You have suggested we fertilize in the late fall. I did that last year, and my lawn has never looked better. Do I need to double the fertilizer before the ditch water goes off?

— Jerry

Absolutely! I've done this every fall in my yard for years, and I really like how the lawn looks.

I've never been one of those people who pride themselves on a perfect lawn, but I've gotten compliments on how good the lawn looks from the neighbors. I never did before.

I like using our Lawn Food in the green and white bag. Wait as late in the season as you can before fertilizing and be sure to double the application. Then give it a deep soaking before you lose the irrigation water.

I want to grow a tall privacy barrier. Do you have emerald green or American arborvitae or any that work just as good here and grow fast?

— Nancy

Emerald green arborvitaes are fairly slow growing but make a lovely soft, bright green screen if they're planted close together — I would set them 2–3 feet apart for the quickest screening.

The only quirk of this plant to be aware of is that it needs a regular supply of water. Arborvitaes as a group are intolerant of drought of any kind.

Most plants, if you dry them out just a bit too much, will wilt or the leaves will burn a little or even suffer some minor dieback. When you provide water, they recover and continue on.

However, with arborvitaes, if you dry them out a bit too much, they'll die or significant portions of the plant will die.

I'm not talking about keeping the ground soggy, but you cannot let things dry out too much.

Far and away, the most common plant we use for evergreen screening are varieties of upright juniper. Most people hate them — they're prickly and make you itch if you're working with them.

But they are hardy, quite drought-tolerant and take to shearing, if you need to limit the spread and/or height of your screen, better than any arborvitae.

They also grow two or three times as fast as arborvitae.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506, or email

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