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Which? surveys their favourite garden centres

If you’re shopping for the garden and want good customer service, expert advice and a wide choice of good-quality plants, it’s best to visit an independent garden centre. That’s the conclusion of Which? Gardening's most recent garden centre survey of over 7,000 Which? Connect members.

Coolings in Kent came first in their survey (with a customer score of 90%), holding on to the top spot since the last survey in 2008. It was closely followed by Gordon Rigg (87%) in Yorkshire/Lancashire and Ayletts (86%) in Hertfordshire. All three got a five-star rating (the top rating) for the range and quality of their products.

... and the worst
Bottom of the pile were DIY giants Focus and Homebase, with Tesco and B&Q not far behind. They fell down on the range and quality of their products and staff service. Some large garden-centre chains such as Wyevale (now The Garden Centre Group) and Country Gardens were rated surprisingly poorly, with both rated below average on customer service, and not much better on price.

Ceri Thomas, editor of Which? Gardening, said: 'It’s disappointing that 18 months on from our last survey big garden chains such as The Garden Centre Group and Country Gardens are still not providing the quality products and staff expertise that gardeners want.

'While there are bargains to be had at some supermarkets and DIY chains, until these stores improve their level of staff expertise and customer service, independent stores remain the best place for shopping for the garden.'

If you already know what you want or don’t need a large selection to choose from, a DIY store or supermarket could provide a bargain or two. This is particularly true for furniture, garden tools, composts and chemicals. Bargain plants are also to be had, but make sure you check their condition first. Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Wilkinson are all good places to look for value gardening products.

Source : Which? Magazine

24 March 2011
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