Updated: February 1, 2020
Nature Hills Nursery Grade: D+
Overall Rating: 66.5
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||9|
|Range of sizes||9|
Nature Hills Nursery Review
NatureHills.com overall rating went down by a half point, keeping them at a D+ grade. It just seems like every time they take 2 steps forward, they then take 3 steps back.
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.
As we looked at their site on January 31st, 2 things stood out.
- There were 3 bright sales banners that grab your attention and take up a lot of valuable space on every page. $9.95 flat rate shipping, free shipping on $99+ orders and 25% off all plants.
- There’s also distracting text scrolling in a loop up top that says if you order now, they can hold it until spring at no extra charge. So if I order now for a bareroot plant that doesn’t ship until spring; you want to make sure I know you won’t charge me to hold on to my order? Does that mean you won’t charge me until it ships? Ya, didn’t think so. Not to mention charging $56.95 for a 2 to 3 foot bareroot lilac shrubs is a bit high.
There are a few things they have updated or added that improves the user experience. They FINALLY added some information to help you understand the sizes they list. Potted plants are listed as a number. #1, #3, etc. So they added a pop up video to help you understand what the heck that all means.
Unfortunately the information isn’t some easy to review graphic, but a 3+ minute loooong video. I know the host of the video. Super nice guy & very knowledgeable. Brevity, however, is not his best friend. It’s a bit ironic that the video pops up if you click on text that says; Confused on sizing? Good luck trying to pay attention to the video.
We saw a new disclosure on a product that had us scratching our heads. Here’s a screenshot:
This was on a product that was clearly rated for our grow zone. Then it says; “verify your shipping zone in the header above”. The only problem is that there was no header above with any type of zones. Extremely frustrating.
Maybe they were just testing this? We have not seen it on any other products. Like we said at the beginning, 2 steps forward, 3 steps back.
Is This True? Nature Hills slogan is ‘America’s Largest Online Plant Nursery’. They do boast one of the larger selections of plants online but we have found others with just as many plants for sale. We know for a fact that they are not the largest nursery in terms of sales.
It’s surprising no competitors have contested their claim. 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, Nature Hills 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.
Nature Hills pricing is also a bit odd. And the regular price changes depending on the promotion.
Here’s an example from January. $90.53 seems like an odd number for their “regular price”. But here’s the thing, in December the “regular price” was $89.69. It was 20% off back then for a “sales price” of $70.95. Now it is 15% off for a “sales price” of $76.95.
For the third month in a row the regular price has changed. Seems like they just created a very odd regular price so at 25% off it would have a nice sounding sales price… $65.95.
For those keeping scores at home, here’s the regular price of their 4-5 foot bareroot Labender Twist Weeping Redbud tree the past 3 months:
Either way, $65.95 is an awful lot to pay for what is listed as a 4 to 5 foot bare root tree.
I guess it’s a plus that at least they’re now showing the ‘regular’ price. They haven’t been doing that until recently.
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.
Ordering bare root is always risky. Nature Hills is now saying “Ships Spring, 2020” on their bare root plants. That’s a a lot of money to buy bare root that probably won’t get delivered for months.
Nature Hills Nursery made revisions to the checkout process a few months back. 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.
It looks like Nature Hills Nursery made have made a few updates to the terms & condition with more of the dreaded all caps language.
Nature Hills also has 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 almost a year ago 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 December 30th & January 2nd with similar results as before. It took an average of 11.4 seconds to load a product 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.
Nature Hills has a decent selection of evergreen trees & shrubs. 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. This has been an ongoing issue for months. I can see that they are constantly tweaking things but getting it isn’t fixed.
Nature Hills Nursery is still using a third-party review service called Bird Eye. Bird Eye Nature Hills reviews 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 as many product reviews as you would expect. 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 6 months ago. Not surprisingly, they are all very positive.
There’s been a lot of reviews posted since then. Some of the reviews have been really bad. Most of the bad 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 does.
BBB Alert for Nature Hills Nursery
This isn’t good. We saw this on November 1st. UPDATED: February 1, 2020 and the alert is still posted.
The Better Business Bureau has posted the following alert for Nature Hills:
Pattern of Complaints: BBB files indicate that this business has a pattern of complaints. Complaints allege that when they received their product it was dead and requested a refund. Consumers claim product was not received in a timely manner and requested a refund. You can read more here.
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 Unboxed!
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 spring of 2018. 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 the listing below. 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.
- 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
Where is Nature Hills Nursery located?
Nature Hills Nursery is located in Omaha, NE at 2336 S 156th Circle, 68130
Can I pick up my order at Nature Hills?
No. All orders placed on naturehills.com are sent to and shipped by nurseries across the country.
Can I buy houseplants at Nature Hills Nursery?
Although not their focus, Nature Hills recently added a small selection of 22 houseplants. Prices average over $34 for mostly 4 and 6 inch pots.
Does Nature Hills Nursery guarantee their plants?
Nature Hills guarantee states; “We do not refund money”. They will, in certain instances, offer a replacement for 50% of the plant cost plus shipping.
All the information on this website – www.BuyEvergreenShrubs.com – is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. Buy Evergreen Shrubs does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (Buy Evergreen Shrubs), is strictly at your own risk. Buy Evergreen Shrubs will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.