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What is a Gardening Business?
In 2021, there were more than 150,000 professional gardeners in the UK. According to the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA), the horticultural and gardening industry in the UK is worth an impressive £28.2 billion. A gardening business can be a potentially lucrative and rewarding career choice.
A gardener is a person who receives payment for taking care of and cultivating gardens. They are usually experts in how to make plants and flowers thrive, how to maintain the overall health and productivity of a garden and what temperatures and weather conditions are optimal for planting and harvesting specific plants. A gardener will help to maintain an optimal environment for plants to succeed.
If you are thinking of starting up a gardening business, you will need to consider the type of gardening you intend to do.
For example, you could choose to run:
- A landscaping gardening business.
- A landscape design business.
- A garden architect business.
- A traditional gardening business.
- A garden maintenance business.
- A professional groundskeeping business.
A gardening business can work on different types of land, such as:
- Public land, including parks, cemeteries, fields and other green areas.
- Private estates, including manor houses, castles and country estates.
- The gardens of people’s homes or apartment buildings.
- The grounds of establishments such as hotels, restaurants, schools and churches.
A gardening business will have many different responsibilities. Your responsibilities will vary depending on the type of land you are working on, the time of year, the weather conditions and the clients’ preferences. Primarily, your business’s main focus will be keeping your clients’ gardens healthy, productive, functional and attractive.
Because of the wide range of tasks you will be involved in every day, you will need to have expertise and experience in a variety of areas.
Some of the tasks a gardening business will typically have include:
- The preparation and maintenance of seedbeds and other planting areas.
- Planting and nurturing the growth of new flowers, plants, trees, hedges, bushes, grass and vegetables.
- Maintaining the garden, including mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and removing weeds and dead plants.
- Fertilising and watering planted areas.
- Pruning plants, trees and hedges.
- Using chemical control agents, where necessary.
- Maintaining the growth of seasonal plants, such as flowers.
- Clearing rubbish, litter and debris to maintain a clean garden.
- Maintaining and servicing gardening tools and equipment.
- Meeting with clients to discuss their wants and needs for their garden.
- Offering expert opinion and managing the clients’ expectations.
- Creating plans and drawings for garden design and landscaping.
- Implementing landscape plans.
- Using gardening tools and equipment to complete tasks.
- Installing supports for fragile trees and plants and ensuring threatened trees are protected.
- Constructing fences, pergolas, garden furniture, barbeques and decking.
- Laying paving, gravel or patio areas.
- Assessing the condition of trees and plants.
- Monitoring and controlling disease in the plants and any pest or insect infestations.
When setting up your gardening business, you will need to decide whether you will be the sole gardener or whether you will hire other gardeners.
If you are considering starting up a gardening business, you will first need to ensure you have the necessary qualifications and experience (we will look at this in more detail later). You will also need to ensure you have extensive knowledge about plants, garden design and the different plant diseases and pests and insects you need to be aware of. An understanding of gardening regulations is also necessary.
Most importantly, a love for the outdoors and nature is a must. You will likely be working outside in all types of weather conditions so ensure you are happy with this before setting up your business.
Types of Customers
The types of customers who typically hire gardeners can be wide-ranging. When setting up your gardening business, you can choose to target a specific customer base or provide gardening services to a range of different customers.
Some of the customers you could target include:
- Working professionals (who will likely have little time for gardening).
- Pensioners or anyone with physical limitations or mobility issues.
- Families or couples.
- Local councils.
- Landlords and letting agents.
- Property management companies.
- Holiday lets.
- Flats with shared gardens.
- Care homes, nurseries and schools.
- Large private gardens or grounds.
- Public gardens, parks, grounds or green areas.
- Establishments, such as restaurants and cafes.
The types of customers your business is likely to attract will depend on several factors:
Your time and personnel availability:
Larger grounds will have a higher time requirement and may require a gardening business that has multiple gardeners. Your time availability and the number of employees you have will impact your customer base. For example, if you are the sole gardener, you are more likely to work on domestic gardens, whereas a team of gardeners may target local councils or large grounds.
The types of tasks you are able to do:
You may not have the relevant training and experience to do all of the gardening tasks on the list above. When potential clients are looking for a gardener, they usually already have an idea of what they are looking for. For example, if they want a landscaper gardener or a gardener who is able to construct fences and you don’t have experience in these areas, the client is unlikely to choose your business.
Certain tasks will require specific equipment, and this can impact your typical customer base. For example, if a client is looking for a tree surgeon and you don’t have the necessary equipment, you won’t be hired for this job.
Your location and the locations you are willing to travel to will have a significant impact on your customer base. Your location can impact your typical clients and the prices they are willing to pay.
Typically, you will set your pricing based on the amount of work that is required. Some people may be looking for a budget-friendly gardener who will only do basic gardening tasks whereas others are happy to pay higher prices for more experienced and knowledgeable gardeners.
Equipment You Will Need
Equipment and tools are essential for gardeners. Although some clients may allow you to use their equipment, the majority of your work will require you to bring your own equipment.
The amount of equipment you require will depend on the number of gardeners who work at your business. If you have multiple gardeners, you may be working in different locations at the same time, meaning you will need more than one of each piece of equipment.
To help you plan your equipment requirements more effectively, consult the list below of the typical equipment required by gardeners.
- A hand trowel – Used for hand weeding, planting, potting and sowing seeds.
- Spades of different sizes – For digging and planting. Spades can also slice through robust roots.
- A gardening fork – For breaking up compacted soil, clay soil and stony or rocky ground to enable you to plant in the area. A gardening fork can also be used for turning soil.
- A rake – For breaking down soil and raking leaves and debris.
- Pruning shears – For cutting branches, stems and shrubs.
- Secateurs – These are a type of pruning clippers that can be used with one hand.
- Loppers – This is a type of long-handled pruner that can be used for cutting harder to reach areas or thicker branches.
- A watering can with a sprinkler attachment – This will allow a more even (and less intense) distribution of water.
- A hose – This is recommended for bigger or more established plants.
- A hoe – Used for cutting down weeds and preparing flower beds. A hoe can also move around the soil and cut through tougher soil.
- A wheelbarrow – To make it easier to move compost, mulch, plants or waste.
- A soil knife – This can be used to remove weeds and rocks, cut through roots, and plant bulbs.
- A weeder – This can cut the weeds below the surface and help to prevent them from growing back as quickly.
- A hand-held hedge trimmer – Hand-held hedge trimmers are recommended for smaller hedges where more delicate work is required.
- A pruning saw – This saw is used for cutting branches, especially those that are higher up or are more difficult to reach.
Machinery and Equipment:
- A lawnmower – You can opt for an electric mower, a battery-powered cordless mower or a petrol mower. Consider the size of the gardens you will be mowing before purchasing a mower – the larger the grounds, the larger the mower should be.
- A hedge trimmer – A cordless hedge trimmer is recommended to prevent you from accidentally cutting through the wire. Hedge trimmers are used for more heavy-duty cutting as they quickly and efficiently cut larger hedges or cut through branches. Choose a hedge trimmer that is lightweight and easier to lift and hold for longer periods.
- A grass trimmer – Also known as a strimmer, these can be used for edging the borders of the lawn, trimming long grass or weeds that are less accessible and tackling ivy.
- A leaf blower – Rather than raking the entire area, which can be time-consuming and strenuous, a leaf blower allows you to blow all of the leaves into one area. This tool is particularly necessary for autumn when gardens are often covered in leaves.
- A chainsaw – A chainsaw can be used for cutting down trees or pruning larger branches or shaping trees and bushes.
- A garden shredder – These are used for reducing garden waste and making it easier to compost.
- Compost – This is used to fertilise and improve the soil. It can be put onto the soil and around plants to add nutrients to the soil.
- Fertiliser – This is similar to compost but instead of feeding the soil, fertiliser feeds the plants. Fertiliser is a type of chemical substance which can help increase the growth and productivity of plants. Fertiliser can be used on most plants, flowers and vegetables.
