Tag Archives: landscaping

Marti Neely

April 7, 2017 by

This sponsored content appears in the Winter 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/b2b_0217_125/56

A landscape designer who works independently, Marti Neely has no obligation to any nursery or garden center. That means she can focus on a client’s needs.

She calls on contractors who can help her achieve the dream she has for a client—workers with skills in installing swimming pools, fire pits, patios, seating areas, kids’ play areas, gardens, and more.

And she’s a problem solver.

“Ugly utility boxes and other similar things seem unsightly. I look at effective ways to hide them,” says Neely.

She discusses with clients how the landscaping might add to the home’s future value. “We should always be practical and smart in what we are doing,” she urges.

She believes there’s a lot of value in working with a designer.

“Ultimately, it saves you money down the road by working with someone who understands the progression of a project,” Neely says. “Designers have ideas and knowledge that typical consumers don’t have.”

Clients appreciate her honesty, even when she disagrees with them.

“I help them make good choices about how to spend their money,” Neely says. “I treat their property like it’s my property.”

402.630.0050
martineely.com

Lanoha Nurseries

April 1, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Lanoha Nurseries came into being in the mid-1970s, not long before Chris Lanoha himself came into being, so the family business has been part of the now-vice president’s life since day one. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is in knowing that our team gets to advise you in everything from the smallest planting decisions to being the professionals you count on to design and execute your most ambitious landscaping dreams,” he says.

Lanoha has seen the company grow to be one of the largest nursery and garden centers in the Midwest with a full range of live trees, shrubs, plants, and related supplies as well as landscape design and construction services for residential and commercial projects.

The staff includes a second generation of Lanohas along with experienced horticulturists, gardeners, certified arborists, and landscape designers respected for their know-how and creativity. With such a wide selection and knowledgeable staff, Lanoha Nurseries has what it takes to expertly execute any size project, from individual plants to a custom backyard to large commercial landscaping.

19111 West Center Road, Omaha, NE 68130

402.289.4103 • lanohanurseries.com

This sponsored content is a page from the publication Faces of Omaha. To read the entire magazine, click the image:

Going Native

August 4, 2014 by and

The grass is always greener on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. To wit, Midwesterners, particularly Nebraskans, have always had a low opinion of the region’s native flora. But outsiders often have a different opinion.

Take aronia (or chokeberry), for example. Most settlers wanted nothing to do with the trees or the fruit. But, some German immigrants appreciated the tart flavor. Some even sent plants back to Germany. Hybrids were made. Now we drink descendants of our native chokeberries every time we have a Welch’s Grape Juice Cocktail.

“People tend to think of native plants as only weeds,” says Kathleen Kue, an associate horticulture specialists with the UNL Extension Office for Douglas and Sarpy counties. “But there are countless wonderful, hardy species. The chokeberry. It was met with distain. Now it’s in everybody’s juice.”

The point here: If you want a low-maintenance, water-sipping landscape that will last, Kue says, you should go native.

With that in mind, here is a collection of some of Kue’s favorite native species that you can easily reintroduce to an Omaha landscape:

Prairie Drop Seed Grass
“This is my all-time favorite Nebraska grass,” Lue says. “It’s not too tall. It’s extremely hardy. I think it’s beautiful.”
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Purple Coneflower
“This is hardly a weed. It’s a really great native. Can’t go wrong.” You might know it by its other name: Echinacea.
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Liatris (gayfeather)
One fun way to track down some unique native plants: Just see what plants are mentioned in the pioneer diaries and literature of writers such as Willa Cather and Mari Sandoz. The gayfeather is long-lasting and easy to grow in your garden.
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Buttonbush
The buttonbush is both an old-timey Nebraska and futuristic. “The flowers are really funky and fun,” Lue says. “They kind of look like spaceships.”
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Paw Paw Tree
Yes, there is a fruit tree native to Nebraska. The paw paw fruit tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango, Lue says. “They’re surprisingly delicious.”
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Aronia (chokeberry)
As the common name suggests, the berries can be astringent, Lue says. But, as in the Welch’s cocktail, they can be very tasty when combined with other fruits.
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The Persistence of Memory

February 27, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

A brilliant band of wildflowers will soon bloom in Kelsie Hollingshead’s garden. Forget about the fact that she’s an apartment-dweller with no plot of land to call her own. And never mind that the fresh tendrils of her vibrant harbingers of spring will push through the soil of a garden that is a full 20 miles from where she lays her head at night.“My grandfather planted those wildflowers,” she says, wiping a tear from her cheek. “He planted them the year before as we planned our wedding so that they would be beautiful for the reception,” she says, reflecting on her August 2013 nuptials to Sean Hollingshead. “Those flowers remind me—reminded all of us that night of the reception—that a little part of him was still with us.”

