Armstrong Garden Centers has 32 locations throughout California, but one of the largest stores is in Torrance, Calif., which is about 20 miles south of Los Angeles. The flagship store serves as a trial and test ground for some plants and products, and customer response can help determine whether the merchandise shows up in other locations, or not. The store itself has also gone through transitions to improve the shopping experience and inspire customers. Here are some highlights from our visit with Eric Ryan, regional manager for the central stores.


Color blocking is a common practice at garden centers, as it’s attractive and helps customers sort through plants. Armstrong takes that a step further, using color themes to create scenes, like this one that features a bright orange umbrella, Adirondack chair and fuchsia flower. Customers can rest here during their shopping trip and get inspiration for their own homes.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
Torrance is a long-standing location in the Armstrong Garden Centers group, and Ryan says there was a nursery on the property when the company bought the store. In order to preserve the existing facility but modernize the retail space, the company has made small but impactful changes, like adding wood paneling around the store. Each section is painted a different pastel color to help distinguish between departments like home décor and birding. Spot lighting is also used to highlight products in an attractive way.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
When the governor enacted drought restrictions in California in 2015 due to historically dry conditions, Armstrong had grass planted in the lawn area between the road and their parking lot. They’ve always encouraged water-wise gardens, but they knew they had to walk the walk, so to speak, during an unprecedented drought. The grass in front of the store had to go, and in its place, the company built garden beds filled with firesticks, Cleveland salvia, agave and other plants that don’t require regular watering.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
The torrance store has the largest footprint of any armstrong location, which has its advantages, but the company found that the space was too big for their needs and made the shopping experience overwhelming for customers. To solve this problem without moving, they built a wooden fence along the back of the nursery area, reducing the length by about 40 feet. Mimicking the theme of the indoor retail area, the fence is also painted in inviting pastel colors.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
Every month or so, the store updates its “Armstrong Showcase” display, adding new, seasonally relevant plants that are trending with consumers, popular in the area or provide a solution. Customers, especially loyal ones, know to look there for the curated plants.
MICHELLE SIMAKIS

Works of art

Roger’s Gardens is the best of the best when it comes to merging home décor and garden design. The store is filled with gorgeous outdoor hanging baskets, container combinations and indoor succulent planters, which are all created in-house by a seven-person design team. They call the products “Roger’s Original Designs,” and they are exquisite and exclusive to the company. Here are a few we spotted during our visit in June.

— Michelle Simakis

MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS
MICHELLE SIMAKIS