About Aldersgate Gardens


The vision for Aldersgate Gardens is to benefit the environment and serve the community by providing habitat for wildlife, immersion in nature, and nature-based play for children.


In 2016, Aldersgate United Methodist Church began a major transformation of its 1.9 acres of green space.  As of the spring of 2023, the church has planted 125 trees, nearly 800 shrubs, and more than 1800 perennials. Plantings include many different varieties of plants that were chosen for their tolerance of drought or being native to this region.

So far, landscaping has reduced lawn space from 83,000 square feet in 2016 to about 23,000 square feet – a reduction of nearly 75%. 

Plant markers provide the common and scientific names of many plants, and an online catalog (http://www.aldersgatelinc.org/plant-catalog) provides additional details of what is growing at Aldersgate Gardens. 

The nature-based playground features toddler swings, a two-level fort, a 6’x10’x1.5’ sand pit, and a large section from an ash tree as a climbing structure.  These are enclosed within a fence.  There is also a 7’ tall hill slide outside the fence.  A rain garden near the playground captures most of the runoff from the roof of the church.  It features a shallow pool of water that supports a wide range of visitors – foxes, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and pollinators.  And occasionally a few children.  

The Lawn Experimentation Program is the latest addition to Aldersgate Gardens.  It consists of several lawn substitutes that are better for the environment than traditional lawns.  They require little or no watering, infrequent mowing (if any), and provide a food source for pollinators.

Future Plans

Creating a park that is as much like a natural setting as possible will require several more years of intensive plantings to replace large sections of turf grass.  Eventually, a network of paths will lead visitors to explore more of the park and experience the wide array of trees, shrubs, and perennials that make up Aldersgate Gardens.  Groundcovers will replace wood mulch as the primary method for weed control. 

Improvements to the playground may include a new swing set for older children and outdoor fitness equipment.  A little free library could house a range of children’s books, information on nature-based landscaping, and other topics.  It might also house a supply of magnifying glasses and binoculars for children to explore the natural world.  A frisbee golf course with non-traditional targets made of natural materials is a possibility.    


Aldersgate Gardens and Playground would not have been possible without the assistance of many individuals and organizations.  Aldersgate United Methodist Church has provided the land, some funding used as match for the initial grant, and many volunteers.  Neighbors have contributed time, assisted with watering, cost share on a drainage project, and much encouragement.  Hofeling Enterprises donated and delivered the 3,000-pound log in the playground and five large tree sections.

Funding came from grants, memorial funds, and individual donations.  Sources of grants included: the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, City of Lincoln Rainscaping Program, City of Lincoln Street Tree Voucher Program, and Lincoln Parks Foundation.  The Nebraska Environmental Trust was the original funding source for several of these programs.  In addition to several grants, the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum has provided technical assistance and much encouragement.  Luann Finke of Finke Gardens and Nursery was the landscape architect for Aldersgate Gardens from 2016 through 2021. 

Aldersgate has benefited from three Boy Scout Eagle Service projects.  The first project landscaped the parking lot islands; the second planted the shrubs and perennials along 84th Street, and the third installed the entrance signs located next to the sidewalks on South Street and Pinedale Avenue.


Aldersgate Gardens is a Landscape Steward Affiliate Site of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, a charter member of the Children and Nature Network, and a certified Nebraska Pollinator Habitat.  Aldersgate UMC participates in the Faith to Forest project.   


Aldersgate United Methodist Church
8320 South Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68506
Office Phone: 402-489-1510
Email: [email protected]