So you went on vacation and have come back to find that your garden was wrecked. Or perhaps an opportunist horde of weeds ran rampant through your yard while you were struggling with the flu. Maybe you were visiting a sick relative and the deer decided it was snack time in the vegetable patch. Whatever the reason, we’ve all had to deal with garden on the verge of collapse at one point or another. However, all hope is not lost! You can use what you’ve got as the foundations of a yard that’ll eventually be better than ever. Read on for our tips on how to revive a wrecked garden!
Salvaging the Good
Can it be saved? That’s always the first question you should ask yourself. Yes, your garden might seem to be completely wrecked from where you stand and some plants might be toast no matter how much you’d like to try to convince yourself otherwise. But everything is probably not dead yet! And, unlike the characters in The Holy Grail, you’re not likely to beat the survivors over the head to ensure their fate.
The first course of action is to weed everything so that you can make a full assessment of the carnage. This enables you to see at a glance what needs help. It also prevents you from the possible ramifications of mistaking those weird plants in your yard for the ailing violets that were in that spot earlier. However, there is hope for those plants that haven’t dropped dead outright or been swallowed whole by the weeds.
After all, some species react to less than spectacular watering conditions by going fully dormant until the situation is more to their liking. Completely soaking these plants or the area where their roots ought to be can sometimes restore them to their leafy green selves. At other times, there’s no saving them, but drenching them is always worth a try.
Treating the Ailing
Plants that are inundated with bugs can be isolated, trimmed, and/or regularly sprayed in order to restore them to full health. In some cases, putting them in new pots or moving them may help keep them away from their foes. These specimens can also be covered with netting or row covers until the situation gets under control. There are even a number of shrubs that can be severely cut back and drenched in bug spray to restore them to full health. Just be sure to check the almighty, all-knowing Internet (or your local nursery geek) on the subject before taking a weed whacker to the plant in question. Otherwise, you might cause more garden wreckage in your haste.
Tossing the Bad
As much as we gardeners hate to throw out plants, sometimes there is just no resuscitating them despite our valiant efforts. Plants that have undeniably given up the ghost should be immediately tossed out. After all, there are few things that are more depressing than looking at a yard full of lifeless specimens that are but specters of their former glory. Trimming dead, broken, or ailing branches off healthy plants will likewise improve the garden’s look. (Even so, don’t put any diseased materials in the compost or you’ll likely make a bad situation worse.) You also want to put all the empty containers that you’ve accumulated while cleaning up somewhere out of the way. Of course, this has the dual purpose of keeping the yard tidy and hiding the otherwise glaring evidence of your gardening snafus.
Calling in the Replacements
I’ve always found that special order plants are the ones that are most likely to bite the dust if I’m not there paying extreme amounts of attention to them. Yet these needy little drama queens are often gardener’s most prized possessions, a mark of glory among our friends that proves our mad skills in keeping things alive like no one else can. (Note to self: entrust these specific plants to a friend with some gardening skills next time I go out of town rather than with relatives.)
However, if you’ve returned from vacation with a negative amount in your bank account, you might want to step back and come up with a strategy that doesn’t include expensive mail orders. You might not be a big fan of the cheap, ubiquitous plants that you can get at every garden center in America but they do have their uses. (See above photo.)
These workhorse plants can easily to fill up the gaps in your yard until you can import pricier specimens from your favorite company. Who knows? The bright colors might even serve to distract people from what’s not there. The same can be said of the missing spots in the vegetable garden. Most local garden centers have generic veggie varieties you can use to replace your missing heirloom plants. Even though you might not get your exact favorite type of tomato, at least you won’t be racing the clock to get any fruit at all by starting a new batch from seed in the middle of the summer. Besides, the utilitarian annuals will be gone by next year and you’ll hopefully have enough saved up to improve your garden with much more spectacular plants.
Of course, route you choose to take for how to revive a wrecked garden is ultimately up to you. Let us know if you have any favorite garden rescue tips of your own in the comments below.