A plant nursery provides a large, equipped space in which to grow seedlings in large quantities almost anytime of the year. It is also a great place for gardeners to grow exotic plants, try new varieties and get a big headstart on gardening. Whether you plan to sell, give, or use all the plants you grow, setting up a home plant nursery involves some careful thought and a good bit of work. At the end of the project, however, you'll have a great space to garden and grow to your heart's content.
Decide on a space that will house your nursery. You can use a garage or workshop, if you already have one, or you can claim some outdoor space and build a greenhouse as your nursery structure. You will need some outdoor space as well, for hardening off your seedlings in the spring, so be sure that you claim some outdoor area around the building or greenhouse that you are going to use.
Clean out the building, if you are using something that had other uses previously. Clutter is the enemy in a nursery; plants themselves take up a lot of room, and when you add in irrigation supplies, gardening tools, potting soil, and a place to work, you have to come up with a pretty big space. Don't waste your nursery space on items that don't belong; sell, give, or recycle what you can't use and find another location to store the items you need to keep.
Look into the flooring. You're going to be working with plants, which involves water and dirt on a regular basis. If the building has carpet, rip it up and get down to the concrete, which you can easily sweep off and won't hurt with water. If you build a greenhouse with no floor, put down a layer of gravel so you are not walking in mud every time you water the plants.
Set up an irrigation system. This can be as simple as a garden hose attached to a spigot; just be sure that the hose can reach to every part of your nursery building and outdoor space. You can also look into automated irrigation options, such as soaker hoses that can be laid on top of seedling trays, or drip irrigation that hangs above plants. The EPA recommends designing for drip irrigation for efficiency.
Install adequate lighting. You'll need to be able to see in order to work, and your plants need light in order to grow. If your structure is a greenhouse, your plants will get plenty of natural light on most days. In an enclosed building, you may need grow lights if you don't have many windows.
Set up an area for your work space. A nursery will house a lot of seedlings and plants, but don't forget an area to work so you can plant all those seeds, prune plants and do other related activities. Choose a corner near the door or a spot with lots of light, whatever you prefer. Set up a large table or desk. If you have room for a supply cabinet nearby, all the better. Hang pegboard behind your workspace so you can hang up your tools.
Set up tables to hold your seedlings and plants. You can use an odd collection of old, unwanted tables, simple folding tables or pieces of wood or old doors set up on sawhorses. Whatever you have simply needs to provide a flat surface on which to put your seedling trays and plants.
Gather your supplies. This will be an ongoing process as your budget allows; in order to get started, you need to have seedling trays, potting soil, your preferred fertilizer, and, of course, seeds. If you're an avid gardener, you probably already have quite a collection; sort, organize and stock what you have in labeled containers somewhere in your nursery. Keep a running list of supplies you need and add to your collection as you are able. If you let friends and neighbors know about your projects, you might become the happy recipient of recycled plastic pots, half-used seed packets, unused potting soil and other necessities.