Nursery Owners and Managers


Employment Prospects


Nurseries and garden centers are located throughout the nation. Many of these establishments are family owned. Members of younger generations are trained in the business of providing gardening and landscaping products and services, eventually becoming managers and owners of the company. Employment can also be obtained at nationwide home improvement chains such as Home Depot, Menards, and Lowe's. Skilled and knowledgeable managers are needed to run the stores' year-round garden and nursery departments.

Starting Out

Few people start their career as a nursery owner or manager. Many people enter the industry by working as horticultural technicians, sales workers, designers, or assistant managers. Once they gain enough experience, they may be promoted to managerial positions. Others, especially those with advanced degrees, may start at the managerial level, or may opt to invest in their own business.

Owning a franchise is another way of starting a business without a large capital investment, as franchise agreements often involve some assistance in planning and start-up costs. Franchise operations, however, are not necessarily less expensive to run than a totally independent business.

Advancement Prospects

There are limited opportunities for advancement for nursery owners because, by definition, they are the boss. Advancement often takes the form of expansion of an existing business, leading to increased earnings and prestige. Expanding a business also can entail added risk, as it involves increasing operational costs. A successful franchise owner may be offered an additional franchise location or an executive position at the corporate headquarters. Some owners become part-time consultants, while others teach a course at a college or university or in an adult education program. This teaching often is done not only for the financial rewards but also as a way of helping others investigate the option of retail ownership.

Advancement opportunities for nursery managers in the horticultural retail industry vary according to the size of the store, where the store is located, and the type of merchandise sold. Advancement also depends on the individual's work experience and educational background. A store manager who works for the garden center of a large retail chain, such as Home Depot, for example, may be given responsibility for the garden department in a number of stores in a given area or region or transferred to a larger store in another city. Willingness to relocate to a new city may increase an employee's promotional opportunities.

Some nursery managers decide to open their own stores after they have acquired enough experience in the industry. After working as a retail manager for a large chain of garden stores, for example, a person may decide to open a small store specializing in exotic plants or open a landscaping business.

Tips for Entry

Volunteer to help out a local garden center during planting season, when there is high demand for labor. This kind of experience can be your calling card for a later paid job.

Offer your services as a gardener or landscaper to individuals you know in your community. If you do a good job, your reputation may lead to other paying jobs.

Develop your entrepreneurial skills by conceiving a simple business plan for a needed service or business in your area. You'll learn from the experience even if your plan fails.

Check out programs run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency ( and National Institute of Food and Agriculture ( to encourage careers in farming and nursery management.