Customers rate the best local garden centers

Whether you need pots full of posies or a variety of vegetable starts, this region is blooming with options.

But when the priority is price, the new Consumers' Checkbook survey confirms certain stores are pretty tough to beat.

"The big chains, Home Depot, Lowes and Fred Meyer, they offer extraordinarily low prices," said Kevin Brasler of

After weeding through all the customer feedback, Brasler says it pays to be picky. The best prices, may not get you the best quality or the expert advice you need to make the best plant selection.

"The customers we surveyed of those big chains, didn't rate those companies very highly for things like advice, and quality of plants. "So this is one unique industry that rates that you might have to pay a little bit more to get quality," Brasler added.

If you're just looking for an annual that will only be around for two to three months, then going with the lowest price may be worthwhile. Local gardeners say if you've got a green thumb, you can also score by checking out the clearance section. Plants are often marked down because they're in less than appealing condition, but they'll come back wonderfully with a little tlc.

Even if you choose to pay more, don't assume the quality is automatically there. Inspect the plants for spots, browning foliage, insects and others signs of inferior quality. At lot of what you get, depends upon where the garden center purchased their plant stock.

"You want to make sure that what they've bought is in good condition so that when it gets there, it's thriving. And then that they're able to take care of it while it's there," Brasler explained.

Local viewers rated nearly 100 local garden center locations on their advice and service, the quality and variety of products, and reliability. About half the garden centers in the survey got top ratings for price, including many independent stores. But only about 30 got top ratings for quality and only six got Checkbook's top ratings for both quality and price: Alpine Nursery in Renton, Vassey Nursery in Puyallup, Orchards Nursery in Stanwood, Mintners Earlington Greenhouse in Seattle, Flower World in Monroe and the McLendon Hardware store in Woodinville.

To read the full Garden Center report here. is a subscriber based service. The current Spring/Summer issue also includes local customer ratings, price surveys and shopping tips on Tree Care Services, Lawn Care, Heating and Air Conditioning Services, Bike and Auto Body Shops, Carpet stores and Shoe Repair.

A courtesy to KOMO 4 viewers, the Garden Centers Report will stay on our website until June 14.