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Potted Plant from Backyard Nursery Start a Garden Nursery to Become Self Employed
by staff writer

Whether your goal is to become self employed or just to make a few extra dollars, consider starting a garden nursery in your backyard. Regardless of your skill level, climate, or acreage you can earn a respectable income and free yourself from the 9 to 5 grind. Depending on your existing landscaping and income goals, you may even be able to start this new business without spending a dime. I hope this article gets the ‘gears turning’ so that you come up with the perfect business opportunity for your interests and lifestyle.

Before you select types of plants to raise and sell you need to decide when and how much you want to work. Do you want year round production and sales, or would you prefer to focus on seasonal products? You could grow vegetables and bedding plants from seed, market them in early spring, and be done for the season. Such a burst of planting, raising, and rapid sales would require much time and attention during the growing season -- but then you would have eight or nine months off. If you are looking for a more leisurely endeavor, consider purchasing whips (small bare root trees) and growing them for a few years to greatly increase their value. In this scenario your stock would require very little time and attention, but the income is further down the road and proportionately smaller. There are many options, but you will be more satisfied with your new business if you determine the pace, hours, and income potential before your first sale.

Flower bulbs from backyard nurseryThe choice of plants should also be based on your marketing strategy, and there are numerous ways to offer your plants for sale. Fresh cut flowers or potted herbs would be a great addition to a garden stand setup at a farmers' market. Sell starter tomatoes, peppers, or other garden plants at a weekend roadside sales stand. The costs of these would be minimal but the returns could be huge.
Selling flats of bedding plants in early spring is a surefire way to sell large groups of plants very quickly. As your stock and experience grow, consider approaching landscaping companies. They may appreciate the flexibility and price that a small local vendor could provide, especially if you can provide the 1” trees that every new cookie-cutter subdivision home gets!

Most businesses cost an arm and a leg to start, but with a backyard plant nursery, you may be able to use your existing landscaping as stock. This won’t work for all plants, but many varieties are very easy to propagate. Some ornamental grasses, lilies, peonies, and many others can be divided with a spade or knife; with one quick cut , one plant becomes two. Tulips, irises, daffodils, and hyacinths propagate themselves after sufficient growth. Simply split the root stock or bulbs and one plant becomes several. The speed with which you can grow your business will be severely limited if you don’t purchase any stock, but it is a possibility for the extremely thrifty. Save the cartons your plants come in and reuse them; your neighbors probably won’t complain if you ask for their cartons as well. You will be saving money and recycling at the same time. You may not have the luxury of starting your business from plants on hand, but it is an option worth considering.

While considering what to cover in an article about starting a backyard garden nursery, I certainly expected there to be more talk of flowers, plants, and shrubs. The reality is that this venture is almost a guaranteed success if you have realistic goals and set yourself up for success. If you want to retire in ten years, you won’t be able to start with a modest plan and begin with only the stock in your
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yard. The ten-year retirement plan also won’t work if you only want to work two hours a week. The good news is that you can work as much or as little as you want, and you are in control of the whens, whats, and hows. Perhaps a backyard garden nursery will provide the income that allows you to start your modern sustainable homestead.