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Member Profile The Cutting Edge My Favorite Tool

Volume 35 No. 2 Feb 2013

Free Customer Research for Garden Centers

Also Inside

Pinterest: Your New Business Strategy

t h e o f f i c i a l p u b l i c at i o n o f t h e M I n n e s o ta N u r s e r y & L a n d s c a p e A s s o c i at i o n



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Howie Lee Kristal Bechtold (763) 786-6100 763-222-1913


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Darin Trees 952-913-0036

Volume 35 No. 2 Feb 2013

contents 29




17 The Cutting Edge What are property owners’ responsibilities for the trees in their yard? Be ready with answers and sell your professional tree care services.

29 Pinterest: Your New Marketing Strategy What could Pinterest mean for you and your landscape or garden center business? You could be driving a lot more traffic to your website.

33 Syringa ‘Declaration’ Debbie Lonnee writes about Declaration Lilac, gives recommendations on usage, and suggests that it may be hardier than you thought.

38 Free Customer Research for Garden Centers MNLA and MDA are offering garden centers a new member-only program that will give powerful insights into customer demographics, decision-making, and purchase trends.

43 Finding the Right Balance “We love plants. We know a lot about plants. But sometimes we forget what our customer ultimately wants: ideas to improve their own surroundings.”

49 Hope for Elms The American elm’s future as a landscape and boulevard tree.

52 We Can Become Profitable Beyond What We Imagine ANLA’s Bob Dolibois on gym shoes, generations and the future of horticulture.

63 The Future of Mulch? Concerns arise over supply of wood-based mulch.

78 Where Do Designers Find Their Inspiration?

8 Events 10 From the Interim Executive Director Big ideas for today’s gardening marketers 14 Member Profile Prescription Landscape 23 Can the Green Industry Be Greener? Life cycle assessment (LCA) measures full lifetime environmental impact of a process, product, or service 26 My Favorite Tool iTracker GPS 36 Magic from the Manual Why providing high-quality plants is a crucial part of being a true professional 46 Magic from the Manual How to get started on field production of nursery crops 60 Member News Aspen Equipment Company HR Award 66 Legislative Season It’s Issue Time Again 67 Word on the Street What led you to a career in the green industry? 70 Volunteers Needed! Grassroots Grows Results in MNLA government affairs program 72 Sales Tax Information Fact sheets for nursery and greenhouse plant production

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mnla .biz


Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association 1813 Lexington Ave. N. Roseville, MN 55113 651-633-4987 • Fax: 651-633-4986 Outside the metro area, toll free: 888-886-MNLA, Fax: 888-266-4986 •

MNLA Mission: The mission of the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association is to help members grow successful businesses.


debbie lonnee, mnla-cp, president

Bailey Nurseries, Inc. 651-768-3375 •

heidi heiland, mnla-cp, vice-president Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens 612-366-7766 •

herman roerick, secretary-treasurer

Central Landscape Supply 320-252-1601 •

bert swanson, mnla-cp, past president Swanson’s Nursery Consulting, Inc. 218-732-3579 •

randy berg, mnla-cp

Berg’s Nursery, Landscape/Garden Center 507-433-2823 •

scott frampton

Landscape Renovations 651-769-0010 •

tim malooly, cid, clia, cic

Water in Motion 763-559-7771 •

mike mcnamara

Hoffman & McNamara Nursery & Landscaping 651-437-9463 •

bill mielke

Waconia Tree Farms LLC 612-237-1728 •

cassie larson, cae

MNLA Interim Executive Director 651-633-4987 •

Staff Directory

interim executive director:

Cassie Larson, CAE •

membership director & trade show manager:

Mary Dunn, CEM • communications director: Jon Horsman • executive assistant: Susan Flynn • receptionist: Jessica Pratt • accountant: Norman Liston •

mnla foundation program director: Jodi Larson •

advertising sales:

Pierre Productions & Promotions • 763-295-5420 Betsy Pierre, Advertising Manager •

government affairs consultants:

Doug Carnival, Legislative Affairs Tim Power, Interim Government Affairs Director


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february 13

ad list

Volume 35 No. 2 Feb 2013

➾ sectio n title

A Top Notch Equipment ................................................................................... 28 Albert J. Lauer, Inc. ........................................................................................... 65 Anchor Block Company .................................................................................... 59 Ancom Communication & Technical Center .................................................... 12 Anderson Nurseries, Inc. .................................................................................. 71 Belgard Hardscapes ......................................................................................... 18 Bork Tree Farms ................................................................................................ 27 Carlin Horticultural Supplies/ProGreen Plus ..................................................... 12 Casualty Assurance ........................................................................................... 15 Central Landscape Supply ................................................................................ 74 Cushman Motor Co. Inc ................................................................................... 20 D. Hill Nursery Co. ............................................................................................ 42 Dailey Data ....................................................................................................... 18 Dayton Bag & Burlap ........................................................................................ 25 Evergreen Nursery Co., Inc. ............................................................................. 59 Fahey Sales Agency, Inc. .................................................................................. 45 Frost Services ................................................................................................... 42 Gardenworld, Inc. ............................................................................................. 45 Glacial Ridge Growers ...................................................................................... 59 GM Fleet and Commercial ................................................................................. 3 Great Northern Equipment Distributing, Inc. ................................................... 57 Hedberg Landscape & Masonry Supplies ........................................................ 32 Iowa Lakes Community College ....................................................................... 71 Jeff Belzer Chevrolet .................................................................................. 40–41 Kage Innovation ............................................................................................... 28 Klaus Nurseries ................................................................................................. 25 Kubota Dealers ................................................................................................... 7 Landscape Alternatives .................................................................................... 45 L&M Products, Inc. ........................................................................................... 62 Maguire Agency ............................................................................................... 74 Natural Industries ............................................................................................. 68 Out Back Nursery ............................................................................................. 74 Plaisted Companies .......................................................................................... 21 Quality Insurance Service ................................................................................. 71 RDO Equipment Co. ........................................................................................ 20 SA Fleet ............................................................................................................ 25 Synthetic Turf Solutions of MN ......................................................................... 13 The Builders Group .......................................................................................... 68 Titan Machinery ................................................................................................. 2 Tri-State Bobcat, Inc. .................................................................................. 22, 77 Truck Utilities & Mfg. Co.................................................................................... 57 Unilock Chicago, Inc ......................................................................................... 11 United Label & Sales ........................................................................................ 71 University of Minnesota Continuing Education ................................................ 48 University of Wisconsin — River Falls ............................................................... 25 Walters Gardens, Inc. ......................................................................................... 4 Wolf Motors ...................................................................................................... 74 Ziegler CAT ................................................................................................... OBC

All original works, articles or formats published in The Scoop are © Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association, 2013, and may not be used without written permission of MNLA. The Scoop is published 12 times per year by MNLA, 1813 Lexington Ave N., Roseville MN 55113. Address corrections should be sent to the above address.



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➾ ca lend ar

MNLA Event


MNLA Event


Green Industry Day on the Hill

Webinar Raingarden Installation

feb12 Emerald Ash Borer Symposium A conference from the leading researchers and management experts on Emerald Ash Borer. 651-633-4987 Raingardens continue to grow as a popular amenity for residential, commercial and public space landscapes. This seminar will review the materials and installation process of successful raingarden projects.

Kelly Inn, St. Paul 651-633-4987 This annual government affairs event is an opportunity to make personal connections with legislators that will provide greater political strength to MNLA as an organization and, thus, ultimately to your business.

MNLA Event

mar 20–21

MNLA Event

mar15 Dakota County Technical College, Rosemount 651-633-4987 Sit for the exam to become an MNLA Certified Professional.


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february 13

Pesticide Certification Workshop & Exam

MNLA Certification Exam

Dorsey Ewald Conference Center, St. Paul 651-633-4987 Prepare for the category A and E pesticide applicator certification exam by attending this 1½ day study program. Day 2 includes testing, if desired.

MNLA Event

mar7 Landscape Design Technology: Computer Aided Software Available For The Green Industry Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park 651-633-4987 This course will cover basic techniques for the idea exploration, visualization and communication using the some of the latest digital software programs (Dynascape Design, Dynascape Color, Sketchup, Visionscape), with the primary focus being on the creation of objects via computer modeling in the third dimension.

2013 MNLA seminars generously supported by John Deere Landscapes

mar 12–13 Minnesota Shade Tree Short Course Changing Climates — Challenged Communities. This is a two-day course for everyone involved in urban forestry and arboriculture.

MNLA Event

mar 26–27 ICPI Level I Concrete Paver Installer Certification Program Midland Hills Country Club, St. Paul 651-633-4987 The two-day classroom course, followed by exam, is designed to enhance the knowledge of individuals involved in the construction of interlocking concrete pavements.

MNLA Event



Webinar pruning

23rd Annual Hedberg Contractor Education Day Attend a full day of seminars, networking, exhibits and more. 651-633-4987 Learn the basics of tree and shrub pruning. Information will cover both the theory behind pruning and practical information to be used in your everyday pruning. 

MNLA Event


MNLA Event


Landscape Lighting Essentials (PLT Relicensure) Roseville Skating Center, Roseville 651-633-4987 This class provides eight hours of Power Limited Training credit orientated specifically towards the landscape lighting specialist.


Event Education

Pesticide Certification Workshop & Exam

TIES Conference Center, St. Paul 651-633-4987 Prepare for the category A and E pesticide applicator certification exam by attending this 1½ day study program. Day 2 includes testing, if desired.

APR 6–10 Tree Care Advisor Core Course University of Minnesota Core Course Training is the base training for the TCA. It consists of 30 hours spread among several weeks and is limited to 20 participants to ensure individualized attention. Training is a combination of lecture, applied exercises, and hands-on experiences.

Certification ➾

All information on these and other industry events are online at

Shade tree short course photo courtesy of David Hansen, UMAES

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mnla .biz


➾ fro m the interim e x ecu tive direct o r

The Gardening Consumer is Not Dead Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a webinar presented by Kip Creel of Standpoint entitled “Big Ideas for Today’s Gardening Marketers.” Creel and his team set out to gain an understanding of consumer values as they relate to the green industry and its product offerings.

Cassie Larson, CAE

MNLA Interim Executive Director

editors note: The MNLA board of directors has appointed a search committee which initiated a national search for the next permanent MNLA executive director. Their goal is to have the role filled by April 1.

in order to understand where these values come from, he presented us with a few macro trends within the US economy that I thought important to pass along. • The age distribution of the United States is changing. Long story short, the population is aging. Studies show that for most households, expenditures on home improvement (including lawn and garden) peak at age 55 then steadily decline. Part of our current malaise is due to the aging Baby Boomers — the leading edge of which is approaching age 65. There is not an immediate replacement market coming. That is, the number of homeowners age 35–50 is historically small (as a percent of our total population). The good news is that our future replacement market is strong. That is, those currently aged 20–35 is large in number.

Pinterest: Your New Business Strategy Free Customer Research for Garden Centers

Also Inside

The central ingredient to a revived lawn and garden market is to re-ignite the cycle of household formation. Currently, we have two headwinds: Member Profile The Cutting Edge My Favorite Tool

• Employment growth is lackluster. College graduates simply cannot afford to form their own household. In fact, 46% of those aged 20–24 still live with their parents and 18% of those 25–29 still live with their parents.

Volume 35 No. 2 Feb 2013

• College debt has risen at an alarming rate. In 1995 the average college debt upon graduation t h e o f f i c i a l p u b l i c at i o n o f t h e M i n n e s o ta n u r s e r y & l a n d s c a p e a s s o c i at i o n

on the cover

Syringa ‘Declaration’ was released in 2006 and while originally declared only zone 5 hardy, it has performed beautifully in the Twin Cities and could potentially be zone 3 hardy as well. Read more about this plant in Debbie Lonnee’s story on page 33. 10

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february 13

was around $10,000. In 2011, it was nearly $23,000. If they can’t buy their own home, they will likely not have a need/use for green industry products. • Finally, the median family income is down or stagnant. In 2012, the median was down nearly $4,000 per family. With income being stagnant at best and costs of goods and services continuing to rise, disposable income goes down and plants don’t often make it into the necessity category. At this point, economists predict that we’re still looking at 6–8 years to get back to where we were. In order to increase household formation the great American job engine needs to come back to life. Creel and his team lead focus groups and completed consumer surveys to try to understand what the gardening consumer values as it relates to plants. Their ultimate discovery was that between 1998 (when they did a similar compilation) and 2012 consumer values have primarily stayed the same. Consumers continue to value: • Quality • Garden Performance • Unique Colors/Varieties • Reducing the Fear of Failure; and • New Uses for Plants Creel explained that, “Several of these values offer potential growth areas for the garden/landscape market. For the green industry to grow it needs to figure out ways to monetize expertise, increase family engagement, and simplify for consumers.” In addition to their research on consumer values, The Standpoint Group went a step further and hosted


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➾ fro m the interim e x ecu tive direct o r

an innovation workshop with a select focus group. The results of this workshop provided answers to the question “How Can You Effectively Add Value to Your Plants?” The ideas generated were as follows: 1. Innovate Your Packaging — provide watering reminders (mobile texts, etc.), include a “shipped on” or “plant by” date (like milk or beer) and/or include multiple pots with the plant for transplanting. 2. Innovate Your Product Claims — “this plant helps reduce stress,” or “this plant has an appealing scent”, etc.

