Snapshot research carried out by Which? Gardening magazine shows that to get great advice on plants you should go to a garden centre and avoid the UK’s largest DIY chains.
During April 2013, our secret shoppers visited garden centre chains and DIY stores posing as inexperienced gardeners. They asked for advice on a diseased rose and wanted to buy another rose to plant in the same spot to replace it.
We expected the garden centre staff to clearly identify that the rose had blackspot and suggest a suitable chemical treatment. We also expected them to give standard horticultural advice on replanting a rose in the same spot – ie that this is not generally advisable.
Homebase and B&Q did badly
Homebase and B&Q say that a lot of their plant staff are horticulturally trained, but they gave the poorest advice on our visits. The staff we spoke to generally managed to deal with the simple question on rose blackspot and recommended a suitable chemical treatment. But our secret shoppers were only told about the potential problems with replacing a rose with another rose on four out of 12 visits, and were recommended a suitable solution only once.
Often the problem is finding the right member of staff – in one Homebase store, the only person who was available to help our shopper was someone from the paint section.
Garden Centre Group gave the best advice
The Garden Centre Group came out top in our research. In all of our visits the staff listened to the problem carefully and gave very thorough advice. They explained clearly what to do, but also the reasons for doing it.
What do you think about the gardening advice you’ve received in a garden centre or DIY store? Join the Which? Conversation and tell us.