If you want to work for yourself, and you enjoy the outdoors, starting a landscape gardening business can be a great choice.
Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to starting a gardening business to get you off the ground.
Working as a self-employed landscape gardener means you'll have flexible working hours and you can choose which projects to work on. What's more, it can provide great job satisfaction.
Here's a step-by-step checklist to follow when starting your landscaping business:
Starting a landscaping business for the first time? It’s important that you know what the job entails. Landscape gardeners might work with residential clients, commercial clients, or both.
Generally, work is conducted during the summer months. Most landscapers in the UK work on their own, but you may need to interact with tradespeople in order to deliver for clients. You also need to be prepared to promote yourself to win business.
Some of the elements of your role will include:
You don't need any formal qualifications. But a love of the outdoors – as well as a healthy dose of creativity – are natural prerequisites for the role.
There are courses available in horticulture and gardening, so taking these may put you at an advantage. Keep in mind though that it's a role where experience is perhaps more valuable than qualifications. Finding people and organisations that need volunteer landscapers could give you the experience you need to forge ahead.
Landscape gardening is a highly seasonal profession. Most of your practical work will be carried out in the summer, while planning tends to occur in the winter.
In addition, many private, residential clients prefer not to have work done during holiday periods. Because of this, many landscapers supplement their income with other jobs during the colder months.
The fact that landscape gardening is a seasonal job affects how much you're paid – you'll likely have more work in the summer, so it's best to save for the winter.
Landscape gardeners will usually set a fixed price per job. When working out how much to charge, you should factor in what materials you need to get the job done, how difficult it will be (and what skills you need to use), and how long it will take to finish.
Self-employed gardeners can charge between £10-25 an hour depending on where they work, with London and the South East commanding the highest rates. Research what other landscape gardeners are charging in your area and set your prices accordingly.
One of your first steps when setting up a gardening business is to choose a legal structure. Many landscape gardeners operate as sole traders, and this may be the simplest route to choose. However, there may be good reasons for setting up a limited company, or if you’re in partnership, a limited liability partnership.
Your choice of legal structure will have impact down the line, particularly on accounting and other paperwork. Read more about the differences between sole traders and limited companies.
Before you begin trading, you’ll need to register with HMRC for tax, National Insurance, and possibly VAT. If you’re employing anyone, you’ll also need to register for PAYE.
It’s important that you do this promptly, as there are fines for those who register late. Remember that you’ll also have to file an annual Self Assessment tax return, and file your tax on time. Read more about Self Assessment for small businesses.
Insurance is a key consideration for every new business, including landscapers and gardeners. You’ll want to start with public liability insurance, which can cover you against claims arising from injury or damage suffered by a member of the public.
If you employ people in your landscaping business, employers’ liability insurance is likely a legal requirement. You can be fined if you need it and don't have it.
Simply Business offers tailored insurance policies to landscape gardeners – compare landscape gardener insurance quotes today.
Now it’s time to start looking for business. There’s a range of channels you can use in order to find clients. Many landscape gardeners advertise in local newspapers or directories, but there’s an increasing move towards online marketing.
Finally, remember that repeat and referred business is the most valuable business – so make sure that you’re offering customers the best possible service, and encourage them to tell their friends!
Here are some of our top tips to win customers:
Ready to set up your business? Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
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