The Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association is the state’s oldest and largest green industry trade organization.
Started in 1925 as the Minnesota Nurserymen’s Association, today MNLA members include nurseries, garden centers, landscape designers, landscape contractors, irrigation contractors, tree care specialists, professional gardening services, commercial flower growers, and lawn and landscape management professionals.
The association aims to help these members operate their businesses more successfully by providing ongoing education, networking, legislative and regulatory representation, public relations, and financial benefits through group purchasing and other member services.
When you have a beautiful home, only the people you know well enough to invite inside are able to appreciate the interior design, the layout, the interesting details and millwork. When you have a beautiful yard, though, anyone passing by is able to appreciate the flowers, plants, and hardscape features. A professionally landscaped yard is a benefit to any neighborhood, but the benefits go far beyond looking pretty.
If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, investing in landscape design, trees, and other landscaping features can significantly add to your home’s value. According to peer-review research studies, “An improvement from average to good quality landscaping is associated with an increase in sale price of 5.7 percent, while an improvement from average to excellent quality landscaping increases sale price by 10.8 percent.”
Another benefit of landscaping is lower energy bills. Properly placed trees on the east, south, and west sides of your home can reduce heating and cooling costs while providing shelter from the elements. Plants, shrubs, brushes, and vines planted close to your house can also offer insulation.
Well-designed landscaping can protect the environment, too. Trees and vegetation control erosion, protect water supplies, provide food and create a habitat for wildlife, and clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Perhaps the most significant benefit to hiring a trained MNLA professional is simplicity. You won’t have to try to figure out through costly trial and error which plants to put where (in the sun? in the shade?) and what to do with certain “problem” spots. Trying to do landscaping, when you know little about the plants, the soil, the climate, can feel overwhelming and time-consuming. A professional can help ensure that your landscaping is not only beautiful, but long-lasting as well.
*See award-winning examples of MNLA members’ projects in the 2012 April/May issue of Midwest Home.
1. If the company is installing plant material, check to make sure they have a nursery inspection certificate from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. This ensures that the plant material they are providing has been grown in a nursery and not dug from the wild.
2. Check that the firm has a federal identification number designating them as a legitimate business.
3. Make sure that firm has a sales tax license and that they are insured.
4. Ask for customer references and then take the time to call those referrals.
5. Professionals arrive on time, take photographs, and take measurements or draw sketches of your property while they’re there.
6. Ask for an itemized list of plant materials and sizes that will be included in your project.
7. Make sure that the company provides a contract that specifies starting and completion dates. Allowances should be made for weather.
8. Firms that have certified nursery and landscape professionals on staff show that they are willing to take the extra step to ensure the professionalism of their employees, and the quality of their work.
In an effort to educate and excite the youth in our region about green industry careers, many MNLA members participate in the “Adopt a School” program, either providing fun lessons to grade school students about how to plant trees or grow plants, spending time at career fairs talking to students who are considering a career as a nursery grower or hardscape installer, or showing pictures of projects in career centers. It’s a great way for MNLA members to give back to the community while generating excitement among the youth. When these students get older, they can apply for the MNLA Foundation Academic Awards Scholarship Program, rewarding outstanding college students who have made horticulture or landscaping their career choice.
Here’s a guide to the various professionals who can take a dream and transform it into a beautiful landscape:
A person that is often educated at a university or technical college, specializing in the design of residential and commercial landscapes. Designs may include plantings, walkways, walls, water features, landscape lighting, firepits, outdoor kitchens and other similar features.
An individual that implements plans prepared by a landscape designer or landscape architect. A landscape contractor prepares the site and then installs plants and hardscaping (pavers, wall block, etc.) materials as described in the landscape plan. The company may bid on the project or work with the designer throughout the design process.
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 implement that plan.
A firm that specializes in the design, installation, and/or care of residential or commercial gardens.
A firm that specializes in maintaining residential or commercial-site turf grass. Services include mowing, trimming, seeding, and fertilizing. Employees that apply pesticide are trained and licensed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.