OGDEN -- Most of us need help at one time or other with our lawns and gardens, and there's no better place to go for help than the Ogden Botanical Gardens, 1750 Monroe Blvd.
Manager Dori Jones says people call their office all the time in need of advice or help.
"I feel very blessed to have a job that I love and get to help people by answering their plant questions," Jones said. "I get to create beautiful, relaxing landscapes and use my talent to help others feel peace in a hectic world."
With the onset of the fall season, the fruits of our spring and summer labors begin to wither and fade.
For many, this is a time to get out the sweaters and cozy up inside the warmth and comfort of our homes. But for many others it signals work -- lots of work. The flower beds need cleaning out. The leaves need raking. After all, we want our yards to look good, even without all the color.
But when should we start this process?
Jones said they follow a routine at the Botanical Gardens when getting their plants ready for fall.
Wait until the frost to remove all the annual flowers. The Botanical Gardens staff takes the dead plants to the Ogden Green Waste Facility to be composted for use next spring. They then till the ground and rake it smooth.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with perennial plants is cutting them down in the fall. At the gardens, they usually let the plants die back naturally, and in the spring they cut them back before they begin to grow. Perennials are more winter-hardy when they are able to die down to the ground rather than being cut down in the fall, because cutting the top growth removes all their energy. If you allow them to die back, they can take the energy from the top and transfer it back to the root system.
Let the grasses die naturally too. The pretty plumes and flowers on the grasses add great interest during the cold days of winter. They look beautiful with a new blanket of snow on them.
To have the greenest lawn in the spring, fertilize your lawn in the fall. Around Halloween is a great time to do the last application. It is inexpensive and a great way for the lawn roots to get energy for spring. Also, cut your lawn at a shorter length on the last cut of the year -- usually 2 - 2 1/2 inches. This helps prevent snow molds and other fungal diseases from occurring in early spring.
"Our mission at the Ogden Botanical Gardens is to learn, grow, live," Jones said. "As part of the USU Extension Service, our goal is to educate the public about proper gardening practices."
She offered some easy tips for fall gardening:
* Fall is the perfect time to plant perennials, shrubs, trees and even a few annuals. The only problem is that the selection isn't as plentiful as it is in the spring. The plants enjoy cooler temperatures and are able to put out roots better than they can during hot, spring weather.
* Plant bulbs in the fall and enjoy the flowers next spring. Be sure to plant understory (plants that grow low to the ground) perennial plants, such as candytuft, rock cress and creeping phlox. If you want color in the flowerbed after the tulips and daffodils have bloomed, plant some pansies in the fall. They are tough and can handle cold temperatures and snow, and will be ready to bloom in the spring.
* Wait until early spring to cut down perennials. This helps the plants become more winter-hardy because they take energy from the leaves back down into the root system.
The facility also offers a free diagnostic clinic from May to the end of September from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesdays. Just bring a 4-inch by 4-inch or larger sample of your plant material or sod to the office. Should the sample need to be sent for further testing, packets are available with written instructions. A complete basic analysis costs about $14 and is sent back to you in about a week.
Ogden Botanical Gardens has a hotline at 801-399-8080 that is open from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and visitors are welcome. You also can call Dori Jones at 801-399-8081.