Instant gardens and instant gratification

It’s spring. Time and inspiration have blown away like seeds on a dandelion. You look out wistfully at your empty, nondescript deck. Dinner guests are due in an hour. If only you could snap your fingers and a garden would appear.

Thanks to UrbanMulch, your wish isn’t that far-fetched.

Sara Jones, who spent nine years as a Microsoft executive, started the online garden business because she was exactly the kind of homeowner who wished that her nonexistent garden would spontaneously take root: “I was time-compressed and design-challenged. I either had to hire an expensive garden service or buy the stuff and do it myself. There had to be another option!”

In a financial climate where online garden businesses sprout and wilt like seeds in gravel, Jones and her business partner, Dean Backholm, have come up with a successful formula: Customers log on, click on a season, and up pops a selection of beautifully planted, seasonally appropriate pots. There’s even an optional “rotation plan,” in which UrbanMulch will replant your pots two more times at four-month intervals, providing you with a year-long garden.

Selling style

Jones understands the value of a low-maintenance garden in today’s busy world. “We want something that speaks to the season, year-round, something good looking and easy to maintain,” she says. “All we ask our clients to do is just add water.”

Backholm adds, “We’re not selling pots and plants; we’re selling style. Anyone can go to a nursery and choose a bunch of pretty plants in 1-gallon cans. Putting them together, culturally and aesthetically, is the trick.”

For their next act, Jones and Backholm plan to offer what they call “the palletized landscape.” You’ll get to choose from a number of garden styles for your particular space. An UrbanMulch truck will then roll up to your house and deliver everything from plants to hardscape to mulch, ready for you to install.

Jones sees limitless possibilities in Web-based garden supply. “Online, ready-made solutions are everywhere, from the clothing industry to home entertaining,” she says. “The garden world is one of the last to see the phenomenon. But here we are. Right now we’re the only player on the field, but I don’t expect that to last.”

Info: UrbanMulch (planted pots from $230, rotation plans from $200.  (206/423-1587)

Though people tend to think flowers in spring, Jones and Backholm prefer working with foliage. Why? It lasts longer and is easier for time-pressed gardeners to maintain. If you know what plants to look for, you can create dynamic, beautiful, and easy-to-maintain container gardens on your own.


Keep Reading: