Warners Nurseries expands production with new growing site

Posted on Thursday 15th January, 2015

2014 was a busy year for Warners – but while the team was celebrating 100 years of history, they were also busy planning for the future. 2014 marked the expansion of their production capabilities with the addition of a new growing site at their Narre Warren North nursery.

“Our expansion plans were two years in the making,” explains MD Michael Warner. “We knew that we needed to grow. Our site was full, and there was increasing demand for a range of products – our landscaping lines were growing in popularity, especially some of the more trimmed and manicured stock, and we were regularly running out of many of our garden centre lines. We knew that we needed more space to increase our production capabilities of existing stock to meet market demand.”

A search for local land was launched, and eventually the business was able to secure a long-term lease for 8 acres next door to the existing nursery site. While the location was ideal, the rush-infested block needed some work to make it suitable for nursery production.

“Our permit application was approved in early 2013, and earthworks began in March of that year,” explains Michael.

However, despite a good start, progress on the block came to a grinding halt in April with the onset of heavy rains.

“We also ran into some issues which required further negotiations with the local council and water authorities, which pushed back our timelines for completing the project,” said Michael.

“Although things took longer than expected, we certainly weren’t deterred. These types of issues are par for the course when you run a business, and by maintaining good lines of communication with the council and Melbourne Water, we were able to negotiate a solution, and continue with the project.”

Earthworks recommenced in January 2014 and were completed within two months.

“Around 10,000 cubic metres of soil were moved to level out the site, and a swale drain and sediment pond were built as part of the permit conditions.

Autumn of 2014 saw the Warners Team pull together to complete the set up of the new block – now known as the Aurisch Road Block.

“Once the earthworks and sub-irrigation were completed by contractors, our staff moved in to make the new site a reality. It was truly a team effort, with Stewart taking care of pathway formation and coordinating the materials; Matt and his team took care of trenching, laying out the weed mat and putting in posts, and Damien and his team undertook the aboveground irrigation, drippers and support lines. By June 2014, we were ready to go.”

Potting commenced in July, and the site now holds an additional 3500 trees. The new site will be primarily used for growing deciduous and other cold climate stock, such as Bay, Conifers and Prunus lusitanca.

“We want to keep the site simple and crop specific for ease of watering and pest and disease monitoring. The plan is to keep the trees on the Aurisch Road block until they’re ready, and then move them up to the main nursery for sale.”

Over the coming years, additional bays will be developed, with an expected total increase in production of around 20 per cent.

“2014 was a big year for us. We celebrated long and hard, but now we’re looking ahead and getting on with our plan. The Aurisch Road development is just one part of that plan, but it is a significant one, and its implementation means that we’re now in a great position to meet the needs of our customers for years to come.”