Category Archives: Trees & Plant Tips

Landscaping Tips: Plant Selection Check List


Plant Selection Checklist: 

  •  Are you planting species that are adapted to specific Nebraska conditions to maximize their health and reduce need for supplemental water, fertilizer and pest control?
  • Are you grouping plants by their watering needs?
  • Are you selecting native or other well-adapted, non-invasive species?
  • Will you be increasing the diversity of your landscaped plants to invite new birds and wildlife to your yard?
  • Are you selecting low-maintenance plants that thrive and look good without constant attention?
  • Is it a priority to pant for shade to reduce home energy use and create comfortable outdoor spaces?

Which tree is my best bet, if I don’t want a large tree?

“I don’t want a tree that gets too which tree is best?”

starting to bloomDon’t worry, we hear it all the time. For most people, it is because they have a smaller front yard and don’t want a massive tree crowding the space or their landscaping is already established, and again the space is limited.  If you want a columnar tree, the Armstrong Maple or the Regal Prince Oak is the best. If you want to find a smaller tree perfect for a front yard, we suggest a pear tree or possibly a crab tree. Feel free to give Arbor Hills Trees a call. We can help you find a great tree, that will fit perfectly in your yard.

What is a good shade tree to plant in Nebraska conditions?



What is the best Shade Tree for my yard? – Most any form of Red Maple trees seems to be a good choice. The tree is fast growing as well as good fall color. Maples also establish very well in the clay soils of our area.

Outstanding features – red buds and twigs; sharp angle between leaf lobes, leaf edge having teeth, concentric circles on bark.

Did you know? – Red maple, or acer rubrum, is an eastern North American deciduous tree known for its brilliant red autumn foliage. It is one of the first trees to change color in the fall.

Great Tips for sucessful spring gardening!

  1. Plan ahead – know the area you are going to plant. How much sun does it get? Morning or evening? Any partial shade? Know the orientation of the garden … if it faces west with no trees to shade it a bit, it will be hot. I mean, hot! What’s the drainage like … what’s the soil like. If you know these details you’ll be able to match up plants that like or at least tolerate those conditions. If you don’t know these factors, good luck!
  2. Honor the seasons – fall and spring are the best times to plant most anything. The soil is warm enough for new plants to get settled in and get their roots established. When it’s too hot or cold, that root growth doesn’t happen. Also, there are warm season and cool season plants … especially vegetables and annuals … that love one season, hate the other. Don’t go putting that tomato or it’s summer veg pals (squash, peppers, eggplant, corn)into the ground until the nighttime temps are 60 degrees or above.
  3. Shop at the Independent Nurseries – I am not a snob about shopping at the “Big Box Stores”. I love them, to tell the truth. But, the independent nurseries are so much about variety and unique treasures … if we don’t support them we’ll lose them, and that would be a shame!
  4. Ask for help – the people who work in nurseries usually love plants and love sharing their knowledge. If you’ve done #1 above you’ll put them in a position where they can help.If you’re at a #2 nursery, the quality of their advice will be sooo much better!!!
  5. Don’t Overbuy – resist impulse shopping … your plants will do much better if they get in the ground quickly. Sure, some plants can survive in their nursery pots for a long time, but, they’ll be so much happier in the actual ground
  6. Be Easy on Yourself – gardeners grow those green thumbs, they weren’t born with them! And the road to being a successful gardener is to have many a failure! An example of my own. I’ve been really keen on CA native plants the last couple of years. One that early grabbed my interest was the Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). It was so prominent in the hills around Hollywood, they named the area, well, Hollywood! Because it has red winter berries (that the birds love) it’s also called Christmas Berry. Well, I killed 2 before I learned that just because it’s drought tolerant, doesn’t mean it can survive without water in it’s nursery can. I think the phrase is “drought tolerant once established”, and now I know what that means!
Written by: Jeannie Hanson Sacramento, California

Tree Facts That Make You Stop and Think!

Tree Facts That Make You Stop and Think!
By: Hilary Rinaldi

Trees receive an estimated 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere and only 10% from the soil.

Trees grow from the top, not from the bottom as is commonly believed. A branch’s location on a tree will only move up the trunk a few inches in 1000 years.

No tree dies of old age. They are generally killed by insects, disease or by people. California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias are regarded as the oldest trees and have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.

There are about 20,000 tree species in the world. The United States has one of the largest tree treasuries second only to India.

The largest area of forest in the tropics remains the Amazon Basin, amounting to 81.5 million acres.

Arbor Day was first observed in Nebraska in 1872. That state is now home to one of the world’s largest forests planted by people – over 200,000 acres of trees.

Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.

Knocking on wood for good luck originated from primitive tree worship when rapping on trees was believed to summon protective spirits in the trees.

Trees can induce rainfall by cooling the land and transpiring water into the sky from their leaves. An acre of maple trees can put as much as 20,000 gallons of water into the air each day.

The most massive living thing on earth is the Giant Sequoia in the Redwood Forest of California. It stands nearly 30 stories tall and 82.3 feet in circumference. Its weight is estimated at 2,756 tons.

In Arnold, California, a tree still stands with a legible inscription carved into it in 1849 by pioneers blazing paths to California during the Gold Rush. The inscription reads “49 Road.”

Hilary Rinaldi is a professional landscaper who has written for gardening publications such as “Seed Trade News” and “Houseplant Magazine”. She also has been a professional public speaker and educator in the gardening industry for over 20 years sharing gardening information and tips to as many people as she can.

The Impact of early blooms! The effects of Omaha’s March 2012 weather on plants, insects and more…

This is an interview from National Public Radio that caught our attention. We found the transcript and thought we would share it with you!

The weather has been unseasonably warm in the Northeast and plains states — so warm that some plants are blooming early. Melissa Block talks with Jake Weltzin with the U.S. Phenology Network about what that means.

So whatever happened to March coming in like a lion? It’s been downright lamb-like lately, more like May or June temperatures than March. The colors tell the story on the weather map, a huge swath of orange and yellow across much of the country.

It was 81 degrees in Omaha and Chicago earlier this week. And it’s been so warm here in Washington, D.C., that the famed cherry blossoms will be at peak bloom weeks earlier than normal. Which got us wondering – how does an early bloom affect plants? And what does it mean for bugs?

Jake Weltzin has some of the answers. He’s an ecologist and the executive director of the USA National Phenology Network.

Jake, welcome to the program.

DR. JAKE WELTZIN: Thank you very much, Melissa.

BLOCK: And let’s define phenology. Just a bit here: The shorthand, I gather, is nature’s calendar. You’re looking at the effect of climate on the lifecycles of plants and animals.

WELTZIN: Sure, phenology is sort an old-fashioned term for the study of when things appear. And what we’re interested in here is the timing of spring blooms and migrations and hibernations. So we have to think about the entire season, not just when things wake up in the spring but when things go to sleep in the fall, if you will.

BLOCK: OK. And you’ve been collecting data from people all over the country. What examples have you gotten so far this spring about when things have appeared?

WELTZIN: Well, it’s a weird spring this year, that’s for sure. Sap is flowing early in Vermont and New Hampshire in the maple trees, and so we have to think about the timing of maple syrup production. Lilacs are coming out very early. In the Milwaukee area, we’ve got flowering fruit trees that have been out and done already and are producing fruits in Georgia. So we have all hosts of odd things happening this spring.

BLOCK: You know, I remember thinking when I saw my daffodils coming up super early this year that I just sort of wanted to push them back under the ground.


BLOCK: Go back in there where it’s safe. If a plant or tree does bloom or leaf out early, does that affect its seasonal cycle for the rest of the year?

WELTZIN: We don’t really know for a lot of plants. And we’re just starting to get that information organized. Some plans do, indeed, have a deterministic lifecycle, which means that if they come up early they will shut down early. Others are indeterministic and they’ll grow and grow and grow all season long.

BLOCK: You know, when you think about this you inevitably think about possible role of climate change. Does this pattern to you seem like a fluke, just a one-time thing, or a reflection that you that you’ve been seeing of a trend over a number of years?

WELTZIN: We are seeing strong trends almost wherever we look. In the last decade, we’re actually now starting to be able to say OK, well, we see patterns of plants and animals coming earlier. And we have better and better climatological records, temperature records, and we can start to link those together. And there’s a paper coming out it seems every week now that’s saying OK, here’s a trend in bees coming out 10 days earlier over the last 130 years, and we can attribute that to warming temperatures.

BLOCK: Since we’re seeing these were temperatures so early, what does that mean for insects? Are we going to be seeing a really big swarm this year?

WELTZIN: That’s an excellent question and we are worried about that, because some bugs are good and some bugs are bad. Some bugs do pollination services for us and they pollinate plants so we can have fruits and crops. Others carry diseases. And there’re so many different kinds of bugs, it’s hard to know exactly what all those patterns might be. But we sure don’t want to have West Nile virus coming earlier in the year when the bugs come earlier.

So, generally yes, you would find a strong relationship between the timing of flowering and insect activity. They’re both driven by temperatures. In fact, we’re seeing some cases where insects like bees are tracking plant flowering.