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Get Your Garden Blooming this Spring with Gardenette

Much like their mission statement—Gardenette was created specifically for the DIY homeowner. We provide all the support and guidance you need to create a yard you’re proud of—Nora Saintz is dedicated to creating beautiful, usable landscapes for her clients.


With custom garden designs and consultations (including on-site and virtual!) Gardenette is a woman-owned and led business based out of WNY that is also committed to making gardening accessible to all, no matter your experience or budget. We chatted with Nora about all things landscape and we can’t wait to introduce you!


Thank you so much for talking with us! Tell us a little about yourself.

I didn’t have a real formal start—I was always interested in gardening. I liked the design aspect and moved a lot, so I enjoyed landscaping apartments every six months. I learned new things and was good at and interested in it. My friends and family started asking for help, and I realized a lot of people wanted to do things themselves and just needed guidance.


Gardenette is all about confidence and teaching people how to be gardeners. Officially, I started about five years ago; three years ago I started my website, and in those two years I went from friends, to neighbors, to my website. A lot of my business is through Facebook and word of mouth.


What has the experience been like?

My customers are regular homeowners, which is perfect for me since I want my business to be accessible to all. Everyone can have beautiful landscaping and gardens—you don’t need to be rich and have a sprawling yard. Sometimes when you go with a company you often end up with the same lawn as everyone else. Now, there will always be people who need those people to do installations, but not everyone does, which is where I come in. Gardenette is a half-step between winging it and going to a landscape company.


I find people are ready to figure it out, so for me to do the design, I meet with them, talk about their visions and plants they like, and create a plant shopping list so they know what to buy along with a list of ways to install and maintain those plants. Importantly, I also include ways to keep the plants alive.


Since I started pre-Covid, a lot of business coincided with Covid since there was a boom in the home improvement and landscape business. I also heard from a lot of people in January 2023 because they lost their landscaping due to the winter storms.


Do you have a favorite project you’ve completed?

I don’t always see the end results! A lot of it is giving people a plan to use… eventually. The feedback and experiences I’ve had have been really positive, though, and most people are easygoing. A lot of my clients are women who are retired or whose children are grown and they’re looking to get into their landscaping. Most of [the business] is my name being passed around WNY through word of mouth and it’s more about me teaching people than doing things for them.


What does your dream project look like?

I love the cottage style—think lush, full plantings (but those are not low maintenance)! The upkeep requires time and the plants spread like crazy. Think Anne of Green Gables: it’s pollinator friendly, there’s no mulch, and every spot is taken up by a flower…


Where do you get your inspiration from?

From the clients themselves! It starts with learning the yard and [its] condition and reading people. Every year is different; some people are trying to move toward pollinators and some just want a revamp of a yard that’s sad and old and needs some new colors. Some clients have visions of exactly what they want and what they don’t, and some know they want A, B, and C but will defer to me.


What do your projects look like from beginning to end? How do they vary?


First I meet with a client for a free consult, figure out pricing based on square footage (it can be very specific since the project size varies) that I use my own measuring tools for. Afterward, we talk through their vision and my quote. I have a two-week turnaround for a plant list and guide for them, and I’ll go through as many revisions as necessary until it’s just what they want. Communication is very open, and I can easily make appropriate substitutions if there are plants or flowers they don’t want.


Through Gardenette I’ve formed a lot of good relationships and friendships with my clients. They have me and my services for the life of the plants, and the success rate has been pretty high!


I’ve also recently hired someone for follow up photos of gardens!


Do you have any favorite plants you like to incorporate? Do you have anything you try to use in every design?


I like to choose things with a long blooming period and plants I think will look perfect in each garden. One of my favorites is the coreopsis with its many colors, and hearty geraniums, which come in purples and pinks and are a perennial that’s great from May to October. I try to use them in every design—they’re also deer proof and low maintenance.


Do you have any tips for those who are just getting into DIY landscaping or starting a garden?


Most important is to observe your yard: where the sun hits, where it drains faster, etc. It can take a year to truly get to know your yard. You don’t need to totally start from scratch either, since existing plants can be relocated. (Sometimes having nothing can be better, but those occasions are rare.) We can work around some plants coming out, and some of the ones against a house that would be more of a hassle to pull out can be used as a backbone for your garden, or what I call “foundation plantings.”


Also, if you travel often or will travel, wait to garden so that you or someone will be around to ensure everything is watered.


It can also take two years for some plants to get established.


Coming soon I will also be offering a DIY course! I’ve been offering them in person, but they will be online this spring after I do my website overhaul. It will be informational, and I’ll cover garden basics.


As I’ve said, the whole point of Gardenette is accessibility—you don’t have to be rich to have a nice yard! It’s a myth that you always need to go with a major landscape company.


Are there any common problems you found in garden?


The #1 problem I’ve found: spacing. Things can’t be planted too close together, and it’s important to keep in mind what the mature size of a plant will be and that some grow faster than others. It’s all about the right plant, the right place, and taking into account height and width to space accordingly. Also, pick plants that have a stopping point [in growth]. That’s also a good way to keep things low maintenance.


It’s also a good idea to start planning in the fall so you can hit the ground running in the spring. You can plant anytime the ground isn’t frozen; plants are tougher than people think, and they’ve been here for millennia.


Any recommendations for year-round landscape beauty?


I like to think there are three seasons of beauty, and I like to plant for May to October. I love plants that bloom in the early spring since we spend more time on our decks during the spring and summer. There aren’t as many winter gardens here, but greenery, shrubs, and holly are always nice. Evergreens were big for a while and they look nice year-round. They can be important for creating structure in your garden.


How has the industry changed since you first started your business?


I’m here now! People have taken my designs to landscapers, so we’re not actually competition. I and the landscape companies satisfy different needs, so really it’s a trifecta of myself, landscapers, and garden centers. Gardenette is a niche but a need!


If you had to give one piece of advance for landscaping—or life in general, what would it be?


Size matters! Plants and space are 98% of the problems you’re going to run into, so it’s important to read those tags! Also, learning the growing conditions and knowing what zone you’re in is a huge step to some next level learning. (Not all plants can survive in all conditions, so the zones reflect which plants will do best based on the climate you live in and what sort of winters you experience. Buffalo is Zone 6.)


There is a lot to learn, but I would definitely start with spacing!




Go to music to work to? None. I do a lot of work at coffee shops, so whatever is playing there. I also do a lot of work on my front porch.


Favorite season?  Fall. The planting, plant sales, the weather is temperate… WNY fall is amazing!


Favorite local spots in Buffalo?  Wayland Brewery—they have great landscaping/gardens. I also love Elm Street Bakery in East Aurora.


Favorite type of flower or greenery?  I love peonies, grasses… everything! It’s why I do this.


Landscape or garden icon? This is more my field, but I have a lot of inspiration from my grandma on my dad’s side. She was an entrepreneur at a time when it was not common for women to run businesses. I’ve had a lot of encouragement from my family.


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Japan. I’m actually a military history major so I have an interest, but our climate is very similar to some regions there! (Japanese Maple, anyone?)


Anyone you want to give a shout out to? The support of family and friends for listening to ideas!

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