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...
- What is a gardening business and who is suited to?
- What should you include in a gardening business plan?
- Are there any rules and regulations to setting up a gardening business?
- How much does it cost to set up a gardening business?
- How much can you earn running your own gardening business?
- Starting a gardening business: Tips and useful contacts
- Test your business idea (opens in new tab)
What should you include in a gardening business plan?
While you’re probably going to be offering your gardening maintenance business in your local area, it’s unlikely you’ll be the only person providing such services. Do some research into your competitors and their customer base. Unless they’re doing a terrible job, you’ll find it difficult to start poaching custom.
Find an area, or areas, that don’t already have or are underserved by a gardening business and be prepared to drive. If you’re starting up with more than one person then you can reach a wider catchment area. Startups member JackieMR adds “When you are thinking about how many gardens you might do, plan in travel time between them which can be considerable. Also, aim to do a few larger gardens for a few hours each rather than racing round doing an hour at each.”
For Sonvdahl, this is the most important thing in a gardening business plan: work out “the area/ location you’d like to work in”, as well as “the kind of properties you’d like to serve”. Don’t make any assumptions about who might want a gardening service. JackieMR says, “My husband thought most of his customers would be older people; however, many are younger people working full time who don’t have time to do their garden but still want it to look nice.”
Both residential and business gardening “have very lucrative sides to them”, Sonvdahl explains, “the residential gardening opportunities let you meet different people every day, build up your client base, etc. while when it comes to businesses, you sign a contract and you have secured work even in the low season or bad weather”.
While business work can be far more regular, it can be difficult for brand new start-ups to secure corporate work. Doing residential work is a good way to not only build your reputation, but to learn your craft in a smaller and more manageable environment.
Next, but also very important is “the budget for tools, materials, marketing, a gardening van and their branding”. Sonvdahl says you should “always have high quality equipment to avoid extra cost” of anything breaking or becoming faulty.
There is more than one type of gardening service you can provide so you will also want to include what type you will specialise in: “maintenance, landscaping, tree surgery”. However, this may be dependent on the geography of the area you’ve chosen: “e.g. the garden types differ in the outskirts vs. Central London”.
A more complete list of gardening services could include mowing, weeding, planting, strimming, pruning, general tidying, hedge trimming, application of feeds and pesticides and removal of garden waste. However, you could even extend your offering to include complete garden renovation, consulting services, shed and fencing repairs.
Think about which services you have the skills, inclination or resources to provide. The more you offer, the more opportunities you open yourself up to – but it’s wise not to overstretch yourself, especially in the early days. Startups member Roy Salmon says “consider not offering a full gardening service to start with but just a general ‘keep tidy’ operation until you have gained a regular clientele and experience.”
Finally, Sonvdahl says you need to research and understand the demographics of the households or clients you’ll be servicing in order to “prepare the pricing”. If you’re going to be maintaining the gardens in an affluent area you can charge more for your services – though you may be expected to provide a higher standard of service.
Whatever kind of work you decide to offer, providing a reliable and consistent service and maintaining good relationships with your clients will put you in good stead for a long and fruitful career in the gardening business.
Once you’ve worked out “the resources and tools” you’ll need, as well as whether you’re going to be “a grower, landscaper or designer”, the most important thing you have to work out is “how you are going to find clients”, says Preston.
As you are offering a localised service, you can target your marketing in a very traditional sense by advertising in other local businesses or posting through letterboxes door to door – never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
However, don’t fail to make the most of the host of advantages the digital age provides – a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and Twitter will help you reach a much bigger client base. Additionally, apps such as Startups 100 featured BIZZBY are revolutionising the way customers connect with tradespeople. By signing up to the service, you become available to a new network of customers looking for on-demand services.