- Lawn care products – This could include lawn fertiliser (or lawn food) and lawn weed control products. You will likely require different kinds of lawn food in different seasons.
- Plant labels – Not only are these decorative, but they are also useful. If you plant new seeds, you can label what they are for both you and your client. This can be particularly useful when planting vegetables or herbs.
- Soil test kit – This allows you to test the pH, soil acidity, nitrogen levels and phosphorous and potash levels of the soil. It can help you to ensure an optimal growing environment is maintained at all times.
Safety and Protective Equipment:
- Goggles, safety glasses or another form of eye protection – These are particularly recommended when using equipment such as hedge clippers, chainsaws and lawnmowers. They can help to protect your eyes from dirt, debris and flying objects.
- Helmets – A helmet is recommended if you are working on a task or in an area where there is any risk of a head injury. For example, if you are working in an area that is having any building work done, if you are cutting down trees, or if there is a risk of falling from height.
- Gardening hats – To protect your head, neck and face from the sun in the hot summer months.
- Steel toe-capped boots – Toe-capped boots can help protect your feet from heavy equipment such as lawnmowers, wheelbarrows and shovels.
- Gardening gloves – To protect your hands from thorns, brambles and insects.
- Long-sleeved tops – Long sleeves are recommended to protect your arms from the sun and from cuts or insect stings and bites.
- A fully stocked first aid kit – Accidents and injuries are inevitable when working in a garden. A first aid kit can allow you to treat cuts, stings, burns and sprains instantly.
- Dust masks – to protect your airwaves when mowing the lawn or using fertiliser or chemicals.
- Insect repellent and sting and bite treatment – Working outside (especially in the summer) means you will inevitably encounter insects such as bees, wasps, spiders, horseflies, midges and mosquitos. Being able to quickly treat stings or bites or prevent them from happening in the first place is recommended.
- A kneeler pillow or strap-on knee pads – To protect your knees when you need to kneel on the ground.
- A vehicle – You will need a vehicle to transport you between your different clients. A van may be most useful as it will have more space for transporting bigger equipment, such as your lawnmower.
- Adhesive door and body panels – This can help your business gain exposure. These panels can be kept on at all times to provide constant exposure to your business. They can show your business name and logo, your contact information and the services you offer.
- A tool stool – This is a type of storage bag that can be easily transported around the garden with you. You can store all your necessities and reduce the time you need to spend returning to your tools. A tool stool also turns into a foldable seat.
- A website – A website is useful for advertising your business. It should contain your contact information, your gardening experience, the areas and locations you cover, the typical services offered and your customer reviews. Design your website to include your business logo and to reflect your branding.
- A business phone – This will enable you to communicate with your clients and be contacted by potential clients. Your business phone number should be advertised on your website and any leaflets or business cards you use.
- Business cards – Business cards are an important marketing tool and can be given to new or existing customers. They should include your business name, contact information and the types of services you offer.
- Leaflets and advertisements – You can post leaflets through letterboxes, display them in local shops and cafes and hand them out to potential clients.
An important step when planning your gardening business is to calculate the estimated costs associated with setting up and running your business.
Being aware of the typical costs can allow you to better plan your business’s finances, estimate your monthly and annual costs and determine how much initial investment your business requires.
Consult the list below for some of the usual costs associated with a gardening business:
Your equipment will be your biggest initial expenditure when starting up a gardening business. Your equipment costs can vary, depending on how much equipment you require. To reduce your start-up costs, you could buy only essential equipment initially and then purchase more equipment as your business grows. Gardeners typically spend between £1,000 and £5,000 on equipment.
A van will likely be the most convenient type of vehicle for your business. The price of a van can vary significantly, depending on the make and model, and whether it is new or second-hand. Keep in mind that if you hire multiple gardeners who are all doing different jobs, you may require more than one van. A second-hand van can be purchased for as little as £5,000 and a new van for £25,000 and above.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Correctly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but repairs and replacements are still inevitable. Without your equipment, you will not be able to run your business.
