How To Start Backyard Plant Nursery – A Full Guide

Introduction on How to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

Creating a backyard plant nursery is an amazing way to turn your hobby of gardening into a business. It is one of the best methods to earn money without any added stress. Starting a backyard plant nursery can be a wonderful way to turn your plants into cash and it is also a profitable business. It is easy to start a nursery in the backyard as it doesn’t require tractors, expensive equipment, or greenhouses. It is a fact that a plant nursery in the backyard can turn your hobby into a profitable business.

The secret to making good money with a backyard nursery business is to specialize in plants that are in demand and select container-grown plants to save space. A relatively new development in container growing is called the “pot-in-pot” system, allow growers to produce larger trees and shrubs without the back-breaking hand digging and high water consumption required by field growing. For growing smaller plants, container growing saves time, water, and transplanting. Pot-in-pot is mainly used for the production of caliper-sized shade trees, flowering trees, and large shrubs.

A Step by Step Guide on How to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

A successful nursery in the backyard offers a wide variety of young plants to their customers who purchase the plants individually or in bulk quantities. The quality, selection, and size of the products formed by the nursery will be dictated by the demographics of their location. A nursery’s selection is influenced by business relationships the owner has established with main landscaping businesses.

Location to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

The primary step to start a plant nursery is the availability of land. The backyard can be utilized for more profit, than hiring land for growing plants. The basic qualities of land for nursery should be present. These qualities denote soil fertility, nutrition present, moisture content, and non-toxic nature. With all these factors which decide the growth of the plant, the land is perfectly suitable for you to start the process. If you prefer to plant two to three varieties of woody plants, the use of varieties of soil might be a condition. In such cases, you can spend your investment on soil purchase. After purchasing the soil, the land can be subdivided for different species.

Few Basic Tools to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

In addition to your plant starts, some basic tools, and a water source, also you’ll need additional supplies. You’ll require a good soil mix (you can make you own or buy a pre-made mix), quality fertilizer (a slow-release fertilizer is a preferred method for most commercial growers), different-sized containers for growing plants, and plant labels (you need to know which plants are in which containers).

A few basic hand tools required to start a backyard nursery are;

1. Containers – Plant containers are fairly cheap. Also, you can get them free from landscapers. Get the sizes you’d like to try.

2. Potting Soil Mix – It’s very important your plants grow up healthy and strong, so a good soil mix is essential. You can buy pre-mixed potting soil or also make your own. A basic formula for soil mix is;

  • Six parts topsoil or compost
  • Three parts peat moss
  • Two parts of sand

3. Fertilizers – Controlled-release fertilizers are also known as slow-release or time-release fertilizers. Don’t buy these fertilizers at the local garden center and buy these fertilizers at a wholesale nursery supply in 50-pound bags.

4. Plant Labels – It’s very important to know just what type of plant is in each container, so a plant label will help provide that information. You can even put another type of information on there, such as when it was planted. There are two kinds of plant labels that are normally used;

  • Stake tags are put in the soil next to the plant
  • Slip-a-tags get attached to the branch of the plant

Once you gather all these supplies and obtain any licenses or permits you need, and then your backyard nursery is in business.

Propagation Techniques to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

Ground Covers – This is one of the methods where you can easily get the ideal backyard nursery crop. The ground cover is becoming one of the smartest methods to create a landscape. This ground cover can offer you profit in a year and it requires little maintenance, no mowing, and water conservation. It saves the soil from erosion and keeps it cool, thus reducing the need for water.  Ground covers are becoming the low-maintenance way to the landscape due to high labor costs and water shortages. Most growers like ground covers, as they are easy to propagate, grow, and sell. Ground covers are an ideal cash crop to start a smaller backyard plant nursery.

Ornamental Grasses – Ornamental grasses are popular nowadays and it ranges from low-growing to the tall ones. Landscapers adore them as they can be used in different ways as specimen plants, ground covers, and privacy screens, etc. As an added feature, the low maintenance grasses add color to the landscape much longer than flowers. Because these are drought-tolerant and low maintenance, landscapers are using more and more of them, as are homeowners. It is easy to get started growing ornamental grasses, as you simply buy the “mother” plants and then divide the root clump into new plants as it grows. Using pots, it’s possible to grow thousands of plants in a backyard nursery.

Trees and Shrubs Landscapes – Several backyard nurseries specialize in container-grown trees and shrubs. It is surprising to see the number of pots that can fit in the small area of the nursery. It is one of the secrets of a small nursery where finding your niche would help to maximize your business.

Process to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

The process of starting a backyard nursery includes some steps – planning, designing, production, and marketing.

Planning is an essential and key element in everything from designing the layout of the living room to estimating the volume of sales and expenses. Find out what kind of plants are suitable for the climate conditions in your location. First, look around the gardens, both indoors and outdoors, of your friends and neighbors. Check out the price tags of these plants in the garden centers, at the farmer’s market and see what plants are being sold. The choice of plants for the garden nursery will depend mainly on the gardener. Growing “mother” plants is a clever idea that requires no investment at all and you can propagate them by cuttings or root division.

