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PacBlue Printing: Beating Mother Nature to the Punch

Wide-format-printed, faux houses boost sales for Triple Tree Nurseryland.




Miles and miles of new subdivisions encircle Maple Ridge, a Vancouver, British Columbia, metro area that continues to grow. This new growth surrounds and sustains Triple Tree Nurseryland, a three-acre family business that caters to gardeners striving to beautify homes, offices, and commercial and apartment buildings.

It was on a trip to a garden-center tradeshow in February 2009 when Triple Tree’s owners discovered a new twist to merchandising plants: houses. Not real houses, but reduced-scale, realistically imaged façades.

Upon their return from the show, Triple Tree owners hit the ground running to locate a print provider that would help integrate this same idea into their nursery. Eventually, they were referred to PacBlue Printing in Vancouver, a company known for its production of visuals for condominium presentation centers, which show buyers the view before it exists.

The agreed-upon goal: three faux, scaled-down houses that would resemble those in nearby developments. These would allow homeowners to see what new plantings would look like once they were grown—but without having to wait for Mother Nature’s seasonal cycle.

Initially, time was not on their side. March, April, and May are typically a garden center’s biggest sales months in the Vancouver area, so there would be only a few weeks to concept the project, get it designed, printed, and installed. A cool March, however, gave both print shop and client a little extra time to get displays finished and ready for the peak season.

PacBlue began the project by photographing some local houses to use as a base for what would become the final house images. “The images were severely altered in Photoshop—double garage doors became single, windows were added or removed, house colors were changed, sizes distorted, and address numbers removed,” says PacBlue’s Irene Williamson.


Once the images were completed and sized for output, PacBlue used its Gandinnovations (now Agfa) Jeti 3150 UV printer with Onyx RIP to output directly onto 1/2-inch Olympic Crezon MDO panels, one side only. A handheld jigsaw was used for contour-cutting the sheets, and a clear coat for laminate. To fill and seal exposed edges, shop technicians utilized an outdoor silicon, which was simply painted over.
Each of the three houses comprised six 4 x 8-foot boards; if the house included a peak, it was incorporated in the space and added on top. The finished house façades measured 16-feet wide x 14 to 16-feet high. PacBlue completed the installation by mounting each house onto 16-foot x 4 x 4-inch posts, which were sunken in concrete and braced with 2 x 4 lumber.

When Triple Tree placed young plants in front of the three 2/3-scale façades, it provided the proper sense of size, close to that of mature plantings surrounding a full-sized home. Arranged at the back of the nursery’s outdoor area, the house fronts quickly drew shoppers through the nursery. “People do a double take. Kids run up and knock on the doors. It’s great how people get excited about the houses and plantings,” says Rylan Van der Pauw, one of Triple Tree’s owners. “If we have a plant or grouping that isn’t moving, we put them next to the houses and they sell immediately.”

Sales have been so strong that Triple Tree recovered the cost of the project in just a few months, PacBlue points out. And, the nursery is now looking to expand the concept, having requested another house and a building to add to their faux house potpourri.




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