For those that are thinking about getting into the business next year, here is a little guide from www.careers-internet.org that might be helpful for some. Its a long read but has some good information in it. Career in Landscaping / Nusery Business Earnings: $13.50 for lawn service managers $13.50 for nursery & greenhouse managers $11.50 for pruners $11.50 for sprayers & applicators $9.54 for landscaping & groundskeeping laborers Owner of a mid-size nursery/landscaping service: $50,000 to $75,000 annually Owner of a large, successful nursery/landscaping service: $100,000 annually Traits Required: Like to work with plants and soil Like to work with your hands Ability to get along with all types of people Like hard, outdoor work Physical strength Desire to satisfy your clients Ability to do more than one task at a time What You'll Do: Identify your clients' needs & desires & satisfy them Inspect lawns for problems Apply fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides & other chemicals Develop plans & blueprints Estimate & track project costs Sell Plants & Flowers Where You'll Work: Clients' homes or businesses, either outside or inside Your home or office Fields & greenhouses of a nursery Education Required: On the job training High school diploma State universities offering courses in landscape contracting & design, & in horticulture Certification Pluses: Opportunity to work out-of-doors Sense of freedom Sense of pride Sense of accomplishment. Seeing tangible results Minuses: Work outdoors no matter what the weather is Loss of money due the plants dying Low pay for entry-level positions Tools can cause injuries Working with chemicals Final fee payment may never be paid Introduction: People need plants and love to surround their living and working spaces with foliage and flowers. There are smaller and less expensive plant arrangements, such as perennials as well as more costly shrubs and trees. And, there is major landscape projects, like the addition of an ornamental pond with lily pads or stone walls covered with vines. But plants are good for more than just decorating homes and offices. They contribute to human health by absorbing carbon monoxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. They also provide food; the first and most predominant food of the cave-dwelling people was plant material. Ornamental use of plants and trees came much later, but those origins were still thousands of years ago. Today landscaping is a popular business to start because it is much in demand but also relatively inexpensive for the beginning entrepreneur. If you already own a truck and a lawn mower, you're almost halfway there. However, the market in some areas does become saturated with people who call themselves landscapers but who have little or no training or experience. Property maintenance, mowing and trimming lawns, are not the same thing as landscaping. Landscaping involves art and design, as well as grooming. Landscaping isn't restricted to the outdoors. There is a huge market for indoor landscaping, such as that found inside malls and office building lobbies. Someone must plant and tend the shrubs and flowers you see in such indoor environments. The special problems facing indoor landscapers include the artificially manipulated air quality of the environment and the way the windows enhance or block the sun that falls on the plants. If you own your own landscape business, you will be responsible for planning your clients' gardens or working off blueprints furnished by a landscape architect, purchasing the plant material and overseeing the establishment of the garden. If you start as a landscape laborer, you will physically install the plants, as well as transplant, mulch, fertilize, water and prune plants, trees and shrubs; you will also mow and water lawns. Landscape workers can further specialize to become pruners, whose duties are restricted to pruning, trimming and shaping ornamental trees and shrubs. The shaping of shrubs is also known as topiary and can be a highly specialized business; it takes many years to learn how to do it correctly. Most topiary specialists today use chain saws, but some still prefer non-motorized tools to perform their art. A groundskeeper is very similar to a landscaping laborer. However, a groundskeeper is usually hired by one facility to maintain that landscape only, instead of working for a number of clients. Besides maintaining lawns, plants and trees, a groundskeeper is often responsible for raking leaves in the fall and clearing snow from pathways and parking lots in the winter. A groundskeeper is typically responsible for both the inside and outside of the facility. If you are employed as a groundskeeper, you must know how to care for the outdoor shrubbery as well as the indoor ornamental plants. As a landscaper working for individual clients, either residential or commercial, you will purchase grown plants and shrubs from a nursery. If growing plants appeals to you more than arranging them in a client's backyard, you may wish to consider opening your own nursery. Most nurseries start small and expand over the years. Nursery sales follow the economy in general, and the industry as a whole has grown 20% over the last decade. It takes between five and seven years for a new nursery business to start earning a profit. Ornamental plants, those that people buy to dress up their yard, fall into general categories: shade trees, conifers, perennials, vines, shrubs, bulbs and annuals. Lately, nurseries have been specializing more; for instance, they might grow native groundcovers or daylilies exclusively. Even small growers can work within such niche markets with specialty crops (native plants, hardy bamboo, etc.). There is also a demand for plants in short supply, such as uncommon plants or very large trees. There is still a huge segment of homeowners who are avid gardeners, and the numbers are growing every year. This means there will continue to be an excellent market for the nursery business. These customers will typically ask you for advice or other information about the plants you sell, but they are usually aware of how to plant and care for them. Nursery managers decide what type and quantity of plants will be grown; they choose seed, fertilizers and disease control substances; hire workers and direct and coordinate their activities; manage bookkeeping and marketing tasks; and generally oversee the entire operation. Nursery workers prepare the nursery acres or greenhouse beds for planting; water, weed and spray trees, shrubs and plants; cut, roll and stack sod; stake trees; tie, wrap and pack flowers, plants, shrubs and trees; dig up or move field-grown shrubs and trees, as well as those in containers. The most