Omaha Landscape - Top Ten Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Posted by Christine Nelson on Mon, Jan 22, 2018 @ 01:24 PM


Hiring a contractor can be a nerve-wracking process.  With that in mind, below are guidelines to follow to address your concerns:

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Referrals/ reviews

Ask your family and friends for recommendations.  Check references for projects of a similar size and scope.  Read online reviews and check the Better Business Bureau to see if they are registered and how quickly complaints have been resolved.  Be mindful that statistics show people are more likely to leave a review for a bad experience.  Reviews may not provide a full picture of what it will be like to do business with a contractor.  Are the negative reviews rare, or commonplace?



Lawn Care BR.jpgHistory

How long has the contractor been operating in your area?  What experience does the contractor have with the work you are requesting?  Established contractors are able to make critical on-site decisions when the unexpected happens.  They are familiar with common problems and the best possible solution for your specific situation.  Contractors familiar to your area will know the market and they better understand the climatic and geographical environment for the project than contractors new to the area.  Verify the contractor has experience in the service you are requesting.  Do they have the proper machinery and staff to complete the project?  Can their maintenance crews keep up with scheduled visits?  Is their customer service satisfactory and attentive to both small and large projects?


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License and insurance

Verify the contractor is licensed for the type of work you need completed and they can work in your area.  Ask your contractor for a certificate of insurance showing evidence of property and casualty insurance and workers’ compensation insurance so those risks do not transfer to you. 


Front Landscape IR.jpgDesigns

Estimates and design fees are common.  The landscape design process is a valuable and vital step in many home improvement projects.  It takes time and it should be specific to your project rather than be one of several standard designs a contractor offers.  It may take multiple revisions to create the final outcome of the project you desire.  In addition, when you pay for the design, you own it.



Front Plant Material JTJ.jpgContract

Have a written contract that you have read and understand.  Sign it and retain a copy for your records.  The contract should include:

  • The contractor's name and contact information
  • A description of the work to be done which includes any warranties and guarantees for the project
  • The responsibilities of the homeowner versus the contractor
  • The total cost of the project and how change orders will be handled
  • Terms and schedule of payment

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If you receive multiple estimates, consider why the price is different.  A much lower price can mean different quality of material or it can mean the two estimates are for a different scope of work.  A large percentage of landscape projects is labor.  Consider if all contractors have properly trained employees that allow for the appropriate time and attention your project needs, while working in a safe environment.  Review the specifications of each estimate and ask questions so you can make a fair comparison.




Backyard renovation FR.jpgDeposits and payments

A contractor requesting a deposit is normal, but deposits are typically capped at a third of the project’s contract price.  Deposits are necessary to cover the costs incurred to complete the job and they also demonstrate the client’s commitment to the project.  Pay for projects with a check or credit card so you have record of your payment transactions.


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Affiliations and Professionalism

Participation in professional associations is an investment and commitment to the industry.  These associations provide a network of professionals that provide guidance on topics anywhere from industry standards to safety regulations.  Certain associations also provide educational opportunities and certifications.


Front Entry MRB.jpgEmployees

Does the company have experienced, knowledgeable, uniformed crews that receive regular training on their trade and safety?  Do the employees hold the necessary certifications to perform the work they are completing?


Backyard Patio.jpgGut Feeling

Don’t underestimate your gut feeling.  Did you feel comfortable when discussing your project with the contractor?  Did you feel like the lines of communication were open and there was a clear understanding of what to expect?  If your gut feeling is strong even after you have done all your homework on the contractor, take more time before making a final decision.


We encourage you to check with local professional agencies and the Better Business Bureau when hiring a contractor.  Good luck on your upcoming projects!


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Planning your outdoor living project

Topics: landscape, landscape design

Omaha Landscape - Planning your Outdoor Living Project During Winter.

Posted by Christine Nelson on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

It is lovely weather to plan a landscape together!

