Dollars & Sense columnist John Ewoldt searches the Twin Cities and beyond for bargains and strategies to spare you time, money and hassles.
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Posts about Gardening and landscaping

Where's the cheapest place for 10-inch hanging baskets?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: May 11, 2011 - 1:34 PM

If you're a master gardener, you stumbled into the wrong blog. This one is for the casual green thumb who wants a cheap hanging basket and doesn't care that it's not the new black petunia or super bloom impatiens.  For people who just want, excuse the pun, garden variety annuals to hang on the porch, you don't have to pay $15 to $25 for a 10-inch pot from the greenhouse at the local hardware store or grocery superstore.



Starting today, May 11, Aldi grocery is selling 10-inch hanging pots for $5.99. They're in excellent condition but don't assunme they'll stay that way until they're sold. Aldi employees do a poor job of watering them, so shop early. Earlier today, I saw a good selection available at the stores on Franklin and Lake St. in Minneapolis. Varieties included Vinca, New Guinea impatiens in pink and purple, Torenia, Pentas and Wishbone.

I compared prices at temporary greenhouses at  Ace Hardware and Cub Foods, also on Lake Street. The 10-inch hanging baskets at Ace were $25. The colors and foliage looked a little more vibrant on the Ace baskets, but was it worth the extra $19? Not to a casual gardener. By the way, Cub's baskets looked similar in quality to Aldi's. Its 10-inch baskets are $15 on sale.

Starting next Wednesday (May 18) Aldi stores will have tomato or pepper plants in 2-gallon pots for $8. At Cub, I noticed similar pots were $13. Aldi will also have the aluminum wire tomato cages for $1.49 starting next Wednesday.



On a related note, has anyone else noticed how popular the hanging baskets and other plants are at Costco? It seems as if nearly half of customers' shopping carts have plants in them. Last week, a large pot of begonias was $20. That seemed like a "just okay" price to me. Anyone else ever compared Costoc's prices on annuals or perennials? Just curious.




Where can I get a haircut for under $8?

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 28, 2010 - 9:46 AM

In today's story about human billboards, a Great Clips salon in Maple Grove has a woman dressed in a scissors costume holding a sign that says "haircuts $6.99." FYI, that salon at will be charging only $6.99 for a haircut through November, said store owner Jennifer Max. The salon is located at 13550 Grove Dr., Maple Grove, 763-420-7800. Other Great Clips locations are most likely not participating in the deal, just the Grove Dr. location. 

So who else has haircuts for $8 or less? Empire Beauty Schools recently lowered the prices of its haircuts to $5 for guys and $8 for women at all locations. Bloomington, 952-881-8662; Eden Prairie, 952-906-2117; St. Paul,651-209-6930; Spring Lake Park, 763-717-1903;

Moler Barber School (2500 Central Ave. NE., Mpls., 612-788-4045) charges $7.50 for haircuts for men or women every day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, anyone 65 or older gets a cut for $5.50.

OK, OK, I know that many of you think that paying less for a cut means your hair will be butchered. I used to pay about $28 for a cut. Now I head to Fantastic Sam's, usually with a coupon, and get it for about $10 before the tip. I can't tell a difference, but I have straight hair. I've head others say their hair is hard to cut and so they pay more.

I'm just saying I used to think that too, but I've been happy with the less expensive cuts.

One more thing, is it really fair to charge women more than men, Empire? Shouldn't they just say short hair is $5 and long hair is $8? If you're a stylist and want to weigh in, feel free. I'm just wondering.

Here's a local source that has plenty of compostable leaf bags

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: October 26, 2010 - 10:05 AM

In today's column about where to find compostable leaf bags at the end of the season, I left out an excellent local source, Plastic Bag Mart in Minnetonka sells four sizes of compostable bags at prices that are lower than most retailers except Sam's or Costco.

One common complaint about the new compostable bags is that people want a larger size than 33 gallons. Plastic Bag Mart sells four sizes--13 gallon, 33 gallon, 39 gallon and 55 gallon. Most of the black plastic bags that were formerly used, were 39 gallon. The 45 gallon bags are also a popular size, but they can get too heavy filled with leaves. Some haulers won't take the larger bags. Also, the new compostable bags aren't as thick and sturdy as many black plastic bags, so the larger size may tear easily when dragged to the pickup area.

Another complaint is that the new bags rarely have drawstrings or flaps. I found compostable bags with drawstrings at Wal-Mart (AL-Pack brand for $5.36 for five bags). At more than $1 per bag, that's getting expensive, even for Wal-Mart.

Plastic Bag Mart charges $8.50 for a roll of 25 13-gallon bags (no flaps or drawstrings), $11.50 for a roll of 25 33-gallon bags, $15 for a roll of 20 39-gallon bags and $20 for a roll of 20 55-gallon compostable bags. To order, go to the website, call 952-933-2366, or go to 12201 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Will compostable bags with flaps or drawstrings be more readily available next year? I'll let you know when I hear back from my manufacturing source. I'll also ask if prices are expected to come down.

Two great daily deals, one at the Gap, one at Halla Nursery

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: August 19, 2010 - 10:02 AM

Allow me a little plug for my employer's new daily deal offer. This is a good one. Get $80 worth of trees, shrubs or perennials for $25 at Halla Nursery in Chanhassen. It's part of the Strib's new dail deal program called Steals. Click here to sign up.  Every weekday, a new deal with a discount of 50 to 90 percent is announced, including restaurants, spas, events and other local deals.

Here's another amazing daily deal. This one from Groupon. Get $50 worth of merch for $25. A 50 percent discount isn't really so amazing these days, especially on clothing, but the fact that it's a well known brand name such as the Gap is. And they're doing this discount in the prime time back to school shopping season. In an article on the Huffington Post, the Gap was listed as one of 12 brands that might disappear in 2010. To be fair, the article said it could be the Gap, Banana Republic or Old Navy (all owned by the same parent company), but Old Navy was the most likely culprit. Did you notice that maybe a month ago, old Navy discounted its entire store 30 percent. All is not well in Gapville I am sorry to say. BTW, the Gap deal cannot be used at any of its outlet, factory or online stores.

Aldi has hanging baskets for $4.99

Posted by: John Ewoldt Updated: April 30, 2010 - 9:28 AM

Aldi, the discount supermarket with more than 20 locations in the Twin Cities, is a low price leader on many things, including live garden plants. Today is the first day of the hanging basket sale. Ten-inch hanging baskets are $5. At least that's the price in the Aldi on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Normally they are $6, still an excellent buy.

Unfortunately, the baskets already looked a bit ragged on day one. I saw begonias, petunias and Gerbera daisies, but the foliage was often lopsided or straggly. The baskets looked better last year. That might explain why they were discounted.

Quality will vary by location, but it's worth a check. Remember to save your receipt, because Aldi's return policy is unconditional. I bought the Gerbera daisies last year and they barely survived a month. But Aldi refunded my money.

 Shop today or tomorrow on the baskets. They sell quickly and the longer they spend in the store the worse they look. At these prices, I guess you can't expect much TLC.  


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