Armed with a degree in horticulture from Southeast Missouri State University, Jim Graeler started out as “a guy with a pickup truck and a shovel,” taking lawn-care odd jobs throughout the city. Today, he and his family are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their thriving full-service landscaping company: Chesterfield Valley Nursery.
Since 1989, the family business has grown from three employees to 45 staff members during its busy season. But Graeler recalls that it hasn’t always been smooth sailing: the flood of '93 hit Chesterfield Valley, destroying the nursery and his home, which also was located on the property. Yet, the company's president and GM says the natural disaster became a blessing in disguise. “We had to start from scratch to rebuild everything, but there were a lot of things we were able to do differently and we felt very blessed by the opportunity we were given,” he explains.
These days, Graeler says the nursery is bigger and better than ever, situated on 10 acres of his father’s farm in Chesterfield. “The thing we really focus on is quality: quality in the character of the people we hire and quality in the plants.” The family business, which includes Graeler’s brother, sister, wife and daughter, has brought on trusted employees who also have become family through the years. As for its plant and flower stock, Graeler notes that he travels around the country tagging the best specialty plant material to order for his nursery.
Quality of service is another top priority at the business. “We get involved with clients from the ground floor,” Graeler notes. “All of our clients are just as important as the others—one little tree for a client is just as important as a full outdoor kitchen and fireplace we are building for another client.”
And for those looking to start their garden project, the nursery is fully stocked and ready to go for the spring season. A new retail division offers customers a wide range of plants and flowers, from annuals and perennials such as Petunias, Impatiens and Begonias, as well as container gardening pots, to Japanese maples and dwarf conifers to give your lawn that “extra-special flair,” Graeler says.
The company also offers a full range of landscaping and construction services to transform yards into a scenic masterpiece that doubles as an entertainment destination. “Outdoor kitchens are gaining tremendous popularity, and all involve natural stone, and a brick paver or stone patio.” New outdoor living trends also include elaborate entertainment areas featuring natural stone paths winding around a swimming pool to outdoor fireplaces and ponds with water features, all surrounded by lush floral landscaping. “People work a lot, and they don’t want to have to work in their yard when they get home—they want to be able to truly get outside and enjoy their yard in the evening and hang out with family and friends,” Graeler explains.
After the nursery finishes a project, Graeler says clients can rest assured the company will return to maintain it. “We build it for them, and we plant it; but we can maintain it, as well. For many clients, we do the mowing, annual flower planting and leaf cleanup, and visit on a weekly or bi-monthly basis to pull weeds and trim—everything to keep the property looking nice.”
ON THE COVER: The family-owned and operated Chesterfield Valley Nursery is celebrating its 25th year of quality landscape products and services. For more information, call 636-532-9307 or visit chesterfieldvalleyinc.com.