Bulbs, seeds and plant care products
You will need to purchase these types of products regularly, particularly in spring when you will likely be doing a lot of planting. The costs of these items should be billed to the client, but you may have to cover the costs initially, before being reimbursed.
Vehicle running costs
Your vehicle running costs include your vehicle insurance, petrol, MOT, services and the costs of any repairs. These costs can vary significantly, depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, the level of insurance you choose and the amount of travel you need to do. Typically, you can expect to pay between £50 and £200 per month.
You may initially operate your business independently and then hire staff as your business grows. You could hire staff as permanent employees or as independent freelancers. If you hire staff permanently, you will need to pay them at least the national minimum wage of £9.50 per hour and account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay and maternity/paternity pay.
Branding can help you to establish your business’s identity and set you apart from your competition. Branding could include creating your business’s visual identity, a logo, your business name, and creating your business website. You can hire a professional to help you with branding or do some of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the amount of branding you require.
Marketing and advertising
This can help you to grow your business. You may require more advertising and marketing when your business first launches. It is recommended that you spend no more than 10% of your annual revenue on advertising costs; for example, if you make £40,000 per year, you should spend no more than £4,000 on advertising. Some of the ways you can advertise are via your website, on social media, on your van, and through leaflets, posters and business cards.
There are several types of coverage you could choose for your gardening business. Prices can vary depending on your insurance provider and the level of coverage you choose.
Business insurance typically chosen by gardeners includes:
- Public Liability Insurance
- Employers’ Liability Insurance
- Professional Indemnity Insurance
- Tools and Business Equipment Cover
- Stock and Materials Cover
- Personal Accident
- Legal Expenses
- Own Plant Coverage
Once you have determined the typical costs associated with setting up a gardening business, you can then determine your pricing.
You may choose to charge a per hour fee or charge based on the size of the job. The cost of hiring a gardener in the UK can vary significantly, from £12 an hour to £60 an hour. On average, gardening businesses in the UK charge £25 per hour.
Some of the factors that can influence your pricing are:
- The type of job the customer requires.
- Your experience and skillset.
- The number of employees that are required.
- Your location.
- Your business’s reputation.
- The type of equipment you have.
Safely Running a Gardening Business
Safe practices are essential when running a gardening business. They can help to protect you, your employees, your clients and your equipment.
Some ways you can safely run your gardening business are:
Be aware of potentially harmful plants
There are multiple plant varieties in the UK that can be potentially poisonous or result in skin irritations or reactions. You and all your employees should be aware of potentially dangerous plants and how to recognise them.
Consider whether your clients have pets or children
There are many plant varieties that are dangerous when ingested. Although adults are unlikely to eat plants or put them in their mouths, pets and small children may ingest them. You could avoid planting any potentially dangerous plants in your clients’ gardens or warn them of any specific plants so that they can supervise pets and children in their gardens and reduce the risk.
Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE can help to protect you and your employees from obtaining an injury at work. Some of the PPE you may require include gardening gloves, toe-capped boots, goggles and a dust mask.
Properly maintain equipment
You will be dealing with potentially dangerous equipment on a daily basis. Ensuring equipment is clean and properly maintained and performing regular equipment inspections can help to protect you and your employees and can help to extend the lifespan of your equipment.
Carry out risk assessments
You should identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated.
As part of your risk assessments, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
If your gardening business has more than five employees, risk assessments will be a legal requirement and will need to be recorded.
Undergo first aid training
As gardening can be a potentially risky job, ensuring you and your staff have first aid training is recommended. In the event of an accident or injury, you will then be able to administer the necessary first aid and reduce the seriousness of the injury. In serious circumstances, first aid can also be life-saving.
Undergo health and safety training
This could include training on manual handling, PAT testing, COSHH awareness, working at height, ladder safety, electrical safety and assessing risk. Health and safety training can help to ensure safe practices at all times.
