Hardiness Zones

Featured Articles
Add Dollars and Beauty to Your Yard by Planting Trees
Selecting a Landscape Professional
Landscape Lighting
Five Tips for Environmentally Friendly Gardening
Add Dollars and Beauty to Your Yard by Planting Trees

According to the cover article of Smart Money magazine in March 2003, one of the best methods to increase a home’s resale value is found outside of the house. Adding trees, shrubs, flowers, patios, retaining walls, fountains, and paths to your yard can increase the home’s value by up to 15 percent! When properly selected and placed, trees can provide additional energy savings costs.

Fall is the perfect opportunity to enhance the value and attractiveness of your yard by planting trees. The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA) encourages homeowners to consult the experts at local nurseries or garden centers for a tree that is best suited for your needs.

Once you have purchased the appropriate tree, plant in an area that benefits both you and your new tree. Planting too close to the home can cause the tree to become a nuisance and a hazard. Trees will be short-lived if planted in cramped holes that are backfilled with unprepared soil.

Dig a hole wide enough to allow for root growth, and prepare the soil by thoroughly breaking it up to a depth of at least 10 inches. Once planted, mulch around the tree to retain soil moisture. Two to three inches of mulch formed into a saucer around the tree trunk—not piled up against the trunk—is a sufficient amount.

A new tree should receive a thorough weekly watering. To check soil moisture around the tree, pull back the mulch and put your fingers into the soil. If the soil is dry, add water; if the soil is wet, check again in a couple of days. As winter sets in, cover the trunk of young trees with a tree wrap to prevent animal damage and sunscald during the dormant months.

In addition to valuable advice from plant and landscaping experts, Minnesota’s nurseries and garden centers offer a wide array of tree species, including native varieties and many other types developed to be hardy in northern climates. To locate a garden center near you, click Locate an Expert.

The Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association is the state’s largest green industry trade association with more than 1,500 member businesses including garden centers; landscape contractors and designers; tree and flower growers; irrigation contractors; and lawn, tree, and garden services.

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Selecting a Landscape Professional

Selecting a Landscape Professional

The Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association is the state’s oldest and largest green industry trade association and has more than 1,000 member companies. MNLA members are committed to professional improvement through education, certification, and networking. MNLA member companies can be located on-line at mnlandscape.org

What type of professional do I need?

Landscape Designer: A person trained (most often with a degree from a university or technical college) in the design of residential and commercial landscapes. Designs usually include plantings, walkways, walls, water features, landscape lighting and other similar features.

Landscape Contractor: A firm that implements plans prepared by a landscape designer or architect. A landscape contractor prepares the site, then installs plants and hardscapes as described in the landscape plan. The company may bid on a job or work with the designer throughout the design process.

Design-Build Firm:, A firm that has both landscape designers and landscape contractors on staff. The company works with the property owner to develop a landscape plan and then implements that plan.

Professional Gardening Services: A firm that specializes in the design, installation, and/or care of residential or commercial-site gardens.

What criteria should I use in selecting a landscape professional?
 If the company is installing plant materials, does it have a nursery inspection certificate from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture? This ensures that the materials are nursery grown and not dug from the wild.
 Does the firm have a federal identification number that designates them as a real business?
 Do they have a sales tax license?
 Are they insured?
 Professionals arrive on time, then take photographs or draw sketches of your property while there.
 How many years has the company been in business?
 Ask for customer references and then phone those referrals.
 Ask for an itemized list of plant materials and plant sizes.
 Who is responsible for clean-up?
 Does the company provide a contract specifying starting and completion dates? Allowances should be made for weather.
 Firms that have a Minnesota Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional on staff have gone an extra step to assure the professionalism of their staff members.

What other steps should the homeowner take to ensure a positive experience with a landscape professional?
 Be upfront about the amount of money you intend to invest.
 Interview several professionals. Ask to see their “before and after” portfolio.
 Go see one of the company’s finished projects.
 Check references.
 Keep in mind that newly finished landscapes may look sparse. A good landscape professional will not overcrowd plant materials, but will have planned to give plants a chance to grow. The end result will begin to show in two or three years.

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Landscape Lighting

In daylight hours a well-designed landscape is full of color, texture and form. But as night falls, the gnarly trees turn to shadows looming over the grass. The flower beds and pathways are lost in the darkness.