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february 13

3. Innovate Your Product Uses — Co-package seeds and the finished plant to promote a “pass it along” campaign, create a plant registry (like a bridal registry and ideal for housewarming gifts), attach something to the plant to make it more memorable (candy cane, pinwheel, watering can), or start a personally inspected by/seal of approval program. 4. Offer something that Solves a Known Consumer Problem — Include a moisture content or nutrient measuring device with a plant purchase or sell the plant in a pot that promotes plant health. All of this to say, the gardening consumer is not dead, just changing. Are you adjusting your business model to stay current with these and other consumer values and trends? Whatever you do, don’t be satisfied with the status quo. For more information on Kip Creel and The Standpoint group visit cassie larson

can be reached at:

➾ member profile

member profile Prescripti o n L a ndsc a pe Meta L. Levin

Interview with Ryan Foudray, President and COO

Prescripti o n L a ndsc a pe

Saint Paul, MN

Prescription Landscape is committed to taking extra steps to train and develop its people. That dedication is so strong that when searching for a new facility, company officials placed high priority on a building with adequate classroom space. They found it last year, and moved into a new headquarters in Saint Paul, MN. founded in 1980 by two recent college graduates with a truck and degrees in horticulture, Prescription Landscape has gradually grown into a $10 million company with locations in Saint Paul and Crystal. Operating out of their homes, Colin O’Neil and Mike Tiechert incorporated the company in 1984. It wasn’t long before they needed more space and moved first to Little Canada and finally to Saint Paul. Tiechert recently retired.

Their newest facility features a large employee development area with television monitors, as well as wheeled tables and chairs that

14 mnla .biz

february january 13 13

To better serve their customers, two years ago Prescription Landscape implemented a cell structure.

can be moved into different configurations. “We’ve always had a development program, but now we can get 20 to 30 people in the room at one time,” says Ryan Foudray, COO and president. The facility also includes twice the office space of the former headquarters building and quadruple the yard space of the previous location. Landscape management and snow and ice removal comprises the majority of Prescription Landscape’s offerings, but they also offer fertilization, irrigation management, enhancement services (such as aeration, seasonal color, lot sweeping, plant replacement, and seeding), as well as some landscape design and installation. “If we get the grounds maintenance contract, we typically get the enhancement, fertilization and irrigation — the details that give the property curb appeal,” says Foudray. In the last several years Foudray has watched as three major trends have affected the landscape industry: aggressive pricing, the green movement and an explosion in technology. “People are starting to look for green avenues,” he says. Prescription Landscape has always tried to be green friendly, but they have found that in the majority of cases, budget trumps environmental concerns with their clients. That will only change as more and more competitively priced green products come on the market. In the meantime, technology has become an important part of the way that the company does business. All account managers have iPads and crew leads have iPhones. “Our employees are pushing the technology as they find ways to do more with less and be more efficient,” says Foudray. The use of cutting edge technology has allowed faster and better communication, both among employees and between employee and customer.

The advance of technology also means they are dealing with a better-educated client. “When they have a problem, they not only talk with us, but they also look it up online,” says Foudray. To better meet the demand for immediate and accurate information, Prescription Landscape uses its technologically enhanced communication abilities to allow account managers to contact colleagues who are experts in a particular area. “It’s a collaborative environment,” he says. To better serve their customers, two years ago Prescription Landscape implemented a cell structure. Each cell is headed by an account manager and includes a production/training supervisor, as well as a grounds crew and any other specialty crews necessary for each job. Part of the company culture empowers employees to make decisions to meet clients’ needs. “We want them to do what is right for the customer,” says Foudray. MNLA members since its early years, the company always has taken advantage of networking and educational opportunities. They participate in the Northern Green Expo each year. Foudray, who has been with Prescription Landscape for a decade, recently served in an MNLA focus group where he pushed for more training opportunities. “They’re working toward that,” he says. In the meantime, company employees take advantage of educational opportunities and some of them hold MNLA certifications. “You may pay a little more for a guy who is more efficient, but you are going to save in the long run,” says Foudray. “The better trained they are, the better for everyone.”

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cutting egde The tornados of May 2011 caused an unprecedented amount of tree damage around Minneapolis. As people ponder the possibility of maybe another spring storm, it is only natural to start looking around for problems which may remain. Read my interview with lawyer Patrick McGuiness as I ask him some general questions about property owners’ responsibility for the trees in their yard. You may find this information useful in answering your clients’ questions and in selling professional tree care services. Faith Appelquist | Treequality, LLC and Patrick McGuiness | Zlimen & McGuiness, PLLC

Northern green Expo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

Jeff Belzer Chevrolet ................................7

Continued from page 10 the property maintenance after the project is complete, and this maintenance plan is presented to the client with the designs and bids. The answer to maintaining a beautiful new garden, landscape or patio might lie outside the walls of the company that designed or installed the project. If your company is not set up to maintain landscapes after the installation, refer a qualified maintenance company, gardener or property manager. Maintenance crews need proper training about specific materials and components installed. The proper maintenance plan and team will enable you to build long-lasting relationships with clients and also help you grow your professional network. Whether it is a licensed arborist, master gardener, reliable irrigation technician, artistic lighting designer or other contractor, these services are all part of what I consider to be a quality maintenance team. Learn to include short term and long term maintenance services in your bidding process. Build relationships with other maintenance professionals to utilize their expertise. Exceed client expectations and go that extra mile by helping clients understand quality maintenance is essential to the ongoing appearance, function and value of their property. q _________________________________________________ Seth Midura is a member of the MNLA Landscape Design Committee and can be reached at 4 | August 2012


ust ask Van why he chose CounterPoint and Dailey Data as his POS solution providers for Malmborg’s Garden Centers:

“CounterPoint and Dailey Data have helped us become more profitable by improving our purchasing with detailed historical sales information, as well as controlling our margins by identifying return items and limiting inventory losses with controlled receiving procedures. “I highly recommend Dailey Data and CounterPoint to others in our industry because they have the hands-on experience to understand the specific needs of the Nursery, Greenhouse, and Garden Center businesses.” ~ Van Cooley Malmborg’s Garden Centers

Want to know more? Call or email for a no-obligation survey and ROI analysis for your company. 12 | July 2012

➾ cu tting edge

Photo courtesy of Vineland Tree Care

What follows are some general guidelines about the law as it relates to trees. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation and set of facts is unique, so it is best to contact a qualified attorney if you have any questions or need guidance about a specific situation. Q: My tree fell onto my neighbor’s property. Who is responsible to remove it and fix the damage? Patrick: The responsibility of maintaining and removing a tree falls to the owner of the tree. Minnesota courts determine ownership of a tree by its location and the intent of the parties. If the entire tree trunk is on your property then you are the sole owner of the tree and are responsible for its maintenance. However, if the tree falls on the boundary of the neighbor and your property, then Courts will look to who has bared the cost of tree maintenance. Either one or both parties can own a tree. In the Shade of A Tree: Analyzing the Tree-Related Legal Problem, Bench & B. Minn., MARCH 2002, at 21.

Q: Who owns the wood? Patrick: The ownership of the wood

and all products that come from a tree are property of the tree owner. In Minnesota, the leading case on this issue is Skinner v. Wilder. In Skinner, Plaintiff’s apple tree stood six feet from the main line, its branches extending over and its roots into defendant’s lot. The court held that the tree and its product was the property of plaintiff, entitling him to maintain an action for a conversion for fruit taken by

defendant from branches overhanging his land.

accident; and 3) the accident could not have been prevented by using reasonable care.

Skinner v. Wilder, 38 Vt. 115 (1865).

Vanden Broucke v. Lyon County, 301 Minn. 399, 222 N.W.2d 792 (1974).

Q: My neighbor’s tree didn’t come down in the last storm, but it’s dead or diseased and I’m worried about the next storm. What should I do?

Q: My neighbor’s tree branches overhang my property and are shading my entire back yard. I would like to trim them back to the property line. Isn’t this my right?

Patrick: Your neighbor can be held liable

Patrick: Even if your neighbor owns the tree,

for any damage the tree causes if it comes down in the next storm. The test for liability is whether the tree owner knew or should have known that the damage was likely to happen. The best thing to do would be to talk to your neighbor about the hazards of the tree and come to an agreement about the tree and its safety before the next storm hits. In the Shade of A Tree: Analyzing the Tree-Related Legal Problem, Bench & B. Minn., MARCH 2002, at 21, 23.

There is an “Act of God” exception to the liability rule. If the tree fell because of an Act of God, the owner is not held responsible. However, to qualify as an Act of God in negligence cases, all of the following elements are needed: 1) the accident must have happened from a force of nature that was both unexpected and unforeseeable; 2) that force must have been the sole cause of the

you have the right to prune back the branches that create a nuisance on your property. “Anything which is injurious to health, or indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property, is a nuisance.” Minn. Stat. §561.01. In Minnesota, you have several options to handle the encroaching branches. First, courts encourage self-help with discretion. Guidelines for self-help include: • Prune only up to the boundary line

— at your own expense. • Don’t trespass. Get permission to

enter onto the neighbor’s property to do the pruning, unless the encroaching branches or roots threaten to cause imminent harm to your property. • Don’t cut down a tree whose trunk

is located on the neighbor’s property, february 13

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➾ cu tting edge

even if the branches stray onto your property. • Maintain, don’t destroy. Don’t

jeopardize the health of the tree or cause foreseeable injury. For example, pruning an oak tree from April through September could make the tree vulnerable to oak wilt, a virulent disease. Or pruning a tree’s roots could destabilize the tree and cause it to topple over. • Seek the opinion of a certified

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arborist, about the tree’s condition. Look for the arborist’s membership in professional organizations, such as the Minnesota Society of Arboriculture (MSA), the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), or the National Arborist Association (NAA). In the Shade of A Tree: Analyzing the Tree-Related Legal Problem, Bench & B. Minn., MARCH 2002, at 21, 2.

Q: What other options do I have? Patrick: Your second option, if self-help is not practical or reasonable, is to go to court for an injunction or other equitable remedies to have the nuisance removed. Either option is limited to the portion of the tree that encroaches on your property; you cannot invade the property of your neighbor.

The best option in any tree dispute is to talk with your neighbor. It is best to establish earlier who owns the tree and who will be responsible for its maintenance and damage caused by the tree. It is better to discuss with your neighbor before you take any action because you can be held liable to any damage to their property, including the tree. Q: Doesn’t removing branches or roots damage a tree? Patrick: The prudent landowner should first

determine what negative effect such cutting or removal of the roots might have on the adjoining landowner’s tree, and then determine what alternatives are available to prevent such harm. It’s best to hire a professional to guide you through these decisions. can be reached at

faith appelquist

can be reached at

patrick mcguiness


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february 13

➾ R ese a rch f or the R e a l Wo rld

Life Cycle Assessment: Can the Green Industry Be Greener? Life cycle assessment (LCA), also called life cycle analysis, ecobalance analysis and cradle-to-grave analysis, seems to be one of the buzz phrases of the day.

