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How to Take Care of Your Lawn While on Vacation

Go ahead and treat yourself—these tips can help you return to a healthy lawn.

When summer arrives, you may feel it's time to pack up and get out of Dodge for a week or two. Too bad you can't push pause on your lawn while you're gone. It just keeps on growing, and if you don't set it up right, you'll come home to a yard full of overgrown grass (and possibly, some new weeds).

Which actions you take depends on how long you'll be gone. Here are some useful tips to help your lawn get through your summer vacation, whether you're away for a few days, a week, or longer (lucky you!).

If You're Away for 1 Week (or Less)

Headed to the beach for a week? Heck, your lawn won't even miss you. Grass grows more slowly in the heat of summer, so some simple tasks will take care of it.

  • Mow your lawn at the regular height for your grass type and water it deeply the day before you leave.
  • Set the timer for your sprinklers to come on 4 days later.
  • Once you're back home, apply Scotts® Green Max™ Lawn Food—it'll give it a nutritious boost that can help green up the yard in just 3 days.

If You're Away for 2 Weeks

Longer stints away from home require a bit more planning—or the ability to keep an eye on things while you're gone (this is when a smart home comes in handy). Here's what to do.

  • Take your mower deck down a notch and mow the day before you leave. When you get back, raise your mower 2 notches before you cut your lawn. Try not to take off more than one-third of the grass height at a time.
  • Your lawn needs 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week to stay green. If your sprinklers are on a timer and it ends up raining that week, you may come home to a soggy lawn, but it'll bounce back. Instead, if you can, invest in a smart sprinkler controller. It'll make sure your lawn is watered in line with the weather that week. (Here are even more tips for watering your lawn.)
  • If you're the type that plans ahead (cheers!), apply Scotts® Turf Builder® UltraFeed™ in late spring; the slow-release formula lets go of nutrients when your lawn needs them for up to 6 months. Otherwise, wait to put down your regular summer fertilizer until after your vacation, so you're not encouraging new growth while you're away.

If You're Away for a While

Some holidays just call for taking more time. If you're gone longer than 2 weeks, you've got 2 options: Invest in keeping your lawn active or let it go dormant.

Keep your lawn growing strong.

  • The best way about this is to use a smart watering system. The device senses rainfall, so your grass only gets H2O if it needs it.
  • Don't forget to hire a lawn service or a neighbor to cut the grass, keeping it around 3 inches. With this plan in place, you can fertilize it as you usually would.

Let your lawn go dormant.

  • Mow your lawn at the usual height the day before you go. Always mulch your grass clippings instead of bagging, as they'll decompose and enrich your lawn while you're gone.
  • Then, don't worry about watering it and let your lawn go dormant. It's a healthy coping mechanism for grass. You can water it deeply as soon as you get back and, once it's actively growing again, give it your favorite lawn food.

With these tips you can go on vacation and truly be on vacation. So, hit the trails for a few days of camping, spend a week by the ocean, or pack up the family car for a long road-trip to Walley World. Your yard is going to be just fine without you.