How to Start a Tree Nursery

by Nicholas Katers; Updated September 26, 2017
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Tree nurseries offer domestic and exotic tree varieties to homeowners and entrepreneurs looking to spruce up their properties. These nurseries range from small companies that focus on certain tree varieties to full-scale tree nurseries with delivery and landscaping services available. The success of a tree nursery depends on creating a demand among builders, developers and families in the surrounding community. Your tree nursery needs to reach out to the community and demonstrate what niche your business fills in order to survive beyond the first summer.

Items you will need

  • Delivery truck
  • Irrigation equipment
  • Tree trimmers and grooming equipment
  • Baskets and tree containers
Step 1

Examine the level of demand for your tree nursery's services in your business plan. List every landscaper, building contractor and home improvement store in your area to show the number of prospective customers. Devote space in your business plan to reconciling your start-up budget with the costs of wholesale trees, wages and other costs over the first year.

Step 2

Purchase an empty property outside of your city to give your tree nursery room to expand. Your tree nursery should be located close to condo, apartment and business developments to take advantage of landscaping needs by builders. Look for plots that are pitched slightly downhill from the entrance to increase water flow through an irrigation system.

Step 3

Work with a tree and plant wholesaler like Nature Hills Wholesale to maintain a full inventory. Measure the cubic footage of your nursery area and account for walking space between trees when ordering wholesale trees. Acquire saplings and seeds from your wholesaler to offer homegrown trees to customers.

Step 4

Outfit your tree nursery with tree trimmers, hoses, wheel barrows and tree storage from a supplier like MacKenzie Nursery Supply. Inquire about flowers, bags of soil and other add-on products that you can display in your storefront as impulse purchases. Install a storage shed at the rear of your property to keep excess supplies safe from the elements.

Step 5

Buy a pickup truck that you can use to drop off trees to customers. Contact local printing and custom auto shops to find the best deals on decals with your nursery name and phone number on the side of the truck.

Step 6

Employ a handful of full-time and part-time workers to staff your tree nursery. Your checkout counter can be staffed by a single position filled by a part-time day and evening staffer. Hire a handful of nursery staffers who can trim grown trees, help customers find the right varieties and load up trucks for deliveries. If your nursery offers landscaping services, hire a team of summer workers who can handle the bulk of your landscaping projects.

Step 7

Establish your tree and accessory prices before opening a tree nursery. Create pricing for individual trees and bulk purchases to encourage businesses and developers to acquire dozens of trees with each trip. Calculate the hourly wages of your landscaping teams and add a slight markup when pricing your delivery and transplant services.

Tips

  • Offer free trees and other supplies for community celebrations of Earth Day and Arbor Day to advertise your business. Your presence at a tree planting ceremony will connect your tree nursery to the community at a fraction of the cost of an advertisement. Contact local developers and builders to pinpoint advertisement of your tree nursery to the right crowd. Highlight your location, prices and varieties during these conversations to draw reliable business away from your competitors.

About the Author

Nicholas Katers has been a freelance writer since 2006. He teaches American history at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis. His past works include articles for "CCN Magazine," "The History Teacher" and "The Internationalist" magazine. Katers holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in American history from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, respectively.

Photo Credits

  • Photo by esagor (Flickr)