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A good garden center has the inside info on the plants and plans that will make your outdoor space thrive. The opinions we collected from area consumers on garden centers they use, reported on our Ratings Tables, will help you find the best places to shop. You'll find that some stores were rated “superior” overall by at least 80 percent of their surveyed customers, but several other retailers were rated “superior” on this question by 30 percent or fewer.

Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Meadows Farms scored, on average, lower than almost all the other stores.

But for the selection of plants they sell, these three big chains did very well on price. Home Depot’s prices averaged 34 percent below the all-store average for comparable items, Lowe’s averaged 24 percent below the all-store average, and Meadows Farms’ prices averaged 12 percent lower.

Though it’s not the case with most types of services and stores we examine, paying more for plants at garden centers slightly improves your odds of getting better advice, service, and plants. Many of the stores rated highest for quality charge higher-than-average prices, but some outlets evaluated on Ratings Tables that rate high for quality also have below-average prices.

For specific plants, we found enormous nursery-to-nursery price differences. For example, for a lavender in a six-inch pot, prices ranged from $7.99 to $25; and for a boxwood in a #3 container, prices ranged from $19.95 to $54.99.