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A Guide to Starting a Gardening Business in 2024



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A Guide to Starting a Gardening Business in 2024
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Maybe you were born with green fingers, or perhaps your love of gardening blossomed over time. Whatever your circumstances, if nothing fills you with more pride than transforming a green space, starting a gardening business could be the fresh start you’re looking for. In fact, an impressive 674,200 jobs across the UK are supported by ornamental horticulture and landscaping - so you’re choosing a thriving industry to become a part of. 

Starting a gardening business offers more than just financial independence and pride - you’ll also spend time in the great outdoors which is said to improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress. But how do you get started? 

We’ve put together this guide on how to start a gardening business, so you know exactly how to navigate entrepreneurship and kickstart your gardening enterprise with confidence. 

Understanding the gardening business landscape

One thing’s for sure - we definitely love our gardens in the UK. Gardening rose in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic especially, when lockdowns caused many to stay at home. In 2020, when asked about the key benefits of having access to a garden during the pandemic, 87.7% of respondents said their garden helped relieve stress and anxiety. So, if you’re looking to start a gardening business, you’ll be pleased to know your work will contribute to improved mental wellbeing.

The horticultural industry not only brings joy and improved wellness, it also supports the environment and economy. Your work will contribute to environmental sustainability, especially if you implement eco-friendly gardening practices. It’s said that the industry could support more than 763,000 jobs by 2030, and is set to play a key role in achieving the UK’s climate change targets. With endless benefits to consider, what’s stopping you from swapping your office shoes for welly boots? 

Steps to starting a gardening and landscaping business

Ready to embrace all that starting a gardening business has to offer? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide below, so you can rest assured that all is taken care of.

1. Do your research

Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as too much research. To improve your chances of business success, getting to know your customers and their needs is crucial. Without research, you’ll rely purely on assumptions which is where many businesses fail. In today’s business world, you must take the time and effort to understand your customers so you can tailor your service to suit their needs.

Types of customers

The types of customers who will seek your expertise are likely to vary. You may choose to specialise in a particular area of gardening, or offer a range of services to appeal to different customers. 

Just some of the customers you may look to target include:

  • Local councils

  • Families or couples

  • Holiday lets

  • Landlords and letting agents

  • Public gardens, parks and other green areas

  • Establishments such as cafes, restaurants and bars

2. Understand the legal and regulatory considerations

While you’re probably eager to get started with your gardening enterprise, you should get to grips with the legal and regulatory requirements of starting a business

Company formation

First, you’ll need to decide how you’ll legally start your business. You can form your business yourself through Companies House for a £50 fee, or you can get a company formation agent to take care of things for you. With SUAZ, we’ll form your company directly with Companies House for free (yes, really!) and we’ll have your back every step of the way should you need any advice or support. 

Health and safety

While gardening can be a stress-free pastime, it doesn’t come without its risks - especially if you’re making it your career. It’s important to consider any potential risks and health and safety procedures you should follow to protect yourself and others around you. 

Gardening and landscaping can come with several risks including prolonged sun exposure, manual handling, slips and falls, and reactions to chemicals such as pesticides and weed killers. With this in mind, it’s important to perform a risk assessment to acknowledge any potential risks and the steps you can take to mitigate them. 

Insurance for your gardening business

Like any type of insurance, the hope is you’ll never need to actually use it. But this doesn’t eliminate the importance of taking out business insurance to protect you and your business should the worst happen. Should you hire employees, it’s a legal requirement to have employers’ liability insurance to protect your business should an employee fall ill or become injured as a result of working for you. You may also choose to take out public liability insurance to cover you financially should a third party claim to have suffered injury or property damage because of your business. 

3. Make a list of essential tools and equipment

Without the right tools and equipment, you’re not going to get very far! The exact tools you’ll need to invest in will depend on the gardening services you plan to offer, but generally speaking, you’ll need the following:

  • Gloves: A good pair of gloves will protect your hands from cuts and splinters. Make sure they’re water-resistant and breathable, and that they have long cuffs to protect your forearms. While it may be tempting to go for the cheaper option, it’s likely to be more cost-effective to invest in higher-quality gloves that may cost a bit more. Doing so means you won’t need to replace them as quickly - better for your wallet and the planet too.

  • Rake and spade: Every gardener needs a good quality spade and rake. These are the most basic but effective tools you’ll use daily, so it’s worth buying high-quality products that will last. 

  • Pruning shears: Otherwise known as secateurs, pruning shears help you control plant growth and keep areas looking tidy. You can use them to cut through branches easily, so you can maintain and shape trees and bushes. 