Her grandfather, Patrick Clarke, founder of NorthStar Financial Group, had perished in a plane crash along with one of his sons, Dr. Scott Clarke of Springfield, Mo., nine months before the wedding.

Clarke’s wildflowers still thrive on a majestic hilltop near Schramm Park State Recreation Area. The site offers a panoramic view of the Platte River far below, and the 50-acre country retreat is known to the Clarke clan simply as The Farm. Its main structure, The Barn, is home to family gatherings most every Sunday. The rustic, 4,600-square-foot lodge was built in 2009 by Curt Hofer & Associates. Downhill from The Barn is the sleeping quarters known as The Bunkhouse.

The subtext of any story on these pages is a testament to how our homes reveal who we are, how we live, and what we value. Such stories are usually accompanied by words-words-words on architecture, landscaping, appointments, and interior design. There will be none of that here. The accompanying photos will have to suffice as a substitute for the customary narrative dedicated to descriptors of the floor-to-ceiling variety.

Instead this home story will keep the focus where it should be—on one family and how the persistence of memory creates a legacy.

“My dad didn’t built this for himself,” says Todd Clarke, Kelsie’s father. “He didn’t even build it for his kids. He built it for the grandkids, and one day, for their kids and generations to come. Each and every member of the family has a different way of remembering him. His presence is always particularly powerful when we are here at The Farm.”

Memories can sometimes be triggered in unexpected ways. What kind of 14-year-old boy would list a common household chore, for example, as one of his favorite weekend activities?

That would be Todd’s son, Brooks.

“I don’t get to see my cousins much during the week,” Brooks says. “Out here we get to play foosball, ride ATVs, and play indoor football. Those are all fun things to do, but cleaning out the shed is my favorite.”

A raised eyebrow is the only signal Brooks needs to realize that he has just introduced something of a disconnect.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” he continues. “Those are grandpa’s things out there. That’s where he kept all his tools. Playing with all the stuff in the shed reminds me of him and how we used to…” his voice trails off as a pensive expression creeps across his face, eyes averted.

“Patrick and I were blessed with a terrific family—beautiful kids and beautiful grandchildren,” says family matriarch Lana Clarke. “This was his dream. It’s our place where memories are made. I count my blessings every day we gather here. I know he’s looking down on us, smiling.”

Each of the coming days will grow longer as the eagerly anticipated progression to spring breaks into a trot and then a gallop. Gardens slowly thaw and bide their time awaiting attention. The flowerbeds on a certain wind-swept hill overlooking a ribbon of water are no exception.

That’s where you’ll find Kelsie Hollingshead tending to her wildflowers.

Greener Days Ahead

January 18, 2014 by

It is in the throes of winter that memories of summer are the most persistent. Even though your lawnmower is now snoring away for the season, there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that your property enters greener times at its blooming best.

 The Basics

Just like the icicles hanging from your eaves, your lawn becomes brittle during its winter slumber. Keep foot traffic to a minimum during the colder months. And it’s never too late to apply an insulating blanket of mulch to a depth of at least three inches around plants and shrubs.

Watering

For maximum root nourishment, don’t forget that watering is a 12-month task. “Any time that the temperature climbs above 40 degrees, it’s a good time to water,” says John Fech, an extension educator at the University of Nebraska Extension Division in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. “This is particularly important for new plantings of any kind.”

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Evergreens

Unlike trees that drop foliage in the fall, evergreens continue to transpire year-round, meaning that moisture absorbed through the soil is lost through leaves and needles.

“Apply an anti-desiccant spray on days above freezing,” Fech says. “This will protect against damage from the wind and cold.” Fech recommends a rotation of three applications. “A good memory-jogger to use here is to think in terms of spraying on New Year’s Day, Valentines Day, and Easter,” or as close to those days as the weather allows.

A loose wrapping of burlap around shrubs provides extra protection against the elements while still allowing the plant to breathe.

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Snip-Snip

Pruning, especially for fruit trees, ensures that any given plant doesn’t have to work too hard to feed itself. For a host of videos on this and other topics, Fech recommends visiting the YouTube channel of Backyard Farmer, the NET television program produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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To Salt or Not to Salt?

