a storm hits. Outdoor sofas are likely fine, but small tables or lightweight chairs could easily tip over and be damaged. The same goes for trampolines, which are known for taking off in high winds – anchor the base and dismantle the net, if you can.