  • Lawnmower: Lawn care is likely to be a popular service you’ll offer, so you’ll want a reliable, quality lawnmower to do the job well. You may prefer a lightweight lawnmower (either petrol or electric) that is easy for you to carry around from job to job. 

4. Create a business plan and have it ready

Your business plan is your go-to resource both at the start of and throughout your business journey. Your business plan should outline your business’ strategy, goals and objectives and how you’ll achieve them. You’ll explain the market research you carried out, how your business will be managed, and the services you’ll offer in detail. It’s also important to explain how you plan to fund your business, including your forecasted sales, expenses and cash flows. 

5. Build a marketing and branding strategy 

To get your business name out there and start attracting customer attention, you’ll need a marketing and branding strategy. The thought of marketing your business may sound daunting, especially if you feel your skills lie in the outdoors and you aren’t familiar with marketing jargon. But there are plenty of resources online to guide you through it, as well as our tips below to get you started: 

  • Know your target audience: Are you looking to attract local families or larger organisations? Determine the demographic, lifestyle preferences, age, location and gardening needs of your customer base so you can look to target these characteristics.

  • Your USPs: What makes your business stand out against your competitors? Identify your key strengths and specialisms to focus on, as well as your USP - your unique selling points. For example, one USP may be that you offer a customised approach to your gardening services, tailored to each individual customer. 

  • Choose your marketing channels: Choose the marketing channels that are most appropriate to reach and target your customers. Make sure you consider both online and offline marketing - for example, you may choose to advertise your services on Instagram, as well as promote your gardening services offline through flyers and local newspapers. 

6. Financing your landscaping and gardening business

Make sure you know how you’ll fund your gardening business and have a plan in place to ensure profitability. Be sure to factor in the costs of company formation, taxes, business insurance and branding. You’ll also need to calculate the cost of the equipment you’ll need to carry out your day-to-day operations. Our guide on how much it costs to start a business covers these costs in more detail.

To ensure you’re making a consistent profit, you’ll want to price your gardening services competitively. How much are your competitors charging in your area? The cost of gardening services varies greatly depending on the level of experience, the size of the garden and the location. Equally, you’re likely to charge more for landscape gardening than you would regular gardening jobs such as lawn maintenance and digging new flower beds. The price of a regular gardener can be up to £200 a day, whereas landscape gardening can cost up to £280 a day on average

7. Keeping and retaining gardening customers

Once you’ve carried out your initial gardening jobs, you’ll want to retain those customers going forward. Here are just some ways you can work to maintain a loyal customer base and encourage repeat business:

  • Quality service: This may sound like an obvious one, but the better service you provide, the more likely it is that your customers will ask for more. Ensure you and your team are equipped with the best tools, and follow best practices.

  • Communication: Listen to your customers’ needs and preferences and communicate with them effectively. Update them regularly with the progress you’re making and encourage open communication so you can understand any queries or concerns they may have.

  • Reward their loyalty: You could reward loyal customers for their repeat business. Maybe you could offer a discount on their fifth garden project, or throw in a service for free as a token of appreciation.

Words of wisdom from a gardening business owner

Owner and Director of Protea Gardens, Nathan Gamba, shares his tips and advice when it comes to starting a gardening business.

Any challenges or mistakes you made at the beginning?

My mistake was thinking that I would immediately be working 5-6 days a week. But as I was only starting out, I had to build up a client base very slowly. I was working maybe 3 days a week, so covering my rent and food bills was hard. I guess I was fortunate in the beginning to have had a meticulous and hard-working mindset and as time went by, word started to spread in the local community. Looking back now, one of the mistakes I made was charging peanuts for the work I was doing, but in hindsight, that helped me in being recommended to other clients. As my confidence grew, I could then start charging the going rates for what gardeners in the area were charging.

What tips or advice would you share for starting a gardening business?

My advice would be to never give up on your dream. Life will likely be hard in the beginning as you will need to network and find the work. But if you are passionate about the career you chose, then just keep at it - it will get better!

A good tip would be to contact other gardening companies in the area. Maybe even do a few shifts with them as a freelancer. This will at least give you a little extra cash while you build up your own client base. By working for a company that knows you are freelancing, they might pass some work over to you if they get too busy. 

How SUAZ can help you

Starting your own business doesn’t need to feel complicated. Our company formation service can take care of things for you, and support you every step of the way. You deserve to make your business dream a reality. Apply to form your company with SUAZ today.

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