Over 40 years’ experience helping people create their perfect gardens, ponds and aquariums.

Summer Holiday Guide

If you’re lucky enough to be going on holiday this summer, one of the last things on your mind is what to do about your garden, houseplants, ponds, etc. It’s important you give this some thought and plan accordingly, especially if we’re forecast a scorcher of a summer! Here are some tips for preparing for vacations.

Garden Care

Containers and hanging baskets are going to be hit the hardest by the hot weather. we can help prevent problems by using moisture-retaining materials (moss, peat, moisture-retaining crystals, etc.) and by using water irrigation. Water spikes are a good option for short periods as they can be filled with water to slowly release into the soil of containers, hanging baskets and houseplants. In an ideal world, having someone care for your plants periodically would be the best choice, however it isn’t always that easy. For those who plan on being away for longer periods of time it may be worth looking at sheltering/shading where possible to mitigate intense heat and to avoid growing water-hungry plants (if possible).

Borders and ground plantings. established plants in the ground will tend to not suffer to bad as they can tap into deeper soils to gain water but shallow rooted plants and lawns do not fair as well. Regular watering may be needed and there isn’t really an easy solution without investing into an irrigation system to periodically water.

Houseplant Care

It’s an age-old story – come back from holiday to dead, dry houseplants or plants that have been drowned to an inch of their life. As mentioned, before it would always be preferable to have someone come and look after your plants, but if you are able to get someone to come and care for your plants, ensure they know what YOUR houseplants need.


Cacti and succulents will fend much better if they are left to their own devices with periodical watering. One of the biggest killers of cacti in particular is over-watering. These plants have evolved to deal with arid conditions and have their own adaptations for lack of water (water is usually stored in the tissue). Over-watering will sooner or later lead to rotting. As a general rule keep them on the drier side!


There are of course exceptions to every rule, and so it’s always best to research your particular species of plant on its care. For example, Easter cacti and Christmas cacti are not desert species and instead prefer lightly damp soil with a higher humidity.


Orchids, bromeliads and other tropical plants benefit from a more humid atmosphere and will not appreciate sitting in too much water, or being allowed to dry out. One way we can counter this is by placing trays with water under the plants. This will help wick water into the soil (if they are placed potted in soil) without drenching them. Standing water will also help raise humidity as it evaporates around the plants. If possible, it can also be beneficial to move plants to cooler, darker positions to reduce light, just ensure that this won’t be for too long.


There are of course many more different types of houseplants and the care will differ accordingly, but to avoid the disappointed of returning home to a dead houseplant, research and plan!

There are of course exceptions to every rule, and so it’s always best to research your particular species of plant on its care. For example, Easter cacti and Christmas cacti are not desert species and instead prefer lightly damp soil with a higher humidity.


Orchids, bromeliads and other tropical plants benefit from a more humid atmosphere and will not appreciate sitting in too much water, or being allowed to dry out. One way we can counter this is by placing trays with water under the plants. This will help wick water into the soil (if they are placed potted in soil) without drenching them. Standing water will also help raise humidity as it evaporates around the plants. If possible, it can also be beneficial to move plants to cooler, darker positions to reduce light, just ensure that this won’t be for too long.


There are of course many more different types of houseplants and the care will differ accordingly, but to avoid the disappointed of returning home to a dead houseplant, research and plan!

Pond Care

Wildlife, ornamental and koi ponds will need differing levels of planning for vacations. Wildlife ponds without fish are the easiest to prepare, with the main issue revolving around there being enough water. Shallow ponds and features will benefit from being topped up before you leave, light cleaning of nuisance algae and if possible, some light screening to offer some shade if hot weather is forecast.


Ornamental & Koi ponds.

Ponds with fish will present more issues. The same advice can be followed as with wildlife ponds but the extra concern comes from the filtration equipment and feeding. Pumps, filters, UVs, skimmers and any other equipment should be cleaned before you plan to leave.

Don’t leave it to the last minute, plan to clean a few days earlier so you can monitor that everything is up and running properly before you leave!

Dirty, unmaintained equipment is much more likely to lead to either failure or leaks and unattended this can have some very severe consequences.