Dr. James Calkins

Research Information Director MNLA Foundation

lca is a quantitative, scientific methodology used to measure the environmental impact or footprint of a process, product, or service over its lifetime and is used to calculate and analyze the lifetime ecological impacts of a product or service from the acquisition of raw materials to death or disposal including recycling or reuse. Based on a concept developed in the early 1960’s, life cycle analysis methodologies have evolved and become more sophisticated and widely applied over the years. The use of these methodologies was initially limited to the public sector, but they are now used routinely in the private sector. Most recently they have been increasingly applied to agricultural systems, products, and services. Depending on the purpose and breadth of a specific analysis, ecological, health, social, cultural, and economic impacts can also be included. An assessment that is primarily focused on costs is called a life cycle cost analysis. Assessments can also be used to analyze specific stages of a process or a product’s life (e.g., production phase, use phase, post-life stage). A production phase assessment focuses on the activities, materials, and impacts involved in the manufacture or production of a product, a use phase assessment focuses on the activities, materials, and impacts associated with the operation and maintenance of the product, and the post-life stage assessment focuses on the impacts of the product when it is recycled, reused, or disposed of as waste at the end of its life cycle. Whenever a product can be recycled or reused, the potential for benefits is high. Nursery and landscape examples include recycled or reused nursery containers, shade cloth, or greenhouse film and the capture and reuse of stormwater or irrigation runoff. The impacts of transportation and distribution activities are also accounted for in life cycle assessments. Life cycle assessments have been variously applied to buildings, highways, manufacturing and distribution

processes, packaging systems, waste management efforts, energy use, and just about any product or service. Potential nursery and landscape applications include nursery (field and container) and greenhouse production systems, fruit and vegetable crop production systems, landscape design and implementation, irrigation management, fertility and pest management, landscape management services (plant management, snow and ice management). As illustrated by these examples, the focus of an assessment can be broad-based or very specific depending on the aims of the assessment. A recent article published in the June 2012 issue of HortTechnology provides an interesting overview and discussion of LCA as a tool for understanding the environmental impacts of horticultural production systems and for communicating a commitment to the environment and the potential benefits of horticultural crops to consumers. An example specifically discussed by the authors involves the use of the LCA methodology to quantify the carbon footprint associated with the production of a 2-inch caliper red maple (Acer rubrum), the functional unit used as the basis for the assessment, in a field production setting and during the life of the tree. In this example: • The primary contributors to the carbon footprint were associated with the equipment used during the field production phase and the transport and transplantation of the tree. • More than 50% of the carbon footprint was related to harvest. • The carbon footprint information could be used to compare alternative production strategies and reduce the carbon footprint associated with production. february 13

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➾ Resea rch f or the R e a l Wo rld

Figure 1. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), wherein the inputs and environmental impacts of a process/production system, product, or service are determined and analyzed for comparative purposes and to improve efficiencies and reduce environmental impacts, is increasingly being applied to horticultural products and activities. (Photo credit: Jim Calkins).

industry can play a leading and important role in protecting and enhancing the environment and by doing so can improve its standing with consumers who are becoming increasingly attentive to environmental concerns. As with any product or system, there is always room for improvement and the information and insight provided by life cycle assessments can result in better informed decisions and an improved understanding of the trade-offs. Combined with new and emerging technologies, these outcomes can help the nursery and landscape industry and its partners maximize efficiencies and benefits and minimize the negative environmental impacts of green industry products and services. Citation: Ingram, D.L. and R.T. Fernandez. 2012. Life Cycle Assessment: A Tool for Determining the Environmental Impact of Horticultural Crop Production. HortTechnology 22(3):275-279. http://horttech. (abstract only)

The life cycle assessment methodology includes four primary phases or steps:

For additional information about life cycle assessment and its horticultural applications, see the following selected references:

Goal and Scope — defining the goals, scope, and boundaries of the life cycle assessment; includes identification of the functional unit upon which the assessment is based.

Franze, J, and A. Ciroth. 2011. A Comparison of Cut Roses from Ecuador and the Netherlands. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 16(4):366-379.

Life Cycle Inventory or Inventory Analysis — data collection; a listing of inputs and outputs (raw materials, water, energy, emissions, etc.) and their environmental impacts. Life Cycle Impact Assessment or more simply Impact Assessment — assessment of the environmental impacts of the life cycle inventory components (impact of burning a certain amount of diesel fuel). Interpretation — review and analysis leading to the development of conclusions and recommendations designed to reduce the impact of the product or service on the environment.

• The benefits of carbon sequestration during the life of the maple tree during production and in the landscape would be substantial. • In addition to carbon sequestration, other ecological services would also be realized throughout the life of the tree (the use phase) including reduced energy use for heating and cooling related to shading and windbreak effects, oxygen production, stormwater management, and other benefits; these benefits could also be used in an expanded cost/benefit analysis. • The carbon footprint would also be influenced by removal and disposal activities upon death of the tree and benefits might be realized if the waste was in some fashion recycled or reused. • Carbon sequestration during the life of the tree would dwarf the carbon footprint related to production, transport, transplantation, and disposal. How green is the green industry and can it be greener? Carefully designed life cycle assessments can help provide the answers to these questions. Sustainability is becoming the standard and the green 24

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Nienhuis, J.K. and P.J.A, de Vreede. 1996. Utility of the Environmental Life Cycle Assessment Methods in Horticulture. Acta Horticulturae 429: 531-538. (abstract only) Hendricks, P. 2012. Life Cycle Assessment of Greenhouse Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) Production in Southwestern Ontario. Masters Thesis. University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario. Canada. http://atrium. Ingram, D.L. 2012. Life Cycle Assessment of a Field-grown Red Maple Tree to Estimate its Carbon Footprint Components. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 17:453–462. article/10.1007%2Fs11367-012-0398-7?LI=true#page-2 Additional resources related to life cycle assessment: International Journal for Life Cycle Assessment; the first journal devoted to publishing life cycle assessment research and the go-to resource for keeping up with LCA methodologies; http://link.springer. com/journal/11367 National Risk Management Research Laboratory’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Website; United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); purpose is to promote the use of LCA to make more informed decisions through a better understanding of the human health and environmental impacts of products, processes, and activities; http://www. “Life Cycle Assessment: Principles and Practice” (an EPA document); provides an introductory overview of Life Cycle Assessment and describes the general uses and major components of LCA; available at International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Life Cycle Assessment Standards; ISO 14040:2006 / Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Principles and Practices; ISO 14044 / Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Requirements and Guidelines; +14044+Environmental+Management+Life+Cycle+Assessment+Package to comment on this month’s update,

suggest research topics of interest, or pass along a piece of research-based information that might be of interest to your industry colleagues, please email us at

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➾ my favorite tool


favorite tool iTr acker G PS

Becky Marini

Aspen Equipment

it’s early morning, about 3:00 a.m. and instead of dreaming, Wayne Bollinger, president of Greener Grass Systems, is awake and tracking his fleet. Bollinger explains, “The Turtle Lake Police Department woke me to say that my 1993 Chevrolet flatbed K1500 truck was found, after being stolen from my lot in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin,” says Bollinger. “I immediately started tracking it with my iTracker GPS software to follow its trail,” which really impressed the police. “Even if the police did not call, I was going to find the truck using the iTracker — which is truly peace of mind!”

The software showed that the stolen truck left the Greener Grass Systems lot at 1:50 a.m. Aug. 29, 2012. Bollinger explains, “I printed a Tracking Report for the police showing exactly where and when the truck moved...and when it stopped at a casino.” The undamaged pickup was recovered in the Almena Truck Center parking lot, where a semi-tractor was stolen.

becky marini can be reached at


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“I originally got iTracker about a year and a half ago from an efficiency of operations standpoint to save time and fuel,” says Bollinger. “As a lawn, landscape and irrigation solution company, we have been able to see increased productivity which resulted in increased revenue, while

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reducing 5% of operational costs using IndusTrack’s GPS tracking solution. It’s also helpful to assist guys in getting to locations and I use Bread Crumb Trails to evaluate routes.” With about 40 trucks on the road per day, now Greener Grass Systems can see which truck is the closest to the next stop, increasing productivity and reducing fuel costs. “Ironically, Raz Bajwa, CEO of Plymouth, Minnesota-based IndusTrack, was at the Greener Grass Systems office the day before the theft doing updates on installed components. IndusTrack updates their software and firmware continually — and we’ve had no downtime at all.” “Now we’re empowered to provide valuable GPS tracking report information which police used to recover the stolen truck quickly,” says Bollinger. The information may also help prosecute a suspect with a record of repeat vehicular thefts. “It’s another level of protection,” he said. “Like a security system, you hope you don’t have to use it, but I’m sure happy I upgraded my fleet to the IndusTrack GPS system the day before the truck was stolen!” According to Raz Bajwa of IndusTrack, “We’re pleased to be one local company helping another local company preserve their business. To be able to assist in the recovery of the Greener Grass Systems’ work truck so that they can continue to generate revenue with that machine is why we’re here. We’re extra pleased that their investment paid off immediately and made a stressful event easier to manage!” Many years ago, Greener Grass Systems had a theft of a vehicle by a former employee. “It was another wake-up call early in the morning!” Bollinger said. “But back then, without a GPS tracking system it was a lengthy, arduous process of trying to get the details of what happened, when and where. It was exhausting and frustrating compared to the ease of the IndusTrack solution — it’s my new favorite tool!”

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pinterest: Much More Than An Online Scrapbook

Your New Business Strategy By now you’ve surely heard about Pinterest…the fastest growing social media platform to date. In the last year its unique visitor hits increased 1,047%! By February of 2012, 11 million unique visitors had entered the site. Nine months later, by November, this number increased to over 27 million. That’s a lot of people! Jacqui Austin |

february 13

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âžž pint Erest


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february 13


’d like to introduce you to Pinterest, your new social media friend. What could Pinterest mean for you and your landscape or garden center business? What if I told you this is an easy and free way to get your URL (website address) out to hundreds, maybe thousands, of viewers? No, you don’t need a list and you don’t need to send out emails. Simply create a “bulletin board” with pictures and videos of your products, facilities, staff or whatever shows your green industry business. Incidentally, a bulletin board like this could be the centerpiece of your newsletters or other advertising/marketing pieces. Therefore, you’re not “wasting” your time or duplicating your marketing efforts. Let me tell you about a recent experience. An experience that your business can easily recreate... A few weeks ago, I received an email. It showed a beautiful and colorful garden and immediately grabbed my attention. It prominently displayed the Pinterest logo in the upper right hand corner. When I clicked it, I landed on the company’s Pinterest page showing its collection of Pinterest “boards.” The boards were themed and each contained pictures or “pins.” Board titles included: Shady Perennials, Early Spring Fragrance, Fall Colors, etc. Each pin had a key-word rich description, making it easy for search engines. (Yes! Boards and pins are crawled by the search engines.) And, this is important; Pinterest labels every pin with the original website’s URL. This means when you create a board and pin images to it, your URL will be permanently affixed to the image. Therefore, if you repin another website’s picture onto your board, the image will show the other website’s URL and you will be marketing for that business. That’s probably not what you want. So use your own images. Remember that beautiful picture in the email? The picture’s label included “via Pinterest.” Clicking on it led me to one of the company’s specific boards. This means you can insert a Pinterest picture into an email, send it out and drive traffic to a specific board with pictures of similar products. So? Well, you can also add prices in the pins’ descriptions. As every pin has a link back to the company’s website, the ones with prices can link directly to an order page. The board can act like a sales catalog for your garden center or wholesale business. However, that’s not all. This is where Pinterest can really work for a company. Pinterest fans “repin” images they find by searching or “following” such as done on Twitter. This means your business may display a board of “Red Roses.” A viewer may re-pin one of those pins onto her board entitled “Romantic Touches.” That pin or board will be seen by others who continue to re-pin and share. EVERY time your original picture is repinned, your website’s URL goes with it. Every person who re-pins that picture is very likely to visit your site. In fact, Pinterest now drives more traffic to websites than any

other social media.

It gets better. You can put the Pinterest “pin-it” button on your business website. When a person comes to your site, from Pinterest or elsewhere, if ool c w o H they like an image, they can pin-it to their board. Again, your site’s URL is that? is linked automatically to the image and will continue to follow this image every time it is shared. However, if for some reason you don’t want the images on your site to be pinned, you can put coding on your site to disallow pinning. As it’s unlikely you are selling your images (thus worried about copyright violations), you probably wouldn’t want to discourage re-pinning. february 13

mnla .biz


➾ pint Erest

Here are some other reasons to consider using

In January 2012, LinkedIn visitors spent an average of 19 minutes browsing LinkedIn. Pinterest viewers spent 100 minutes browsing the Pinterest site! Now, there are over 1.36 million daily viewers on Pinterest. Over 1 million per day! In the US, women are the main Pinterest users. Of these viewers, 28% have annual incomes in excess of $100,000. What does this mean to you and your business, particularly if it is a garden center? After all, most garden center customers are women who spend money...doesn’t that sound like a good match? Pinterest is free. Online instructions are easy to follow. Take your pictures and edit them. Create your boards. Upload your pins to the boards, add a description (add a price, if you want), link to a specific website page, and share to the world. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your pins will spread, taking your website and message along with it.

How quic kly I pinned a picture of Nandina domestica from a d oes garden show on a Sunday at noon. It was a nice Pinterest picture, but I’m not a great photographer. In the m ove? next three hours, it was re-pinned nine times, two

people began following me, and three people made comments. But don’t know where to start? Numerous free tools are available at other sites. It’s easy to put text on a Wa nt to ize picture, manipulate the colors, and put a border m cu sto otos? around it by using the wide variety of tools at h p your This creates an extremely attractive pin…one that is sure to be repinned. Use the tools at to produce “tall pins.” Because these are larger than most pins, they are repinned and commented upon more frequently. Visit to quickly and easily create an infographic. You can also run contests using Pinterest. Save time by linking Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. A free dashboard tool to monitor boards, set up campaigns and schedule pinning is at Free, easy, fun, effective, what else can you ask for? I don’t work for Pinterest but I’m sure it will work for you! jacqui austin works with garden centers to effectively communicate with specific target audiences to attract and retain customers. She can be reached at: or (206) 769-1531.


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Hedberg Scoop FEB2013outl.indd 1

12/19/2012 8:58:47 AM

Syringa ‘Declaration’



One of my favorite spring blooming shrubs is the lilac. Most industry veterans are familiar with the French hybrid lilacs, as well as the dwarf forms, such as ‘Miss Kim’ or dwarf Korean lilac, but there has been some recent breeding work done resulting in some very superior new selections that cold-climate landscapers should consider using. Debbie Lonnee | Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Syringa ‘Declaration’ Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries.

