How small nurseries can appeal to landscapers?

gardener_tomJanuary 27, 2014

There are many large and small scale nurseries.
For those who build a nursery in their yard, as a landscaper or nursery that sells to landscapers, what would be you top 5-10 advises on how to market to (and create value for) landscapers for win-win relationships and increased profitability of the nursery?

Thank you in advance.

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sc77

Are you planning on starting your own nursery? Best advice I could give is to talk to all the local nurseries you can. Most of them are not doing to well, with a few exceptions. Are you considering selling exclusively to contractors at wholesale prices, retailers, or both? I think the problem with wholesale is that there is too much competition from the big box stores. Tough to compete with $50 for a 6+ft green giant...

It would be great if everyone was knowledgable about plants and would want to be the healthier, more unique trees offered by small nurseries, but that is not the case..Most just want the most bang for their buck and will take a generic Arb over a really nice conifer. Also, the market for high end home buyers spending $10k on a full blown mature landscape are mostly over as well.

If I was going into the business, I would focus on selling unique trees to retailers and/or contractors, but also focus heavily on the mail order market....that is where the money is at these days.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 8:56PM
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gardener_tom

Thank you for your input, SC77.
Would appreciate any other suggestions...

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 6:23AM
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lazy_gardens

Find out what the big wholesalers are growing and don't grow that. :) Or beat them to market with your stuff.

If you have seed-starting facilities and a greenhouse, grow for EARLY gardens. You might not make it with all your stuff, but if you can get salable sizes early, some retailers will take all you can grow for their early customers.

I was at a local nursery yesterday and their buyer deals with several local small growers whose specialty is 6-packs and 4-inch pots of locally popular vegetables - things that Bonnie Bell won't or can't handle. She said they had stripper their suppliers of everything they had that was close to ready, filled the tables and were 90% sold out over the weekend ... they will be reloading weekly during planting season. (we're a month away from last frost danger)

It's a bit early, but they had okra, armenian cucumber, chili chilaca, various squash ... all things that can be planted NOW if you want to do a bit of frost protecting and get a head start. They were often just past the seedling stage, but for vigorous growers like okra and the cukes, that's what you want.

And they had things you won 't see in the big box stores for at least a month, in small sizes. 4- or 6-inch tomato varieties that do well here, super-hot chili varieties (starting with habaneros and going hotter), Lots of herbs too, with uncommon varieties of the mainstay herbs.

NOTE: You could also do this and sell retail off Craigslist or at a farmer's market or swap meet.

===========
Landscape plants:

Grow and sell natives and locally hardy perennials and shrubs and trees that aren't readily available from the big box stores ... and sell them younger in larger quantities.

I can get all the penstemon or desert marigold or native grasses I want in gallon cans. I'd like to use them for mass plantings, but the cost is prohibitive for a homeowner in my target market. If I could get them in 6-packs or 1/4 flats, we'd all be happy.

I'd love to get 1-gallon desert willow and chitalpas!

Also sell them via Craigslist and set up a website for your backyard nursery.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:10AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

My neighbor with ten acres has specialized in growing Thujas, both Thuja occidentalis, 'Emerald' and T. plicata. Most people need privacy. Landscapers provide privacy. He grossed $20,000 last year. He hasn't quit his day job.
He grows other hedges as well, but Thujas bring in the most money for the work involved.
Mike

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:20AM
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lazy_gardens

Also, if you have the space, grow those plants that don't flower the first year and sell them in their second and subsequent years. Hollyhocks, some penstemons, etc.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 3:29PM
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marcinde(7)

Unless you want to compete on volume compete on specimen plants. I have a # of contractor yards in the area (DC metro) and I gove most of my business to the nursery bringing in the unusual stuff - perfectly sheared columnar hornbeams, styrax just how I like 'em, and loads of funky conifers. There's currently no good source for clumping bamboos in my area. Find out what has a decent margin and is a hole in the market,

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:55PM
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yardvaark

Many of the small residential nurseries don't have adequate space to maintain their operation and some of them end up turning into plant junk piles ... a hodge podge of plants with deformities of some kind. It would be better to specialize with a limited product that fits properly, and keep it well organized ... especially (per marcinde) something with a decent profit margin and short supply. You might survey local designers to see what they wish was available, but isn't.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:20AM
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