There are roughly 2.4 million gardens in the UK. Which means there’s an awful lot of demand for gardeners. It follows that starting your own gardening business in the UK is the first choice for lots of people who want to go into business for themselves.
As long as you’re fit and healthy and you like the outdoors, a new career as the boss of your own gardening business could be just what the doctor ordered.
If you’re wondering how to start a lawn care business or gardening business, this article has all the information you need.
How much can a gardener earn in the UK?
A self-employed gardener in the UK can expect to earn somewhere around £10 to £25 an hour and £15 000 per year on upwards. Of course, this depends on many factors:
- The part of the UK that you’re in
- The quality and type of services you plan to offer
- Whether you charge a fixed price per job or an hourly rate
- What your local competitors are charging
How much money do you need to start a landscaping company?
A rough ballpark estimate could be as small as £3000, though £7000 and £10 000 have also been suggested.
Again, this will vary based on the general quality of service you aim to provide. But a lot depends on the exact gardening services you are going to offer. You might be offering a basic garden tidy or lawn care, for example. Or you might be delivering full professional garden landscaping.
Don’t forget to factor in the costs of buying necessary insurance protection, your vehicle or vehicles, branding your vehicle and equipment and tools.
A smart bit of advice is also to budget for at least three months of low or minimal turnover as you work to acquire clients at the start.
What tools do I need to start a gardening business?
The exact tools you need to start a gardening business vary by the type of services you plan to offer. A basic list might include:
- Hedge trimmer
- Safety equipment – especially gloves and safety goggles
- Hard-wearing uniform
- A vehicle, most likely a short wheelbase gardening van – perhaps a Transit
Of course, if you are offering landscaping services you might need a cement mixer and all kinds of other tools. If you’re offering tree surgery, a chainsaw or stump grinder. If you only need these items on an irregular basis, it might be better to rent them rather than buy them.
You should also plan for how you’re going to store this equipment between jobs and where and how you’re going to administer to the business side of your company.
Do you need any qualifications to be a gardener?
Strictly speaking, you don’t need any qualifications to be a gardener. As long as you enjoy being outside and you don’t mind a little hard work, you’ve got the major qualities a gardener needs.
Yet, in an industry which has no required qualifications, “cowboy” gardeners, who offer low quality work for low prices, can be common. This means increasing numbers of reputable green-fingered professionals are looking for a way to show off their reliability. Some handy and well-regarded horticultural qualifications include:
- The Gardeners Guild offers affordable qualifications
- The Plant School offers a low-impact course in plant knowledge
- Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture
- Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
- Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Horticulture
On a practical level, gardening experience is more valuable than a whole slew of qualifications. But if you’re going to be offering more than garden clearance or mowing grass and you don’t have much experience, you will need to get that knowledge from somewhere.
How much does garden maintenance cost – how do I price my services?
As a rule of thumb, most tradesmen aim to earn around £150 to £200 per day, so you should price your services accordingly. Of course, this will vary depending on the region and the services you offer.
As far as pricing goes, you have the basic options of charging per hour for work done or a fixed price for larger, more complex or more regular work. It’s smart practice to have a minimum call-out charge so that you’re not wasting time trundling between small jobs all day.
For things which will cost you extra to deliver – for example, weed killer and petrol tool use – be sure to clearly state that there will be a small additional charge.
You also shouldn’t forget all of the overheads of operating your business. Vehicle MOTs, domestic bills, tool replacement as they wear out. It all needs to be factored in.
Do I need insurance as a gardener?
Although it’s not legally required in most cases, you would be more than a little foolish to start trading as a gardening business without having at least some insurance protections in place. Consider:
- Public liability insurance, which protects you against injury to members of the public or claims against accidental damage
- Employers liability insurance, if you have staff
- Personal injury insurance
- Business equipment insurance, because some of your tools are likely to be expensive
How do I find customers?
There is often a demand for local gardeners in most areas. But that doesn’t mean you can start a gardening business and expect clients to come to you. Your first advertising and marketing efforts should include:
- Building a website – you can’t avoid having a website these days. People need to be able to find you online and will expect it of a respectable company.
- Social media – try Instagram and Facebook to find new gardening clients. Both are very visual platforms, so you can show off the work you’ve done.
- Join professional organisations – membership of the British Association of Landscape Industries, the Association of Professional Landscapers and several others will help you build your online presence.
- Branding your vehicle – so that you’re a moving billboard for your business as you work.
- Networking and outreach – property managers, building managers, local businesses and organisations like hospitals, schools, colleges and care homes all make for good prospective clients. You should also do what you can to get in touch with Airbnb owners as that could be a whole ready-made network waiting for you.
- Local advertising – a leaflet drop and possible personal face-to-face callback can be a great way to drum up some local business. You might also consider local newspapers, magazines or radio stations.
The benefits of buying a gardening franchise in the UK
Because of the many benefits that most gardening franchise opportunities offer, most people starting their own gardening business at least consider buying a franchise.
For a start, buying a gardening franchise rather than attempting to start your own business entirely from scratch means you get:
If you have gardening skills but haven’t run your own business before, it can be more challenging than you think. Most new business owners struggle to balance the need for marketing and finding new customers alongside business management and customer service on top of actually delivering their services.
That’s why a good gardening franchise can be such a useful idea. For example, as a Fantastic Services franchisee, you would receive initial training right from the start. The customer support would be handled for you – and so would the marketing.
Gardening is often thought of as a seasonal business. But you are much more likely to keep work coming in all year round if you are part of a franchise system where the franchisor knows how to reach out to a whole range of industry sectors and potential commercial clients on top of finding you regular domestic customers.
Franchise gardening also means you are able to branch out into other linked types of gardening in order to expand your client base. You also have the vital technical expertise on call so you know you are doing it right.
Why other gardening issues might franchising solve?
One of the biggest attractions of being your own boss is that you set your own hours. The same is true if you are a franchisee – it’s largely up to you to choose when you want to work.
Strangely, the situation is actually often better if you are part of a franchise. Because as a solo operator, you are at the mercy of platforms and marketplaces and can never afford to turn down a client.
As a franchisee – especially of a franchise that’s anything like Fantastic Services – these problems are solved by your franchisor taking care of customer service and finding customers for you.
One of the things that are unavoidable when starting your own gardening business or buying a landscaping franchise in the UK is the need to buy your initial equipment.
Here again, though, you have an advantage if you are a franchisee. Whether it’s vendor discounts with chosen equipment suppliers or helping you source the best equipment at the best prices, it’s good to have a major company like your franchisor supporting you.
This post was written by Fantastic Services and posted on their website here. They are an exhibitor on the FranchiseShow247 Cleaning & Domestic Services floor and you can visit their FranchiseShow247 exhibition stand here.