Spring is very appealing to most people, in many aspects, but one of the most appealing aspects of spring is the smell. The smell of flowers blooming, freshly cut grass and freshly laid soil invigorate nature lovers and gardeners alike with the nostalgic memories and feeling of past springs, filling individuals with the promise and anticipation of another wonderful spring.

You can often experience these very feelings and smells from the comfort of your own yard; however, visiting a nursery provides its own amalgamation of scents as well. Nurseries are where great looking gardens begin; at least, this used to be the case. More and more people are starting to fine they can fill many of their gardening needs in garden centers.

What is a garden center? More than likely you have seen one, even been in one, but just didn’t know what it was called. Garden centers are the outdoor sections attached to the side of Walmart and Target and Home Depot, and unless you enjoy working in your yard you probably have never gone near this section.

Nevertheless, these garden centers are growing in popularity and outpacing nurseries. The biggest reason for this is the price difference. Purchasing the same plant at a garden center rather than a nursery can save you big bucks. Think about it. Why pay $50 for a plant just because it was raised in a greenhouse, when you can get the same exact plant for $15? Sure, there might be a slight difference in quality (the plant in the garden center may be a little wilted, but nothing so severe that a little TLC can’t fix in a week or so), but not so much a difference as to be significant.

Walmart, Target and Home Depot all have very nice, clean and organized garden centers. All three stock every type of plant, flower and seed imaginable. Home Depot even devotes a whole section to lawn maintenance supplies, including fertilizers and bags of specialized soil. It should also be noted that these garden centers also offer warranties on their plants, so that if a plant you buy and take home dies the store will replace it for you, no questions asked.

Of course, if you’ve been shopping at nurseries all of your life and have always been satisfied with the service and the plants you’ve bought, then you are no doubt skeptical that a garden center could be better, and you can’t be faulted for this belief, because in reality nurseries probably are still better. The plant life is better quality and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful in all gardening matters; whereas the staff at a garden center usually knows nothing more than how to sell the items.

But quality aside, shopping in garden centers means saving money, and if you are skeptical, then put it to the test. Buy a plant from a garden center and put it in your yard and see just how well it grows. Why not? After all, it won’t cost you nearly as much as buying it at a nursery.

Everyone has their own preference. For their part, nurseries are a good option because you can easily get the expert advice you need to help your garden thrive. But sometimes saving money can be more important, and this is the appeal of garden centers, as well as their location, conveniently next to popular stores you probably shop in frequently, which saves you making two trips.

Joe Goertz

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