predominant type of nursery production uses whatever means they have at their disposal to grow the best, most healthy plants. This often involves using pesticides for their fruits, vegetables and flowers, to cut down on disease and insect damage. There is also the organic nursery/farm, which uses other methods of pest and weed and disease control, many of which have been used for hundreds of years. Beneficial insects are cultivated right in the garden in order to control pests, and combinations of regular household items, like vinegar and sugar, are also used. Sustainable nursery production involves practices which use reduced levels of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides; integrated pest management to deal with insects, diseases and weeds; and focuses on building soil quality to promote plant health. There are several types of nurseries, one of which may be right for your career needs: A Grower/Retail nursery grows their own products on their own acres, then sells them from a storefront located someplace on the same property or close by. The Wholesale nursery grows plants for sale to other nursery operations, landscapers or retailers. It may also grow plants on a contract basis. A typical landscape and nursery business produces plants for retail sales and also offers landscaping services to its customers. Sales outlets for nursery plants include: The Lawn and Garden Center is somewhere between mass merchandiser and landscaper. You may even have one in your neighborhood, family owned and operated and offering a good selection of locally grown plants. Some centers want a great deal of variety in plant types and sizes, and others don't, but they generally do not grow their own. If the buyers for your plants are landscapers, they will be looking for large, quality plants carefully identified and raised. They will select their plants from a few quality growers, and want to choose from many different plants and sizes of plants. Their purchases tend to be spread over the year, with some emphasis on spring planting. You can sell plants at Farmers' Markets, which sell locally at retail prices. This is a local activity, but it can involve traveling many miles to participate in many local markets, even to urban areas. Mail order/Web site outlets give you the ability to sell at the national level. Selling through the mail and Web site may require you to do some national advertising, design a catalog, and have a larger inventory of plants. Learn More about This Career Professional landscaping on a residential dwelling makes a good first impression on visitors; in the trade it is known as "curb appeal." It can also create a peaceful mood for the residents and visitors, and it has been shown to increase property values. Curb appeal has enjoyed increasing importance to both residential owners and commercial concerns. Landscape services will be used more extensively to maintain and even upgrade existing properties. Also, a large segment of homeowners prefer to spend their leisure time in pursuits other than gardening, which accounts for the recent growth in home landscaping services. You can open a landscape business that also operates a nursery, in essence growing the plant materials you will use in your landscaping projects. You will be operating two different businesses, but they are compatible. You grow the plants, package them, design landscapes for your clients and use your own plants. Some clients prefer this, because they feel the plants will be of superior quality with the landscape owner so intimately involved in their growth. Growing your own plants, as a landscaper or nursery business owner, requires a greenhouse and some costs, such as heating. You can start and grow the plants completely or you can buy young plants and proceed from there. Growing your own involves less up front cost, but it also takes longer. There are two types of nursery production, in the field and in containers. Those plants grown in the field come from direct seeding or are transplanted from seedlings. After being lifted from the ground, they are used as fruit trees, seedlings for Christmas trees, windbreaks and conservation planting, or grown for balled and burlapped landscape or shade trees. Until the 1950s, nearly 100% of nursery production was accomplished in the field. Today, field production is used for bare-root seedlings for conservation plantings, fruit trees and nursery liners. The most profitable field production is that of balled and burlapped shade trees for the landscaping industry. The similarities between field and container growing include the fact that most woody landscape plants begin as cuttings, and both types of growing involve spending a large portion of the budget on machinery to aid production. Plants grown in containers generate about 10 times more sales per acre than those grown in fields. About 80% of your business will come from a five to 15 mile area around your nursery location. If you sell to retail garden centers, you will need smaller plants in 1-3 gallon containers. If you sell to landscaping firms, you will need to provide plants in 3-5 gallon containers, as well as balled and burlapped woody plants. Container stock has a better chance of survival from the beginning, and is much more likely to establish itself upon transplanting. It requires less room to grow and will tolerate less quality soil. Growing in containers also tends to lengthen the planting season. Several years ago a group of landscape architects were asked to identify the areas where nurseries might improve. These landscape architects cited four: nurseries should try harder to be reliable and consistent in the plants they provide; they should develop plant varieties that meet specific needs and sizes; they should recommend certain plant varieties for certain conditions; and they should make regular presentations to landscape architects. History of the Profession: Gardening and landscaping are as old as recorded history, maybe even older. In ancient Egypt, wealthy people had private gardens, carefully landscaped. City officials also provided public gardens for the poor, and every home had ornamental flowers. Possibly the most famous of any ancient gardens are known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar built the most imposing of his palaces on a mound north of Babylon, known as Kasr. The adjoining gardens themselves were supported on a series of circular colonnades, and they were built for one of the king's wives, who was unused to the Babylonian heat. The Greeks called the gardens one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Persians enjoyed luxuriant gardens which sometimes doubled as hunting parks, almost in the tradition of the later British.