At first look, the sign for P&L Concrete likely conjures thoughts of putting in a sidewalk or maybe pouring a concrete floor in a new garage.

But the second part of the business – the Garden Center – opens up an entirely new world of items for those who want to spruce up their yard, create a mini home oasis or even try their hand at planting a vegetable garden.

Bright flowers in bloom, vegetable seedlings, gift items, expert advice and more can be had at P&L Concrete and Garden Center in Escalon.

You just have to look for it a little bit, as it is somewhat off the beaten path.

Situated at 1900 Roosevelt Ave. in Escalon, the P&L Concrete Products, Inc. and Garden Center has been in business for decades, the concrete portion since 1972, the garden portion for more than 20 years. Still, said Garden Center/Nursery manager Angela Cardoza, there are many who still don’t know about the expansive garden center tucked away in the small town.

“People do call us a hidden treasure, a hidden gem,” Cardoza said.

Nursery hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the concrete and decorative rock/bark side of the business is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

“We had our busiest year ever, a record,” Cardoza explained of 2020, noting that the pandemic and its accompanying shutdowns seemed to drive people to get involved in home improvement projects, gardening, and lawn care.

“Definitely the vegetables,” she said of where they saw their biggest sales increase, with many people having both the time and the desire to grow their own produce during the past year.

“We are stocked with vegetables for the spring and summer, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, corn, artichokes plus fruits like blueberries and raspberries,” Cardoza added. “We also have fruit trees, shrubs, vines, roses, perennials.”

With the newfound zeal for gardening at home and working in the yard often used as a substitute for taking part in other physical activities, a trip to P&L can get people moving in the right direction. There’s time to get the garden started, even a small area in the yard, and you can burn calories while tending to the plants and then exercise your culinary skills in creating fresh dishes with your homegrown produce later in the summer.

Water fountains and other garden statuary items are available at Escalon’s P&L Concrete and Garden Center.

As far as the yard is concerned, color splashes can brighten it up, decorative bark or rock is a viable alternative to grass since it is easier to maintain and doesn’t require the watering that lawns need in the Central Valley summers. Spring is also the perfect time to do the sprucing clearing away any debris left from winter storms and refreshing the entire landscape to offset your home.

Now owned by Jeff and Arlene Francis, P&L was originally started by Arlene’s father, Bill Porter, and his business partner Joseph Lewis. After Lewis retired, they kept the P&L name and it was under Porter’s direction that they branched out from the original septic tanks and ready-mix concrete to include items such as the decorative water fountains and garden statuary.

They do custom potting as well, with people able to bring in their flower pots or hanging baskets for a full re-planting or just some minor touch up work. Special occasions such as birthdays, bridal or baby showers, anniversaries and more can also be handled, with bouquets and centerpieces.

“We also do bereavement items,” Cardoza said.

Garden flags, stepping stones, hanging baskets, birdhouses – there’s a seemingly endless variety of styles and products to help meet customers’ needs.

Cardoza said they provide consulting services, such as for those looking for a backyard plan or help with determining how best to decorate a yard for a special event.

“We don’t go out and consult but they can bring in pictures of the yard or the dimensions and we can tell them how much they’ll need,” said noted of providing suggestions for potted plants, baskets and more.

An indoor gift shop features signs, decorative flags, mugs, books and more at Escalon’s P&L Concrete and Garden Center.

“We also have a little gift store that features garden flags, garden art,” she added.

They do provide delivery services in the local area, from Modesto to Oakdale, Riverbank to Ripon.

Also available are the bin materials, a variety of styles of bark and decorative rock, which can be used in landscaping. The fountains and yard art are often used to help create a backyard retreat and with flowers, vegetables and fruit, Cardoza said a trip to P&L can be good for both body and soul.

“Fresh air is so important,” she said, adding that people getting outside to garden and do yard work is a great way to get some exercise and take in the fresh air.

Prior to the pandemic, P&L hosted a number of different gardening/planting-themed classes and Cardoza said they do plan to get back to those in-person classes when permissible. They also offer a customer newsletter and, Cardoza said, are always ready and willing to help and answer questions to assist with your lawn and garden needs.

They can be reached at (209) 838-1448 or visit them online at plconcrete.net