Sleigh rides will have to wait while we enjoy our mild weather. This gives you a great opportunity to get a head start planning your installation project over the winter months so you can spend your spring enjoying it! We can assess the property on site now, create a landscape design and revise it to your specifications over winter, and start the installation in early spring as weather permits.

DKS progress landcape.jpg


This project is a great example of work that is able to be done in cold temperatures. By planning ahead, this project was able to begin in early March, and the homeowners were able to avoid missing out on precious spring outdoor time!

The house had a standard walkout from the kitchen and garage on to a small paver patio with a steep hill beyond the patio, limiting the usable space of the yard. CM’s transformed the yard into an expanded multi-tiered patio, with various perennials, a pondless water feature, and landscape lighting, delivering a true outdoor living area.


DKS finished patio.jpgDKS finished lighting.jpg


Are you unsure if your dreams can become a reality? Visit our website to see how CM’s was able to bring various hardscape, landscape, and specialty aspects together in this project, bringing back memories for Cindy and creating a space Sam and Cindy can enjoy together.


SCS completed outdoor living.jpgSCS pergola.jpgSCS fireplace.jpg

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Topics: landscape, landscape design

Ask the Arborist - Benefits of Planting Trees in my Landscape

Posted by Lacey Martinez on Thu, Aug 17, 2017 @ 06:18 PM



 What are the benefits of planting trees in my landscape?




2017.08 benefitsOfTrees.jpg

We know trees create oxygen through photosynthesis, provide food and shelter for wildlife, offer lumber for limitless uses, and so much more.  But how can trees be helpful to the average suburban home or business owner?  Here are a few benefits to consider while the season of tree planting quickly approaches.

Environmental: Not only do they protect from some of Mother Nature's harshest weather, but trees also reduce storm water runoff, improve soil erosion, and even work as an oxygen pumping machine for all those who might live in a highly polluted area. Now that's a breath of fresh air.

Aesthetic: Do you have an area of your landscape that is just missing that something special?  A tree can be the cure!  You can even plant a few ornamental trees to enhance an area. Crabapples, pears, and cherry trees are just a few of Omaha's favorite flowering specimens.

Economic: Some folks are unaware of the economic values of trees.  Calculating the value of urban trees has been a popular area of interest in the past decade.  If your house is built in an area with high winds and intense sunlight, trees properly placed can save on energy costs.  Trees can also enhance the value of residential and business properties.  Studies have shown that trees play a huge role in attracting visitors, businesses, and new residents.  The shade of a great canopy can reduce the maintenance on materials that might be easily degraded by heat, such as pavement or siding.  This tree benefit calculator provides a basic approximation the benefits a specific tree may add to your property.  A carefully selected and placed tree now can pay dividends in the future. 

Whatever your reason may be for an investment in a new tree, be sure that you choose the right tree for the right place.  Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more information about our shady friends.


2017.08 Right Tree Right Place.jpg

As always, don't hestitate to contact our licensed arborists for advice.
Contact A Licensed Arborist


Topics: Best Practices, Tree Care, Ask The Arborist

Makes Cents -Landscape Improvements to Increase Curb Appeal

Posted by Christine Nelson on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 @ 02:50 PM

When it comes to selling your home, you only get one chance to make a first impression.  To put this in perspective, The Appraisal Institute (AI), a global association of real estate appraisers, aptly compares the outside attractiveness of a property to how one dresses for a job interview.  Not only can it affect the ability to sell a property, but it will also contribute to the home's value.