“There needs to be a balance between traction safety and plant safety,” Fech says. De-icing products are great for what they are designed to do, but you pay a price when neighboring shrubs, ground covers, trees, and grass absorb all that salt.

“Nobody likes the brown-outs that these products can cause,” Fech says, “especially because the plant materials can take until mid-summer to recover, if at all—so use 
them sparingly.”

For more information on sustainable horticulture, visit the University of Nebraska Extension Division in Douglas and Sarpy Counties’ website at douglas-sarpy.unl.edu.

Installing an Outdoor Fireplace

August 29, 2013 by

One of the fastest growing backyard trends is an outdoor fireplace. When deciding to install your own, one of your first choices is to select the fuel type. Will it be a wood-burning unit, or are you looking for the convenience of gas? If you decide on wood fuel, make sure to pick a fireplace location with proper clearances for good draft and check your local building codes to make sure you are in compliance.  If you select a gas-burning fireplace, managing the smoke and draft are not issues. Keep in mind you will need a gas source, whether it’s propane or natural, and there may be some plumbing and possibly some trenching required to get the gas line to the fireplace unit.

Once you’ve decided your fuel type and fireplace location, you’ll need to determine what it will be made of. The two basic types of construction are custom masonry and prefabricated. The benefits of masonry construction are that it will most likely last a long time and will produce more heat, if that is a priority. The prefab units are built as a metal shell with a metal chimney and often have a firebrick liner, replicating the look of a masonry fireplace. Because there is less mass, they may not produce as much heat. On the plus side, a prefab fireplace allows for a faster, easier installation.

Most outdoor fireplaces are finished with a stone or brick veneer. There are many varieties in terms of size, shape, and color to choose from, so coordinating your fireplace look with your home’s style or color is easy. Whatever outdoor fireplace you choose, you are sure to have some memorable times sitting around the fire with friends and family!

To see a selection of options for your outdoor fireplace, visit the Lumbermen’s showroom at 13709 Industrial Rd. in Omaha. For more information, visit lumbermens.biz.

Be Our Guest

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“They tell me, it’s up to you to change things out. We trust you.” Alex Ostblom, a landscape designer for Lanoha Nurseries, strolls across a newly transformed Westside lawn, naming flowers off the top of his head. Impatiens, begonias, mandevilla, and sweet alyssum are planted in great swaths of color, sweeping along sidewalk, driveway, and around to a brand-new back yard. Guests to the remodeled home might never suspect what the place looked like just a few months earlier.

Ostblom explains that the homeowners wanted a lawn that matched their refinished house’s new capabilities: to blend in with the rest of the stately neighborhood and to provide a perfect space to entertain family members and close friends. “Other than that,” he says, “they didn’t have too many particulars.” So Ostblom let his creativity loose, beginning the design process in March and construction in May. The entire project was completed by June 15.

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The first order of business was to redesign an unsightly retaining wall that led around the north of the house to the back yard. Originally made of concrete block, the five-foot wall created a tight alley between the house and a small mountain of unusable back yard. Its considerable height so close to the back of the house blocked off half of the dining and living room windows. A cramped patio made a stab at bringing hospitality to the space.

To simultaneously create a much less imposing wall while also making the yard itself usable, Ostblom removed tons of dirt to create tiers of lawn that allowed him to install a limestone wall less than two feet tall. The limestone complements colors in the house and can actually be found in the landscaping of nearby homes, bringing the property more into the neighborhood’s fold. Large blocks of the limestone accent the front and back yard, “giving the grandkids something to climb around on,” Ostblom points out.

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Thanks to the greatly shortened wall, guests in the dining and living rooms can enjoy a panorama of seasonal annuals (“One of the owners just loves lots of color,” Ostblom says), a rose cutting garden, and mature evergreens. “They wanted everything to look like it’d been there for years,” Ostblom says, so Lanoha Nurseries set field-grown spruce and conifers in place with machinery. “That’s a one-time deal,” he explains. “If the trees don’t take to this well, we can’t get the equipment back in here to put in more of that size.” So he’s monitoring their progress closely, already eyeing some barely noticeable brown needles on a spruce. “That one might be under stress from over watering.”

Frequent entertainment of friends and family meant the homeowners needed a large, welcoming space. In particular, they wanted a gas fire pit large enough where several people could comfortably gather. The idea of an L-shaped outdoor kitchen was tossed around, but the couple decided instead to place a simple grill out of sight around the home’s south corner to ensure that the fire pit remained their outdoor gathering place. A gas line leads from the house to the grill; no empty propane cans here.

