Cultivating Conversation

Landscaping 101: How to Plant a Tree (and what to do next!)

Date: Apr 25, 2017

Planting a tree seems basic, but correct planting and proper care in the first few weeks can make all the difference in the life of your tree. To get your landscape off to a good start, here are some tips from Jason on our planting crew about how to plant a tree:

1. Choose your site. Your tree will have the best chance of survival if you pick the right plant for the right place. Be sure to account for levels of sunlight and water the tree will receive, as well as checking for overhead or underground power and gas lines, and private irrigation lines.

2. Dig a hole. It should be no deeper than the tree sits in its nursery pot, and about twice as wide as the pot. Work the edges of the hole so the soil is loose.

3. Remove your tree from its container. Gently pull the roots free if they’re circling, or slice them with a sharp, clean knife in a few places if they are pot bound. It’s important that the roots are trained to spread outward rather than circling.

4. Place your tree in its hole. Take a minute to make sure it’s sitting straight, with the root flare just above the soil surface.

5. Backfill your hole. We recommend mixing the existing soil from the hole with 50% compost to provide a space for the roots to spread outward and get used to our tough clay soils. Mound the soil up over the root ball (not over the root flare) so when it settles after watering it sinks down level with the ground.

6. Water and fertilize. We apply Bonide Plant Starter to every tree we plant to give it a head start. Mix the product with water, thoroughly soaking the root ball. Check to make sure the soil hasn’t settled too much.

7. Mulch. To help conserve moisture, you can lay mulch up to two inches deep around the base of your tree. Keep it away from the root flare to help prevent fungal issues. This mulch will break down over time and help nourish the soil. It will need to be replenished every year or two.

8. Stake. Whether you use a staking kit or a DIY post and roping, make sure the material used to tie the tree to the stake is loose enough that it won’t girdle the tree as the trunk increases in diameter. When staked, the tree should be able to move with the wind, so make sure the roping gives a little. The staking can be removed from small trees next spring. Larger trees may benefit from an extra year of staking, but make sure the roping used is not rubbing the trunk.

The best way to determine if your tree needs water is to pull the mulch back from around the center of the plant and pick up a handful of soil. Squeeze it in your hand to form a ball. If the soil is sticky and muddy, there is too much water and it needs to dry out for several days. With the proper amount of moisture, the soil will form a ball but won’t feel muddy or sticky. If this is the case, check back in a few days before watering. If the soil doesn’t form a ball at all, it’s dry and needs to be watered. When the tree is ready to be watered, lay a garden hose at the center of the plant and allow water to trickle out for half an hour. Make sure to lay the hose in different places around the base of the tree so the tree is watered evenly. There are also self-watering tree bags available to make this process a little easier!

New trees should be checked for water every seven to ten days during their first year. Extended periods of heat and high winds will dry trees out quickly, but be sure to take into account how much rain we get and irrigation from your sprinklers. We have more problems with people OVER watering than under-watering their plants. Keep in mind that turf grass requires more water than most other plants, so the regular setting on your sprinklers may be too much for new trees. In late fall, deep water new trees to give them enough moisture to get them through the winter.

An application of Plant Starter is all your tree needs this year. The tree will need a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10) to start off the next growing season. You can apply it in the fall once the tree has gone dormant, or early in the spring before it leafs out. You can continue to use the fertilizer throughout the growing season as often as directed on the label, but avoid using a high nitrogen (the first of the three numbers on the label) fertilizer later than July. This encourages new growth that will not be hardened off before the first fall frost.

If the health of your tree begins to decline or you aren’t sure how to care for it, call or stop in and talk to one of our experienced nursery staff. We’re happy to coach you through any problems.


Lawn Care 101: Common Lawn Weeds (and How to Control Them)

Date: Apr 11, 2017
“What is this, and how do I get rid of it?”
We often hear this in our stores during the summer. Managing lawn weeds can be frustrating, even for seasoned homeowners. Better control can be achieved through preventing the germination and spread of weeds, rather than trying to get rid of them later in the season. A healthy lawn is the best defense against weeds. When weeds are controlled and the lawn is healthy enough to fill in, chemical treatment becomes less necessary. We’ll focus on a few common weeds around the Lincoln area. If you run into any that aren’t on this list, pull up a sample or take some photos and stop into one of our store locations. We’re happy to advise you on the best course of action to take.

The key to controlling weeds lies in their leaf structure. There are two major types of weeds: broadleaf and grassy. Selective herbicides target plants based on their leaf structure, so it’s important to know what kind of weed you have in order to properly target it.