The AI makes the following suggestions when making landscaping improvements, including those that are relatively low-cost:

  • Neighborhood Standards:  Curb appeal includes all aspects of your lawn, landscape and outdoor living space, as well as the neighborhood standards.  Remulch beds, add flower pots, or edge the lawn for quick updates.
  • Lawn Maintenance:  According to a 2016 survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the National Association of Realtors, proper lawn care can have more than a 300 percent cost recovery.
  • Native Plants:  Plants native to our area typically grow well and may save you time and money with maintenance.  The OPPD Arboretum is a local resource to see trees and shrubs in person that are recommended for our area.
  • Use Perennials: Perennials have various sizes, textures, and colors and they may be enjoyed for many years with the proper care.
  • Plant Trees: Trees may not only add value to your home because of aesthetic appeal, they also provide environmental benefits such as reducing energy consumption and soil runoff and improving air quality.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, depending on a variety of factors, some trees may save up to 25 percent of a typical home's energy use.   Be sure to see our Ask the Arborist article, "What are the benefits of planting trees?"
  • Landscape Lighting: Remember, house hunters also look at houses at night.  Lighting can be used to highlight features of your home or landscape as well as adds to the security of your home.

CM's can plan, install, and maintain your lawn and landscape for you so can concentrate on the many other aspects of selling your home.  But then again, why wait until you are selling your home when you can add to your enjoyment now?  Whether you are soon-to-be buyers or sellers or even if you are staying in your home, these maintenance items and upgrades make sense!


 lawn careChokeberry, Red, fall color.jpglandscape lighting

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Topics: CMs A Cut Above, landscape, bed maintenance, Lawn Care, Plant and Shrub Care

Turf Talk - Evaluating Current Lawn Conditions

Posted by Chuck Monico on Tue, May 23, 2017 @ 07:30 AM


At this time of the year, we evaluate the lawns of many prospective clients; and we continuously focus on the value of turf density. We are regularly asked to spray weeds only; however, we stress the importance of a complete fertilizer program, regular aeration and periodic overseeding when discussing turf care. In the absence of a healthy stand of turf, weeds will continue to re-emerge. If your lawn is thin, consider fall seeding to increase the density.

What weeds have we been seeing? Henbit is a winter annual with purple flowers, which, if left alone, would die out with warmer temperatures. Even nutsedge.with drawing.jpgthough we have seen more of it over the past few years, it has trouble becoming established in a thicker lawn. There are some dandelions out there as well as some volunteer Veronica Speedwell.

We are in the midst of our second application of fertilizer. Later in the second round, we will be on the lookout for nutsedge.  Nutsdege will appear to be a lighter green and grow taller than the rest of your turf.

Because of the rains we have had, supplemental irrigation is not necessary, with the exception of irrigating after a fertilizer application. Still, turn on your system and have it checked, so that when you need it, it is ready to go.

Spring is usually a time of rapid turf growth. Continue to mow high, at 3.5 inches or higher, frequently enough to avoid removing a 1/3 of the blade at any one mowing, and be sure to use a sharp blade. As always, if you have any questions or would like us to visit with you on your lawn, please contact us.









Throughout the growing season, we will continue addressing issues as they arise, always emphasizing the role of best practices.  As always you can reach out to us with any of your lawn care questions or needs.

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Topics: Best Practices, Turf Care, Omaha turf care, Lawn Care

Plant of The Week-Barberry

Posted by Lacey Martinez on Mon, May 22, 2017 @ 04:30 PM

This week, the Plant of the Week is Barberry 

Barberry, Rosy Glow.comp.jpgBarberry, Crimson Pygmy 1.comp.jpgPygmy_Crimson_Barberry.jpg
Ideal Growing Zone: 4 to 8 

Plant Description: 3 to 6 feet tall, spreads 4 to 7 feet, blooms from April to May, leaves/flowers turn shades of orange, yellow, and red during the fall

Growing Conditions: Grows best in full sun, tolerates deer, drought, erosion, clay soil, dry soil, low maintenance is required 

Uses: Accent for small areas in the landscape. Foundations. Shrub border. Hedge or edger. Spiny barrier plant.

