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Do you love the idea of working outside and being your own boss? If the answer's 'yes' then growing a gardening business – whether as a side hustle or a full-time endeavour – could be the right path for you.
If you’re not sure where to start, read our nine-step guide to becoming a self-employed gardener below.
Spring prompts many people to think about getting their gardens into shape, which makes the next few months a good time for setting up a gardening business.
And with National Gardening Week and warmer weather around the corner, it's a great time of year to think about getting started in the professional gardening industry.
If you love the idea of being outside (all year around) and are prepared for physically tiring days, then read our top tips on setting up, marketing and growing your business.
We'll also explain some of the practical things you need to do, like organising gardeners insurance and registering as self-employed.
For a more general guide, read our in-depth article on how to start a business in the UK. And check out our side hustle resources if you're thinking of being a self-employed garderner on the side of employment.
First you need to come up with a catchy name for your gardening company. It should be memorable, show your brand’s personality, and help you stand out against competitors. Importantly, make sure the name isn’t already taken by someone else and read up on intellectual property laws.
For some lighthearted inspiration, check out our Business Name Generator.
Writing a gardening business plan will help you decide on the strategic direction of your company, what services you’ll offer, and how you plan to grow. Take the time to understand your potential customers, plan your marketing, and prepare a budget for initial and ongoing costs.
Having a business website and social media platforms means customers can easily find out about you and the services you offer.
You can also make a business profile on Google for free – this means your company will be easily spotted on Google maps and in search results.
You’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC and file your tax return by 31 January every year.
While we live in a digital world, gardening business cards can still be a great way to advertise your services. You can leave them with potential clients at garden shows or with customers when you quote for a service.
Don’t worry if you lack graphic design skills, there are tools such as Canva and Adobe Spark where you can use templates to create your own business cards and marketing materials.
Put time and effort into your marketing and advertising and you’ll start seeing your client base grow. You could distribute flyers to houses with gardens in your neighbourhood and advertise in garden centres and shops – and don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
Along with residential gardening, you could explore whether local authorities, commercial properties and holiday lets need gardening services too. Once you have a list of contacts, you can keep customers updated with any new services or seasonal recommendations for their gardens.
Sorting out public liability insurance for your gardening business should be high on your priority list. This can cover you if you injure a member of the public or cause damage to their property.
It's also worth keeping in mind that you're legally obliged to cover any employees – even if they're only temporary – with employers' liability insurance.
Find out more about tailored insurance for gardeners.
One good way of attracting new clients could be to offer a well-priced tidy-up service for gardens that need some attention after winter. Your spring package could include basics like mowing, trimming and weeding, getting gardens neat and prepped for planting.
Spring usually brings a whole bunch of gardening events across the country, so keep an eye out for something in your local area.
You might want to apply for a stall at different events. Selling your homegrown products or running a workshop can be good ways of promoting your gardening business.
But remember, you’ll probably need stallholder insurance if you're going to trade at events.
While not essential, a horticultural qualification can give you practical skills and help you stand out to customers. The Gardeners Guild has a range of gardening qualifications and you can also pay for a membership to list your services in their gardening directory.
For more horticulture and gardening courses, you could also look at the Royal Horticultural Society's approved qualifications and work-based learning.
If you're interested in landscape gardening, you might want to look at garden design courses such as this Diploma from the London College of Garden Design.
Another way to develop your skills could be through an apprenticeship.
The tools you’ll need will depend on the services you’re offering, but here are the basics to get you started:
Landscaping tools for jobs like grouting, tiling, and laying turf will come in handy if that's a service you offer.
As you'll be out in all weathers, you'll need a pair of good boots, micro fleeces, and waterproof jackets and trousers. You might also need compost, lawn care products and plants if you offer landscaping services.
Larger equipment such as lawn mowers and hedge trimmers can be hired if you’re just starting out. Whether you're hiring tools or have your own, make sure you have tool insurance to protect you if your tools are lost or stolen. Most importantly, you’ll need a van to transport all of your equipment between clients.
In the UK, a professional gardener typically earns between £16,000 to £25,000 a year (according to the National Careers Service).
Being self-employed means you can set your rates and charge more as you build up experience and loyal clients. You'll usually charge by the day or by the hour, and where you live will also have an impact on how much you can make.
You're not going to see instant success with any business. So take the time to lay the foundations of your gardening venture, from market research to branding. You'll then be ready to start building (and nurturing) your clients over the coming months and years.
Do you have any unanswered questions about how to set up a gardening business? Let us know in the comments.
Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.
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