Smith-Gilbert Gardens is committed to our mission of conservation through setting a standard of excellence in sustainable garden practices. This includes promoting pollinator activity by limiting pesticides and herbicides throughout the garden and lawn areas.
- COVID Protocols
- Planning Your Visit
- Gardening Tips
- Events Information
- General Questions
- 1. Am I required to wear a mask at the gardens?
We follow the CDC guidelines implemented by the City and State and recommend masks indoors. Masks are optional outdoors.
- 1. Do I have to purchase tickets ahead of time?
Pre-purchased, timed tickets are required. Tickets may be purchased through the link on the homepage. Only a limited number of tickets can be purchased in person.
- 2. What should I bring for a day at Smith-Gilbert Gardens?
Depending on the season, we suggest wearing a hat, sunscreen, and bug spray when visiting. While drinks are available for purchase in the gift shop, we also suggest bringing a reusable water bottle so you don’t get thirsty when walking the paths.
- 3. How long should I plan to be at the Gardens?
Smith-Gilbert Gardens can be toured in as little as 45 minutes; however, we recommend at least 1.5 hours to truly experience the beauty of the garden.
- 4. Is the Garden accessible?
The garden is handicap accessible, but presents some unique challenges. While some parts of the garden (Rose Garden, Perennial Garden and Pollinator Garden) are flat and grassy, much of the garden is comprised of rugged paths and the Hiram Butler House can only be accessed by a small set of stairs. As we grow, we hope to be able to accommodate all our guests. If you would like more information about this issue, please contact us at 770-919-0248.
- 5. Where do I pay admission?
Admissions is located in the gift shop inside the Hiram Butler House. Please park in the lot located on the left just as you arrive at the Gardens. Take the sidewalk to the main house where our offices are located. We will check you in and give you a wristband and map to begin your self-guided tour. Parking is available closer the Gardens in our back parking lot for handicapped those with limited mobility.
- 6. Is my membership to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens valid at Smith-Gilbert Gardens?
While both gardens are participants in the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions programs, we also enforce the 90-mile exclusion policy. Your home garden must be at least 90 miles away from the garden you are visiting. As Atlanta Botanical Garden is less than 90 miles away, we are unable to accept their members, and vice versa. If you have any questions, please contact us at 770-919-0248.
- 7. Do I need to pay for parking?
Nope! Parking is free!
- 8. Can I bring out door games and toys?
Our plant and art collections, like other museum collections, are very important to us and to our visitors.
As part of our garden etiquette for all visitors, we do not permit active sports and lawn games, including bicycling, rollerblading, use of scooters, ball playing, Frisbees and kites.
In the bonsai collection – we request no throwing or bouncing balls or Frisbees. Bonsai trees, especially their bark and branches, are very delicate and easily damaged. We request visitors not touch the bonsai trees or pots.
- 9. Can I take a guided tour of the Garden?
- 10. Is there anywhere to eat on site?
We do not have any onsite eateries. Although we have previously encouraged picnics, due to COVID safety protocols, picnics are not permitted at this time. As conditions improve, we hope to have picnics permissible again.
- 1. How often should I be watering?
On an established landscape, once or twice a week thoroughly should be enough. ‘Enough’ means an application of one inch of water during the growing season and during dry periods. Irrigating on every occasion allowed on an odd-even system may lead to problems associated with over-watering. All sprinkling systems should have both rain and freeze proof sensors and be designed to segregate turf from bed areas for the simple reason that grass has a greater need for moisture than do trees and shrubs.
- 2. What is the best grass choice for my lawn?
In our area, the best selection for low maintenance, traffic tolerance (children, pets), and low weed growth are the zoysias. There are several different varieties on the market now. For the shadier areas, fescues remain a preference and are inexpensive to install as most types can be seeded which costs much less to do than sodding. Fescue can be installed as sod, but is best done during the cooler months. Southern turfs such as zoysias, Bermuda, Centipede, etc. are best planted during the warmer period of mid-May through the first of September. In deeply shaded areas that have lots of tree roots for competition, consider planting Mondo Grass, Liriope, or Vinca minor as an alternate groundcover to turf.
- 3. When is the best time to divide my perennials?
Many perennials will need the rejuvenation of division every two to three years. Spring flowering perennials are best divided in the fall, while summer and fall blooming plants can be divided during the spring and summer growing season. Several signs indicate that your plants may need division: poor flowering, dying or dead centers, or just plain floppy. Of course, it’s always important to make sure that each perennial has its specific requirements of sunlight, drainage, and spacing.