Plant Care: Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Tolerates part shade, but performs best with full sun. This is a very adaptable shrub that is tolerant of urban conditions. Plants also tolerate heat and drought, but are generally intolerant of poorly-drained, wet soils. Plants spread slowly by creeping roots. Plants can also spread by self-seeding (birds will eat the fruits and distribute the seed). Plant branches may root where they touch the ground. This species is considered to be somewhat invasive in some areas.

Pests and Disease: No serious problems. Some susceptibility to bacterial leaf spot, anthracnose, root rots, wilt, aphids, barberry web worm and scale. 

If you want to know more about this plant, have a plant you want to be featured next week, or have any questions in general, please contact us!
Ask the Arborist

According to the USDA plant hardiness zone map, Omaha is considered to be in plants zone 4b-5b.


Topics: CMs A Cut Above, landscape, Plant of the Week

Outdoor Living Landscape - Multi-Season Annual Planters

Posted by Christine Nelson on Tue, May 16, 2017 @ 07:30 AM

Have you ever thought your outdoor décor was missing some accent piece, something that really stood out?  Consider adding planters to your outdoor living space.  Planters come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials.  They are also fantastic editions to a business storefront.  Your favorite annuals can be planted at the appropriate time and kept all season long or your planters can be changed out seasonally with your favorite annuals or decorations.  Yes, we said decorations.  Planters need not be limited to only plants.  Glass flowers, tall lawn ornaments and even decorations for specific holidays and seasons can be added to planters.  CM’s A Cut Above can assemble your planters in the current season and come back each season to change the contents. 

Making sure annuals get the water they need is vital.  CM’s can add a zone to your existing irrigation system for your planters.  The sprinkler line will run through the planter and will be completely concealed in your beautiful planter.  The irrigation for the planter can be set to its own schedule so your annuals will get the amount of water they need, when they need it.

These planters are great examples of the “Thriller, spiller, filler” technique.  Thriller plants stand up tall above the planter.  Spiller plants spill over the side of the planter.  Filler plants, fill in the gaps between the thriller and spiller plants.  Together, these plants create depth to the planter that is stunning and adds a wow factor to your landscape.

Planters- Thriller, Spiller, FillerPlanters- Thriller, Spiller, Filler

Bottom Left: This planter has incorporated various glass decorations into the planter to add visual interest. Bottom Right: This entryway showcases the variety of planter options, as well as beautiful holiday décor for the winter.

Annual Planter with glass decor Annual planter with winter decor


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Topics: CMs A Cut Above, landscape, bed maintenance, containers

Plant of The Week-Knock Out Rose

Posted by Andrea Monico on Mon, May 08, 2017 @ 11:39 AM

This week, the Plant of the Week is the Knock Out Rose!

knockout3.jpgRose, Knockout 2.comp.jpgRose, Knockout.jpg
Ideal Growing Zone: 5 to 9

Plant Description: 3 to 4 feet tall, spreads 3 to 4 feet, blooms from June to frost, cherry red and pink flowers

Growing Conditions: Grows best in full sun to part shade, tolerates air pollution, some maintenance is required 

Uses: This rose grows well as a specimen or in small groups in borders, foundations or rose gardens. Also effective as a hedge. Excellent selection for part shade landscape locations.

Plant Care: Grow in medium moisture, slightly acidic, well-drained garden loams in full sun to part shade. Unlike most roses, KNOCK OUT will grow very well in part shade locations with excellent disease resistance. Water deeply and regularly (mornings are best). Avoid overhead watering. Good air circulation promotes vigorous and healthy growth and helps control foliar diseases. Summer mulch helps retain moisture, keeps roots cool and discourages weeds. Remove spent flowers to encourage rebloom. Crowns may need winter protection in cold winter areas. Remove and destroy diseased leaves from plants, as practicable, and clean up and destroy dead leaves from the ground around the plants both during the growing season and as part of a thorough cleanup during winter (dormant season). Prune as needed in late winter to early spring.

