Our History

Rutgers Landscape & Nursery was founded in 1986 by 19-year-old Jim Brophy, who began it all with a push mower, some leaf rakes, a group of friends from Rutgers University, and his mother’s 1971 Chevy Impala. The Mets won the World Series that year, so Jim thought that anything was possible!

Jim had worked several part-time jobs in landscaping while he attended Rutgers University, and developed an interest in plants and the outdoors. Determined to improve the professionalism of this industry, and seeing a need for high quality, dependable landscaping, he decided to start his own business.

The early years were a challenge, with very little capital or equipment. Jim recalls the hours that he and his friends spent manually raking and digging, to the point that their hands would actually bleed by the end of the day! With their hands now well healed, these friends that helped Jim launch his business look back fondly on their early years with Rutgers Landscape & Nursery, and admire the growth and success that the company has enjoyed. Though no longer a part of the current Rutgers staff, they have all become successful executives and even CEOs of large companies, who are still friends with Jim today.

Upon graduation from Rutgers, Jim already had eight full-time employees on staff. Two years later, Jim purchased the Victorian farmhouse and surrounding eight acres on Route 31 in Ringoes, using the profits he had saved from his college years. With this acquisition, he expanded his business to include a retail Nursery. Today this property houses the studios of Rutgers Landscape Design, and acres of materials and display gardens.

In 1992, Rutgers Nursery opened to the public. Though it had a modest start, the company grew quickly based on its philosophy of providing GREAT value for every customer. GOOD was never an option… from the very beginning, and to this day, GREAT is the only goal at Rutgers. This philosophy truly means something special to the staff at Rutgers; while perfection may be an impossible goal, we know that greatness is well within our reach. Our success is driven by our integrity and our commitment to providing every customer with a GREAT experience.

The attention to detail and excellent customer care at Rutgers Landscape & Nursery has fueled rapid growth despite economic dips, and the company continues to thrive and expand because of its extraordinary staff and leadership. In 2005, a 12-acre parcel of land was purchased on Route 202 in Ringoes to house and expand the growing retail operation. The Nursery subsequently moved to this new property in 2007 — the place with those BIG YELLOW CHAIRS! With this newly acquired space, Rutgers also began to grow their own nursery stock.

The expansion continued in 2013 with the acquisition of a 62-acre farm in nearby Stockton, from which Rutgers Landscape & Nursery now grows most of its own stock. Jim has planted more than 20,000 trees so far, including many items that are new to the East Coast!

At Rutgers Landscape & Nursery, our vision continues to be “Greatness” — to be among the top Nursery firms in the country by offering vigorous, healthy plants to our customers and a fun, rewarding place for our employees to work. We aim to be an environmental steward of our property, soil, and water resources, and we believe that we can leverage both our profit and employee talent to help our neighbors, public resource managers, school children, and legislators to understand that conservation is in everyone’s best interest. It is our professional and personal obligation to future generations.

We are really excited about our future!