Starting a tree and plant nursery is often a costly venture. In fact, a case study completed by Auburn University found start-up costs of $26,000 the first year excluding the cost of land and equipment. While money is a factor, owning and operating a nursery doesn't require a degree. However, it is beneficial to the businesses success to know about plants as well as know how to start a tree and plant nursery.

Become knowledgeable. Work at a greenhouse or nursery to obtain knowledge about different plants and trees. Take classes from a local college or university in horticulture. Find out what plants and trees grow best in your local region by visiting with horticulture specialists from a local or state extension office. Know that customers will expect you to have the answers to problems or questions they have about specific plants and trees.

Create a business plan. Write out a business plan that details how you plan to start and operate a tree and plant nursery. Conduct an analysis of the opportunities and threats that exist regarding the potential success for your business. Include information about how your business will be structured as well as your plans for marketing and making a profit.

Apply for funding. Determine how much start-up money you need to open a tree and plant nursery based on the information from your business plan. Apply for a loan with a local bank or credit union, or seek out low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Find an investor to provide the start-up money in return for a share of the profit. Be prepared to supply the bank, credit union or investor with a copy of your business plan for them to review when considering whether or not to provide you with the money.

Register your business. Complete the forms available from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website to register your business and obtain an employer identification number (EIN). Contact your state and local departments of revenue to register for sales tax if applicable in the area where your nursery will be located. Ensure you have a business license from your local or state government if required as well as any special endorsements since you have living products, which have the potential to harbor insects or diseases.

Find a location. Determine what type of facility works best for the needs of your tree and plant nursery. Consider the climate of the region when choosing the location since colder climates need indoor space to protect the plants and trees. Determine how you will secure your trees, plants and other products from being stolen when the business is closed if you use an outdoor location. Purchase empty land and build your own greenhouse or place a temporary, mobile greenhouse structure on the site. Even in warm climates have some indoor space to house the office and organization aspects of the business.

Purchase insurance. Find an insurance agent able to provide you with liability insurance to protect your business in the event a customer or employee is injured at your location. Obtain structure and crop insurance to protect your physical facility as well as the plants and trees in your business in the event they are damaged by fire or weather.

Find a supplier. Determine whether you'll buy grown trees and plants for resale or start your own products from seeds or plugs. Understand the benefits and drawbacks of each choice. For example, growing the products yourself from seeds or plugs allows you to make more of a profit, but it often takes a long time to grow before it is ready to sell to the customer. Based on your decision, find a manufacturer or wholesaler to provide you with the products you need.

Buy supplies. Seek out manufacturers of pots, soil, fertilizer and other supplies to purchase their products at a wholesale price. Purchase the supplies you need to maintain your business as well as supplies to mark-up and sell to customers. Develop a section of your tree and plant nursery for displaying these products, and learn how to sell them to customers.

Obtain staff as needed. As your business grows, hire staff to assist customers in selecting the right products and paying for them. Employ a grower or caretaker if you choose to grow plants from seeds or plugs at your location. If your time is consumed with growing trees and plants as well as helping customers, consider hiring an office assistant to answer the phone, pay bills, process daily receipts and manage the office aspects of your business.