Applying preemergents early in the spring can create a barrier against seed germination of grassy weeds. Seeds will germinate when the soil reaches a certain temperature, so application of the preemergent should be as close to that time as possible. Watch our Facebook page, we’ll keep you updated on soil temperatures as the weather warms in the spring. If you are seeding a new lawn or overseeding an existing lawn, make sure you select preemergents that are labelled for new seed. Otherwise they will also prevent the germination of grass seed. Preemergents are usually granular and need to be watered in to activate the chemical.

Postemergent herbicides are absorbed into the leaf of the growing plant and move through it to kill the roots. Some of these weeds are annual, which means they grow and reproduce in one growing season. These weeds need to be controlled before they go to seed in the late summer or fall. Others are perennial, which means they can overwinter and live year after year. These can be hard to kill and may need several applications of herbicide before they are under control. If you choose to dig them up, make sure you get the whole plant, any small piece of root can sprout a new plant. Make sure to apply chemicals when it’s cool, treatments during the hot summer could damage your lawn. Postemergents come in granular and liquid form. Apply granular herbicides early in the morning when the grass is dewy or lightly sprinkle your lawn with water before use to help the chemical stick to the leaf surface. If you have a newly seeded lawn, it will need to be mowed twice to harden it off before herbicides are used.

Common Broadleaf Weeds:
We like liquid Fertilome Weed Free Zone to take care of broadleaf weeds in the lawn. The second application of a granular four-step fertilizer program usually has a postemergent herbicide that will also help control these weeds.

Dandelions are biennials. They spend their first year sending a deep taproot into the soil and forming a rosette. The second year they bloom and spread their seeds, often with the help of small children. Chemical treatment of dandelions is most effective in the fall when the plant is sending energy down to the taproot. If you catch it early in the spring when the plant is still small, you may have good luck controlling it.

Perennial white clover can take years to control. They have extensive root systems, so digging these can cause more reproduction rather than control. Repeat applications of herbicides at regular intervals will be necessary to stay on top of this weed. However, white clover is becoming an alternative to traditional lawns for some homeowners because of its low water needs, ability to fix nitrogen into the soil, and its value as a source of nectar for pollinators.

Ground Ivy/Creeping Charlie
Ground ivy generally begins growing in shady spots. Each ground ivy plant will send out shoots in several directions, forming a mat. Pulling up these mats by hand can be a quick fix, but you need to be diligent to gain control this way. Use an herbicide at a regular interval to control this perennial. Treat in the spring when the plant is in bloom or in the fall before it goes dormant for the season.

Henbit has square stems, usually about 6 inches tall, and the leaves have a minty smell. In the spring, these plants can be raked up and because they’re annual, will not grow back. If you use an herbicide, application should be before they bloom in mid-April. After that, the herbicide will kill existing plants but not prevent future seeds from germinating. A thick layer of mulch in the fall can prevent seed germination in the spring.

Common Grassy Weeds:

This is one of the toughest annual weeds to control. Crabgrass is a clumpy grass that is slightly hairy with a large, airy flower. It germinates when the ground temperature reaches 56 degrees, so it’s best to apply a Crabgrass Preventer before that. Don’t apply it too early, most preventers only last 60 days. Applying too early can result in summer germination. If you need a postemergent, we’ve had good luck with liquid Bonide Weed Beater Plus Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer.

Goosegrass is an annual similar to crabgrass, but the leaves are smooth rather than hairy, and the flower is thicker. It emerges later in the spring than crabgrass, and can be tough to control. It’s best to use a preemergent that is labelled for goosegrass (many crabgrass preemergents are!) to prevent the seeds from germinating. It shows up in poor soils with sparse turfgrass, so a healthy lawn will help control this weed. Both crabgrass and goosegrass are easier to control when the plants are young. Tenacity is one of the only selective chemicals that will treat goosegrass after it emerges, but be careful to only use it during cool weather or it can cause damage to your turfgrass. If you get sticker shock from Tenacity, RoundUp or Burn Out will work, but these are both nonselective so they will kill your turfgrass, too, so apply with care.

Windmill Grass
Windmill grass has become more common in Nebraska after the droughts thinned out lawns. It is a short bunchgrass with stems that mostly lay along the ground, except for those that produce a seed head that can be up to 16 inches tall. It is an indicator of poor soils, commonly found in hot areas like next to sidewalks. It spreads by seed and can multiply from the roots, so it can take years to control. Tenacity is one of the only selective chemicals that will control this.