Pay attention to noise hazards
Noise levels can sometimes be high when gardening, for example, when using a lawnmower or power tools. Measure noise levels and make sure you are aware of noise levels that are too high.
Implement security measures to protect your equipment
All equipment will need to be stored in a securely locked area, particularly overnight. To protect your business from break-ins and potential thefts, you could install a CCTV system, a reliable lock, and an alarm system.
Complying with legal requirements is a necessity when running your gardening business. Laws and regulations are designed to protect you, your business and your clients.
Failure to comply with legal requirements could not only result in an accident or injury, but you could also face consequences such as a warning, a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious circumstances, prosecution.
Some of the laws and regulations you should be aware of include:
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER)
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), you must ensure that all work equipment is safe to use, maintained properly, suitable for the job and used appropriately. You must also ensure that you and your employees are trained on how to use the equipment and wear PPE, where necessary. PUWER covers equipment such as lawnmowers and power tools.
Chainsaw training and certification
Under PUWER, it is your responsibility to ensure that you and all your employees are both competent and adequately trained to use a chainsaw safely. You will need to undergo training and receive a relevant certification in chainsaw operations.
Apply for a waste carrier registration
If you carry away any garden waste, such as grass, weeds and branches, you will need to register as a lower tier waste carrier if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland or a professional collector or transporter of waste if you live in Scotland.
You can apply for your registration with the following governing bodies:
- England: The Environment Agency.
- Wales: Natural Resources.
- Scotland: The Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
- Northern Ireland: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
Pay attention to dog restrictions
Your local council will put up signs if there is an area where dogs are prohibited from entering. This could include some parks or beaches. There may also be areas where you can walk dogs, but they must remain on the lead. Be aware that dogs must always remain on the lead when on a road or street. Failure to comply with these restrictions could result in a fine.
Comply with the Environment Agency’s regulations on invasive non-native plants
You must ensure your business does not plant any invasive non-native plants or allow them to grow in the wild (for example, by moving contaminated soil or cuttings of the plants). If you see any invasive non-native plants you must stop them from spreading. You must also follow the government’s guidelines on treating invasive non-native plants and disposing of them safely.
Comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations
The COSHH regulations state that you must control any substances that are potentially hazardous. You should also assess, control and reduce any risks or potential hazards and protect people from harm. This could include chemicals, pesticides, fertiliser and any other hazardous substances you use as part of your business.
Comply with regulations regarding storing and disposing of hazardous substances
Some of the substances you use as part of your business are classed as hazardous substances. This includes fertiliser, pesticides and weed killer. Different local authorities may have different guidelines regarding hazardous substances, so contact your local authority or the environmental health department for more information.
Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013
RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur when your business is operating. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document. As injuries may be more likely in a gardening business, appropriate recording can help you to recognise any mistakes or patterns and prevent future injuries.
Comply with the Manual Handling Regulations (1992)
Manual handling is an inevitable part of gardening. You will be handling heavy equipment, carrying waste, bending down and reaching high and using repetitive movements, all of which could result in pain or injury. Following manual handling regulations can help to protect you and your employees from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks.
Comply with the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
The Electricity at Work Regulations state that any workplaces that use electricals must construct electrical systems in a way that prevents danger, maintain electrical systems to ensure they are safe, ensure electrical equipment is checked by a competent person annually and conduct Portable Appliance Tests (PAT). Electrical items could include your lawnmower and any power tools.
Comply with the Work at Height Regulations (2005)
If you are ever working above ground level, for example on a ladder, you will be classed as working at height. Working at height can result in serious injury and even death, so you will need to ensure your business complies with the regulations at all times.
Implement health and safety policies and fire safety procedures
All businesses should have health and safety policies that help to manage health and safety in your business. They protect the health and safety of you, your customers and your business. Your policies and procedures could include fire safety and emergency procedures.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
Positives of Owning a Gardening Business
Owning a gardening business can be extremely rewarding in multiple ways.
Some of the main pros associated with this type of business are:
You can work outdoors
Many people don’t like working indoors and find that sitting down all day and not having exposure to natural light can have a negative impact on their wellbeing. Working as a gardener means you will be spending most of your day outside, in nature.