Properly designed and installed outdoor lighting can bring back this lost beauty. It illuminates the best features of your landscape, while leaving dark those areas you wish to conceal in the shadows.

Not only have you created an aesthetically pleasing environment. But you have also added safety and security to your home.

All fixtures produce light. It is proper bulb selection along with the design and placement of the fixtures that create the unique moods and effects in an exceptional landscape lighting design. A variety of lighting concepts make up the overall design. The basic concepts are:
Pathway Lighting
Pathlights are designed to add general illumination for pathways, patio, steps and garden areas. They add drama and safety to your landscape. The wide variety of fixtures allows the homeowner to express his/her style preference.
With the use of mature trees, one can add illumination from above to different areas if the landscape. By placing accent fixtures high in the trees, you can add either general illumination or pinpoint lighting to accent features in the landscape.
Illumination from below. This concept brings life to the dramatic features within the landscape. The focal points are generally trees, shrubs, statues, fountains and unique structures.
Wall Washing
Also referred to as “grazing,” this concept uses flood-light fixtures to cast light across surfaces. It accentuates shadows and textures to add drama on boulder stone and architectural walls.

A good designer will use a combination of these concepts to create a style and mood of his/her own. The limits are only the homeowner’s creativity and imagination.

Products used by professional installers are designed by companies with years of experience and craftsmanship. Fixtures are developed with creative intent, function and light intensity in mind.

Professional grade light fixtures are generally constructed of durable materials including:
Stainless Steel
Fixtures come in many different finishes such as; black, deep bronze, verde green and natural metal finishes.

For more information on lighting and installation, contact an outdoor lighting showroom or a landscape lighting professional.

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Five Tips for Environmentally Friendly Gardening
If you want to reap the rewards of an environmentally responsible home garden, here are five easy tips to follow:

Plan Ahead. Misplaced plants—those installed in light, soil, or water conditions contrary to their needs—require excessive water, fertilizer, pesticides and other care measures just to get by. It’s best for your home landscape, and for the environment, if you figure out what you need for that shady corner or sunny bed before you actually make a purchase.
Select Low Maintenance, Pest-Resistant Plants. Ask the experts at your local retail nursery or garden center for plants especially suited to thrive and resist pests of all kinds. Whether you opt for some of the newer versions bred for pest resistance or simply choose a time-tested old favorite, you are doing yourself and your garden a big favor. You will reduce the need for repeated fertilizer applications and sprays to kill pests.
Keep Your Soil in Peak Condition. Find out about your local soil conditions by contacting the University of Minnesota Extension Service for a soil test kit. Many garden centers also sell soil-testing kits. These tests measure pH, or the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, as well as provide information on possible nutrient deficiencies in the soil. One way to improve your soil is to add organic matter, such as compost, peat moss, or decayed leaves. Organic matter helps your soil hold the right amount of moisture and helps plants stay healthy. After you have determined your soil’s needs, consider mulching. Mulching is a good way to get your soil in top-notch condition. Well cared-for soil will yield more healthy and vigorous plants.
Use Water Properly. Start out with the right plants for the right amount of water, shade and temperature fluctuations in your area. Substitute low water demand plants for those requiring more water. Apply water to the garden in the early morning to cut down on evaporation and replace leaky garden hoses and sprinklers. Place plants requiring less water at higher elevations than those requiring more. The thirstier plants will use the water seeping down from the higher elevations down below, rather than being wasted.
Don’t Expect to Grow Perfect Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables. We often seek to grow blemish-free produce and perfectly shaped plants and flowers without looking at the big picture. Overzealous applications of fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals may have long-term negative side effects on the environment. Whether you are growing strawberries, cucumbers, daffodils or peonies, enjoy the diversity and even the imperfections of your garden bounty.

The best part of being an environmentally responsible gardener is that it usually
means less work for you, and more time to enjoy the fruits of a healthy and beautiful home and garden.

To locate nursery and landscape professionals in your area, check out Locate an Expert
The “Directory to Plant and Landscaping Experts” and a “Planting and Care Guide” are also available by calling MNLA at (651) 633-4987.

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Hardiness Zone Map

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