Lisa Yunker, owner of urban garden shop City Roots in the Gateway Quarter of Over-the-Rhine, was inspired to go into business for herself after her son was born.

Yunker had been a professional gardener for years, and she wanted to choose a path in which she could have the flexibility to be actively involved in her child’s life.

“My very first business plan was much more geared toward an urban Home Depot, selling things like fabric and curtain rods,” Yunker says. “One night I went to a party … and I threw out the idea of an urban gardening shop and everyone was like, ‘Wow. That sounds great.’”

As a single mother with no other source of income, Yunker knew opening City Roots was risky. “I had to work my butt off to get in this,” she says. “The buck stops here. This is my livelihood. This is real. There was no way I could keep it up and not make money.”

City Roots opened last June. It sells gardening essentials to downtowners. Among its wares are one-pound bags of potting soil (only larger quantities are sold in bigger stores), durable pots for outdoors, and plants from bonsai trees to cactuses. Yunker is also diving into the new market of rooftop landscapes, which has grown with the popularity of the green movement.

But City Roots branches out beyond retail. Yunker offers a free consultation for beginning urban green thumbs. She talks to customers and evaluates their future gardening sites. “I spend a lot of time feeling people out to see how much time they will spend gardening,” Yunker says. “I don’t want to send them home with a plant they can’t take care of.”

Yunker has even become the “downtown plant doctor.” Clients frequently bring plants to her hoping she can heal them.

Yunker has also been active in the revitalization of Over-the-Rhine, completing the 140-foot planted Gateway Box across the street from her shop and furnishing Gateway Condos with roofscaping and plants for models. “When you step outside, pretty much anything you see growing I planted,” she says.

Some nights in the beginng of her business Yunker couldn’t sleep for worry, but staying confident has helped her make it to this point. “I have learned the first thing in business is staying calm,” Yunker says.

Yunker shows no signs of slowing down, evidenced by constant additions to her merchandise such as hand-dyed yarn, bees’ wax candles, hand-painted watering cans and more. “I feel like I’m where I should be. … As long as I keep my eye on the ball it will be easy to keep in business,” Yunker says.