Survey: Shoppers rank Puget Sound garden shops and nurseries



Posted on April 8, 2010 at 7:52 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 8 at 1:58 PM

SEATTLE -- Maybe the weather will be good enough to do some gardening this weekend. It is that time of year, and we're shining the spotlight on local garden nurseries.

Consumers' Checkbook, a magazine that provides independent customer ratings on all sorts of services around Puget Sound, recently did a survey of garden shops in the area.

Their survey shared what garden shop customers said about nurseries in the area. Here's what they found:

• Poor service was mentioned 40 percent of the time

• High prices were mentioned by 30 percent of those surveyed

• 20 percent brought up poor plant quality

When it came to store personnel, 17 percent of customers surveyed said they got poor advice from people who work at the nursery, but it all depends on the size of the garden shop.

"These small independents, in many cases, were rated up by 80 percent or more favorable ratings from their surveyed customers , whereas Lowe's, Home Depot, and Fred Meyer, that favorable rating was down in the 30 percent range," said Robert Krughoff, publisher of Consumers' Checkbook.

Krughoff said when it comes to how much you spend on your plants, bigger is better.

"On the price front, however, the big chains , Fred Meyer, Lowe's and Home Depot, had substantially lower prices than most of the independent nurseries, although there were a few independent nurseries that actually did very well on price," he said.

As just one example of the sometimes dramatic differences between shops, Consumers Checkbook  looked at prices for the exact same plants and got extremely diverse differences.

A river birch tree (6 feet high) was $44 at one shop, $185 at another. A flame maple tree: $24 on the low side, $170 on the high side. A container of six hosta: $30 and $78.

What are those nurseries? Consumers' Checkbook is making their ratings of garden shops around the Puget Sound available for free to KING 5 viewers until April 15th. It's a subscription service usually, but you can see for free by CLICKING HERE.