Positive impact on your physical health
Rather than sitting down all day, gardeners are outside doing all types of physical tasks, burning calories and strengthening their muscles. Gardening has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits and improve your overall health. Exposure to daily sunlight, even in the winter, will also increase the amount of Vitamin D in your body, which can have a positive impact on your health and immune system.
Positive impact on your mental health
Gardening can help to reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety and improve your overall mental wellbeing. Focusing your attention, being outside and getting more sunshine than most people can be very beneficial to your mental wellbeing.
Traditional working hours
The majority of gardeners work the traditional 9–5 working hours. This will leave your evenings and weekends free to spend time with your family and friends. Unlike other businesses, gardening also shouldn’t require you to be available or contactable outside of your working hours. This gives you a good work-life balance.
You can work alone or as part of a team
You can choose whether you want to operate alone or as part of a team. Some people prefer to work alone and find themselves to be more productive this way, whereas others prefer working as a team. You can make the decision based on what is best for you and your business.
Seeing the beauty of what you create and witnessing the plants grow and the positive impact you are having on the natural world can be very rewarding. You will likely experience a daily sense of pride and achievement and seeing your clients satisfied with your work can be extremely rewarding.
You can be creative
Gardening allows you to tap into your creative side and make gardens beautiful. This can be done with the plants and flowers you grow and the way you shape and trim the hedges and bushes.
Low start-up costs
A gardening business is a relatively low-risk enterprise, in that there are few start-up costs. Other than your equipment, you will have relatively few other start-up costs. A gardening business also has very low running costs, as you will not need to pay for premises or be responsible for electricity, gas or water costs.
Control your own workload
You can choose your own working hours and take holidays whenever you want. As your business grows and you hire more employees, you could also choose to take a step back and hand over a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities.
Be involved with the local community
You will likely operate your business in areas close to your home. This allows you to connect with people from your local area and become more involved in your local community.
Customer retention and customer recommendations
Your clients’ gardens will be your strongest form of advertising. If other people see the work you have done, this could result in more business for you. Once people find a gardener they trust and they know will do a good job, they usually will stay with this gardener. This could mean you are looking after the same gardens for years, offering you steady and consistent work.
A constant need for your business
Gardening businesses will always be in demand as people always need help with their gardens. Even in times of financial difficulty, gardeners remain in business as many people can’t look after their own land – either because of mobility difficulties, time constraints or a lack of knowledge. You should never have to worry about your business not making a profit or experiencing a lack of demand.
Be your own boss
You can make all key decisions yourself and steer your business in whichever direction you choose. You can choose how involved you want to be and the employees you hire and make the best decisions for you and your business.
Design your dream business
As the business owner, you can create your dream business, from the type of gardening you do to the equipment you buy, the staff you hire and your business’s brand and aesthetic. Creating your dream business can be very rewarding.
Negatives of Owning a Gardening Business
However, there are some negative aspects of owning a gardening business that you should be aware of:
Little job security
As you likely won’t have entered into formal contracts with any of your clients, they will be able to stop employing your services whenever they want. Sudden losses in work can be detrimental to your profits and can leave you struggling to make your business succeed.
The rise of machines
A lot of gardeners get their work from older clients who still take pride in their garden but are no longer able to maintain it themselves. However, with the advancement of technology, we are already seeing robot lawnmowers, and these are becoming increasingly popular. This could mean that more of your tasks become obsolete in the future.
The physical toll on your body
Although gardening can have physical health benefits, it can also be physically demanding and take a toll on your body. Not only will you be on your feet for a lot of the day, but you will also be handling heavy machinery and equipment, bending down and reaching high. This can cause pain and strains, as well as leave you exhausted at the end of the day.
The risk of injury
Because of the heavy machinery you will be handling, the sharp equipment (such as shears and rakes) and the amount of physical strain on your body, your job will have a higher risk of injury compared to many others. You could also obtain small injuries from thorns, bushes or even gravel.