➾ cover st ory

Syringa ‘Declaration’ Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries


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Syringa ‘Declaration’ Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries


he U.S. National Arboretum has had a lilac hybridization program for years, and they have released a number of new introductions whose names honor the patriotic role lilacs have played in U.S. history. This new series is called the “U.S. Flag” series. ‘Declaration’ is one of three cultivars in this series and it is a spring-blooming beauty. Hybridized by Dr. Don Egolf in 1978, it was a controlled interspecific cross between Syringa ‘Sweet Charity’ and Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Pocahontas’. It was released in 2006 and while originally declared only zone 5 hardy, it has performed beautifully in the Twin Cities and could potentially be zone 3 hardy as well. It was selected for its very large inflorescences, which can be up to 15" long. The flowers are extremely fragrant and are a dark reddish-purple in color. Each individual floret in the flower is very large. The plant itself can reach a mature height of 8' and spread to almost 7', creating a rounded form. It can be used in a foundation planting, or makes a great natural hedge for screening purposes. The foliage is the classic green of Syringa and unfortunately does not make a great fall color show. Best grown in full sun sites, and well-drained average soils, lilacs in general are extremely easy to grow. Some old Syringa cultivars are magnets for powdery mildew, but ‘Declaration’ is very clean and disease resistant. It is propagated via softwood cuttings. If you are interested in the other two plants in this series, they are ‘Betsy Ross’, which is probably the best white cultivar I have ever seen, as well as ‘Old Glory’, which has bluishpurple flowers.

debbie lonnee

can be reached at

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mnla .biz


➾ ma gic fr om the m anua l

magic manual from the

g a rden center Mark Armstead

Linder’s Garden Center

compared nursery-type operations with non-nursery operations with the following results:

a california survey

Reasons for buying plants at non-nursery stores: 1. Convenient parking. 2. Newspaper advertising. 3. Low prices. 4. Availability of garden supplies.

Reasons for buying plants at a nursery: 1. High quality plants. 2. Knowledge of plant material by salesperson. 3. Convenient parking. 4. Availability of garden supplies.

The certification manual is now available to view in its entirety on To gain access to our online learning system, click on “Education & Events” in the menu, then “MNLA Learning on Demand.” Don’t have an membership account? Click “Join Now!” to create an account and choose “Visitor” under Membership Options.


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Consumer recognition of high quality plants and knowledge of plant materials by salesperson are direct and indirect requests for quality by these consumers. Consumers are concerned that nursery professionals do in fact properly grow plants and can inform them on how to care for the plants purchased. All this requires knowledge and technology and it places retail nursery professionals in the “Production Mode of Retail Nursery Management.”

To provide a quality plant, the nursery professional must: 1. Ensure that it survives the initial transplant shock after harvest.

A retailer’s guarantee that a plant will grow cannot be accepted as a substitute for viability.

3. Ensure that it is transplantable. 4. Ensure that it survives and grows well after the sale. A retailer’s guarantee that a plant will grow cannot be accepted as a substitute for viability. Customers expect that their money, time, and effort will be spent on a plant that will survive. They do not expect to lose the opportunity to enjoy their choice of plants for that year, guarantee or no guarantee. If a customer buys a plant, takes it home, plants it with reasonable care, and the plant dies, the best guarantee in the world may not remove the impression in his/her mind as to where the plant was purchased. Thus, it is in the nursery professional’s best interest to have each plant survive and grow well after it is sold. How plants are handled and cared for in the sales area governs their subsequent survival and vigor. To do this properly, the retail nursery professional must operate in a container production mode. Retailers may claim to be in the business to only sell plants, but it is important to realize that plants must receive timely and detailed attention to plant growth requirements so that they improve in quality and value. If this is not done, plants will deteriorate in quality and value. Plants do not maintain a “status quo” as they are either growing or deteriorating.

General Garden Center Management Just as there are several types of nursery stock, each grower and retailer will have unique operational variations such as: different types of containers, different growing media, different species, different cultural practices, etc. Thus, strict management and attention to detail is required to maintain all plant material in a high quality and salable condition. Putting a value on the cost of having a plant

sitting in the sales lot highlights the need for plant improvement with time. Twenty-five cents per weekand up is not an unreasonable space and maintenance cost for a #1 container. Retail nurseries have variable operation costs, but consider this cultural care or maintenance cost in the garden center of 25 cents per #1 container per week. If that #1 container plant is not sold after eight weeks, an additional two dollars is now invested in that plant. This cost of in-store maintenance must be offset by: 1. A sufficient, but not excessive, mark-up for a given period of time. 2. An increase in plant size, grade and quality to justify a subsequent higher rather than discounted selling price over time. If plant quality goes down because the plant is shopworn and not properly cultured, profits are diminished and losses per plant rise rapidly as stressed plants actually deteriorate and die. Larger, more expensive plants generate even greater

mark armstead

losses when they decrease in quality. The nursery industry is very fortunate in the product it sells. Even though it is classified as a perishable product, it really is not perishable compared to fresh produce, Christmas trees, meat, cut flowers, etc. In fact, nursery stock is not perishable if properly cared for. It is a living product and it can improve in quality with professional care and technology, and with time. It is for this reason that the indiscriminate reduction of prices should not occur at the end of the season because the plant is shopworn or in poor condition. With time, plants should be larger with improved quality and most likely upgraded for an increase in price. High quality plants in the garden center will sell better, they will survive better for the customer, and a garden center enterprise will be more successful and profitable. Garden center managers can obtain this success by implementing and maintaining a “Production Mode of Garden Center Management.”

can be reached at

practice Questions

 Customers expect that their money, time, and effort will be spent on a plant that will survive. True / False

 It is agreed that plants must increase in value if they are unsold and left on

the sales floor. Typical costs per pot are based on: a) variety b) time spent on the sales floor c) vendor supplier d) all of the above

Answers: 1. T; 2. b

2. Ensure that it improves in value and quality while on the market.

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mnla .biz


➾ survey

free customer

research for garden centers

The MDA’s Minnesota Grown Program has been a proud partner with MNLA for nearly 30 years. Our role is to encourage Minnesotans to buy locally grown plants and to make sure it’s easy for them to do so by publishing the annual Minnesota Grown Directory of farms, garden centers and nurseries where consumers can buy directly from the grower. Paul Hugunin | Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Grown Program


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Help create the survey! MNLA Garden Center members are working with Minnesota Grown to create the final list of survey questions. Have suggestions? Contact the MNLA office or Dustin Vanasse at Minnesota Grown (contact details below).


hile we continue to invite retail garden centers and nurseries to advertise in the Minnesota Grown Directory (visit for details), we’re especially excited to announce an opportunity for MNLA garden centers to participate in a new consumer research project that will provide a wealth of data about your customers. Recently, we’ve conducted similar surveys for apple orchards, berry farms and farmers markets and uncovered some very interesting things. We have been able to identify significant purchase trends that correlate to the age of guests, accurately estimate the distance customers live from a retail location and other key market data. For example, would you have imagined that 30% of customers at an apple orchard on any given day are making their first visit to that particular orchard? Or that people who pay with a credit card spend 25% more than those who pay by check and 56% more than those paying by cash. Statistics like these are powerful tools, and when added to your marketing portfolio can increase revenue and drive business! Help create the survey! MNLA Garden Center members are working with Minnesota Grown to create the final list of survey questions. Have suggestions? Contact the MNLA office or Dustin Vanasse at Minnesota Grown (contact details below). Each garden center will receive a confidential summary of the responses from its customers in addition to the aggregated results from all the participating garden centers. You can even add 1–2 custom survey questions that will only appear on your survey. For example, perhaps you started carrying a new product or service, or have changed your hours. You can use this survey to find out what your customers really think about these changes! The survey will be conducted entirely online, from late April through May of 2013. Your customers will never feel hassled to fill out onsite paper work. The only action requested of your employees is to simply hand out a flyer to each customer upon check-out and encourage the customer to help you serve them better by completing the online survey. Participating garden centers are required to donate one $50 gift card that will be awarded to one of your customers, selected at random from the list of customers who completed your survey and provided their e-mail address. To take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about your customers, please respond to Dustin Vanasse at the MDA’s Minnesota Grown Program at 651-201-6469 or by email at no later than March 18th. paul hugunin is director of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s, Minnesota Grown Program. He can be reached at: 651-201-6510 or at

Here’s a snapshot of some of the insights the survey will provide: Basic demographics, including: • Age, gender, household income, kids living at home • Details about their visit to your garden center • How far did they travel? Did they come alone or with friends or family? How much did they spend? Did they pay by cash, check or credit card? Feedback about their shopping experience: Was there enough parking? Did they find what they were looking for? How do they rate the level of customer service? Insight into their decision making: Why did they pick your garden center? Where did they get information about you (web, ads, flyers, Facebook, word of mouth, Google)? And more! Do they own a smartphone? What social media do they use and how often do they use it? Are they new to your garden center? How many times have they been to your business in the past? How often do they plan to return this year? Do they plan to recommend your garden center to friends and family?

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finding the right

balance I remember when I first got started in this business while in college working at a local garden center selling Christmas trees. That was back in 1993, and yes, I walked to work, uphill, in the snow — because I liked it! Being from a family farm, apparently I had displayed enough work ethic to be kept on and worked the spring season as well. I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into. Alec Charais | Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

➾ ga rden center

Here are some ideas to consider as you finalize your spring plan: Brainstorm marketing opportunities


here were all these strange plant names, like Physocarpus, Symphoriocarpus, Rhus, and Caryopteris. I never thought I would learn them all. My daily duties included stocking the benches, so I arranged the plants alphabetically, by botanical name of course, so they were “organized.” After all, I reasoned, I had learned the plant names, and true gardeners would know them too and be able to find what they wanted. The world has changed since then, hasn’t it? But have we? When Henry Ford first marketed the Model T in 1908 he stated that “any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is in black.” There was no need for a palette of colors because Ford dominated the marketplace. By 1918 the Model T represented over half of all U.S. manufactured automobiles. Consumers wanted the product because it was new and exciting. This phenomenon has not changed. Think iPhone, or whatever electronic gadget is the next best thing. But there was a reason why the Model T was available in black only. It was the first automobile produced by assembly line, and black paint dried faster than other colors. So, in reality, Ford was trying to streamline production. If I recall, the iPhone is available in only two colors (although the number of colorful accessories available can make your head spin.) Unfortunately for Ford, Model T sales began to decline by the


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mid 1920s. By then other manufacturers who were willing to offer different options, colors, and financing brought competition to the marketplace. Ford wasn’t able to meet consumers’ desires for individualism because he wouldn’t adjust his practices. I use this example because I think it relates well to our own industry. We love plants. We know a lot about plants. But sometimes we forget what our customer ultimately wants: ideas to improve their own surroundings. Thinking back to my early days stocking those benches, I wasn’t doing anything to help the consumer understand what the product was or what it could offer. I was keeping things in order in a way that made sense to me. Having had the opportunity to see many retail garden centers over the years, I still see this practice at nearly every retailer I visit (and not just in Minnesota). The customer walks out of the colorful, easy-tomerchandise greenhouse area into a sea of product, all lined up in order but with no plan to aid in the buying decision. In a way, we are the exact opposite of Henry Ford: We offer the consumer too many options. Without careful attention to store layout, product presentation, and marketing, we risk frustrating and alienating consumers with our seemingly endless options. alec charais

can be reached at alec.charais@

with your staff, your vendors, and even your customers! Target two or three ideas you want to feature this coming spring that are different than last year.

Come up with a plan, then assign tasks and check in frequently. If it seems like you bit off more than you can chew, then assess and revamp to make sure the plan gets implemented.

Pick a product or series of products and assign goals. If you sold 30 last year, what will it take to double sales of that product this year? Think about positioning within the store (end caps), advertising possibilities, and even sales incentives for your staff. You’ll be amazed what a little in-house competition can do for your bottom line (and the gift card or reward can create some fun for your staff, too).

Get out and see other retail environments. Have you ever shopped the grocery store or department store looking for ideas for merchandising ideas, signage, or promotions?

Think of the environment around you. What are the hot button issues on consumers’ minds right now? Perhaps they want to know which plants are drought tolerant or which ones will stay small and compact. Making lists or displays available to solve problems and answer questions may be more effective than discounts in connecting with customers and keeping them coming back. Advertising doesn’t always mean putting something on sale.


SCOOP COMING In January, MNLA will be introducing a redesigned Scoop. Our goal is to provide even greater value to you, the member, through this vital communication service. To do that, we need to know what your current needs are! We would like to gather your feedback on how you read The Scoop, which content you value most, and what you wish we would include. Please take five minutes and give us your opinions via a quick 5-question survey found here: If contact Mary at 651-633-4987. you’dVisit rather forwardoryour comments via email, send those to

Volume Discounts on Garden Center Trays

WRITERS WANTED We’re also looking for members who love to write – members who want to share useful information,

âžž ma gic fr om the m anua l

magic manual from the

field pr od ucti o n o f n u rsery cr o ps — getting sta rted Tim Vogel

Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

constitutes a large and long term investment. Land must be acquired and properly prepared. Correct selection of plant material must be made for a market one to ten years into the future, and plants must be managed over this term. Finally, harvest and distribution equipment, and storage facilities must be available.

nursery field crop production

The proper equipment and facilities are essential for an efficient and effective field production operation. A production nursery requires a substantial investment over several years before a significant return is realized. Before acquiring land, decide what type and size of stock will be grown and harvested. A bareroot (BR) operation will require a lighter, sandy loam soil to obtain a good fibrous root system and to facilitate harvesting. A balled and burlap (B&B) operation will require a heavier soil to facilitate the formation of a quality root ball. Soil pH, fertility, salts and other factors to consider are discussed in the chapters on Soils and Fertilizers. Prior to planting a nursery crop, perennial weeds and grasses should be eliminated from the field, either by a year of clean cultivation called summer fallow, or by a chemical such as Roundup.


