Tips to save you money on your garden

HOUSTON – Time to get your yard in shape for the summer. Whether you need trees, flowers or plants, you don't want to spend more than you have to. Consumer expert Amy Davis shopped around to show you where you'll get the most greenery for your green, and which stores have the best return policies.  

In the Texas heat, it can be tough to keep flowers and plants from frying in the summer sun. You don't want to literally burn through your cash trying to keep some color in your yard. Whether it's a pop of color or some ground cover, most homeowners wander around the garden center with the same wish list.  

"I'm trying to add some plants to the backyard that have got some color to them," said homeowner Jim Franz. 

From begonias to petunias, before you pick a flower, you have to pick a nursery. We shopped around for a three-gallon hibiscus to find the least expensive garden center.

The most expensive was Warren's Southern Gardens in Kingwood, where a Hollywood hibiscus costs $31.99. 

At Caldwell Nursery in Rosenberg, the same size hibiscus is $25.

At Home Depot it's $14.98 and at Houston Garden Centers, a 3-gallon hibiscus is just $9.99. 

We found Houston Garden Centers' prices were the lowest in other comparisons too, but the chain has a strict no refund policy. 

When it comes to returns, big retailers have them beat. 

"The Home Depot honors their plants for a year. As long as you have your receipt and the original pot it came in, we will return it," said Home Depot employee Arcadio Saenz. 

You can return any tree, plant or shrub you buy at Home Depot up to a full year later for a full refund, no matter the condition or the reason it didn't survive. 

"It's a great policy because not everyone has a green thumb," Saenz said. 

At Lowe's, bring in your tree, shrub or perennial up to a year after purchase, with the receipt, and the store will replace them for free.

Walmart also has a 1-year guarantee on all live gardening products. You can get your money back. 

We didn't find any independent nurseries with such generous return policies. Most of the time when nurseries guarantee their shrubs or trees, they only honor that if you pay them to plant them in your yard. 

You may not get as much help finding what you need or getting gardening advice at the big box gardening centers, but they will stand behind their merchandise. No matter where you buy, check the bottom of the container to see the roots of the plants you buy. They should be white. Brown roots are a sign of an unhealthy plant.