Feeding your fish depends on what you are keeping and how long you plan to be away for. If your planning on only being away for a short duration (1,2 or 3 days), you can sometimes get away without feeding at all. This seems like a very harsh course of action but it worth keeping in mind that naturally pond fish would not always feed constantly at regularly intervals.

 

We cannot stress enough that this is a personal decision, and does depend on circumstances. Research and plan accordingly!

There are feeding block options that will last up to two weeks for small ponds with low stock levels, but the only way to guarantee that your fish get a steady, reliable source of food is to either have someone feed your fish for you, or use an automatic fish feeder. There are many variations in design and each model may offer different frequencies and capacities and so it’s best to compare models to see which will best suit your pond.


If you are able to get someone to come and care for your pond and feed your fish then it’s not a bad idea to measure out what feed they need and write a schedule. It’s a very common problem we see where someone (with good intentions) overfeeds a pond. It’s not going to be a problem for everyone but a little preparation can save massive disasters.


When it comes to bigger ponds, with high levels of livestock or temperate livestock (sturgeons, sterlets, etc.) it is absolutely vital that you provide adequate aeration. There is a bit of a misunderstanding with aeration as implementing water flow or a fountain will NOT aerate your full pond. It is the act of breaking or disturbing the water surface that best aids in gaseous exchange (in essence; carbon dioxide out, oxygen in). Pond aeration kits are best option here and work by placing air stones into your pond, fed by an air pump situated outside of the pond to pump air into the water.

As previously mentioned, this doesn’t pump oxygen into the water directly, but instead aids the oxygen to dissolve into the water at a higher rate. This is super important when keeping sturgeon/sterlets as these fish need a good oxygen rich source or water and unfortunately warmer waters just do not provide this environment.


Sturgeon and sterlets are not for everyone. People love their prehistoric look but their care is often neglected. Some varieties of sturgeon can reach 2 metres + and they do require all year round feeding of a high protein feed. (they do NOT eat blanketweed!). To add to this, they also need oxygen rich water, prefer cooler water and can easily get tangled in blanketweed.

Aquarium Care

Aquarium holiday care is similar to pond care, however, since aquariums are a closed environment, we have more variables to consider.

All aquariums should have filtration bare minimum. Filters should be cleaned and maintained before hand to ensure they run smoothly. This includes cleaning sponges, media and pipework where approriate and impellers in powerheads. Other filtration equipment such as surface skimmers should be cleaned, but it should be considered if these can be left running without regular cleaning while your away.

Tropical and temperate aquariums will also implement heaters to maintain the required temperature. Check your heater is working accordingly before you leave and if possible, have a back up on hand. Using a thermometer and checking it regularly is very important and is sometimes forgotten about.

in coldwater aquariums (or aquariums that run at room temperature) it may be that you have the opposite problem and may have your aquarium getting too hot. Without implementing a cooling system there isn't a huge amount you can do. Little tips that could help include; shading out from direct sunlight, opening lids to vent heat from lights, using air pumps to oxygenate warmer water, etc. Keep in mind, this is a rare occurance.

Feeding your aquarium inhabitants will vary from setup to setup and so general advice can be a bit vague. The main variables to consider include;

  • What needs feeding? (Fish, shrimp, snails...etc.)
  • what different diets need to be catered for? (Bottom feeders v mid-water dwellers)(Herbivores v omnivores)
  • How often do they need feeding? (multiple times a day or once every several days)
  • How big is the aquarium and can the filter handle extra feeds?

and many more...

Once you have got a rough idea of what you can get away with, you can look into what the solutions available are. Block feeders are usually the easiest option for short to medium duration. These will slowly either break apart or will be picked off by the fish. Automatic feeders give more control and freedom, with some models offering multiple feed options and adjustable quantity (setup automatic feeders while you can observe how they work, they may need adjusting to get the right amount).

Regardless of which method you go for, it's recommended that you prepare yourself to clean and maintain your aquarium when you get back to get rid of any uneaten food.

Fertilising planted aquariums can be tricky while on holiday. Weekly fertilising can help stretch out your schedules compared to daily products. If your planning on going away for longer or you use a more frequent schedule you are unfortunetly a bit stuck. Automatic dosers are a viable option but can often be out of people comfort zone. 

Thank you for reading.
Why not check out some of our other posts.

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