Get to know your garden center’s return policy

Get to know your garden center’s return policy

Is that tree, shrub or perennial you bought at your favorite garden center last year not looking so good? Maybe it never bloomed. Maybe the leaves look limp, brown or covered with fuzzy gray stuff. Or, maybe the plant died.

What to do? Plant guarantees and return policies vary among the nurseries in Indianapolis. They range from a philosophy where everything is guaranteed, to only guaranteed if planted by the garden center.

For most garden centers, a policy needs to:

• Keep the customer happy.

• Protect stock from possible infestation of insects or diseases when a sick plant is returned.

• Determine whether the tree, shrub or perennial was planted and watered properly.

It’s also important that customers understand the definition of perennials. Many tropical plants come with tags that say perennial, but these tender perennials are hardy only in temperatures warmer than the Indianapolis area’s USDA Zones 5 and 6.

“We take the Nordstrom philosophy: If you’re not happy, we’re not happy,” says Karen Thacker, vice president of operations at highly rated Altum’s Horticulture Center and Landscape on Michigan Road, near Zionsville, Ind. “Our two-
year, no-worry warranty goes with every tree and shrub we plant. It’s one year if the customer does the planting. The guarantee applies to perennials, too.”

When planted by garden center crews, owners know the trees and shrubs were planted correctly, says Ryan Denhart, owner of highly rated Country Harmony Garden Center in Brownsburg, Ind. He says Country Harmony guarantees plantings by its crew for one year.

However, trees and shrubs planted by the customer cannot be returned or guaranteed, primarily because of possible insect or disease problems. Country Harmony’s trees and shrubs are grown and acclimated to Indiana temperatures, which makes them more likely to survive winters, he says.

Andrea’s Garden Center, near 65th Street and Binford Boulevard, offers a full warranty on plants planted by its crew. “We struggled with what to do. We know the product we carry and it’s just easier for us,” says Amy Richardson, who with husband William Richardson, owns the two-time Super Service Award-winning garden center.

Garden centers want their customers to succeed in all of their gardening endeavors, says Helen Dammann, who with husband Jim Dammann, owns Dammann’s Lawn, Garden and Landscaping Centers.

“We must at some point allow the customer to form a partnership in maintenance of plant material,” says Helen, who operates three stores at 30th Street and Franklin Road, on Emerson Avenue on the Southside, and on Rockville Road on the Westside. She says Dammann’s prefers customers call, email or come in to the store for a problem analysis and possible solutions before pulling a plant from the ground.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Hoosier Gardener, lives on Indianapolis’ Northside in a midcentury modern with a “living laboratory” in her yard. She’s involved in several local gardening organizations, and she operates a year-round garden consulting business.

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