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Production cycles that leave plants in the ground for too long will require root pruning or transplanting in mid-cycle.

The field should then be planted to a green manure crop such as sorghum Sudan grass, drilled corn, or other large volume dry matter crop that can be chopped and plowed back into the soil. Growing alfalfa or other legume for two or more years, or adding large quantities of well rotted manure or other composted material is also effective. All of these actions will improve soil structure, tilth, and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) by increasing the organic matter content of the soil. Nursery fields are planted with seedlings, grafts, cuttings, transplants, plugs, divisions or container stock, all of which are referred to as “liners.” This “lining out stock” can be of any size depending on at least four factors:

Sample Questions

 Production cycles that leave plants in the ground for too long will require root pruning or transplanting in mid-cycle. True / False

 Spacing of the crop to be planted is dependent upon:

a) the planned crown size b) the planned root size c) the space required by the cultural and harvesting equipment to be used d) all of the above e) the height of the windbreaks to the south and west

1. Cost of initial investment. 2. Time required to produce a finished product. 3. Size of desired finished product.

 Nursery fields are planted with seedlings, grafts, cuttings, transplants, plugs,

divisions or container stock, all of which are referred to as “starts.” True / False

4. Varieties to be produced.

 August planting of evergreen seedlings and transplants is also effective as

the tops of most of these species are quite dormant at this time. True / False

 Non-rooted hardwood cuttings of many species can be planted in late

October and early November for root and shoot growth the following spring. Irrigation on these fields must be light, but frequent, perhaps every two to four days, to insure caliper of the cuttings and subsequent shoot growth. True / False

Answers: 1. T; 2. D; 3 F; 4. T; 5. F

Small liners such as rooted cuttings, seedlings and one year budded stock or grafts should not be planted in a field from which two to three inch caliper stock will be harvested. This does not provide for efficient use of space, nor would it allow for the proper development of a good root system without transplanting and/or root pruning. It is important to start with quality liners that are not so large that they incur considerable transplant shock. Lining out stock should be spaced in production fields based on what the final product size or grade is desired. Match the size and spacing of liners so they don’t either waste space or end up too crowded at harvest time. Production cycles that leave plants in the ground for too long will require root pruning or transplanting in mid-cycle. Spacing is dependent not only on the planned crown and root size of the plants

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➾ ma gic fr om the m anua l

Transplanting in August rather than October greatly enhances winter survival and the following year’s spring growth.

in the row, but also on the space required by the cultural and harvesting equipment to be used on that crop. For example, tree spades used in production B&B digging are often mounted on skid-steer loaders, which will require significant space between rows and between trees in a row in order to access plants for digging. Field planting of bareroot (BR) dormant stock should take place as early as possible in the spring and be completed by late May. The stock should be watered as soon as possible after planting. Summer planting of newly rooted and actively growing rooted cuttings can be done in July and August. This places critical stress on plants so they must be irrigated within one to three hours after planting. This allows for establishment of a good root system before fall, and it promotes vigorous growth the following spring. This practice significantly reduces the time required in the production cycle. August planting of evergreen seedlings and transplants is also effective as the tops of most of these species are quite dormant at this time. However, a flush of root growth occurs in August which again allows for good root establishment prior to late fall. Container-grown liners can also be planted at this time. Transplanting in August rather than October greatly enhances winter survival and the following year’s spring growth. Irrigation immediately following transplanting is critical. Non-rooted hardwood cuttings of many species can be planted in late October and early November for root and shoot growth the following spring. Irrigation on these fields must be light, but frequent, perhaps every two to four days, to insure rooting of the cuttings and subsequent shoot growth. Non-rooted hardwood cuttings are usually callused in cool storage the winter before the spring they are planted. tim vogel can be reached at


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DCP0489_07_HortAd_outlines.indd 1

12/21/12 10:23 AM

hope for

elms Dutch elm disease (DED) is caused by the fungi Ophiostoma ulmi and Ophiostoma novo-ulmi and has destroyed millions of elms across North America since its discovery in Cleveland, Ohio in 1930. The fungus is spread from infected to healthy trees by elm bark beetles and through root grafts between infected and non-infected trees. Resistance remains the best hope for the future of elms and research continues to make advances relative to this goal. Dr. James Calkins | MNLA Foundation Research Information Director


esearchers at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario have recently reported success in propagating elm trees that are nearly 100 years old and appear to be resistant to DED. An important outcome of this research involves the development of a simple and effective protocol that shows promise for the propagation of DEDresistant elm cultivars and perhaps the return of American elm as a landscape and boulevard tree. The protocol was developed based on the findings of a series of experiments and has been successfully applied to 19 mature American elms, can also be used to propagate juvenile plants, and may provide opportunities to propagate other species of woody plants that are difficult to propagate. Spring was determined to be the best time to collect explant material (fresh and dormant buds) in order to limit microbial contamination. Buds collected from greenhouse-grown trees subsequently exhibited reduced contamination and proliferated greater numbers of shoots compared to buds collected from mature, field-grown trees. Three widely used culture media were investigated and Driver and Kuniyuki Walnut (DKW) medium was selected as the best medium. The protocol also involves blocking the effects of endogenous auxins by adding an antiauxin to the culture medium to maintain high multiplication rates and optimum shoot development in february 13

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âžž sectio n title


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➾ elms

mnla welomes members new

Cindy Matiski, Plant Care Specialist, Lake St. Croix Beach, MN Gold Leaf Creations, South Saint Paul, MN H + Wild Plums Inc, Clarkson, NE JP Products, Blaine, MN Kahnke Brothers, Inc., Victoria, MN LCS Lawn Service, Oakdale, MN MLD Lawncare LLC, Medicine Lake, MN Property Props, Plymouth, MN reGEN Land Design, Minneapolis, MN WebLease USA, Long Lake, MN

subsequent subcultures; PCIB (p-chlorophenoxyisobutyric acid) was found to be the most effective antiauxin. Additionally, low levels of benzylaminopurine (BA, a cytokinin) were also found to benefit shoot growth and indol-3-butyric acid was found to be the auxin of choice for rooting microshoots and a 90% survival rate was reported for rooted plantlets. Research is also ongoing at the University of Minnesota where the search for resistant trees native to Minnesota and effective methods of commercial propagation continues. The Minnesota research has been supported in part by the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation. These research activities have the potential to benefit the nursery and landscape industry and promote American elm preservation efforts. For additional information about these efforts to select and propagate DED-resistant American elm cultivars, check out the following resources: Scientists Clone ‘Survivor’ Elm Trees. ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012). Shukla, M.R., A.M.P. Jones, J.A. Sullivan, C. Liu, S. Gosling, and P.K. Saxena. 2012. In Vitro Conservation of American Elm (Ulmus americana): Potential Role of Auxin Metabolism in Sustained Plant Proliferation. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 42(4):686-697. Gilman, J., R. Blanchette, B. Held, and C. Giblin. 2012. Progress in Native Elm Research. MTGF Clippings (Fall/Winter Issue):6. Blanchette, R.A., B.W. Held, J.H. Gillman, and C.P. Giblin. 2012. The Search for Dutch Elm Disease Resistant Elms from Minnesota. 2011 Northern Green Expo Session Handouts.

To comment on this research update, suggest research topics of interest, or pass along a piece of research-based information that might be of interest to your industry colleagues, please email us at

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âžž B ob Do libois


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the world


to bob

ANLA’s executive director retired in December — but not before offering his perspective on what it will take to turn today’s challenges into an extremely profitable future for our industry.


Richard Jones | Group Editor Reprinted by permission of Greenhouse Grower

ob Dolibois, executive director of the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) retired in December after 21 years with the organization. He leaves a market that is significantly different than when he arrived — in some ways better off and in some ways more challenged. Both sides of the coin, he’s quick to explain, are due to outside forces as well as decisions we have made as business owners and as an industry. Dolibois sat down with Greenhouse Grower to share his view — “the world according to Bob,” as he calls it — of the state of our industry. It was a wide-ranging interview in which we discussed his experiences at ANLA, his plans for the future and — most importantly — his perspective on where floriculture stands today and where it is headed. It’s a story best told in his own words. So here is the future of floriculture, according to Bob Dolibois. We’re the goldfish that jumped the bowl. We suddenly find ourselves in a market environment that is totally different from what we used to take for granted. The biggest difference between now and when I started with ANLA is we’re 22 years further into a maturing industry. The last 50 years of this industry have been driven by the marketplace created by Baby Boomers. From the construction of homes after World War II to the construction of schools and shopping malls and office parks. Now that generation is tapering off. For the first time we are facing fewer people in the age [group] that’s the primary market for our products and services. That, as much as anything, accounts for some of the struggles we’re going through right now. The lower retail customer counts. Less plant material moving. Lower home building numbers. These are directly attributable to demographics of the Gen X generation being millions of people fewer. With the right business lessons applied and courage and risk taking on the part of our industry, we can become not only profitable again, but profitable beyond what we

imagine. february 13

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➾ B ob Do libois

Bob On ... The Future What’s next for me is a story unfolding. I don’t have a whole bunch of things in the queue. I would like to have some kind of involvement in the industry simply because I love it so much and have so many good friends but I will not be the retired preacher that sits in the front pew every Sunday. On the other hand, if there’s a role or roles for me to continue to be involved and still give me time with my family and some of the ambitions I have personally, all the better.

The solution to a problem starts with defining the problem. For us, it is that the game has changed. We’re not going to go back. There is no rearview mirror. The interest in gardening, the demand for our product — the things we have historically fallen back on and, in fact, take for granted in some cases — it’s a different ballgame now. The value consumers placed on our product probably was never quite as significant as we thought, but we couldn’t see it. We are going to have to reinvent our value proposition to our customers. I

believe we can do that, with some concerted effort on the part of the industry to run its businesses as mature industry businesses. “Ma and Pa” business management is not going to be effective. We need to step out of the history of how things have been — the thinking that we will cut our way to prosperity again if we do more and do it more cheaply by cutting 54

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back on inputs and capital investments and what we pay our people. You can’t cut your way to prosperity. I think there’s still some of that going on. The marketplace has changed. On the front end of this downturn, there were some people — not just a few in the industry — who said, “We’ve been through this before.” You find out in year two, year three and year four that it ain’t the way it was. This isn’t just part of the business cycle. This is a tectonic plate that has moved. The number of consumers, the interest of consumers in our products — even at the price points we’re charging — is not sustainable. Certainly not at the price points we’re charging. It’s hindsight, but even though there were strong pressures accordingly, we

have failed to protect the profitability of this industry and of our businesses. As a result, we are really challenged to provide careers in this industry for younger

people. Instead, what we’re able to give them is jobs and those jobs are largely seasonal. They’re failing to attract the kind of talent and dedication and commitment we need, even among next-generation family businesses. And it’s affecting the ability of our older business owners to have an exit strategy. Look at some of the other industries whose products and services are more directed to younger people. They were

experiencing 20 or 30 years ago what we’re experiencing now: the large Boomer market giving way to smaller Generation X for the products they offered. We can look at what they did that worked. Were Nike and Starbucks the big brands back then? No. But Folgers was. And Converse All Stars was. Converse was selling $12 gym shoes. And when the number of 17-year-old smelly feet declined, somebody had to do something. Nike came up with the $120 shoe to compensate for fewer stinky feet. And Starbucks figured out they couldn’t keep selling a 25 cent cup of coffee. They had to do something different, too. It’s still intrinsically a foot covering and it’s still water running through some ground up nuts. But they created a different value proposition.

