April 2008
Let’s Get Technical By Lawn & Garden Retailer

High-tech gadgets and the World Wide Web are increasingly things affecting the way people make purchasing decisions. This month, we asked our panelists how technological advancements have affected their gardening practices.

Becky, 49
Dallas, Texas

“Technology isn’t changing how I garden, probably because I don’t attend garden trade shows to learn about the new gadgets. Every once in a while, something new catches my eye, but it’s usually something like a new spade or a fancy pot.

“My gardening skills are limited, and I stick to what I like. Thinking about this subject makes me realize there could be some fun new things on the market that I would enjoy learning about.”

Marie, 56
Mission Hills, Kan.

“I have become a big fan of the Internet as a way to plan my garden center shopping. I’m not yet experienced enough to know the qualities of different varieties of plants — their height and spread, their tolerance for sun or shade. My shopping woes are complicated by the fact that I usually visit garden centers on the weekend when they are overcrowded and the staff is besieged with questions.

“While I love to meander through garden centers looking for plants that catch my eye, I find that my shopping experience is much more productive if I prepare a list before I go to make sure I cover all my needs. Without a list, I regularly find myself overwhelmed with the wide variety of plants available. For example, this summer, my plan is to plant a hedge to cover an uninspiring fence along the back property line. I’ve always been a fan of hydrangeas, but I’ve never previously used PG Hydrangeas. After doing research on the Internet, I think they would be perfect for about 25 feet of the fence line. While I might have found these hydrangeas by looking at the various specimens at the garden center, I’m more confident now — having done my Internet research — that I’ve picked the right variety.

“Despite my reliance on the Internet as a research tool, I rarely buy plants from websites. I prefer to see plants before I buy them and to pick specimens that look healthy. I also like to know that gardens in my area grow the plants that I want. It gives me confidence that these same plants can survive in my yard.”

Luis, 75
Rockford, Ill.

“While there have been many technological advances pertaining to gardening in recent years, the primary benefit of current technology for me has been the ability to obtain information more readily. There is a plethora of gardening information available on the Internet. I can find suggestions for plants that are suitable for specific growing conditions in my yard, learn about specific plant diseases or pests, and their treatment. It’s quite easy to communicate with our state university extension service and local Master Gardener organization via the Internet. I presently receive several informative gardening newsletters online.

“I also like being able to order plants and gardening equipment on the Internet. The nurseries that sell online usually provide a great deal of information about their products, and often include good gardening tips. One of our local garden centers also has a station with an interactive computer program providing answers to gardening questions.

“As helpful as the above features are, I must admit though that there is not much modern technology involved when it comes to my ‘hands-on’ work in the garden. Some might consider the ability to listen to MP3 music as essential while gardening, but I prefer to enjoy listening to the sounds of nature.”

Questions to Consider

  • Does your garden center have a website? And if so, can visitors make purchases on the site?
  • Do you make an attempt to educate older consumers who may not be as informed about new technological advances that can affect their gardening experiences?
  • Does your garden center use new technological devices to make shopping quicker and more efficient, such as point-of-sale software? (Turn to page 34 to learn more.)