By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published May 02, 2010 at 11:03 AM

It's tempting to shop for the garden at places like Wal-Mart and Home Depot because their prices sometimes undercut smaller garden centers. However, a garden gnome once said that the information and greenery available at the smaller "mom and pop" centers surpass the chains -- and chances are, there's some truth to that. So, if you haven't finished digging in the dirt this year, check out one of these smaller centers. Happy planting!

Batzler's Garden Center
8762 N. Granville Rd., (414) 354-9749

Family-owned for more than 35 years, Batzler's is a small garden center with a nice selection of perennials and annuals and an emphasis on hanging baskets and vegetable plants. The family also owns an attached bar and restaurant called Batzler's Trackside Inn.

Bayside Garden Center
400 E. Brown Deer Rd., (414) 352-6159
For more than 50 years, the Bayside Garden Center has grown almost all of its greenery, which includes annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and more.

Bluemel's Florist & Garden Center
4930 W. Loomis Rd., (414) 282-4220

Family-owned since 1955, Bluemel's carries annuals and perennials and other landscaping supplies. They do not, however, have shrubs or trees.

Capitol Drive Nursery & Garden Center
9802 W. Capitol Dr., (414) 461-2867

Capitol Drive Nursery is a small, family-owned business with a nice selection of annuals, perennials and vegetable plants.

Fred's Garden Center
6238 W. Appleton Ave., (414) 442-4492

Family owned for 35 years, Fred's offers annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, cut flowers and more.

Garden Room
2107 E. Capitol Dr., (414) 963-1657
Garden Room carries a small selection of annuals. They also have tools, houseplants and more.

Hawks Nursery
12217 W. Watertown Plank Rd., Wauwatosa, (414) 258-5525

Established in 1875, Hawks is a large, family-owned business. (The Hawks' family no longer owns the business; Wauwatosa resident Joe Kresl bought it a few years ago.) Hawk's offers a massive selection of annuals, perennials and trees, including some hard-to-find things. It also offers landscape design, maintenance and planting services.

Kellner Greenhouses
3258 N. Humboldt Ave., (414) 264-6605
If you haven't been to Kellner this season yet, don't miss out on the new-and-improved Riverwest greenhouse. Kellner offers a great selection of annuals, perennials, succulents and more in a nice, renovated space. Like many of the shops on this list, they have a very friendly and helpful staff.

Mega Discount Nursery
1901 E. Rawson Ave., Oak Creek, (414) 571-6565

This family-owned garden center has been around for about 20 years. They specialize in shrubs and trees and the prices are outstanding.

4838 Douglas Ave., Racine, (262) 639-2040
8717 Highway 11, Sturtevant, (262) 886-2117

These massive garden centers are run by second-generation Milaegers, who continue to offer some of the most beautiful greenery in the area, from the basic to the difficult-to-find. They offer a spectacular selection of everything needed for a lush garden, as well as a huge selection of gardening supplies, furniture, gifts and more. The Racine location also has a cute cafe.

Minor's Garden Center
7777 N. 76th St., (414) 354-4886

A family-owned business for 57 years, Minor's is a full-service garden center with a great selection.

Shady Acres Perennial Nursery
5725 S. Martin Rd., New Berlin, (262) 679-1610

Shady Acres has a good selection of perennials, vines and ground cover. They do not offer flats of annuals, but they do have a small selection. Shady Lane Greenhouses
W172 N7388 Shady Lane, Menomonee Falls, (262) 251-1660

A fixture in the Falls for 30 years, Shady Lane is a full-service center with a great Web site and seminars to help novice and expert gardeners. 

Stein Garden & Gifts
3725 S. 108th St., (414) 328-5600
5400 S. 27th St., (414) 761-5400
8801 W. Brown Deer Rd., (414) 362-7878
14845 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, (262) 783-2323
Maurice Stein founded the company in 1946, and his son, Jack Stein, currently operates all 15 family-owned stores. Each Stein store is on a five-acre site, with a massive selection of nursery stock, landscaping items, yard ornaments, gift items and more.

Sweet Earth
1571 W. Forest Home Ave., (414) 384-7995

Sweet Earth opened in 1956 as Bauer's, but a few years ago it was purchased and renamed by a Milwaukee resident. Sweet Earth features a nice selection of annuals, perennials and more. They also have a flower shop and an upbeat, informed staff. 

Wayne's Daughters Farm & Greenhouses
Farm Location
2429 43rd St., Caledonia
, (262) 835-1376
City Location
6207 Douglas Ave., Caledonia, (262) 752-1088

The motto at Wayne's is "cut out the middleman" because Wayne's, family owned for eight generations, grows virtually everything it sells.