We're now entering peak spring gardening season, when everyone is snapping up plants, pottery, new grills, and patio furniture.
But where's the best place to buy all that:Home Depot? Lowe's? Or perhaps somewhere else entirely?
The answer, it turns out, is complicated. Home Depot and Lowe's have been battling for our dollars since 1978, hard to believe. But when it comes to which store is "better," there's still no clear winner after all these years.
That's because the biggest difference is cosmetic, according to the financial site Investopedia.
Investopedia says Home Depot has what it calls an "industrial esthetic," with its orange color scheme, emphasis on power tools and equipment rentals and a feel that it's geared toward professionals.
If you want to build a house, you might feel more comfortable with Home Depot. If you want to rent an insulation blower, Home Depot may be the only option for miles around.
Lowe's, Investopedia says, is more for "first-time home improvement customers," with its blue color scheme, lower shelves and larger floor displays of appliances, patio furniture, grills and holiday items.
If you are decorating your back patio for the summer, Lowe's typically has a larger and better displayed selection of chairs, pillows and umbrellas.
What about prices? A recent comparison by Cheapism found the two chains are so competitive that prices were close on many items, if not identical.
But don't assume these two big chains always have the lowest prices on everything they sell.
Marketwatch analyzed prices at the two chains and found that it's typically cheaper to buy cleaning supplies, small appliances and batteries at big box discount stores.
For example, Marketwatch found Duracell AA batteries for 30 percent less at Walmart and Costco.
Finally, while Home Depot and Lowe's are fully stocked with outdoor gear this time of year, don't expect huge markdowns. If you really want a bargain on outdoor furniture and grills, you may want to wait until July, when patio gear is marked down to make way for fall items.
That way you don't waste your money.
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