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Ostblom notes that establishing such a mature landscape within six weeks calls for careful attention to how light will change over the seasons. Most of the yard is in at least partial shade, particularly in the front yard and to the north. To the northeast and east, the yard transitions into full sun. To cope with the variety of landscape elements (varying light, drainage, and plants with differing needs), Ostblom says he redesigned the home’s irrigation entirely. “They have turf, trees, annuals…it all requires different watering.” To facilitate easy maintenance by Lanoha Nurseries without disturbing the homeowners, Ostblom had the irrigation clock moved from inside the garage to just inside the gate in the backyard.

“I visit about once a month,” he says, though he admits he makes the rounds in the neighborhood frequently, checking in on this and other landscaping projects for any signs of trouble. “Communication. That’s the biggest part in making sure it all looks amazing.”

Diagnosing a Troubled Tree

June 20, 2013 by

When diagnosing a troubled tree, there are many variables that come into play. What species of tree are we dealing with? When and where was it planted? What problematic symptoms does it exhibit? One should look at the surroundings of the plant. Construction and soil compaction can play a huge role in a tree’s longevity. Weather is also a big factor. Storm damage, such as hail, can wreak havoc on a tree’s well-being.

The biggest issue we see is poor initial planting. Many trees are planted too deep or too high in the soil. A tree can survive in these stressful conditions for approximately 4-5 years before showing signs of decline. Watering can be a big issue, too. Most trees need 1” of water each week. Not enough or too much water can be detrimental to the tree’s growth.

When treating a diseased tree, the right diagnosis is key. Only a certified arborist will know which fungicide is required to treat a fungal problem, or which insecticide will best treat a tree infested with pests. Using the proper treatment application method is also essential and may depend on the severity of tree damage. When you see a tree exhibiting signs of trouble, it’s best to call a professional arborist right away. Likely, the tree has been in distress for some time. Better yet, employ a regular tree service to service and treat your trees year-round, before the trouble starts.

For tree analysis or treatment, call on the professionals at Terry Hughes Tree Service, voted #1 Tree Service in Best of Omaha™ 2013! Visit hughestree.com for more info.

Q&A: Jason Decker

Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Elite Landscaping

As a kid, Omahan Jason Decker was known as the neighborhood yard boy. Today, as owner of Elite Landscaping, he still spends most of his days working outdoors, creating and installing beautiful landscapes and outdoor entertaining spaces for homeowners. “I can’t picture myself doing anything other than this.”

Q: When did you first discover your love for working in the outdoors? How did you get your start in landscaping?

A: Growing up in Armbrust Acres, I mowed 15 yards a week all through grade school and made good money for a young kid. At 15, I started working for a local lawn and landscape contractor. While I worked for my old boss, I read many books on landscaping and learned trial by fire. My parents were always my guinea pigs. They were my first pond, patio, landscape design, fire pit, lighting job, etc. School was never my thing. I just loved being outside, the hard work, seeing the fruits of my labor, and interacting with people.7_BackyardFirepit_Web

Q: What education and training do you have in landscape design? Who were your mentors?

A: I graduated from Millard North High School in 2001 and then attended Metro Community College for one-and-a-half years, taking classes in advanced landscape design and plant knowledge. For the most part, I am self-taught. My mentors were definitely my father, Bob, and mother, Rose, who instilled in me great ethics and morals and taught me at a young age that hard work pays off. My mom continues to support me in my business as the company’s office manager.

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Q: What kind of projects does Elite Landscaping take on? Who are your customers?

A: Our main area of work is in outdoor patio and pool projects. We are the main installer for Lumbermen’s high-end clients, and Bell Pools and New Wave Pools are great companies we work well with, referring business to each other. I do all my own landscape project work—meeting with each client, designing and bidding each job, then watching over the job site through completion. We only do around 15-20 projects a summer, and we continually keep in touch with clients, keeping their properties in peak shape with maintenance annuals, potting, and service work, etc. My customers are generally very hard-working professionals—small business owners, doctors, lawyers, financial advisors, executives for local businesses. They love their homes and yards and want them to be one-of-a-kind retreats where they can spend time relaxing and getting away from the rigors of work and enjoying family time. Ninety percent of my work is referral-based, while a few jobs are generated by my website and my exhibit at the Omaha Home Show.IMG_8731_DxO_Web

Q: What part of landscaping do you enjoy the most? What inspires your designs?