“You can’t cut your way to prosperity. I think there’s still some of that going on.” — Bob Dolibois

We have to quit feeling guilty. Be bold about our product. Don’t apologize. Don’t be afraid to throw it away rather than sell it at half price. People say to me, “Bob, you just don’t know how it is out there.” Maybe so. But I believe if Howard Schultz had listened to advice like that when he was thinking about expanding Starbucks we’d all be drinking dollar lattes now. He said no. Same with Phil Knight and Nike. There are organizations that have done this. There were a few bold innovators that did it and now everybody’s doing it. And everybody’s profiting as a benefit of that kind of innovation. It’s easy for me to say, but sometimes it’s the guy who’s watching who can tell why the golf swing is not working better than the guy swinging the club. You sometimes feel like you’re in the groove when you aren’t. And the problem could be very, very obvious. Much of what we’re doing in the way of retailing our plants is still built on the notion of gardening as a hobby. We

need to acknowledge we are not a hobby. The new consumer does not have hobbies. The younger consumer has certain interests and those are going to be divvied up by the limited time they have. If they are confronted with an opportunity to indulge in an activity and the time commitment appears to be too great, they will go somewhere else. The future of garden retail is packaging gardening in a way that conforms to future customers at a price point they are willing to pay. And that has to be higher than we are charging right now. The garden retail establishment needs to have the characteristics of both the nature of the product and service we’re providing. It needs to be welcoming. There

Bob On ... Containerized Plant Material Containerized plant material is the biggest innovation I’ve seen in my time in the industry. It fundamentally altered the power structure of the marketplace and changed the nature of trade shows and associations. Previously, producers drove the market. The summer and winter trade shows were primarily for placing orders for field-grown product. In a bad digging season, the grower determined which customers were going to get the full complement and which were not. Container-grown plant material came in and leveled out some of the supply and demand challenges, which in turn has leveled out pricing. The net effect is this is no longer as much of a producer-driven marketplace. It has empowered a stronger retail unit — I’m talking particularly about the big boxes — to become dominant in some corners of the market. Containerized plants also altered the premise that the summer and winter trade shows should be order-placing shows [since growers no longer needed to take orders in advance of fall and spring digging]. These trade shows are slowly becoming relationship-maintenance shows. That has affected the viability of the trade association community. For most of the state associations, the proceeds from these trade shows have funded everything they do. I believe that shakeout is still occurring, even though we’re talking about a whole generation since the containerized trend started to unfold.

needs to be a sense of nature, or natural surroundings. It can’t be hard finishes with shiny bright lights — an Apple Store design, even though that’s the way everybody thinks it needs to go.

Anthropologie is a better example. Think about the way that product is presented, the color combinations and the other things Anthropologie is known for.When you go in their store it’s just like one big product. february 13

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➾ B ob Do libois

Bob On ... ANLA Accomplishments ANLA has been a source of both networking and educating owners and senior management in this industry as to the business of business. Education like the Management Clinic, the tours and Garden Center University have been focused on helping people run their businesses more capably. It’s been much imitated but ANLA modeled that kind of professional development through the years and I’m very proud of that. ANLA has a long-standing reputation as a sector of American agriculture and small business that shoots straight when it comes to legislative or regulatory activity. We are nonpartisan. We focus on the issues that truly matter to our members and the industry’s businesses. I think it has positioned us as the most visible advocates for immigration and seasonal worker reform for guest workers and use of seasonal workers. Another thing we can look back on is a diligent commitment to securing our industry’s reputation for wanting to do the right thing in transporting healthy plant material. When there have been problems like Impatiens Downy Mildew or Boxwood Blight or other diseases in the past, we have, alongside SAF, supported quarantines where necessary and worked to prevent quarantines that have been more market-driven than science-driven. Supporting good science. I think we have been on the right side of all of those issues.

There is a consistency between what their product is consciously or unconsciously appealing to and they have taken that and made it real to the walk-in customer. That’s what the retail garden center needs to emulate. Another thing we need to do is monetize the value of landscaping.

Plants both inside and outside the house have a critical role to play — they both save 56

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money and contribute to our sense of health and wellbeing. A well-designed and maintained landscape can continue to add value to a house over time. We’re the only aspect of a house that is true of. Everything else, whether it’s the cooktop stove or the refrigerator or the shower, the brick patio — all those things deteriorate over time and their value does not increase.

The value of our product is not like eating a Big Mac. Whether it’s cut flowers over five days or bedding plants for a season or an oak tree that lasts for generations, the gratification is protracted. We need recognition of that value. If we’re going to get the price up, we have to figure out how to increase the ease and success of owning that product. When we can demonstrate that kind of success and package it in a way that people are not either overwhelmed or feel like they’re being like grandma, I think we stand a chance of seeing the kind of increased value proposition that will result in profit. We need to have a unified mission, and that is to increase the perceived value of our products and services. If

you’re asking if we can come up with a motto or a single program or a silver bullet, or holy grail, I think that’s a tougher challenge. It could come, but it will come when we see ourselves as one industry. ANLA and OFA coming together can be a down payment on our recognizing that as an industry we make distinctions among ourselves that the marketplace does not make and we are weaker for that.





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➾ B ob Do libois

We are like a family with a bunch of children that spend an unnecessary and greater amount of energy in sibling competition than they do representing the interests of the family as a whole. I would rather see us rally as an industry around the mission of increasing the perceived value of plants. We have to agree that’s what needs to happen and that the success of the people around us is as important as my own personal success against the guy down the road by cutting the price of my product. Once we figure that one out, exactly how we go about that is going to be easier.

marketplace better come around to our way of thinking rather than the other way around. We are producing a unique and extremely valuable product and services to maintain it that are worthy of more money than people are now choosing to put into it. If we’re all unified on this message, everything in our behavior toward each other and toward our customers — and equally important, our suppliers — changes because we all have the same mission. We have to make sure our customers and suppliers are strong too. The best days for this industry are ahead of us, but it’s up to

What is it about an iPhone that makes that product worth what they charge vs. a $19 throwaway phone?

We’re pricing 8-year-old conifers — they have taken 8 years to grow — as though they are a throwaway. That’s just ridiculous. The unified vision has to be we do not need to apologize. We need to be bold in our conviction in what we are doing and that the

The Future of ANLA and OFA: One Voice, One Industry In July, the boards of directors for ANLA and OFA voted to pursue the formation of a new horticulture trade association to serve North America. Following many months of working together in a joint venture, both organizations determined it was time to formally explore creating a new trade association. Results of a membership and organizational study performed at the end of last year indicate that members of both associations want the organizations to work closer to unify the industry. They want their industry association to be all encompassing — one that touches and links all pieces of the horticulture industry, which can be offered by a new organization. Furthermore, in light of future opportunities and threats in this quickly changing environment, trade associations need to work together to build the capacity and governance structures to properly serve their members and the industry. Therefore, ANLA and OFA have made the decision to join together into one new organization. The timeline is to have a new organization established in January 2014. As a first step, as of January 2013, Michael Geary became CEO of both OFA and ANLA. Find progress updates at as ANLA and OFA come together to serve their members and the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Proposed Consolidation Q: OFA and ANLA seem to be very different organizations. Why are they working together? A: Once you get past the question of “outside or under glass?” our member businesses look pretty similar. We’re selling through


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us to determine them.

richard jones is group editor at Greenhouse Grower. Reprinted by permission of Greenhouse Grower.

similar supply chains — including garden centers, interior and exterior landscape firms and florists — with similar legislative issues and educational needs. There is little overlap in how our two organizations serve the industry; working together is not a bid to save money but rather to make the industry’s dollars go farther. Together we can provide greater government representation, a world-class trade show, innovative business and technical education, and stronger ties to the researchers and students who represent our industry’s future.

Q: What will the dues and leadership structure be? A: The devil is in the details. Some companies may pay more and others less then they’re currently contributing. The most important detail was the question of whether working together made sense. Both organizations’ leaderships have answered “yes.” When it’s the right thing to do, you figure out how to get it done. The details will take hard work, but it’s easier when you are committed to the outcome.

Q: Does bringing more industry segments to the table weaken my voice? A: Both OFA and ANLA have long histories — over 200 years combined — of serving a vertically integrated membership and making sure that each segment of their membership has an equal voice in guiding the work of the organization. From a legislative and regulatory standpoint, size matters. It is important for state and federal policy makers to understand the economic impact our industry has on this country and in the global marketplace. By having a larger and more unified voice, our message is better heard.

Q: What will happen to the programs I love like OFA Short Course, the Management Clinic, and a strong advocacy program? Are you cutting back on services to members? A: Working together means we’re taking the best of each organization’s programs and services to provide meaningful value to members and the industry. Serving a broader membership, some things will stay the same and some will change, but we aren’t looking to cut back on programming; in fact, the goal is to increase services to our members and the industry. ANLA and OFA have prided themselves on continuously getting better. Now we will get better together.

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“H R be co ho gr fo

➾ member news

member news Aspen E q u ipment C o mpany Awa rded T r u sight ’ s H R E x cellence Awa rd

Twin Cities Occupational Health’s Adam Keplinger (left), Aspen Equipment’s Sharon Hengel (center), Trusight’s Deborah Dorgan (right) pictured at the Trusight Awards Banquet.

bloomington, minn. (november 27, 2012) — Trusight Inc., an employer’s association representing 1,150-member companies across Minnesota, awarded Aspen Equipment Company the highest honor for its integrated well-being and safety program.


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Aspen Equipment partnered with occupational medicine provider, Twin Cities Occupational Health and Rehabilitation (TCOHR), to implement an ergonomics program designed to prevent injuries and reduce the impact of physical labor on their workforce. Functional job descriptions were developed to clarify the physical demands of specific positions to ensure new employees are physically fit to perform the work required on the job and to accommodate any restrictions needed when a worker is hired with known limitations.

“It’s always been my feeling that taking care of employees is critical in taking care of business.”

With suggestions from TCOHR, Aspen Equipment employees are working to improve daily work postures. These photos illustrate how Aspen employees are using proper body mechanics in their Bloomington shop. According to Aspen Equipment president, Steve Sill, “Our goal is that the well-being program will benefit employees not only at work, but in the quality of life they enjoy outside of work too.” Sharon Hengel, human resources manager at Aspen Equipment, agrees, “Knowing that many jobs require workers to maintain awkward static postures, perform repetitive tasks involving shoulders, arms and wrists, and the frequent use of vibration and impact tools, our first idea was to implement a stretching program. It quickly grew into much more, improving employees’ lives and even those of their

families. Going forward, we plan to expand these same principles into office areas, knowing that desk jobs also have impact on quality of life from being sedentary much of the day.” A unique feature of this program is that although it’s strongly supported by the management of Aspen Equipment, this is an employeedriven program. Sill concludes, “I am proud of this program because it provides employees with a resource to become responsible for their own safety and well-being. It’s always been my feeling that taking care of employees is critical in taking care of business.”

With roots going back to 1926, Aspen Equipment Company has been owned and operated by the Sill family for three generations. Aspen Equipment sells, rents and services commercial equipment for federal, state and local governments railroads, utilities and construction trades. TCOHR is a leading group of occupational medicine clinics that provide all levels of workplace medicine and physical therapy services including the prevention and treatment of workplace injuries.

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the future of

MULCH? Based on current trends and looking to the future, some are concerned that the availability of woodchips and bark historically sourced as byproducts of forestry operations may decrease as the value of these materials as a source of biomass for energy production increases. Dr. James Calkins | MNLA Foundation Research Information Director

Syringa ‘Declaration’ Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries.

➾ mu lch


oodchips and bark are important commodities in the green industry where they are commonly used as components in growing media and as landscape mulches. Many benefits are typically associated with the use of landscape mulches including weed suppression, moderation of soil temperatures, and improved soil moisture status. Based on current trends and looking to the future, some are concerned that the availability of woodchips and bark historically sourced as byproducts of forestry operations may decrease as the value of these materials as a source of biomass for energy production increases. From an environmental perspective, the harvesting of trees from native ecosystems as a direct source of landscape mulch, most specifically cypress mulch, has also been suggested as a potential concern for the green industry. An avenue of research that has been pursued in response to these concerns involves the possible harvest and use of species described as “unwanted” or “underused” as alternative and environmentally friendly sources of wood-based mulches. One species that has been suggested as a candidate is eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) a species native to much of the eastern and central United States including Minnesota–Maine to northern Florida and west to South Dakota and central Texas. Although eastern red


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cedar is a native species, it has become increasingly dominant and problematic in its native range as a result of fire prevention. Several recent and related studies have variously compared a variety of wood-based mulches — including eastern red cedar (shredded wood and bark) — to non-mulched controls (with and without herbicide; Roundup®) and in three tillage and light environments (tilled/full sun, non-tilled/full sun, and non-tilled/shaded) based on soil properties and plant growth (annual and woody species). In addition to eastern red cedar, the mulches compared included cypress mulch (bark and wood), pine bark mulch, pine mulch (southern yellow pine; ground bark and wood), hardwood mulch (maple and oak; shredded bark and wood), red-dyed mulch (maple and poplar; shredded bark and wood), and eucalyptus mulch (grand eucalyptus; shredded bark and wood). Interestingly, mulch leachates were also compared based on their effects on weed seedling emergence. The findings of these studies were fairly straightforward and unambiguous: • Not surprisingly, the mulched treatments generally reduced weed competition and improved plant growth compared to non-mulched treatments; on average, weed emergence was reduced by 79% for the

mulched treatments; the control-no herbicide treatment had the most weed growth and the control-herbicide treatment had the least weed growth. • Interestingly, mulch leachates alone were found to reduce weed emergence by an average of 16%, but this effect was minor compared to the overall effect of mulches on weed emergence indicating the primary mode of weed suppression was physical rather than chemical for the mulches studied. • Other benefits associated with mulches included higher soil moisture levels during dry periods and moderated soil temperatures (lower maximum and average maximum temperatures and higher minimum and average minimum temperatures). • Soil pH and potassium levels were increased for the hardwood mulch treatment, but lowered for all other mulch treatments. The effects of the mulch treatments on soil pH were likely related to differences in pH among the mulches; the hardwood mulch was the only mulch that had an alkaline pH and a pH that was higher than the native soil (7.9 compared to a range of 6.0-4.5 and a soil pH of 6.4).

