How to Prepare Lawn for Vacation

Jamie Tedder

With all the planning and packing for your vacation, worrying about your lawn is likely the last thing on your mind. But grass, being a living matter, continues to grow even when you're away. Without proper preparations, you might return to an overgrown yard with potential weed growth or even a dried-out lawn.

As one of the trusted sod farms in Central Florida, we share some tips for keeping your lawn healthy in your absence, whether you're gone for a few days or a week or two.

5 Lawn Maintenance Tips to Prepare Your Grass for Vacation

What you should do on your lawn depends on how long you will be gone, the type of grass you have, and the weather conditions.

If you are away for a week or less, you will not need extensive preparation as long as you have a healthy lawn. Most grass species thrive with one inch of watering per week during their active growing season and can tolerate watering once every two weeks when growth slows. This guideline applies to most grass varieties, whether warm-season or cool-season grasses.

Warm-season grasses, such as Zoysia, Bermuda, and St. Augustine, experience peak growth in late spring through summer and may go dormant in fall when temperatures drop below 65 degrees F. Some varieties may require more or less water or may tolerate lower or higher mowing heights. Make sure you know the type of grass you have to ensure you're providing the appropriate care for your green lawn.


1. Pre-vacation Lawn Mowing. Whether you're vacationing on a white sandy beach or exploring a historic destination, mowing your lush lawn before you leave is essential to maintain its appearance. Cut the grass at least half an inch lower than your usual mowing height. However, be sure to follow the one-third rule, which advises cutting no more than one-third of the grass blades at a time to avoid shocking and stressing the grass. Plan ahead and schedule your mowing sessions at least one week apart to achieve your desired lawn length.

2. Water Deeply the Day Before You Leave. As a general rule, aim to provide your grass with 1-1.5 inches of water once or twice a week, either through irrigation or rainfall. Warm-season grasses, known for their drought tolerance, can survive with less water than cool-season varieties, even in the peak growing season. Focus on deep watering to encourage the grass roots to grow deeper and boost drought resistance.

Before leaving for vacation, water your lawn deeply the day before, preferably in the early morning. This allows the water to penetrate the soil before evaporating in the heat of the day. Alternatively, if you have an irrigation system, let it run as normal, but add an extra day of watering for each you are away if there is little rain in the forecast.

3. Mulch. Applying mulch on your lawn can help retain moisture in the soil and keep your grass healthy during extended periods of no watering. It can also go a long way in preventing lawn weed seeds from germinating. You can use grass clippings, leaf mold, or compost as mulch to shade your soil and retain water.

4. Ask a neighbor for help. For vacation trips lasting more than two weeks, you may have to arrange for someone to water your lawn or make sure your sprinklers are running properly. Asking a neighbor or a family member can help maintain the health of your lawn in your absence.

Make sure to provide them with any necessary tools, such as a hose, sprinkler timer instructions, or lawn mower, in case they have to address issues like pests or broadleaf weeds or perform other duties while you're away.

5. Other tasks. To take some load off your neighbor, consider doing all the other prep work before leaving, such as weeding, fertilizing, and anything else to help your lawn settle for a few days without additional work being done. While some chores, such as the last mowing and watering, can be done the day before, plan the others further in advance.

Inspect your lawn for pests and diseases, and take the necessary measures to address them. For weed control, spray existing weeds with a post-emergent, selective herbicide. You may also want to trim any plants that require grooming.


Should You Let Your Grass Go Dormant?

Some vacations may take longer, and if you're away for more than two weeks, allowing your grass to go dormant is another possible option. While warm-season grass is known for its heightened drought tolerance, it can enter a dormant state to survive extended periods without watering.

During dormancy, the grass blades will turn brown and appear dead, but the roots and crown will remain alive. This natural response helps the grass conserve energy and survive until watering resumes. It should green up again once the conditions become more favorable.

Post-Vacation Lawn Care Tips

Upon returning home from vacation, your lawn may require extra care, particularly if you've been away for an extended period. Again, if your grass has grown longer during your absence, avoid cutting too much off your grass. Adjust your mower height and mow more frequently until you reach your desired grass height. Read here for a complete guide on how to mow an overgrown lawn.

If your lawn has been watered or received rainfall while you were away, you can resume your watering schedule as usual. However, if your lawn is excessively dry, then it may have gone dormant. In such cases, water it deeply as soon as you return and then continue with your regular watering routine in the following days.

Healthy lawns can usually survive in a dormant state for 3-4 weeks without water. With good lawn care practices, your lawn should recover, emerge from dormancy, and restore your lush green lawn.



Preparing your lawn for vacation goes beyond the weeks or days leading up to your departure. Maintaining a year-round lawn care routine is essential to ensure your lawn's health and that your grass is resilient and better equipped to survive less-than-ideal conditions, such as extended periods without watering.

In the event of inevitable damage to your existing lawn, all hope is not lost. Use this opportunity to repair bare spots, install new sod, or replace your grass with a variety that is more resilient to environmental conditions.

Explore a wide range of sod grass for sale at Bethel Farms to rejuvenate your landscape and create a beautiful lawn without the wait associated with planting grass seed.