How to become a gardener

If you’re a green-fingered lover of the outdoors, starting a gardening business could give you the life you’ve always dreamed of...

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What is a gardening business and who is suited to?

Whether you yearn for the scent of freshly cut grass, dream of cultivating picture-perfect flowerbeds, or simply desire a more varied working life in the great outdoors, a garden maintenance business could be the start-up option for you.

But green-fingers alone is no guarantee of setting up a successful gardening company, you’ll still need a good head for business, the inclination to labour for long, hard hours and the grit and determination to secure your own work.

A gardening business is a year round profession – as well as soaking up the rays during the short-lived and temperamental British summer you’ll also have to endure the frigid days of winter and those famous April showers, as illustrated by Colin Campbell Preston, manager of Capital Gardens.

If you want to become a gardener it “helps if you like the outdoors and are fairly hardy”, he says: “most gardening businesses involve doing work for private households, then progressing to commercial work then council work”.

Because of this, “the number of businesses in the first two categories far outstrip the last category”. Garden maintenance is the “easiest way” to start a gardening business, Preston explains, but it can be “difficult to grow such a business and many people find it repetitive”. However, there are many positives: a gardening business “allows for creativity and, if it works well, a lot of job satisfaction”.

Rune Sonvdahl, CEO of Fantastic Gardeners, echoes Preston’s comments: “The gardening business offers services for garden maintenance. It is suited to anyone […] who likes working outdoors, doesn’t mind the weather, loves gardening and is fit (in a healthy condition) for the job”.

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You’ll also need to possess at least some basic horticultural knowledge if you’re going to be doing more than blowing leaves and mowing lawns. If you can’t tell a petunia from a pansy or you need some practical know-how, then there are many gardening courses on offer that can help you brush up. The more knowledgeable you are and the more highly skilled, the more likely you are to find work. Many customers love to talk about their garden even if they can’t manage it themselves, so having some gardening knowledge about what grows where, when to prune particular plants etc. will be valuable

Sonvdahl says that at the very least you should “learn the basic skills and beyond – for example: structure, design, and most importantly, the engineering of different landscapes”. Being very reliable, turning up when you say you will, leaving things tidy when you leave etc. will help you stand out from the competition.

So you think you’re the right sort of person to start a gardening business – you’ve got the knowledge, you’ve got the skills and you’ve got a positive all-weather attitude to working outdoors. But, before you dust off the lawnmower and pull the ripcord it’s time to put some thought and effort into the bedrock of your business – the business plan.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.