Pests and Disease: Roses are susceptible to a large number of diseases, the most common of which are black spot, powdery mildew and rust. Although good cultural practices are the first line of defense in disease control, regular preventative fungicide applications throughout the growing season are often required, particularly in humid climates with regular rainfal. It should be noted, however, that KNOCK OUT has excellent resistance to the aforementioned diseases, and often does not need regular fungicide treatments. Potential insect problems include aphids, beetles, borers, scale, thrips, rose midges, leafhoppers and spider mites.

If you want to know more about this plant, have a plant you want to be featured next week, or have any questions in general, please contact us!

Ask the Arborist

According to the USDA plant hardiness zone map, Omaha is considered to be in plants zone 4b-5b.


Topics: CMs A Cut Above, landscape, Plant of the Week

What's the Buzz- Bees take hold at a West Omaha Location

Posted by Christine Nelson on Wed, May 03, 2017 @ 04:17 PM



What's All The Buzz?




bee tree before.jpgRecently, one of our clients noticed bees swarming around their yard, eventually settling into one of their trees.  While encountering a swarm can be an understandably alarming experience, stay calm. It is imperative to avoid killing them whenever possible.  Bees are an important part of our ecosystem as they are vital to pollination and food production.  Many species are endangered too. 

Luckily, our client made a great decision and contacted a beekeeper to help remove the swarm.  Here are a few tips if you do encounter a swarm on your property.

Swarms tend to be temporary.  They may just be resting while looking for a more permanent place to stay.
Keep your distance from the swarm.  Do not spray them with chemicals or water and do not throw anything at them.  The bees are not focused on you unless they feel threatened.
Contact a beekeeper.  If you are unable to find one on your own, there are several groups like the Nebraska Beekeepers Association or the Omaha Bee Club that may be able to help.  Many beekeepers will remove the swarm for free.

Bee swarms such as this will not harm your tree.   We appreciate our client sharing this fascinating occurrance with us.  The first photo is the same tree that you will see in the photos and video below.

If you have any questions about your trees, please contact our arborists.

Bee swarm 2.compressed w circle.jpg  Bee swarm 1.comp-910577-edited.jpg

Contact A Licensed Arborist


Topics: Best Practices, Tree Care, Ask The Arborist

Ask the Arborist - Tree Wounds

Posted by Lacey Martinez on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 03:34 PM



 Do I need to help my tree heal its wounds?




Wounds can be caused by necessary pruning cuts, accidental bumps by lawn equipment, or rodentdamage. It used to be common practice to “help” the tree protect itself by painting the wound with different types of sealants or Honeylocust 4.jpgpruning paints, taping the trunk, and/or filling holes in trunks with various substances. However, studies have shown that painting the wound, along with other “helpful” practices will actually slow down or prevent natural healing processes from taking place.  For example, when wound dressings are used, moisture and disease pathogens can be sealed into the damaged area.  This makes it much more difficult for the tree to effectively compartmentalize the wound.

Trees have many ways to deal with these wounds all on their own.  A tree will compartmentalize, or wall off, the damaged area by isolating the wound both physically and chemically. Trees send protective chemicals to the wound site, including antifungal and insecticide type chemicals to protect against infection. The hormones in the tree will be triggered to begin to produce callus tissue so that the tree can form the physical protective barrier.  These are just a couple of tools the tree has to deal with the wound. 

Oak, English.jpgAs a homeowner we can provide proper tree care to make sure trees are as healthy as possible:

  1. Make sure trees are regularly pruned at a young age.
  2. Contact a licensed arborist to prune when storm damage occurrs.
  3. Mulch around trees but make sure the mulch does not build up at the base of the tree.
  4. Make sure trees are receiving enough water.
  5. Monitor trees for any insect or disease issues and address those issues appropriately.

 As always, don't hestitate to contact our licensed arborists for advice.
Contact A Licensed Arborist


Topics: Tree Care, Ask The Arborist