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...

Useful links

How much does it cost to set up a gardening business?

Firstly, you need to think about the gardening equipment you need. In terms of tools, Preston says that bare essentials such as a “spade, fork and maybe even a lawnmower will be needed for even the most basic jobs” but “more specialised tools can be bought as and when you need them depending on the client or work needed. It really does depend on the type of business”.

You should also definitely include protective equipment in your initial start-up costs – mowers and leaf blowers can be noisy and sustained exposure to such high decibels has the potential to cause lasting damage to hearing and chemicals or vegetation can cause damage to skin and eyes. A decent pair of gloves, goggles and ear protectors should keep you safe. Your clothes are likely to get ruined by constant work outdoors, so it’s worth investing in some hardwearing work clothes.

Occasionally, residential and business clients will have their own equipment they will allow you to use. But you limit yourself by not having your own and you have to make sure you are insured to use theirs.

Of course you’ll also need something to transport all this equipment around in. Preston says “it depends on equipment” but “the most expensive thing to do a job properly is to acquire a vehicle”. He suggests that “a cheap and reliable gardening van is all you need at the beginning”. Sonvdahl advocates the best van for gardening to start with it “a short wheel base gardening van (Ford Transit) so you have enough space to carry all tools and take away all debris from the job. If you are successful, get a bigger vehicle. Tapper is the ultimate choice when your business starts to really flourish. Use diesel for better cost-efficiency and a vehicle not older than 2010”. You could consider buying a second hand van without any graphics to start with.

Once you’ve got the initial equipment costs out of the way, setting up a gardening business can be a relatively low cost start-up option. Costs will generally depend on “what your ambitions are, as well as how many people you have on the team”, Sonvdahl thinks “a gardening business that is aiming to be successful needs between £7,000 and £10,000 which includes costs for purchasing and branding the vans, buying proper equipment and tools and insurance”. He also advises making sure you have “three months of budget in case things don’t pick up quite in the beginning”.

You could also look at the idea of buying into a gardening franchise to set up your gardening business (see more in our franchise directory).

Building a website for your business idea is easier than you might think. Our online tool ranks the top website builders that offer free trials.

Think also about where you’re going to store all your equipment and vehicles. At the start, a decent and secure shed at your home should be sufficient, but as your business grows – if you don’t have the space at home – you may want to think about renting something a little more substantial.

Other costs will include marketing for your gardening business. A Startups member says “As for advertising, someone we know who set themselves up as a gardener leaflet dropped, put flyers in the local shops and the post office. It proved very successful and local people wanted a local person to sort out their gardens. These days he advertises in the local ‘free’ directories/magazines.” Another member agrees: “My husband has never spent much on advertising – he started by putting cards in newsagent’s windows and has got all his work after that via word of mouth.” You may want to consider getting a business mobile to separate your enquiries from personal calls (more information on our page on business mobile phone contracts .