It is a great time to be in the nursery and landscape business. We have had the opportunity this summer to tour numerous nurseries up and down the East Coast and the quality and volume of material is very impressive, from liners to finished nursery stock being grown by innovative and industry-leading companies. The industry is still trying to recover from the recession with a lag created in scaling production and inventory levels up to meet current demands while prices are just getting back to where they were in early 1990’s. The down side is, if you take into account inflation and the increase in production costs (labor, equipment, land, fertilizer, chemicals, an so on) the industry is still undervalued. Being in a labor-intensive industry, this is by far both landscapers’ and nurserymen’s largest concern and a key element holding back growth. We are fortunate to be part of an industry that is family-oriented and comes together through numerous national, state (VNLA) and regional (NVNLA) industry associations that help to unite our industry and provide a conduit for promoting value and solving common problems.
There is still a tremendous shortage of larger caliper (2½” + ) shade trees country-wide in the industry. We are seeing the 2” caliper size availability come back as growers are now harvesting and selling from larger blocks of plants and they will hopefully be able to hold back some material for larger sizes, which landscapers will start to see the benefit of the fall of 2018 and spring of 2019. The ornamental tree market availability (Dogwood, Redbud, Cherry) has come back quicker than shade trees as have evergreens; especially Green Giant Arborvitae from 5’ up to 8’. The container plant market is also much better since these crops have a 1-2 year turnaround while shade trees take 3 to 7 years. In order to secure large quantities of quality material orders need to placed early, sometimes as much as 6 months to a year in advance as most growers are still selling out of available material. Communication, planning, commitments, and long term relationships are vital for all aspects of the landscape and nursery industry in order to be successful both now and for the long term.