A Bunch of ?'s On Starting A Nursery

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by cscott711, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. cscott711

    cscott711 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Hi Everyone,

    I just posted this on a sister site, treeservicesite.com, but I know that this site gets tons of activity. I have been brainstorming for ideas to best utilize the 7 acres of vacant land behind our office. It has been sitting vacant and empty for years and years. We are located in Mattawan, MI (southwest Michigan).

    I just thought of the idea to turn this area into a tree & bush nursery. While I do have a landscape, lawn mowing, and inground sprinkler background, I am not anything close to a tree expert. These questions are all "off the cuff" and I will use your responses, comments, advice, criticism, etc to determine if this is something worth pursuing. I will say that the idea has me very excited. I've wanted to get back into some type of outdoor industry for a long time and have taken on many odd jobs just because I enjoy it. Anyways, here we go...

    1. Is there a guide anywhere on starting up such a nursery?
    2. What type of trees and bushes are most profitable?
    3. What is the optimal ph level for the soil? I can send samples in for testing.
    4. What types of maintenance are required?
    5. How many years will it take to really start having quality product to sell?
    6. What other services could be offered in conjunction with the nursery?
    7. What else do I need to know?
  2. Thanksman

    Thanksman LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,695

    I envy you for having this oppertunity. Good luck
  3. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    Contact your state agriculture department and the nursery growers association. I don't have the phone numbers as I am suntanning in Vancouver.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The same principles involved with placing a tree or shub in a Landscape are the same as placing a younger tree/shrub in a nursery...

    Once you answer the question as to what LCOs are looking to buy for the Landscapes in your area, you have an idea about the type of 'Inventory' you'll want to develop... Always keep in mind that people will enjoy a few 'exotics' as well...

    Profitability is going to be determined in large part by, what you are able to acquire at what price and what your retail/wholesale will return...
    For exa. : I found a website that I could buy 500 plugs of 'Techny' for X amount of money, but I would be growing them for years before the first sale... Had I followed up on that deal I may have had sales today, but there are many others that also have Technys for sale...

    It is a risky business and I see lots of overgrown trees in abandoned lots, that were never kept up in the long term... I would have plenty of perennials that are desireable and easily multiplied along with the tree/shrub industry...
  5. cscott711

    cscott711 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    The more research I've been doing, the more I'm thinking diversification including not only trees and shrubs, but ornamental grasses, herbs, bamboo, annual/perennial flowers, wildlife habitat trees/shrubs, christmas trees, etc. Of course, I don't think I could fit all on the 7 acres, but some combination of the above.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    What I've done over the years is taken winterkill or deer damaged plants away from peoples landscape as throwaways and t-planted them into my garden. Perennials are even easier in that they spread out too much for their spaces and even get thrown out with weeds... Spirea and hydrangeas put out so much in new plants that it's hard to keep up with...

    Being paid to take plants to your nursery is a fun finanial stepping stone... :)
  7. ralph02813

    ralph02813 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Charlestown, RI
    Messages: 1,041

    Also, check out your local US AG office, they always work with the in state programs and there is tons and tons of on hands help. Since you have over 5 acres, I am pretty sure you will qualify for some of the wood lot farm programs as well.
  8. cscott711

    cscott711 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thanks for the responses everyone. A couple further follow up questions...are there any recommendations on the best place to buy a greenhouse? For you landscapers in northern climates, what are your highest demand plants? Any suggestions on specific books related to starting a nursery? I would also like to learn more about potential diseases and other common pitfalls that I might incur.
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  9. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    You'll probably need a couple of green houses. One for isolation and cloning type purposes.

    Also, I see many professional growers here using wood frame with supports painted white and heavy plastic over that. On the other hand there are many companies willing to sell you a more sophistocated set-up on the internet, or even in the local papers.
  10. cscott711

    cscott711 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    So essentially, they are making homemade greenhouses? I would think these would be cheaper, but maybe not. Are there any good instructional threads or sites that you would recommend?

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