A: The most creative and enjoyable part is the design process—I’ve come up with some very unique and challenging designs, and I have a great team of guys who are very skilled and able to execute our designs well. Traveling is what inspires me! I travel about every six weeks, and at least once a year out of the country—Rio de Janeiro, Thailand, Mexico, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Miami, Las Vegas…It gives me something to look forward to, and it refreshes the mind and body.

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Q: How do you enjoy your spare time?

Spending it with my girlfriend, Christie. She is the first woman who’s ever been able to get me away from work in the summer, our busiest time of year. We enjoy going to movies, sitting on the outdoor patio with friends for drinks, and dining out at Pitch Pizzeria, J’s on Jackson, M’s Pub, Roja, among others. We also like going downtown, and the Benson area is always fun. I also like to golf or just hang out with my bulldog, Diesel, and watch sporting events.

For a photo gallery of past projects or more info on Elite Landscaping, visit elitelandscapingomaha.com.

It’s Not Too Late to Water!

December 25, 2012 by

Omaha’s thousands of trees are in danger. This summer’s unprecedented heat and drought have put even mature, established trees in peril. Trees cannot endure a period of extended drought without help. If trees are not rehydrated soon, they will not be able to survive the winter, let alone fight off insects and disease next year. If the Ash Borer reaches Omaha, our ash trees may be unable to take up the nutrients they need to fight the insects.

As early as August, many trees in Omaha began “shutting down” in an attempt to conserve water. When this happens, growth ceases and plants prematurely lose their leaves. Trees already have next year’s buds. The drought not only affected last year’s tree quality, but has the potential to significantly affect trees’ appearance this year. This drought is unprecedented to our generation. Most trees have not experienced summer conditions like this before.

There’s still time to save Omaha’s trees. It’s important that tree owners take the initiative to water trees. It’s a misconception that large trees have roots deep enough to get to underground water. The majority of feeder roots are actually in the top 12-16” of soil. Established trees (5 years and older) are best watered with soaker- or drip-irrigation hoses. A regular hose running at a trickle is much less effective, as the water often runs beyond the target zone and pools in unhelpful areas.

Water should not be targeted against the trunk of the tree. Tree trunks can become subject to disease and insect problems if moisture is concentrated next to the trunk. A tree’s “root zone” actually spreads 2 to 3 times wider than the tree’s canopy. Water must be applied directly to this target area. Watering for short bursts can lead to additional drought damage. Shallow watering forces oxygen out of the soil and results in oxygen starvation of a tree’s roots. What our trees need now is consistent, deep watering.

Trees need 10 gallons of water for every inch of diameter of trunk, measured 2 feet up the trunk of the tree. For example, a 7-inch diameter tree requires 70 gallons of water in each section of the root system covered by the soaker hose or stationary sprinkler. A hose open at half pressures takes five minutes to produce 10 gallons of water. Therefore, each section of a 7-inch diameter tree’s root zone must be watered for 35 minutes. It may take several days of watering to cover the entire root zone.

If there’s no rainfall, trees should be watered once a week during the growing season, continuing on a regular basis until rain returns. The arrival of winter does not mean it’s time to stop watering. Winter drought can affect both evergreen and young hardwood trees. Water once or twice per month between October and March on warm days as long as the ground is not frozen.

The best time to water is at night between 9pm and 8am, as trees refill water reserves during the night hours. Watering at night allows for effective use of water with less loss from evaporation. This assures that more water moves into the soil and tree. The second-best time to water is late afternoon.

The best way of knowing if you’re getting water deep enough into the soil is to use a screwdriver. It should glide through the soil in the area you just watered to the depth of at least 8-10 inches with little or no resistance. Don’t be surprised if you hit concrete-like soil about 3-4 inches down. Water in shortened sessions until able to get water to penetrate. Don’t be surprised to find the soil almost repelling the water until sufficiently hydrated.

Younger trees require a similar approach for watering, but the root area is much less. A tree needs about one year per inch of trunk at planting time to establish a root system. It’s very easy to overwater the soil surrounding a newly installed tree. The root mass and a few inches beyond are critical areas during the tree’s establishment period. Every year, roots expand into the surrounding soil, creating a wider area to be hydrated in dry periods.

Here at Lanoha Nurseries, we are happy to answer questions and walk tree owners through the watering process. We care about all trees and want to ensure that Omaha’s trees stay safe and healthy.

Call to speak with a Lanoha professional at 402-289-4103 or stop in the Garden Center at 192nd and West Center Road.