Nimblewill’s stems lay horizontally along the surface of the ground, with short, smooth leaves. This warm season perennial emerges late in the spring when the ground temperature reaches about 70 degrees, long after the lawn has begun growing. It is especially noticeable in the fall when it browns much earlier than the rest of the turf. It produces horizontally-growing stolons that will root anywhere their nodes come into contact with the ground. Tenacity or a nonselective herbicide will help control nimblewill.

Quackgrass (Perennial)
Quackgrass forms and upright clump like crabgrass, but the flower produces seeds on one straight spike on top of the stem. A high-nitrogen fertilizer and frequent mowing can take care of quackgrass, causing it to be out-competed by your lawn. Its extensive system of rhizomes and deep root system make it difficult to control this weed by pulling. There is not a selective herbicide commercially available for quackgrass. A non-selective herbicide like RoundUp can be used, but be careful, this will also kill your lawn grass. It will need to be used at regular intervals to gain control.


Nutsedge can be identified by the triangular shape of its stem (sedges have edges!) and the spiky yellow or brown flower it produces around August. It produces tubers underground, which can remain dormant in the soil for years until conditions are favorable for them to sprout. Nutsedge usually emerges late in the spring, in May or June. Treatment can begin as soon as the plant is growing, and ideally finish before summer solstice. Use a nutsedge specific chemical like Ortho Nutsedge Killer.

Some notes on using chemicals:
The applicator is legally obligated to read all labels before using any chemical. Herbicides are prone to drifting, especially when temperatures are above 85 degrees or when winds are above ten miles per hour. When targeting broadleaf weeds, for example, the chemical can drift and damage a nearby tree or ornamental bed.
Some areas of the country are experiencing chemical resistance in crabgrass and other species. Be careful to mix the proper amount of chemical according to the label.
If you’re unsure about how to responsibly use one of our chemicals, please talk to one of our sales associates, we’re here to help!


Landscaping 101: Spring Color

Date: Apr 04, 2017
Early spring is one of the most exciting times for gardeners. We’ve spent winter nurturing our houseplants, planning our vegetable gardens, dreaming up new beds, and starting seeds when we just can’t wait any longer. The first green shoots of tulips poking out of a litter of last fall’s leaves mean warmer weather is coming. Even if you don’t consider yourself a gardener, you’ve probably noticed the flush of bright pink and yellow that comes with the first spring rains. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite harbingers of spring to give you a much-needed pop of color after our bleak Nebraska winters.

Sargent Tina Crabapple (Malus sargentii ‘Tina’)
5’ tall, 6’ wide. This tiny ornamental tree is perfect in a small garden. Bright red buds open to white, single flowers in early spring. The bright red crabapples that develop attract birds.

Royal Raindrops Crabapple (Malus transitoria 'JFS-KW5')
20’ tall, 15’ wide. This crabapple produces stunning, magenta-pink flowers in the spring. Deep purple, cutleaf foliage holds its color well through the summer, turning to bronzy orange in the fall.

Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana)
20-30’ tall, 25’ wide. One of the most popular flowering trees in the United States. Large, fragrant, pink and white flowers cover the tree in the spring. Lush green foliage makes this an attractive specimen all summer.

Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
30’ tall, 25’30’ wide. Lavender-pink flowers appear early on bare branches. Bonus yellow fall color!

Magical Gold Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia 'Kolgold')
5’ tall, 4’ wide. Striking golden flowers cover the length of the bare stems on this shrub early in the spring.

Nova Zembla Rhododendron (Rhododendron x 'Nova Zembla')
5’ tall, 5’ wide. Rhododendrons are broad-leaf evergreens for shady gardens. Giant clusters of magenta flowers are showy in the spring.

Double Take 'Orange Storm' Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
5' tall, 5' wide. Large, bright orange double flowers cover the branches of this shrub in early spring before it leafs out. Prune into a hedge or leave in its natural form, it looks beautiful either way, plus it's thornless and fruitless for easy care!>

Bloomerang Lilac (Syringa x 'Penda')
4-5’ tall, 4-5’ wide. This fragrant classic will rebloom with some deadheading help!

Lenten Rose (Helleborus sp.)
18” tall, 24" wide. These are some of the first flowers that bloom each spring. They're becoming a trendy plant, so there's a huge range of colors becoming available. Put these little beauties in a shady spot!

Origami Columbine (Aquilegia x hybrida 'Origami')
16-18” tall, 16-18” wide. Unique flowers begin early and can rebloom for up to 12 weeks with deadheading. This variety has extra-large flowers in blue, red, yellow and white on a compact plant.

