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A Guide To The Cost Of Plants From Our Nursery

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Often one of the first questions a new landscaping customer will ask is “Why are your prices more expensive than my current supplier?” Very good question. There is a number of reasons why we do not want to position ourselves, or be known as, the cheapest in the market.

Just as the owner of a high-end home does not want to skimp on quality, or the project manager of commercial construction site can’t afford to run late, so too does the astute landscaper want to make sure that their quality and supply chain is on point.

Considering that the cost of quality is short term pain (if it is) and long term gain, and assurance of supply of a product that can’t be manufactured overnight, it should come as no surprise that these two factors are so important in a supplier relationship with a wholesale plant nursery.

But let’s go through these points one at a time.

1. First and foremost is our continual striving for top quality. Several factors go into the production of high quality plants, which I will discuss here:

a. Grading. This is probably the biggest cost in maintaining high quality. If we grow a batch of 500 plants, and 150 have to be either thrown out or discounted as seconds, there’s 30% of the profit gone from that batch.

b. Maintenance. We have a very rigorous maintenance program in the nursery, every day we check a set number of blocks of plants. Immediate issues are addressed on the spot, and any bigger maintenance tasks (weeding, pruning, top-dressing, etc) are added to the schedule that the maintenance team follow. The block in question is pin-pointed so efforts are maximized on the most urgent areas first.

c. Plant holders. Every size of our plants, from root-trainer to PB18, stands in a custom size tray or grid to increase plant health. These holders have many benefits, including protection (they can’t fall over), light (each plant is evenly spaced apart), health and drainage (2.5L size is raised off the ground).

d. Fertiliser. The potting mix we use for our plants is a custom recipe, and includes an above-average quantity of slow-release fertiliser in it. This increases the cost of the mix significantly. Furthermore, during the spring/summer/autumn seasons we have a regular program foliar spraying the plants with natural fertiliser to help them stay healthy.

2. Secondly is our freight free policy. For trade customers, orders over $1000+GST are freight free. Because most medium size jobs are over $1000, this means that you can base your cost pricing straight off our trade price and know that it will be delivered to your yard. “What about the nurseries near me?” I hear you say. If they’ve got what you need that’s fine, otherwise our nursery in Invercargill is going to be even more convenient than a nursery in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland, anywhere you like. Obviously, the cost to us of this service is significant, and can often be 25% of the sale price of the plant.

3. Finally, for our indent order customers, is the assurance of stock to draw from. We hold an agreed amount of stock for you, with no financial commitment involved, for you to draw down on as you need it. This reduces the amount of last minute scrambling to find plants for a project, and paying a higher price, excessive freight, and often taking a hit on quality too.

Having dealt with the positive sides of buying for quality and assurance, there is also the more negative reasons why price slashing is not a sustainable business solution:

1. Price cutting quickly becomes a race to the bottom, and eventually there is not enough margin left in the plants to sustain the businesses, and inevitably one or more nurseries will fail. If you are relying on that nursery as a supplier, your supply chain and reputation will also fall over. Beware of nurseries that advertise “Discount Plants” or “Budget Plants”…..

2. Customers who pay the cheapest price unfortunately receive the least amount of service and the lowest grade plants. As harsh as it sounds, it is a grim reality and rings true in any business the world over, even if others won't admit it. The old saying “You get what you pay for” is unavoidably true.

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