You will be outside in all weather
Because you will need to earn an income year-round, your business will need to operate in the cold, wet winter months. When many people picture gardening, they think of sunny spring and summer days. The reality is that you’ll have to work in rain, sleet, snow and wind.
Gardening can be difficult as you age
If you manage to run your business successfully, you may find it is still in operation as you are older. However, many gardeners will struggle with their daily tasks as they become older and are dealing with back pain, ill health and a higher risk of injury.
Work can be inconsistent
You may find that your business is much more in demand in the spring and summer months when more people spend time outside and that you are less busy at other times of the year when fewer plants and flowers grow, and the weather is cold. This can result in inconsistent profits.
The job can be demanding
Not only can running a gardening business be physically demanding, but as the business owner you will have a lot of additional responsibilities, such as advertising, maintaining equipment, liaising with clients and admin tasks. You will also be solely responsible for ensuring your business succeeds.
Being responsible for the success of your business, ensuring all jobs perfectly meet the client’s specifications and handling any employees can be stressful. Running your own business is often a stressful task, especially when your business first launches or if your profits begin to drop.
If an employee becomes injured at work, because of a task they are doing or equipment they are using, your business may be liable. Furthermore, if a client is injured when you are working on their garden, for example, by falling in a pile of raked leaves you haven’t yet picked up or tripping over unfinished paving, your business could be held responsible.
Unpaid travel time between jobs
You will have to travel between jobs every day. Not only will this time not be paid, but you will also have to spend money on travel costs, such as petrol.
Planning Your Gardening Business
If you are considering starting up a gardening business, an effective and well-designed business plan is essential. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
Some of the factors you need to consider when creating your gardening business plan include:
What type of services will you offer?
Consider your own training and experience when deciding what services you will offer. You should also consider your target market and your competition. You may choose to offer a wide range of services or focus on a specific niche.
Who is your target market?
Determining your target market can help you to decide your advertising and marketing strategies. Consider the services you will offer, the area you operate in and how you can best make your business succeed when deciding your target market.
What are your initial set-up costs and running costs?
You need to determine your approximate start-up costs and running costs to enable you to calculate your initial investment, determine how you will fund this investment and what your monthly or annual costs will be. Creating a budget is a key part of your business plan.
What is your pricing strategy?
Once you have calculated the costs associated with setting up and running your business, you can then determine your pricing strategy. You will need to decide whether to charge by the hour or per job. Your pricing will depend on multiple factors, such as your location, experience and reputation.
What are your sales forecasts?
You will need to determine how many clients you can feasibly take on each week and what your weekly, monthly and annual sales forecasts will be. As your business grows, your sales forecast will change.
What is your advertising and marketing strategy?
An effective advertising and marketing strategy is essential. You need to ensure your target customers are exposed to your advertising and are attracted to and can recognise or remember your brand. Some of the ways you could choose to advertise include on social media, using leaflets and posters, in local newspapers or on radio stations, using branded vehicles and signs and in trade publications.
How will you grow your client base?
An important consideration when planning your business is your strategy for growth. It can be difficult to grow your client base, especially when your business first launches. Creating a strategy for growth can help you to plan ahead and make it more likely that your business will succeed.
What local competition do you have?
What other gardening businesses operate in your local area? Are there any businesses specialising in the same services as you? If so, consider their pricing, the services they offer, their branding, marketing and advertising strategies and what they do well.
What are your equipment requirements?
Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you require will depend on the type of services you offer and whether you hire any employees. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing the equipment and the monthly replenishment costs.
What are your employee requirements?
Are you going to operate your business alone or will you hire employees? Employees will result in additional outgoings; however, they will allow you to offer more services at one time and could result in more business and higher profits.
What are your business objectives?
Determining your business objectives is an essential component when creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your gardening business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Have you complied with all legal requirements?
Consult the list above and ensure you have complied with all legal requirements before opening your gardening business. Failure to comply with the legal requirements could negatively affect your business and your profits.