Garden centers rated for quality and price

(Saving with 6abc - Amy Buckman)

May 15, 2013 9:01:27 AM PDT
Spring has sprung and that means lots of people are heading into their gardens to plant.

But before you head to a garden center, you'll want to make sure you're getting the best value for your money. Fortunately, the Delaware Valley Consumer Checkbook has done the research to help you out.

Taddeo's Garden Center in Havertown, Pa., was one of just six garden centers in our area that received Checkbook's highest ratings for both price and quality -- out of a customer survey of 105 businesses.

That survey found big price differences, as Checkbook Executive Editor Kevin Brasler explains, "One of the trees we shopped, we found a price range from about $60 to $350 for the same size, species of tree."

Across the board, the big chains -- Lowe's and Home Depot -- had the lowest prices. On average, Home Depot was 36% less than mom-and-pop nurseries and Lowe's was 21% cheaper.

Bralser says, "One thing we found is that the really big players in this industry, are Home Depot and Lowe's and really, none of the area stores could compete with them on price. The problem is that Home Depot and Lowe's received quite poor ratings for things like advice, and quality of plants."

He continues, "One of the problems that these big mega-chains have is that there's a lot of turnover in their plants and so they don't have to keep those plants alive as long. But their buying standards tend to be a little bit weaker than the independent players. The top-rated independent players know they have to keep these plants alive a long time, so they have to be in good condition when they get there or raise them themselves."

For annuals, that you only expect to live for a few months, hardiness might not matter, but for trees or perennials, paying a bit more at first could be the way to go.

Brasler says, "It does pay to shop around, but also, you're going to want to keep your eye on quality on something that's a more expensive species not just something that you're planting for a few months."

To read more about Checkbook's findings on garden center price and quality, click here.