- 4. What can I do to protect my trees from construction activities?
First, avoid disturbing the soil about the base of a tree as much as possible and never add more than an inch or two of soil. The most common cause of tree failure during building is that too much soil gets placed about the base of the tree.
Secondly, while a healthy tree can survive some root loss, don’t cut them if at all possible, especially large ones. Maintain a two to three inch layer of mulch about the base of the tree to help conserve moisture and to avoid the need for mowers to come too close to the trunk. During the growing season apply one inch of water each week during dry periods to help trees recover from construction induced stress.
- 5. What are the basics for attracting butterflies to my garden?
Bright colorful blossoms such as oranges, reds, yellows, and purples are most appealing to butterflies. Specifically, zinnias, phlox, butterfly weed, verbena, and lantanas are very good attractors in our area. Milkweed, clover, and fennel are also good host plants for egg laying by these beautiful insects.
- 6. I’m interested in perennial gardening and want to know what plants are best for novice gardeners.
Here is a partial listing of some of the easier to grow perennial plants for sunny areas: Daylilies (Hemerocallis species), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose), Cannas (Canna generalis), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora), German or Bearded Iris (Iris hybrids), Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa), Creeping Phlox or Thrift (Phlox subulata), and Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida). As your confidence grows, consider adding more challenging varieties.
- 7. We get this call a lot in the springtime . . . “My hollies are yellowing and losing a lot of leaves. Are they dying?”
And the correct answer is, not usually. Many of our ornamental hollies are evergreen, and as new growth develops in the springtime the older foliage yellows and falls off. This older growth is almost always on the interior of the plant and is part of the natural process of plant expansion.
- 8. When is the best time to prune?
Well, that depends, but here are some basic guidelines . . . first, removal of dead or broken limbs or branches can be done at any time during the year. Most spring flowering plants form their buds in the prior growing season. These plants are considered to bloom on “old wood”. The best time to prune those shrubs is just after they flower so that they have time to set flowering wood for next spring. Plants that flower on “new wood” such as roses and butterfly bush are best pruned in the late winter to encourage the development of fresh growth and the resultant flowering wood. While crape myrtles flower on new wood also, they don’t need the butchering frequently given them. If you have to prune a crape myrtle to keep it in bounds, either transplant it to a new location or just let it grow. Unless you’re growing bonsai, few plants should be pruned in a manner that keeps them from reaching their mature aspects.
General pruning for shaping, etc., can be done during the growing season and up until Labor Day. As pruning stimulates the production of new growth, such work done late in the season can cause developing tissue to be damaged by early frosts and winter cold. Thus, avoid pruning between Labor Day and roughly mid-November if at all possible.
- 9. I want a low maintenance landscape. How do I do that?
First, get a plan done by an experienced designer in whom you have trust. Secondly, keep turf areas to a minimum. Typically, grass takes the most time and money in terms of labor and materials. Lastly, pay careful attention to the mature aspects of any plant and make sure that what it will look like in a few years will fit the space into which it is to be introduced. Generally speaking, a newly planted landscape should look a bit ‘thin’ in order to accommodate future growth.
- 1. Can I host an event at Smith-Gilbert Gardens?
Absolutely! We host a variety of events throughout the year, including weddings, receptions, birthday parties and more! If you would like to speak with someone about an event, please contact us via e-mail with your event details. We continue to monitor and follow COVID guidelines implemented by the City and State. This may affect the number of guests for your event to ensure proper social-distancing and safety protocols.
- 2. Can I host an after-hours event?
With at least two weeks advanced notice, we would love to help you host an after-hours event in the Gardens. If you are interested in having an event on a Sunday or Monday or after 4PM, please contact us via e-mail to discuss availability and pricing. We continue to monitor and follow COVID guidelines implemented by the City and State. This may affect the number of guests for your event to ensure proper social-distancing and safety protocols.
- 3. Do I need to pay admission to tour the Garden to scout as an event location?
Yes, admission to the garden for any reason other than an appointment with staff is required.
- 1. Are pets allowed?
We do not allow pets on site, with the exception of service animals.
- 2. Do you have a photography Policy?
- 3. I found a plant that isn't labeled, but I want to know what it is?
- 4. I have a question. Who should I contact?
- 5. Do you accept plant donations?
Plant donations are reviewed on a case by case basis based on the relative health of the plant and the space available at the gardens. If you would like to inquire about donating a plant, you may contact our Garden Manager, Lisa Bartlett Skaggs.
- 6. Can I purchase plants?
Plants are available for purchase during our Spring Plant Sale in April.