A couple of weeks ago I received a notification on the Nextdoor app about an opportunity to buy plants. Nextdoor is a social networking platform for local communities and neighborhoods where users can interact with their neighbors, discuss community news and recommend local businesses. This post was from a City of Fort Worth Community Engagement Office.

All it took to get my attention was the simple mention of plants and gardening.

The post started with: “Want a beautiful garden? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.”

Immediately I’m skeptical.

Here’s the rest of the post:

“Do you love gardening but aren’t quite sure which plants to choose for your landscape to blossom? Having trouble finding plants that look great and thrive season after season?

The Fort Worth Water Department suggests residents take the guesswork out of finding the right plant for the right spot by purchasing a custom-designed, water-saving UPlantIt boxed garden.

Pre-planned gardens include sure-fire plants hand-selected by Texas A&M AgriLife Water University horticulturists that are proven to flourish in the challenging North Texas soils in our sometimes harsh and unpredictable climate.

UPlantIt gardens include 32 starter plants sown in 3-inch pots. Each plant is tagged and numbered to correspond with professional designs to make planting as easy as possible.

Select from the three garden layouts. Each boxed garden comes with a comprehensive planting and maintenance guide.”

Once I read this program was operated by Texas A&M AgriLife, I felt quite a bit better about the validity of it. The UPlantIt boxed gardens are 2 feet by 1 foot and offer three plant-by-number layout options. Texas A&M AgriLife really has taken the guesswork out of the design/planting process, which can be overwhelming to a new gardening consumer. Instructions mention planting “in full sun to part shade,” which I’m still convinced that a large chunk of the population have no idea what that really means. Fortunately, the program goes into a little more detail and tells users their garden design will require a minimum of five hours of direct sun per day.

The plants offered in this program are locally grown, some are native, but all are adapted, and they support pollinators.

Plants include Conoclinium greggii, Monarda didyma 'Jacob Cline', Salvia roemeriana, Leucophyllum langmaniae and others.

Cost is $95 and plants must be ordered before a certain date and four locations are available for plant pick up. These are starter plants, which again, I don’t think is the best verbiage to use with newbies.

The UPlantIt web site features how-to guides and videos, such as “How to plant a plant,” “Preparing your planting site with sheet mulching” and “Gardening for wildlife.”

Texas A&M AgriLife used social media to reach new and experienced gardeners; appealed to the locally grown factor and the pollinator habitat movement; and they provided designs and instructions to help gardeners be more successful.

Overall, I like the idea of this program. I’m going to order one and test out all the factors.

Consider partnering with a local municipality, university or garden center to provide something similar in your community.