Updated: October 3, 2019
Nature Hills Nursery Grade: D+
Overall rating: 67.0
Nature Hills Nursery Location: Omaha, NE
Disclosure: I was paid as a marketing consultant for Nature Hills Nursery in the past.
You can read details on what each category means and how we score it here.
|Years site Active||4.5|
|Range of sizes||9|
Nature Hills Nursery Review
NatureHills.com overall rating did not change, keeping them at a D+ grade. Many of the issues disclosed previously still exist.
It's not a good sign when competitors start comparing their ship times & prices against yours. There's now Nature Hills competitors that offer next business day shipping so when Nature Hills says; 'Ships 7 to 10 days (weather permitting)' seems a bit vague. Nature Hills ship costs are also on the high end which can be up to 50% of your plant cost.
There are a few things they have updated or added that improves the user experience. They also boast one of the largest selections of plants. Keep in mind that Nature Hills is a drop-shipper, not a real nursery. They send orders to 12+ nurseries around the country. It's much easier to offer a lot of choices when you're not actually taking care of the plants.
The down-side to being a drop-shipper is higher prices, and the plants you order potentially coming at different times from different places around the country. In our opinion, their prices are higher than most other online nurseries. In fact there's a competing online nursery now offering a low price guaranty compared to Nature Hills prices.
They have added a pop up image if you mouse over any bare-root product. It's very helpful to understand what bare-root is. The pop up was first used a few years ago. It's nice to see they brought it back.
Nature Hills Nursery made a few revisions to the checkout process. They now accept PayPal. Nature Hills also made some improvements the their "Shop by Department" categories. The drop down menu include variety & types. Makes it a lot easier to find what you may be looking for.
We noticed that Nature Hills Nursery made a few changes to the terms & condition and have a page dedicated to their plant guarantee. Their policy if your plant(s) don’t make it still has has some hoops you might need to jump through; “Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. reserves the right to request a soil sample for evaluation.” Then, if they do approve your loss, they don't offer refunds so you can't get your money back. Instead you get a 50% store credit for the cost of the plant(s). "We don't offer refunds..." "Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. will replace any plant that dies during the first year upon payment of one-half of the current selling price plus normal shipping and handling."
You also need to be aware of the language if you purchase the 1 year warranty; "Upon receipt of picture(s), we will issue a 100% store credit (valid for one year) for the cost of the plants only. Garden Center products do not qualify. Any destruction of plants resulting from livestock, drought, insecticides or herbicides, fires, floods, etc. are not covered. Guarantee does not include shipping cost. Warranty credit must be used in its entirety in a single transaction.” And you can't order online. You have to call in.
We've been running monthly tests using the same service Google uses to test how fast or slow a website runs.
The tests we ran back on February 14th and 15th indicated the site was slow. We ran 6 tests and it took between 6 and 11 seconds to finish loading a single web page. The website speed testing service had a pretty long list of issues that slow the site down.
We ran more tests July 23 & 24 with similar results as before. It took 12.6 seconds to load their home page.
Here's a recording of a test we ran back on March 15th, 2019. It takes a while for anything to load. Unfortunately for them (and users), this service still reflects page load issues.
Check out the March test--->
It's frustrating for you, as a user, to experience a slow website. It was equally frustrating for me, when I served as Nature Hills Marketing Director, to know what specifically the slow site issues were and never get them fully fixed. I guess some things never change.
In April we commented that their copyright year at the bottom of the website was still saying 2018. A few days later they updated the year. It now says 2002 - 2020. I guess the don't want to worry about it for a while.
Nature Hills has a decent selection of evergreen trees & shrubs, especially considering we're in the summer months. In fact, they have a pretty large selection across all categories. Unfortunately, Nature Hills site search and the category pages are still not synced. They show different results. Site search also shows a lot of inaccurate results. To make it worse, there are evergreen trees listed in site search that aren't listed in their actual evergreen tree category. That won't help sales. Nature Hills selection & sizes available is above average. You just may not be able to easily find everything they have in stock.
It appears Nature Hills Nursery is still using a third-party review service called Bird Eye. Bird Eye only shows positive reviews for Nature Hills Nursery. Bird Eye lists no 1 or 2 star reviews. The discrepancy we mentioned last time regarding Shopper Approved still exists.
We searched Nature Hills on a different search engine (other than Google) and had another surprise from a company called Foursquare. This box was right on top in the middle of the page:
For as long as the website has been around, there are not many product reviews. We just started seeing Nature Hills Nursery product reviews from a third party service called Yotpo. There's a batch of about 100 reviews all entered at the same time, about 3 months ago. Not surprisingly, they are all very positive. The reviews that have come in since then have been predominantly bad. Most reviews are pretty hard on quality of products received and customer service. It looks like Yotpo isn't going to suppress negative reviews like the other service, Bird Eye, apparently does.
Nature Hills BBB profile lists 68 complaints closed and 41 customer reviews with a 3 star average rating.
Google reviews for Nature Hills Nursery were a little harder to find then they used to be. We had to Google "Nature Hills Nursery, Inc. location". There was an information box at the top with their address and Google reviews ratings link. What surprised us was what was listed above Nature Hills. We've tried different browsers, locations, etc and keep getting the same result. Here's a screenshot:
Blue Chinese Wisteria Tree Un-boxed! Nature Hills boasts that the Blue Chinese Wisteria tree is their best-selling plant. We ordered a 3 gallon Blue Chinese Wisteria tree from Nature Hills last year. You can view pictures of what we received and the complete product review here. Having worked there, we will also reveal a few other tidbits we know about their best-seller.
The picture Nature Hills uses for the Blue Chinese Wisteria is just a wee bit different in bloom color than what the original photo looked like.
Up top is the original image and below the one Nature Hills uses after they photoshopped the heck out of it.
They also updated their copy due to customer complaints about the blooms not being as blue as their picture. The description now says the blooms can range from 'sky blue to rich lavender'.
Nature Hills can offer a lot of products since they send orders to nurseries around the country. If you can't find something in particular, check here. If anyone has it, they should. In our opinion, that is what Nature Hills is good for. Buying plants you can't find anywhere else.
What were the red flags?
- It appears they increase prices when they offer better free ship promotions. We saw a free shipping promotion a few weeks ago for orders above $49. All the products prices, however, were raised. You weren't really getting any better deal. To make matters worse, the coupon code to get free shipping wasn't working.
- The products that do have a discount looks something like this: $43.76 27% off! Makes it seem like you get 27% of the price shown. Nope. The discount is taken from some price not shown.
- As we mentioned above, Nature Hills site search results for evergreen shrubs was quite different then the evergreen shrub category page.
- Reviews. For having been around 16+ years, there's not a lot of reviews of Nature Hills Nursery products. And they seem to still use a service to suppress bad reviews.
- Nature Hills is a drop shipper. They don’t have any fields, they send your order to other nurseries for shipping. That’s why your plant(s) could come from different locations at different times. They don't seem to let anyone know where your plant(s) are coming from or when.
- You can also buy some of the same plants found on naturehills.com cheaper from the actual sources. We have received orders placed on Nature Hills from:
Waterloo, WI www.McKayNursery.com
Zeeland, MI www.GardenCrossings.com
Winters, CA www.FourWindsGrowers.com
Monticello, FL www.PlantMeGreen.com
Theodore, AL www.ThePlantFactory.com
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