Amy and Luke Oeth bought their first house about a decade ago. Like many first-time homeowners, their improvement efforts were focused primarily indoors. Stripping their bathroom down to the studs didn’t intimidate them, and neither did building a stone patio in their backyard last summer, but plants were another story. Save for a raised bed vegetable garden, their house was surrounded by overgrown perennials and grass.
That all changed this past spring.
Amy Oeth works for GdB Agency, a PR and advertising firm that represents Bailey Nurseries’ brands, including First Editions Plants. The agency was brainstorming ways that Bailey could encourage customers, especially newbie gardeners, to get over their cultivating fears and get started. The other goal was to teach people how to pair plants in the landscape — another hurdle for the inexperienced.
Videos of real-life people navigating new landscaping projects were pitched, and the agency decided that the Oeths were the perfect couple for the task.
“What we wanted to do was find a way to show real projects to people that are inspiring, instill some confidence and encourage people to go out there and just try it out,” says Kris Fitzpatrick, account director at GdB. “When you think about DIY projects you do at your home, there’s usually something that’s technical that you have to figure out. With landscaping, the instructions are pretty basic.
“We wanted to see what would happen if we found a real-life couple that had the right situation, the right personality to take this on and let them have a little fun with it.”
They’re calling it the first-timers campaign, with the tagline, “Turn your blandscape into a landscape.” The first video introducing the series features the real, likeable couple posing American Gothic-style, with ragtime piano music in the background and a narrator reassuring viewers that “Anyone can plant with pride and confidence,” because of the selection and breeding process.
Bailey Nurseries and GdB are both located in Minnesota — St. Paul and Minneapolis respectively — and requested help from nearby Bachman’s, a garden center chain in the Twin Cities. Bachman’s sent a garden designer to help the Oeths plan the project before they got started. They began with the backyard to warm the space around their newly built patio.
“There was no big expectation on me being a pro, which was really helpful,” Amy Oeth says. “I was pretty excited because I’ve been wanting to have more personality and style back there. You don’t want to spend time in a place that doesn’t feel cozy.”
But, like many new gardeners, she wasn’t sure where to start.
“It was really helpful to have the designer come out and do a quick plan for us,” she says. “That’s where I would have got stopped up myself, not knowing where to put things with shade, sun and part-sun [options]. I’m not an expert on that at all.”
Once they had their plan, the Oeths, armed with a tripod and video camera, documented their first days in the garden. During the first weekend, they amended and tilled the soil off-camera. The next weekend, they started rolling and planting their hydrangeas, dogwood, magnolia and other Bailey plants.
“We got [the plants] all in the ground in one day. It was pretty doable with the two of us, Luke digging the holes, me putting the plants in, filling it in,” she says, laughing. “It took us 6 or 7 hours. That was very intensive, but it was really easy and it was pretty fun. And it was a fun challenge to do it all in one day, too.”
The video is time lapsed, so all of those hours in the garden are condensed to about 1 to 2 minutes — an ideal run-time to ensure people will get through the entire video.
More videos that feature specific gardening tips and solutions are in the works, Fitzpatrick says, as are interactive photo galleries with plant pairing ideas in the landscape that feature more than just Bailey plants. Topics are still being discussed, but they may cover transplanting, the Oeths’ front garden bed or how to recover when a storm has pelted your landscape.
The digital campaign will include several platforms, including YouTube, the First Editions website, Houzz, Better Homes & Gardens and their social media channels. POP with images from the program will be available to garden centers as well. In the future, they may share and even create similar videos for new garden center staffers who are inexperienced as a training tool.
“We want to see the appetite for it,” Fitzpatrick says. “If people are liking it, we want to keep doing more.”
Oeth wouldn’t mind continuing with the project, she says.
“It’s just so fun to watch them grow,” she says. “It’s been six weeks. I think they’ve doubled in size. It feels so nice and cozy [in the backyard]. It’s very rewarding.”