• Soil nitrate and phosphorus levels were not influenced by the mulch treatments. • Most importantly, given that the primary objective of the research was to investigate the viability of processed eastern red cedar as a landscape mulch, there were few differences among the various mulch treatments including mulch derived from eastern red cedar. • The relationship of these studies to other studies that have investigated mulches and their effects on plant growth, soil moisture, and other factors are also documented and discussed. • These results generally support the benefits of mulch and specifically support mulch generated from eastern red cedar as an alternative to current sources of wood-based landscape mulches. Whether the idea that wood-based mulches will become increasingly in short supply in response to economic and environmental issues is a valid concern remains to be seen. Regardless, these kinds of issues deserve attention from a strategic perspective and are worthy of consideration in both the short and long term to help ensure reliable sources of wood-based nursery and landscape commodities are available in the future. Expanding on the idea that alternative species should be investigated as potential sources of woodchips and bark, invasive species may have the potential to play a role. Perhaps such species could be harvested as part of a management plan to manage these species in infested areas and used as a source of woody materials for use in the green industry. Of course, precautions designed to prevent the simultaneous introduction of such species into new areas would also be needed. Examples might include common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), an invasive species in much of the eastern United States, and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima, T. pentandra, and perhaps others; also called salt cedar) which are problematic in much of the southwestern United States. Many issues would need to be considered for this to become a reality including prohibitions on transport included in many invasive species laws. At the same time it is important to also note that such species might also be suitable for energy production and it is possible that turning to these materials as alternative sources of wood-based nursery and landscape commodities like mulch may not be their highest and best use. For more detailed information about these studies and additional results check out the following resources: Maggard, A.O., R.E.Will, T.C. Hennessey, C.R. McKinley, and J.C. Cole. 2012. Tree-based Mulches Influence Soil Properties and Plant Growth. HortTechnology 22(3):353-361. Maggard, A.O., R.E.Will, T.C. Hennessey, C.R. McKinley, and J.C. Cole. 2012. Tree-Based Mulches and their Leachate Suppress Weed Seed Emergence. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 30(3):146-149. To comment on this research update, suggest research topics of interest, or pass along a piece of research-based information that might be of interest to your industry colleagues, please email us at Research@

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mnla .biz


➾ government affa irs

Legislative Season – It’s Issue Time Again Most contractors have a general liability insurance policy to protect their company if something goes wrong on a job. What many contractors don’t know, however, is that their policy likely doesn’t provide coverage for the work they perform on the jobsite. Here’s what you need to know to evaluate your policy and what risks it can expose you to. as i write this article in late december, MNLA’s government affairs team is preparing for a new session in our Minnesota legislature. Much may change during this new session, with DFLers leading both the House and Senate and with a DFL governor. However, MNLA has not cast its lot with a particular party, but rather with a growing cadre of legislative friends and acquaintances with whom we have been building relationships for years. Our Minnesota Green Industry PAC has strengthened relationships on both sides of the aisle, since we are much more concerned with individual legislator’s understanding and consideration on our issues than we are on which party they belong to. And while PAC contributions certainly make a difference in building relationships, our government affairs team also continues introducing themselves to a wide variety of legislators who either represent our members or who are connected to our issues. The Noxious Weed Law is an issue that is likely to draw legislative attention this session, since the Noxious Weed Advisory Committee (NWAC) will sunset on June 30, 2013 unless the legislature extends NWAC’s mandated lifetime. It has been four years since the legislature passed major changes to the Noxious Weed Law, including the establishment of NWAC. MNLA was one of several organizations that participated in an MDA work group in 2007 to write draft changes to the law. MNLA pushed hard to get NWAC mandated by

Tim Power

MNLA Government Affairs Consultant

law, since we felt that an objective, science-based risk assessment protocol, administered by a knowledgeable, non-political group, was necessary to make informed choices on list/no list decisions to our state’s noxious weed lists. NWAC was tasked to come up with that sciencebased protocol, and they did so in 2010. A wide group of stakeholders, liberal and conservative, environmentalist and industry-based, agencies, local government, nongovernmental organizations and associations participated in the 2007 work group and then lobbied the legislature for passage of the 2009 changes. The 2009 changes to the Noxious Weed Law also tasked NWAC to “…prepare…. a list of noxious weeds and their designated categories” and to “assist the commissioner in the development of management criteria for each noxious weed category.” NWAC has succeeded annually in getting its recommendations signed by the commissioner of agriculture, adding and subtracting appropriate plants from the lists, but we are running into problems with a recommendation we would like to make regarding Japanese and Giant knotweeds, potentially designating them as Specially Regulated Plants. Because the category “Specially Regulated Plants” is not currently in the Noxious Weed Law, there is concern about the enforceability of such a designation. NWAC has developed categories and definitions for their own use, but they are not yet in statute.

INSIDE SCOOP this spring, through a partnership with the minnesota department of agriculture,

MNLA garden centers have the opportunity to participate in a FREE customer research survey program. The surveys will include about 25 questions common to all surveys, plus you’ll be able to add a couple custom questions just for you. To find out more about this program, contact Dustin Vanasse at the MDA’s Minnesota Grown Program at 651-201-6469 or by email at or see page 38.


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As I write this article in late December, MNLA’s government affairs team is preparing for a new session in our Minnesota legislature.

The addition of category definitions and a repeal or extension of NWAC’s sunset date as an advisory committee will form the basis of our proposed changes to the Noxious Weed Law. There are other changes contemplated, but they are minor clarifications. The next question will be whether our proposal is carried by MDA in their agency bill or whether organizations represented on NWAC (including at least MNLA, The Nature Conservancy, and County Ag Inspectors) will seek bill authors on our own. By the time we start energizing our membership for our Day on the Hill on March 6th, we should have bill language, bill authors in

Senate and House and a decision on whether we will be lobbying for an MDA bill or for one we have assembled and recruited bill authors for in conjunction with other NWAC member organizations. There may be bumps along the way, but the result of all of this planning and discussion should be a broadly-supported bill that does not raise partisan hackles. If that is the case, we will have a great issue and a great bill to lobby for at the Capitol on March 6th. Plan now to attend and help MNLA connect to YOUR legislator. Tim Power can be reached at

word on street the

question: what led you to a career in the green industry? There is no one reason why I chose to go into the green industry. But the reason I stay in the green industry is because it is always changing. There is always new information, new plants, new sites, and new challenges. Every day brings a new lesson and you never live the same day twice — no groundhog days! mariah mickman mickman brothers, inc.

A career in landscape management is a combination of my interests and abilities — blending together creativity and design with hands-on experience from start to finish in an outdoor office. Thankfully, my high school restarted their agricultural education program and I was able to discover how much I enjoy being in the landscape creating and cultivating. And, growing up on a dairy farm, I was already used to year-round hard work outdoors. jonathan rabe minneapolis park & recreation board

I started my career in the green industry as a “fun” summer job. While in high school I was asked to help install (a.k.a. dig holes) a lawn sprinkler for my friend’s brother. I really enjoyed the sense of accomplishment in building something from scratch. Well, one summer led to regular summer work for the rest of high school and college. To date, I am still working for that brother. And, as the story goes, the rest is history todd cradit

During middle school I began working in the family floral and greenhouse business started by my grandparents. Although I decided to attend college to study an unrelated discipline, after my sophomore year the allure of working outside and with the natural environment persuaded me to switch my major to landscape architecture. The tangible results of creating outdoor spaces for customers to enjoy, produces job satisfaction each and every time.

irrigation by design, inc.

dustin halverson

Working on an apple orchard and vegetable farm while growing up influenced me to further my education in horticulture at the (UWRF) University of Wisconsin, River Falls. With the knowledge and support of my teachers, I was able to pursue a career in the floriculture industry.

village green landscapes

jesse hawker malmborg’s, inc.

to submit an entry for Word on the Street visit -

february 13

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➾ mnl a boa rd o f direct o rs

mnla board of directors MN LA R e-e l ec t s En ti r e S late o f Can d i dat e s

On January 9th, the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association re-elected all officers and directors who were eligible for election. Debbie Lonnee, MNLA-CP, planning and administration manager at Bailey Nurseries Inc. was re-elected president of MNLA. Lonnee, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, currently serves as chair of the MNLA Education & Certification Committee. She was first elected to the MNLA Board of Directors in 2000, and has served as both secretary-treasurer and vice president. Debbie received the MNLA Volunteer of the Year Award in 1999.

Heidi Heiland, MNLA-CP owner of Heidi’s Lifestyle Gardens was re-elected as vice president. Heiland holds a number of industry credentials, is active on committees and task teams, and volunteers for various horticultural and civic organizations. Heidi is a past chair of the MNLA Public Relations Committee, a current member of the Networking Committee, and has received both MNLA’s Volunteer of the Year Award and Special Service Award.

Herman Roerick, president of Central Landscape Supply Inc. was re-elected as secretarytreasurer of MNLA. Roerick is an active volunteer in MNLA, as well as in St. Cloud area business and outdoor groups. Roerick is a member of the MNLA Membership Committee and in 2005 he, together with his wife, Pauli, was honored as an Outstanding Alumni of the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

Tim Malooly, CID, CIC, CLIA president of Irrigation By Design Inc. was re-elected to the MNLA Board of Directors. Malooly is the chair of the MNLA Government Affairs Committee and has also served on the Irrigation Association Board of Directors. In 2008, Malooly was named the EPA Water Sense program Irrigation Partner of the Year. In 2003, he was honored as the MNLA Volunteer of the Year.

Randy Berg, MNLA-CP, APLD president of Berg’s Nursery, Landscapers/Garden Center was also re-elected to the MNLA Board of Directors. In 1979, he graduated from Duluth Area Technical College with a degree in horticulture and landscape design. Randy is chair of the MNLA Communications & Technology Committee and past chair of the Garden Center Committee.

Also continuing to serve on the MNLA Board of Directors but not up for re-election this year are Scott Frampton, Landscape Renovations; Bill Meilke, Waconia Tree Farms; Mike McNamara, Hoffman & McNamara Nursery & Landscape; and Past President Bert Swanson, Swanson’s Nursery Consulting.

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➾ vol unteer



volunteers needed f o r TH E M NL A G OV E RN M E N T A F FA I RS P RO G R A M

The MNLA invites all members to get actively involved in your association. There are numerous volunteer opportunities that will expand your network and knowledge while supporting the green industry and the mission of MNLA. The more you get involved, the more you get from your membership. Grassroots Grows Results!

Get involved in the MNLA Government Affairs Program.

This is a long-term investment in your business and your industry! Participate in the MNLA Day on the Hill on March 6, 2013: This event is an opportunity to make personal connections with legislators that will provide greater political strength to MNLA as an organization and, thus, ultimately to your business. When you participate in the Green Industry Day on the Hill, You can expect: • A friendly face-to-face conversation with someone who can make a real impact in your business • To partner with other experienced green industry professionals • To be equipped with the information you need to talk intelligently about the issues

Get involved! We know you’ll take away more than you were expecting.

Never participated before? Don’t worry — “rookies” are matched up with “veterans” and we’ll give you a full orientation (and a free breakfast) the morning of the event! See page 16 or for more information or to volunteer for this event. Respond to a Legislative Alert: From time to time, MNLA sends out an alert asking members to contact their legislators on a particular topic or proposed bill or amendment. Our online system makes it easy to send off a message with just a click of a button. You’ll help us pass or protect legislation that is good for your business and the entire industry. Let MNLA know if you and your legislator are already connected: MNLA Board Member Randy Berg notified our government affairs team that he knew his legislator through business connections. That resulted in a meeting where MNLA was able to share its legislative agenda with Randy’s state senator, who is the incoming chair of the Senate Ag Committee. That kind of personal connection between our association and legislators can be invaluable in making sure our voice is heard on issues. What’s your government affairs issue? MNLA has gotten involved in a number of government affairs issues over the years, including the Green Acres tax deferment program, sales tax on production equipment and the State Forest Nurseries. We became involved in those issues because of member concerns, and we are often successful in our efforts. MNLA’s reputation in the legislative and regulatory arenas is a huge member benefit. Are you having a government affairs problem where we might be able to help? Attend a networking group this spring and vote your concerns while gaining perspective on the issue from your colleagues.


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➾ sales tax inf orm ati o n

Sales Tax Information – Ag Production Consumables

Nursery and Greenhouse Plant Production

Prepared by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Revenue

Nursery and greenhouse operations that grow trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, potted plants and other plants are agricultural operations as recognized by the state of Minnesota. Nursery and greenhouse production operations are farms producing specialty crops. Certain items and materials used or consumed in the production of horticultural or floricultural products are exempt from Minnesota state sales tax. To buy items without tax, the purchaser must give the supplier a properly a properly completed Certificate of Exemption, Form ST3.

Materials Consumed in Agricultural Production Minnesota Statute 297A.69, Subd. 2

“Materials stored, used, or consumed in agricultural production of personal property intended to be sold ultimately at retail are exempt” from sales tax. “Agricultural production includes, but is not limited to horticulture, floriculture . . .”

