Becoming a self-employed gardener or setting up a larger gardening business can be highly profitable. If you always make sure your garden looks perfect or are passionate about working outdoors, starting a gardening business can be the best start-up option for you.
Did you know that around 87% of UK households have a garden? This means there are a lot of gardens to take care of! Of course, there are people who take care of their own gardens as well as other gardeners, landscapers, fencing contractors and handymen you will have to compete with.
Gardeners provide services such as grass cutting, weeding, tidying, leaf clearance and more specific services such as lawn maintenance or planting.
While being good at gardening is one thing, running your own business is completely different. You need to know what steps to take to set your business to a good start, understand how to market your business as well as be aware of legal stuff.
But if you’re determined and truly interested in setting up your own gardening business, here’s how you can do it!
Qualifications and skills needed to start a gardening business
As with most businesses, there are no qualifications legally required to start and run a gardening business. However, to be able to provide high-quality service, you must have experience in gardening and basic knowledge of solid conditions, weed and pest control, turf maintenance, landscaping and planting.
If you’re new to the industry, a related qualification and some professional experience can help you attract and retain clients.
If you’re looking for a course that covers all the essential things you need to know, there are a number of options to choose from. Just to name a few – the online Garden Maintenance course run by ACS Distance Education (costs £325) that covers planning and managing gardens, plant care, weed control and more or The Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture by the Royal Horticultural Society (costs around £800) that covers soil testing, care and pruning plants, safe operation of garden machinery and identifying plants.
Also, great gardeners should keep up with any news and developments in the industry. You can do so by attending events, reading trade journals or following other gardening companies and organisations such as The Gardeners Guild on social media.
Things you need to do before starting your gardening business
Write a business plan
A business plan is an essential document that helps turn an idea into an actual business. It guides you through every stage of setting up and running as it outlines what you need to do in order to successfully launch and grow your business.
A well-written business plan can also help you secure funding, attract great employees and prepare for future scenarios.
Writing a business plan isn’t a one day job as it contains many different sections you need to complete, including market research, competitor analysis, sales forecast, your own knowledge and experience and more.
Once you have your business plan written, you will know how your business fits in the market, how many competitors you have and how you stand out from them as well as how you are going to market your new business.
We have an article that explains what exactly has to go into a business and how to write it yourself.
Do market research
Before starting a business, you need to know that it has the potential to grow and be successful.
The first thing you need to do is identify your ideal customer. It will help you come up with appropriate marketing and sales techniques, so you give your customer what they want instead of what you think they want.
When researching your target audience, you need to identify basic characteristics such as age, gender and location as well as their socioeconomic status and psychographics. As you can see, it’s not enough to say that your ideal customer is anyone who owns a garden!
When you know your target audience, it’s time to test your idea with real people! Find a small group of people that matches your ideal customer and speak to them about your business idea. You can use online surveys, focus groups or even face-to-face interviews. Find out what they like and dislike about your idea. This will help you understand what changes you need to make and how to actually reach your audience.
It’s important to note that the survey conducted to mark National Gardening week 2022 found out that only 7% of the UK have hired a professional to carry out any garden improvements as most people prefer taking care of their gardens themselves. This means that you need to do very careful research and find out whether garden owners in your area will want to use your services.
Work out your costs and find funding
The cost of starting your own gardening business depends on your situation. If you love gardening and take care of your own garden professionally, you might already have all the specialist equipment. This means that starting costs can be very low.
On the other hand, if you need to buy or upgrade your current equipment or invest in a vehicle, it can cost from a few thousand and up to £10,000. This also includes paying for branding and insurance.
After working out how much money you need to start your photography business, you can start thinking about how you’re going to fund it. There are a number of options you can consider, including funding it with your own savings or applying for a loan.
Register your gardening business
Before you start trading, you need to register your business to be legally recognised.
As the first step of registering your business, you need to choose a legal structure that fits your business. The options are registering as a sole trader, limited company or partnership. The process of registering depends on the type of your business.
Learn more about how to register your business here.
Choose your prices
There are no specific prices you should be charging for your services. Rates vary across the UK and range between £12-£59 per hour and between £100-£400 per day. It also depends on the exact services you provide, your experience and the location.
It’s important to remember that whatever prices you choose, they need to cover all of your expenses and make a profit. Another thing you need to consider is how often you will be working. Gardening can be a seasonal job as most clients will only want to use your services in the summer but not so often during the colder season.
Things to be aware of when starting and running a gardening business
As a gardener, you will be using pesticides such as weedkillers or slug pellets. However, using pesticides in a residential garden is classed as amateur usage.
But what does it mean?
It means that you won’t be using professional pesticide products that are used on farms, or in public areas that are approved for use in much larger commercial situations. You’ll still have to carry out a risk assessment before using pesticides but won’t be required to have a professional qualification.
When starting a gardening business, there are several types of insurance you need to get:
- Public liability insurance. This insurance covers you against injury to members of the public or claims against accidental damage.
- Employers liability insurance if you have any employees.
- Tool and equipment cover that covers your equipment against accidental damage and theft.
- Cover for use of ant vehicles for business purposes.
Joining trade bodies
Getting a trade body membership can offer a number of business benefits. As a garden you can join:
- The Gardeners Guild. It's a national trade network for professionally qualified gardeners. All the members are self-employed gardeners who offer garden and grounds maintenance as part of their services. To be eligible for membership, you must hold a Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture (mentioned earlier) or an equivalent or higher recognised horticultural qualification. The membership costs £47 a year + £10 initial registration fee. Once you join the Gardeners Guild, you can get your business listed in the ‘Find a Gardener’ section, receive legal and health and safety advice as well as get discounted business insurance.
- The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). The HTA represents gardeners, manufacturers and distributors in the horticultural industry. After joining, you receive discounted entry to trade events, discounted suppliers, specialist business insurance and more. Fees are available on request.
How to promote your gardening business
Set up a website
No matter what business you start, you need a website! People expect every professional business to have a website that contains all the essential information such as what services you provide, prices and contact details.
To find out more about legal requirements for a business website, read here.
Create social media pages
Think about which social media platforms your potential customers use and make sure you are there too! You can share examples of your work, tips on how to maintain the garden between the visits or testimonials from your customers.
We understand that attracting people to follow your new accounts can be difficult. That’s why we have created a guide on how to build your social media following from zero.
Use local advertising
If you have a budget, you can promote your business in local newspapers, magazines or radio stations. You can also choose a cheaper option – leaflets.
Leaflets can be a great way to promote your business when you’re just starting out as well as later! Let people know you’re starting a gardening business in their local area and show what they can expect from you. After that, you can use leaflets to promote special offers and savings.
When dropping leaflets, you might even get a chance to speak to your potential customers on the spot! This can make them trust you more and call you later to book your services!
Want to know what information should be included on a leaflet? Watch the video below!
Are you ready to turn your love for gardening into a successful gardening business?
We have a team of dedicated business advisors that have helped start hundreds of businesses. And now they are ready to help you!
Contact us here and start your journey with us today.