Make money selling plants from your own backyard nursery

A backyard nursery can be a profitable home business for the new grower or would-be small farmer. I found out this spring that people seem to pay more for ornamental plants than the ones they can eat! You can take advantage of this odd fact by growing and selling plants for money.

I ventured into the backyard nursery business on a small scale this year; I wanted to test the waters before I bet the farm on a new business (to mix a metaphor.) Here's what appealed to me about growing plants for money:

  • I could start on a small scale and learn without a huge investment

  • The equipment requirements and start-up costs were low, and most of the equipment was reusable

  • I was growing my own transplants for the market garden anyway, and could make use of the same infrastructure

  • Selling plants could bring in additional money before my regular season

  • And of course, the somewhat surprising fact that plants you can't eat seem to sell for more than those you can. Higher margins, more cash in my pocket.


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backyard nursery plant stand

A 'low tech' plant stand in my backyard nursery

These facts convinced me to give the business a try. Here's some pointers if you are thinking about starting your own home-based nursery business.

Getting started in the backyard nursery business

If you've read anything on my site about starting a market garden you know that I strongly recommend a four-step process to start any business. The four-step process is Planning -> Marketing -> Management -> Production. This process is no less valid when starting a backyard nursery business.

The planning phase is where you set targets for your business, estimate your sales and expenses, research the kinds of plants that are popular in your area, and what they sell for.

You also need to to look into local bylaws and zoning restrictions that may affect your business, as well as any licensing requirements. Don't neglect the fact that you will probably need liability insurance. DO NOT start without taking this step; you don't want your fledgling business shut down by the guv'mint just as you are making some money.

It would be a good idea to go to a couple local farmer's markets or flea markets that have plant sellers. Take a look at their stock, and see what advice they can give you.

Selling your plants

Let's say you've figured out that you would like to start your backyard nursery business by selling 100 each of the 10 most popular bedding plants in your area. Marketing is all about finding the buyers for your plants. Where will you sell your plants? When will you sell your plants? Will you sell plants all season, or just try to hit the peak early summer period, and sell out in a few weeks? (That's what I did, by the way.)

With these goals in mind, now comes management. This is all about figuring out your schedules and location and methods for growing and selling your plants profitably. When do you need to start your plants to have them at optimum age for display and sale? What kind of care will they need? Who will do the work?

Finally, with all this figured out, you start production: the day to day care and feeding of your nursery plants. CAUTION: do not start this process the other way around; that is, by growing a bunch of plants and then trying to figure out how to sell them. This is a sure way to failure for your small business.

Growing your backyard nursery business

Once you have (at least) one season under your belt, you might be thinking about expanding your business. This will be a lot easier if you kept good records of sales to find out which plants were most popular. (In my case this was a beautiful little dwarf sunflower; I wish I had grown a thousand of them!)

Before you re-launch your empire, make sure your market can accept more of your nursery plants. Will you have to sell at more than one market to make your sales goals? Remember that time spent at the market is time you don't have for caring for your plants.

Also, be aware that growing a few hundred plants of limited varieties is very different than growing the many thousands of plants that are found in a commercial nursery. Your home-scale growing techniques will probably not be efficient at a larger scale. You may have to invest in automation e.g. irrigation systems, misting boxes, thermostatically-controlled fans. Be sure this investment will pay off.

A recommended resource for the backyard nursery grower

Needless to say, you should read all you can before starting your backyard nursery business. During my own planning phase, I looked for examples of people who had actually done what I wanted to do - i.e. start a small, profitable, plant nursery.

I found a fellow named Mike McGroarty who had been growing and selling plants for many years. He sold into both the retail and wholesale plant market, and had a wealth of knowledge about starting the business as a beginner like me. He has created a Backyard Nursery System that convinced me to give the backyard nursery business a try.

And, Mike has just created a new version of his Backyard Growing System that includes complete instructions plus informative DVD's. This is an even better deal than the package I bought a couple years ago.

Take a peek at his website so you can decide for yourself if this is an opportunity you want to pursue.

Mike's also got a free newsletter that you can sign up for, and get a couple free e-books with some useful information.

Check out Mike McGroarty's NEW Backyard Nursery package

p.s. Mike is the only guy I know (besides me) who offers a full one-year guarantee on his books and DVD's. So you can check him out with no risk at all.

For further reading . . .

Now is the time to start planning your farm and garden for next year, check out the resources at right to help you make 2013 your most successful year ever . . .

You can start a market garden in a very small space, even a big back yard. The 5,000 square foot market garden

It's no secret that I believe the future of food lies with small family farms. But how small can a farm be and still produce income? With that question in mind, here's my plan for a quarter acre farm

Here's another home-based business that can be started for very little cash but that can grow into a significant income Start an online website business from home

Return to Home page from Backyard Nursery

From time to time I recommend products or resources to my visitors that I believe to be of value. I ONLY recommend things I have actually bought and tried for myself. Mike McGroarty's site (and the e-books he sells) is one of those valuable resources.

I'm an affiliate of Mike, which means that if someone I recommend buys something from him, I get a commission. This is one way I pay for my site, and thus can afford to continue to give away free information of my own.

If you would like to learn more about the affiliate business (it's a great work at home business for just about anyone), you can download the free Affiliates Master Course here.