ITEMS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION Greenhouse coverings • Poly film and accessories for applying film. • Polycarbonate coverings and accessories for applying polycarbonate. • Shade cloth and heat retention cloth. • Shade compounds and greenhouse paints. • Ground cover Other items • Packaging materials including plant sleeves and decorative pot covers. • Plant pots and containers. • Pallets when they are non-returnable. • Accessory tools and equipment that are separate detachable units with an ordinary useful life of less than 12 months used in producing direct effect upon the product. • Bamboo and other support material. • Labels and other marking materials.

ITEMS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION Crop inputs • Seeds, trees, fertilizers, and herbicides, including when purchased for use by farmers in a federal or state conservation program. • Chemicals. • Materials, including chemicals, fuels, and electricity purchased by persons engaged in agricultural production to treat waste generated as a result of the production process. • Soil and soil amendments including peat. Machinery and greenhouse fuel • Petroleum products and lubricants. • Fuels, electricity, gas, and steam used or consumed in the production process. Specifically, the energy used is exempt if it is needed because excess climate control or lighting is necessary to produce that particular agricultural product.


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ITEMS THAT ARE TAXABLE • Safety equipment such as respirators and gas masks, goggles, safety suits. • Hand tools such as pruners, shears and watering cans. • Office equipment or supplies. For additional sales tax information or exemption certificate forms, contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-296-6181 or

Sales Tax Information – Farm Machinery

Nursery and Greenhouse Plant Production

Prepared by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and reviewed by the Minnesota Department of Revenue

Nursery and greenhouse operations that grow trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, potted plants and other plants are agricultural operations as recognized by the state of Minnesota. Nursery and greenhouse production operations are farms producing specialty crops. Certain machinery and equipment purchased for the production of nursery and greenhouse crops is exempt from Minnesota state sales tax.

Farm Machinery - Minnesota Statute 297A.61, Subdivision 12

“Farm machinery means new or used machinery, equipment, implements, accessories, and contrivances used directly and principally in the production for sale, but not including the processing, of . . . trees and shrubs, plants . . .” Machinery must be used directly or principally in the production of plants. “Principally” generally means 51% or more of the hours of usage in a year. ITEMS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION Irrigation and application equipment

Ø Automatic watering systems and associated/attached equipment necessary to system operation: pumps, motors, electrical devices, computers, controllers, and timers. Ø Poly pipe and fittings. Ø Misting nozzles. Ø Capillary water mats. Ø Backflow preventers. Ø Sprayers and foggers. Ø Fog nozzles and shutoff valves. Ø Hoses and water wands.

Climate control equipment

Ø Climate control systems plus light meters and temperature alarms that are part of or necessary to the systems. Ø Greenhouse heaters and fans. Ø Evaporative cooling equipment. Ø Special greenhouse lighting for growing plants.

Greenhouse Structures

Ø Temporary or portable greenhouse structures (If it is not assessed as real property, then it is tax exempt.). Ø Specialized greenhouse benches (and bench materials) designed to hold plants during the growing cycle.

ITEMS EXEMPT FROM TAXATION Production equipment (propagation; soil preparation; and plant preparation equipment) Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø

Soil mixers and potting machines. Flat and pot fillers. Soil sterilizing machinery. Propagation mats and thermostats. Seeders. Conveyors used within the plant production area. Carts and trailers necessary for movement of plants within the production area.


Ø Tractors. Ø Front end loaders and forklifts used in production areas. Ø Planters. Ø Cultivators and mowers used for production purposes. Ø Harvesting equipment including diggers and tree spades. Ø Primary and backup generator units used to generate electricity for the purpose of operating farm machinery including continued operation of ventilation or irrigation systems.

ITEMS THAT ARE TAXABLE Ø Greenhouse structures that are permanent and assessed as real property. Ø Conveyors, carts and trailers used principally in a retail sales setting. Ø Tree spades used for installing and moving trees in landscapes. Ø Hand tools such as pruners, shears and watering cans. Ø Tools, shop equipment, Ø Motor vehicles. (This would include equipment that is registered as part of a motor vehicle.) Ø Lawn mowers except those used in the production of sod. Ø Communication equipment. For additional sales tax information or exemption certificate forms, contact the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-296-6181 or

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➾ Research f or the R e al Wo rld

Should We Be Mulching Newly Planted Trees? Research indicates applying mulch to newly planted trees may not be beneficial.

Dr. James Calkins

Research Information Director MNLA Foundation

in a recent study designed to evaluate the effects of mulch on evaporation and test the hypothesis that mulch has a negligible effect on evaporation from the root balls of newly planted trees, black plastic nursery containers were used as lysimeters (definition below) to measure evaporation from simulated root balls composed of an artificial medium (composted pine bark:peat:sand; 60:30:10 percent by volume) and a field soil (sandy soil) under mulched and non-mulched conditions using a pine bark mulch. A lysimeter is a container filled with field soil or an artificial growing medium that is used to gather information about and study various aspects of the hydrologic cycle including infiltration, runoff, evaporation, evapotranspiration, drainage, and leaching. They may be located above ground or positioned within the soil profile, may or may not include plants, and the design may vary significantly depending on the type of data to be collected. In an attempt to simulate a newly planted root ball, the lysimeters were designed to eliminate the perched water table that forms at the bottom of substrate-filled containers by wicking water from the containers with capillary mat fabric. The lysimeters were maintained on aboveground platforms and were wrapped with aluminum foil to reflect sunlight and reduce heating to help maintain temperatures similar to those that would be experienced by a root ball planted in the ground. Using a standardized protocol, the lysimeters were irrigated to insure full saturation of the artificial medium and field soil and weighed initially and at 24-hour intervals to provide the information needed to determine changes in water content over time. A subset of the lysimeters was covered with white plastic to prevent evaporation and enable measurement of the water lost to drainage alone. Drainage and evaporative water losses

were determined on a daily basis for four three-day dry-down periods and one five-day dry-down period based on changes in weight of the open and plasticcovered lysimeters. No plants were used in the study so only evaporative losses directly from the growing medium (artificial medium and field soil) were measured and compared. Evapotranspiration — the combined evaporative (moisture loss directly from the growing medium) and transpirational (moisture loss from the growing medium mediated by plants) moisture loss was not accounted for in this study. Primary findings:

• Substrate temperatures within the lysimeters were similar to temperatures measured in nearby, in-ground soil; this is important as evaporative water loss could be influenced by temperature. • For the lysimeters filled with artificial medium, more evaporation occurred for the mulched treatment compared to the non-mulched treatment on day one of the dry-down period while the reverse was the case on day two; cumulative losses between the two treatments ultimately varied little with time. • For the lysimeters filled with soil there were no significant differences in the evaporative losses measured each day for the mulched and nonmulched treatments for a three-day or five-day dry-down period. • Whether mulched or not, evaporative water losses from the root zone were minimal (0.5 to 1.0 liters/day); and evaporation accounted for only 4% of the water lost. Based on other research where trees were present, it was assumed that the february 13

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➾ Resea rch f or the R e a l Wo rld

Figure 1. While research and practical experience indicates mulch can have both positive (e.g., fewer weeds) and negative (e.g., increased rodent damage) effects on landscape plants, mulching at the time of planting may have little effect on the establishment and survival of larger landscape plants as evaporative losses account for an insignificant amount of the moisture lost from the root zone compared to transpirational losses. (Photo credit: Jim Calkins).

top takeaways The primary finding of a recent study is that mulch has little benefit relative to the loss of water from the root zone of newly planted trees. It is important that all of the potential benefits and drawbacks of any mulch be considered when choosing and applying landscape mulches. Low density mulches and mulches that tend not to absorb significant amounts of water may help alleviate some of the problems identified in the study. Because mulch intercepts and absorbs water, irrigation system settings may have to be adjusted to provide sufficient water for landscape plants.

remaining 96% was lost through transpiration (estimated at 28 liters/day for red maple). In other words, mulch provides little benefit in reducing water loss from the root zone of newly planted trees. • The interception of precipitation and irrigation water by mulch was suggested as a potential concern and should be considered from an irrigation standpoint to insure enough water is applied to account for the amount that would be absorbed by the mulch and still provide sufficient water for landscape plants. The primary finding that mulch has little benefit relative to the loss of water from the root zone of newly planted trees is interesting 76

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and may have implications for many segments of the green industry including those involved in growing, installing, and maintaining landscape plants and those involved in educating customers about plant establishment and care. Other studies have investigated the benefits of mulch in landscape settings with varying results. It is important that both the potential benefits and drawbacks be considered when making mulching decisions. With a few exceptions it is generally accepted that mulching is beneficial. Most exceptions are related to differences in water absorption by different mulches or applying mulch incorrectly such as too deeply or in contact with plant stems. Although mulching newly transplanted landscape trees is standard industry practice, this research provides evidence that the vast majority of the water that is lost from the root zone of such trees would result from transpiration (96%) while little would be associated with direct evaporation from the root zone (4%). As a result, and combined with concerns about mulch close to the trunk and the formation of stem girdling roots when roots grow up into landscape mulch, the authors suggest that keeping the soil above the root zone of newly planted trees may be preferable to mulching. The use of low density mulches and mulches that tend not to absorb significant amounts of water are also suggested as potential mulch choices to help alleviate some of the problems that might be associated with mulch. Of course mulch has other benefits that should also be considered. Moderation of soil temperatures, weed management benefits, reduced potential for landscape management related mechanical damage to plants (mowing and string trimming), and improved landscape aesthetics are good examples. Again, it is important that all of the potential benefits and drawbacks of any mulch be considered when choosing and applying landscape mulches. Those interested in more specifics and detail about this study and the reported findings should consult the published results which include a substantial review of the literature related to the effects of mulch on landscape plants. Citation: Gilman, E.F., R.C. Beeson, and D. Meador. 2012. Impact of Mulch on Water Loss from a Container Substrate and Native Soil. Arboriculture & Urban Forestry 38(1):18-23. Readers might also be interested in the following studies: Chalker Scott, L. 2007. Impacts of Mulches on Landscape Plants and the Environment – A Review. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 25(4):239-249. Beeson, R.C., Jr., and J. Brooks. 2008. Modeling Actual Evaporation of Acer rubrum from a Rooted Cutting to an 8 m Tall Tree. Acta Horticulturae 792:91-97. Medina, G., J. Altland, and D. Struve. 2005. Evapotranspiration Rates of Trees Grown in Pot-in Pot Culture. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference Proceedings 13:78-80. to comment on this month’s research update,

suggest research topics of interest, or pass along a piece of research-based information that might be of interest to your industry colleagues, please email us at Research@












Burnsville Location 1800 West Hwy 13 Burnsville, MN 55337 (952) 894-0894

Little Canada Location 3101 Spruce St. Little Canada, MN 55117 (651) 407-3727

Remus, MI 49340 • USA

Hudson Location 745 Exchange Drive Hudson, WI 54016 (715) 531-0801



➾ creativity

where DO Diana Grundeen

Trio Landscaping


find their

I cannot speak for all designers, but this designer likes to find inspiration everywhere. No, seriously! I can find inspiration in sometimes the smallest things: the line of a toy my kids have, the color combination of clothes, or a neat saying someone said. Likewise, big things can inspire me as well: a building, a public garden, a business model. And I don’t limit my inspiration to just the design work I do. I love to be inspired about lots of things: as a person, a mom, and as a business owner. If I were to limit the idea of my inspiration to just one aspect I would be limiting my potential for creativity. It is just that type of creativity, that unique perspective, that brings the world around us together for our clients. How could I be a great designer if I only saw the

inspiration? plants, or the stone, or the needs they are asking for? I wouldn’t be the creative person that I could be by only seeing the little parts. I need to see the whole picture with all of its parts and bring in some new things to make it great. If you are a person looking for the next thing that could change your business for the better, or change you for the better, be open to new things on all levels. Join networking groups to hear other’s ideas and share.* Go travel to see other places and what creative design solutions they’ve come up with. Keep your eyes open as you go about your everyday life for the little things that just make a difference. It is then you will find more inspiration than you can imagine. Then don’t forget to appreciate it!

diana grundeen has been MNLA certified since 1999, and usually has a camera close at hand to capture little ideas as they inspire her. Diana can be reached at


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*editors note: Go to or read next month’s Scoop for information about MNLA’s new networking groups.

Garden Party An evening of food, fellowship and fundraising to celebrate scholars, donors and the future of the industry.

PLEASE JoiN uS FoR tHE SECoNd ANNuAL SuMMER GARdEN PARtY! JuNe 12, 2013 | 6:30 P.M. ThE PORCh AT COMO ZOO AND CONSERvATORY, ST. PAuL, MN tickets for this year’s event are limited and can be purchased online at or by calling the MNLA office.

MNLA FouNdAtioN Improving the Environment by Investing in Research and Education 1813 LExiNGtoN AVE. N | RoSEViLLE, MN 55113 | 651-633-4987 | FAx 651-633-4986 | MNLA@MNLA.BiZ

Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association 1813 Lexington Avenue North Roseville, MN 55113


The Scoop Online – February 2013  

The official publication of the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association featuring insights and information for green industry professional...