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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Are there any rules and regulations to setting up a gardening business?

Considering the potential for hazards, there’s actually very little regulation that gardening businesses need to be aware of. Because of this, the industry is ripe for exploitation by ‘cowboy’ gardeners, who, with limited equipment and training, can go round the houses offering shoddy work for low prices.

But not to worry, most homeowners can spot the difference between a professional and a cut-price gardener. Knowledge and hard work will always win out over the promise of a quick, cheap job.

According to Preston, the only legislation you need to abide by to set up a gardening business is getting insurance and “proper training” as “you cannot use chemicals on someone else’s land” without it.

He suggests completing a course from the Plant School, which offers students courses in plant and tree knowledge, running one day a month through the academic year.

You don’t have to have a qualification, but the obvious advantage of having one is that you will be taken more seriously by potential clients and can charge a higher price for your service. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think is a fair price for your trade.

With all the equipment, a gardening business does carry inherent risks and responsibilities increase the more employees you have. “You have to have an understanding of health and safety to be safe and insure the safety of others”, advises Sonvdahl – “also, you need to have permission from the council to perform a particular service”.

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Public liability insurance isn’t essential but will protect you from any sudden claims that could cost you. You could easily damage property or leave something behind that could injure a member of the public.

Avoid doing things you are not certified” to do, adds Sonvdahl: “for example: electricity in a pond or structure they are going to build on top of”. As a general rule of thumb, the best way to avoid future problems is to “always make sure that the job you are about to perform does not require a certificate or a permit that you don’t have and get damage insurance”.

He also recommends always wearing safety gear: “gloves (otherwise your hands can get damaged by poisonous plant fluids, or hurt by improper use of the tools) and protective glasses (so nothing like dust or other particles get in your eyes)”.

Finally, Sonvdahl suggests you “avoid mowing the grass when wet, as this damages the lawn mower […] and avoid spraying with weed killers during daytime due to bees and other bugs and insects”. It’s best to spray late in the evening or early in the morning.