May 2007
Consumer Talk: Stayin’ Alive By Lawn & Garden Retailer

Becky, 48
Dallas, Texas

“I have a few flower gardens spread throughout my yard. We have a sloping front yard where erosion takes place with the spring rain. Every March or April, I must clear out the leaves and weeds and then add rich soil. Some years, I will spread large-sized bark chips. I have purchased perennials in the past, but never seem to keep them healthy during the Texas summers to allow them to bloom the next year. For me, I just purchase annuals every year.

“In the back yard, I have found potted plants do better. I buy large baskets and re-pot them in my containers. In the front yard, I will plant them in the soil. When I first plant, I will add MiracleGro to jump start things, but after that, I do well just by watering them often.

“I have some roses in the side yard and use fertilizer and pest/black spot chemicals on them. Other than the roses, I rarely do anything else.”

Kelley, 27
Chicago, Ill.

“My ‘garden’ is just a pot of ivy that I rescued from my old job. It was nearly dead and barely green at all. When I brought it home, I poured out all the old dirt and refilled the pot with some potting soil that I purchased at the drug store. This seemed to help a lot. I changed the soil again about three years later. My plant sits by a window that faces west. I water it every few days, mostly when I notice it getting droopy, but he’s a pretty tough little guy and can go a week or more without water.

“As for chemicals and fertilizers, I haven’t had the need to use them. If I ever do have a garden, I would like to think that I’ll keep it organic — compost for fertilization, alternatives to pesticides, etc.”

Paquita, 55
Redlands, Calif.

“I use a systemic on my roses and some snail bait in the spring. Other than that, I release ladybugs and praying mantis each year. I did lose some trees to the much-loathed glassy winged sharpshooter a couple of years back. There is not much you can do about them except cut back the diseased wood.

“Nut grass is a real local problem. That stuff can pierce and grow through carpet and asphalt roofing shingles, both of which I have used as a base in my native plant borders beneath the wood chips. So Round Up has become my best friend. The only fertilizers I use are B-1 when I plant, a weed and feed product on the lawn twice a year, the rose food I mentioned and maybe some steer manure every three years or so.”

Questions To Consider

  • Are there any local problems (pests, diseases, regulations, etc.) affecting your region that your customers may not know about? Do you keep products readily available for such problems?
  • Do you keep instruction sheets in your store containing tips for potting and protecting plants?
  • How do you encourage customers who don’t use fertilizers or pest control to treat their gardening problems?