Although things at beloved garden gear purveyor Smith & Hawken have been rocky for the past few years — the beloved, founded-in-1979 company ceased operations in 2009 after being acquired, much to the displeasure of the company’s founders, by Scotts Miracle-Gro five years prior — the company is back and more vibrant than ever after being acquired by Target in 2010. Smith & Hawken made a stunning appearance, complete with a lush, interactive vertical garden measuring standing 25 feet tall, at last week’s Philadelphia International Flower Show.

At the show, Target unveiled a new range of Avignon premium teak patio furniture, décor, and long-handed gardening tools (hoes, spades, shovels, and the like) from Smith & Hawken.

I didn’t have the chance to make it down to Philly myself to check out the offerings from Smith & Hawken but from what I’ve seen it’s beautifully designed (yep, a solid-forged border fork can be beautiful) and long-lasting (made from both rot- and rust-resisting materials) stuff sure to appeal to both experienced greenthumbs in need of new gear and those just starting up.

Check out the entire Smith & Hawken for Target line here. Anything in particular strike your fancy?

In addition to perusing the new garden-ready offerings from Smith & Hawken, check out this list — courtesy of Stephanie Grotta, head designer for the Smith & Hawken for Target line — detailing Top 5 Garden Essentials to consider before digging in this spring: 

Tip 1: Determine what kinds of plants you want to grow. 

The best way to get excited about gardening, particularly vegetable gardening, is to grow what you love to eat!  If you love tomatoes and herbs, you’ll be more invested in the care and raising of tomato and basil plants than you would be in squash. Plus, then you can also try different varieties and compare growth patterns, taste, etc. (this is great for kids).

If you’re growing from seed, look for seed collections – like Smith & Hawken’s herb collections, available at Target – which take the guess work out of selecting varieties and always offer something fun and unexpected.

Tip 2: Evaluate your sun, soil, and water.

All successful gardens are a combination of great soil, sun, and water. If the space for your garden (or your containers of herbs) gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day you can grow almost any kind of heat loving plant. If you have less than that amount, look for plants which tolerate light shade — like lettuces and root vegetables. Healthy soil is also essential for growing great food and flowers.  Adding compost to your garden is a natural way to introduce nutrients to your growing plants. Water is the third component to growing great plants. Investing in watering equipment like hose ends, a bubbler, or spray wand is an easy way to make sure your garden is well tended.  Try using the Smith & Hawken Bubbler, or the Smith & Hawken Gardening 7 Pattern Nozzle — all available at Target — in the mornings and evenings for best results.

Tip 3: A few simple tools go a long way.

Investing in three key tools will make your gardening experience a life-long habit.  1) A garden fork for lightly turning the soil and raking out weeds; 2) a hand trowel for planting seedlings and plants, and 3) a transplanter for assisting in marking appropriate planting depths.

Tip 4: You can garden anywhere.

Just because you’re short on space doesn’t mean you can’t have a great garden. Container gardening is an easy and fun way to add plants to any area. Any size or type of container will work, including copper, ceramic, vintage planters, or window boxes; containers are also a nice first-step if you’re nervous about investing in a larger garden.

Tip 5: Have fun and experiment.

There is no ‘right or wrong’ in gardening, and only so much can be learned from books.  Grab some Smith & Hawken gardening gloves, dig in, and have fun!

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Tool time: Smith & Hawken at the Philadelphia Flower Show
They're baaack ... Smith & Hawken hits the Philadelphia International Flower Show with a slew of new gardening products and a dazzling, 25-foot tall vertical ga