Ground covers are always in demand as they are ideal for landscaping. The fact that they do not need mowing and the watering and maintenance are minimal makes them extremely popular. These plants are easy to propagate and do not require much care.

Ornamental grasses are other popular plants suitable for a garden nursery. These are a popular choice for landscaping and are used as pond decoration, in rock gardens, and as patio decor. Growing trees and shrubs is another idea which you can develop in a backyard garden nursery.

Herbs and spices are the perfect choices for beginners and you can start with Basil, Thyme, Mint, Cilantro, Parsley, Oregano, Sage, Lovage, and Chives any of these can be planted both in pots and in soil.

Another good idea for beginners to grow cacti, air plants, or succulents. These are plants that need practically no effort to grow and propagate and can be grown in a small plant nursery.

You should not miss this: Terrace Vegetable Garden Ideas.

Planting your Plants in Backyard Nursery

Step 1) Acquire the proper materials to begin planting in the nursery. While you may already have a lot of gardening tools if you have experience growing plants, purchase whatever tools you don’t have yet.

Step 2) Now you’re ready to begin planting your plants in the nursery. It’s a good idea to begin planting once your land is thawed. Be sure to give the plants enough room to grow and don’t plant them too close together. Keep the weeds under control. Check your plants for any diseases or other problems. You’ll probably need shears, sprayers, and pots. Most backyard nurseries don’t sell ceramic pots, so only purchase the materials that you want to grow the plants. Purchase plant seeds from a reputable dealer and keep the receipts.

Step 3) Focus on 2 to 3 popular plants to start and grow your nursery. Then, the plants you select to grow in the backyard nurseries are dependent upon where you live and what the climate is like. Choose 2 to 3 species of plants that you’re passionate about to start with. Pick plants that you have experience growing and you think will be popular based on the local market. Buy your seeds and plant them. Then, check-in every day to provide each plant with the necessary water, sun, and care as you’re growing.

Step 4) Succulents are easy to take care of and they’re relatively cheap, so they’re a good choice for a younger market. Some flowers like roses and orchids are always a safe bet. Track your growing cycles so that it’s easy to figure out when plants are going to be ready. Then, this will make it easier to figure out when you need to host some sales.

Step 5) Advertise when you’re hosting sales in the neighborhood and online. Write a simple ad for your nursery that includes the time and location of upcoming sales. Also, include a few photos and your nursery’s name. If you think your area has a lot of potential buyers, consider taking out some ads in the local newspaper or on local radio stations.

Step 6) Price your plants based on demand and what your growing costs are. While the prices for plants can vary wildly based on the species, focus your prices on the demand in your location while taking the growing costs into account. Also, visit the local flower and plant shops and look at their prices. If the demand is high in your area, consider raising prices to test the waters and see what you can make.

Step 7) Host your sales by setting your plants up in your backyard and talking to customers. Before your sale starts, move 30 to 40 plants to your front yard. Then, arrange the plants on the ground in rows, or on top of benches and folding tables to signal to people passing by that you’re open for business. Be visible and walk around your backyard so that customers can easily find you. Introduce yourself to people and explain how to care for your nursery plants. A lot of nurseries save some time by giving each species of plant at the same price. Revise your strategy based on conversations with customers and sales. When you’re selling, interact with your customers. Ask them what they’d be interested in seeing in the future, and hand out a business card with your contact information.

Step 8) Licenses and permits – You’ll most likely need licenses and permits for a backyard nursery business. You’ll need a business license. Also, you need a resale license if you live in a state that has a sales tax. This requires you to collect sales tax and gets you an exemption certificate from purchasers who resell the items they buy from your business. As with all of these licenses and permits, talk to the state to find out their laws and regulations.

Tips to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery

Tips to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery
Tips to Start a Backyard Plant Nursery (Pic courtesy: Pixabay)
  • Starting a plant nursery in the backyard is a huge challenge that mainly requires dedication, long hours, and hard work, day in and day out. It’s not enough to know about plants; successful nursery owners have a working knowledge of equipment, soil types, labor management, packing, shipping, and much more.
  • Site selection in the backyard is very important in the early stages of the planning process. Your choices will directly affect your nursery’s success in growing and selling plants.
  • The first step to start a plant nursery is the extraction of seeds and seeds must be extracted without being destroyed from a fully grown fruit for the harvesting of seeds. Then, the extracted seeds for plantation and the seeds should be sowed in seedbeds or germination trays for their future growth.
  • You should keep a track of everything, like what plants grow faster and what are the required elements in the soil, and which season is best for growing which species of plants. Now that everything is done, your plants are ready to be sold in the nursery. 
  • Find unique plants to increase your profits and to compete with bigger nurseries. Try to establish yourself as a specialist of a particular variety, like tropical plants, frost hardy plants, and edible plants, etc.


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