36-48” tall, 36-48” wide. There are hundreds of different colors of iris, whether they’re giant, fragrant German Bearded varieties or petite Japanese and Siberian, they all provide a beautiful display of color, and even in lightly shaded spots.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
12’ tall, 12’ wide. This low-growing groundcover forms a mat of pale flowers in white, pink, or blue in early spring.

Perk up your front porch by tearing your tired winter greenery out of your planters and replacing it with pansies, allium, flowering kale, and stock.

And this fall, remember to invest in your spring landscape by planting bulbs: tulips in all colors, daffodils, fragrant hyacinths, and crocus can be planted when the weather cools down around October.


New for 2017: Shrubs

Date: Mar 28, 2017
We have some gorgeous new varieties of shrubs arriving in our nursery yard this spring. Shrubs bring form, texture, and a good color backdrop to your landscape. Whether your landscape is modern with clean lines, a colorful cottage garden, or inspired by natural prairies, these shrubs anchor your design and give it interest throughout the seasons.

Whipcord Arborvitae (Thuja plicata 'Whipcord')
4-5' tall, 4-5' wide
The beautiful weeping habit of this evergreen softens modern landscapes.

Standing Ovation Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Obelisk’)
15’ tall, 4’ wide
The upright, oval form of this serviceberry adds height without taking up a lot of space. White flowers in the spring often turn to edible berries, with orange and red fall color.

Admiration Barberry (Berberis thunbergii ‘Admiration’)
12-15” tall, 24” wide
This dwarf barberry has a compact, rounded habit great for formal settings. Leaves emerge bright red in the spring, maturing to a deep purple-red with yellow edges.

Pearl Glam Beautyberry (Callicarpa ‘Pearl Glam’)
48-60” tall, 36-48” wide
Foliage emerges deep purple in spring, with white flowers in late summer followed by hundreds of bright-purple berries in the fall. We love cutting the berries and using them in our fresh evergreen arrangements for the holidays. This variety has a more upright habit than other beautyberries.

Petit Bleu Bluebeard (Caryopteris x clandonesnsis)
24-30” tall, 24-36” wide
Deep blue flowers bloom from late summer through fall over glossy green foliage.

Yuki Cherry Blossom Deutzia (Deutzia ‘Yuki Cherry Blossom’)
12-24” tall, 12-24” wide
This Deutzia features pink, cherry-blossom flowers! Foliage turns burgundy-purple in the fall. Beautiful in mass plantings.

Summer Ruffle Althea (Hibiscus syriacus ‘Aarticus’)
36-48” tall, 36-48” wide
Lavender flowers provide much-needed color in late summer. Unique variegated foliage.

Grateful Red Hydrangea (Hydrangea marcophylla ‘Grateful Red’)
36-38” tall, 36-48” wide
Unique reddish-pink blossoms have a long, strange bloom time, turning to deep plum in the fall. Hydrangeas are replacing shrub roses as the go-to flowering shrub!

Diamond Rouge Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Rendia’)
48-56” tall, 36-48” wide
Flowers emerge white, turning to pink, raspberry, and wine red by fall.

Satin Chocolate Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Satin Chocolate)
48-60” tall, 48-60” wide
This well-branched ninebark features deep burgundy foliage on reddish stems. White flowers with a pink blush appear in late spring.

Arnold’s Promise Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’)
12-15’ tall, 12-15’ wide
Spidery, fragrant yellow flowers bloom as early as February! This variety is vase-shaped, with golden fall color.

Diane Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’)
8-12’ tall, 8-12’ wide
Copper to red spidery flowers bloom in early spring. Foliage turns a deep orange-red in the fall.


New for 2017: Trees

Date: Mar 21, 2017
We are excited to introduce some new varieties of trees to our nursery yard this spring! You'll find reliable natives, narrower shapes to fit into urban lots, and superior fall color among the varieties we're stocking this year. Stop in and chat with our knowledgeable nurserymen and women to determine which tree is the best fit for your landscape, as well as the companion plants that bring out the best in your selection.

Shade Trees

Parkland Pillar Birch (Betula platyphylla 'Jefpark')
40’ tall, 6-7’ wide. This birch has a unique dense, narrow shape that fits well into urban landscapes. It is heat and drought tolerant. It has the white bark and golden fall color characteristic of birches.

Heartland Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa ‘Hiawatha 2’)
50’ tall, 25’ wide. This is a narrower catalpa, with an upright oval shape that fits nicely into city landscapes. It’s a tough prairie species that is heat and drought resistant.

Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
20-30’ tall, 25-35’ wide. Long panicles of golden flowers drip from this medium-sized tree in mid-summer, when landscapes are in need of color. Flowers are followed by paper-lantern seed pods and yellow fall color.

Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
40-50’ tall, 40-50’ wide. This is a native Nebraskan red oak with large (up to 12” long) dark, glossy leaves and beautiful burgundy-red fall color. We love oaks for their value as a long-lived heritage tree. They grow slowly, which gives the tree time to develop strong wood, and they are resistant to diseases and other environmental problems.

Chinkapin Oak (Quercus muehlenbergii)
40-50’ tall, 50-60’ wide. This oak makes a statement with strong branching. It’s known for being drought-tolerant and adaptable to a range of soil conditions. Like the Black Oak, the Chinkapin is long-lived with strong wood and native to eastern and central United States.

Flashfire Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum 'JFS-Caddo2')
45’ tall, 40’ wide. The brightest scarlet red fall color in a heat-resistant cultivar of sugar maples yet! It starts color change early in the fall. The crown is broadly oval in shape. Flashfire is slow-growing, which makes it a reliable heritage tree that can live up to 100 years.

Matador Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Bailston’)
40-45’ tall, 20-40’ wide. This improved Maple cultivar has deeper red fall color than Autumn Blaze, with more consistent fall color than Sienna Glen. It turns color later and holds onto its leaves longer. Stronger branching and a strong central leader make this a lasting choice for landscaping.

Northwood Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Northwood’)
40-60’ tall, 25-40’ wide. This medium-sized red maple can adapt to a wide range of soils, and can tolerate poor (but not swampy!) drainage. Cool fall weather and the first frost will bring the best red color. It has a rounded to oval shaped crown.

Pacific Sunset Maple (Acer truncatum x Acer platanoides ‘Warrenred’)
30’ tall, 25’ wide. This cross between a truncatum and a Norway maple is fast-growing and very drought-tolerant with an upright spreading crown. Yellow-orange to red fall color begins early.

Rotundaloba Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Rotundaloba’)
60-70’ tall, 20-30’ wide. This seedless, narrowly pyramidal variety of Sweetgum is unique because of its rounded leaf tips. Its fall color ranges from bright orange and red to purple.

Yellowwood (Cladratis kentukea)
30-50’ tall, 40-55’ wide. Extremely fragrant panicles of pea-like white flowers bloom in spring on a graceful, subtly weeping habit. This beautiful tree comes from the Bluegrass region of Kentucky.

Village Green Zelkova (Zelkova serrata ‘Village Green’)
40-60’ tall, 30-50’ wide. Village Green Zelkovas have been used as a replacement for American elm trees because of their resistance to Dutch Elm Disease. This variety is known for its upward spreading, vase-shaped crown, rusty red fall color, and resistance to leaf-eating insects.

Wireless Zelkova (Zelkova serrata ‘Schmidtlow’)
24’ tall, 36’ wide. The perfect height and umbrella shape for planting underneath power lines, with beautiful deep red fall color.
Ornamental Trees

Red Jade Crabapple (Malus × scheideckeri 'Red Jade')
12-15’ tall, 15-20’ wide. This is a great small, umbrella-shaped crabapple with weeping branches that almost reach the ground. Pink-tinged, white buds open into white flowers in spring. Bright red crabapples persist into the winter and are attractive to birds.

Emporer I Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Wolff’)
15’ tall & wide. Deep reddish-plum colored foliage turns bright scarlet in the fall. This variety buds out later in the spring, which makes it more resistant to damage from late frosts. It grows faster than other Japanese maples. Japanese maples need to be protected from the hot afternoon sun.

Northwind Maple (Acer pseudosieboldianum)
20’ tall, 12’ wide. This Korean cross looks similar to a Japanese maple, but is hardier. Leaves emerge red in the spring, fade to green in the summer, and turn brilliant red-orange in the fall. Like Japanese maples, Northwind should be shaded from the afternoon sun.
Evergreen Trees

Skybound Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Skybound')
18’ tall, 5’ wide. This arborvitae forms a dense pillar, commonly used for screens or tall hedges. It performs better without pruning.

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Garden Centers & Hours

40th & Normal: 402.483.7891
56th & Pine Lake: 402.423.1133
Landscape Office: 402.423.4556

(Winter Hours)
Mon - Sat, 9:00 am -6:00 pm
Sunday, Noon - 5:00 pm