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How to start a gardening business

Maintaining and transforming gardens and landscapes can be satisfying and rewarding work. But it can be made even more rewarding by running your own business. Read on if you want to learn more about starting a gardening business this year.

Why start a gardening business?

When it comes to fulfilling and creative trades, there are few that can compare to gardening and landscaping. It’s a calming job, one enjoyed by many hard-working tradespeople across the nation every day.

And as gardens aren’t going to disappear any time soon, setting up a gardening business is a smart venture. Not only will it help you stay in shape, but you get to experience the great outdoors while you work!

Whether you’ve been gardening for a while or are new to the career, our guide is here to help. We cover the tools and skills you’ll need to succeed, as well as how to market your business effectively.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know about starting a gardening business from scratch.

Creating a gardening business plan

If you’ve read any of our other business starting guides, you’ll know that creating a business plan is essential. Without one, it will be much harder to lay out your business goals, and how to want to achieve them.

Therefore, you want to create your business plan as the first step in setting up a gardening business. That way, you can be sure that your business is moving in the right direction with minimal issues.

So, when starting your business plan, we recommend looking at the following areas:

  • Business goals – what are the goals of your new business and how do you intend to meet them?
  • Funding costs – how do you plan to finance your business initially and fund it in the future?
  • Financial management – who is going to manage your finances? Will you do it yourself or hire an accountant?
  • Services – what sort of gardening services are you going to offer your customers?
  • Customer base – who are you going to target as your primary customers?
  • Prices – how much do you plan on charging customers for your work?
  • Work area – where do you plan to work and how big will your catchment area be?
  • Work hours – how many hours a week do you plan to work? Do you intend to work weekends?
  • Marketing strategy – what marketing tools do you plan to use to reach new potential customers?

Take your time researching and thinking about these areas as you build your plan. That way, you can set much clearer goals for yourself.

Of course, we wouldn’t just leave you here without extra help. So, for advice on how to construct your business plan fully, read our article on writing a business plan.

And don’t forget to download our free business plan template while year here!

What qualifications does a gardener need?

If you’re an experienced gardener, it’s likely you already have all the technical skills you need for a gardening business. However, if you’re new to the trade, then setting up a gardening business will be harder without the right qualifications.

For new gardeners, we recommend looking at gaining the following qualifications:

  • A Level 1 Certificate in Horticulture Skills
  • A Level 2 Diploma in Practical Horticultural Skills
  • A Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture

On top of these, it’s also worth looking into the regulations and certification around the use of pesticide chemicals.

Naturally, you might want to consider an apprenticeship as well, as doing this will provide you with on-the-job experience.

What business skills does a gardener need?

While experience is key to impressing customers with your gardening work, so too are good business skills. After all, running a business is an entirely different beast from trimming the verge.

So, if you’re serious about starting a gardening business, then we suggest working on all the below skills:

  • Gardening knowledge – it goes without saying that good gardening knowledge is a must if you want to succeed in this industry
  • Attention to detail – much like gardening, running a business is a delicate art that can’t have you cutting corners
  • Organisation – staying on top of everything is key to running a successful company, making organisation a must-have trait
  • Interpersonal skills – as a gardener, you’ll be working with new customers every day, so you need to be able to communicate effectively
  • Management skills – while solo gardening is possible, if you take on staff, you’ll need to know how to manage them effectively
  • Health and safety – it might not seem it, but gardening comes with plenty of risks, so you need to have good knowledge of these to avoid accidents
  • Customer service – good customer service is essential to getting repeat business and new clients
  • Patience, enthusiasm, and endurance – gardening is a year-round business, so you need to be willing to put in the effort over those cold winter months and big projects to keep your business afloat.

Of course, these are just the core skills required by this sort of trade. If you want a full breakdown of these, you should read our article on becoming your own boss.

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How to set up your gardening business

With the initial stages of starting a gardening business covered, let’s cover some vital areas to consider before starting work. Specifically, there are four main areas to complete when setting up a gardening business, all of which we cover below:

1. Register your gardening business

First things first, you need to decide on a name for your gardening business. And then register it with HMRC. Registering your business is particularly important as it relates to tax and is a legal requirement before you start trading.

Registering your business also comes with the decision of whether you’ll operate as a sole trader or limited company. This will require some thought and research before making a decision.

Both come with different pros and cons, as well as different tax implications.

Alongside this, don’t rush picking a business name either. Your company name is going to be one of the first things people see and is essentially your brand.

If you’d like help coming up with a name, read our piece on creating your business name for suggestions.

Do businesses need insurance?

2. Getting gardening insurance

Like any trade, getting insurance for your gardening business is essential to protecting you financially. Not on that, but customers will have far more trust in your business if you’re properly insured.

For starters, we suggest investing in some degree of public liability insurance as cover against third-party claims. And if you have staff, then you’re legally obligated to acquire employer’s liability cover as well.

For information on other types of insurance consider, take a look at our article on gardening insurance.

3. Accounting and bookkeeping

While not the most exciting part of running a business, good bookkeeping is essential if you want to be profitable. So, take the time to work out your finances before beginning the process of starting a gardening business.

You’ll need enough to cover start-up costs for things like tools, insurance, a van, and marketing. But you’ll also need to monitor your finances as you operate to keep an eye on outgoings.

For more tips on how to do this, we suggest reading our business accounting blog. Or, alternatively, you could look into hiring an accountant instead.

Garden storage outhouse


4. What tools do I need to start a gardening business?

Gardeners rely on a range of different tools and equipment to make their job easier and tackle challenging issues. Thus, it’s a good idea to invest in the best quality tools you can afford. That way, you’ll have tools that are both effective and last you for years.

The following list covers all the most important tools you’ll need to get you started:

  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Lawnmower
  • Strimmer
  • Trowel
  • Goggles
  • Secateurs
  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Watering can
  • Strong boots
  • Fork
  • Rake
  • Kneeler
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Chainsaw

Alongside these tools, don’t forget to invest in transport as well. After all, you’ll need a work vehicle to take your equipment between jobs. Why not look at our post on finding the best van lease deals to get started?

And don’t forget that Checkatrade members get a discount on any tools they buy with our partners.

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How to grow your gardening business

With your business up and running, the next thing to consider is how you plan to grow your customer base. Finding new customers is very important to keep your work diary full, so you want to expand out as far as possible.

However, you also want to be sure that you don’t do this too quickly. Otherwise, your business might get overwhelmed. So, to make sure you grow successfully, read out tips on scaling and marketing below:

1. Scaling your gardening business

To begin with, if you want to grow, your business properly, then you need to consider scalability. This means that your business needs to be able to scale in size to meet new work without issue.

This in and of itself can be a tricky process. So, to make it easier, here are four areas to think about when looking to scale your business:

  • Streamlining – to scale properly, all areas of your business need to work smoothly with each other. So, make sure that there are no bottlenecks in your business’s functionality before trying to grow
  • Financing – growth is impossible without a solid financial base, making it important to put money aside to cover new business expenses as you widen your customer base
  • Work quality – one thing that hinders many new businesses is a focus on quantity over quality. This is the wrong attitude to have and you should always focus on maintaining a good level of work ahead of getting as many new customers
  • Team growth – eventually, you might want to look into finding more staff to help your business. Therefore it’s important to hire them as and when they’re needed so you’re not struggling to meet new work demands

2. Digitally marketing your gardening business

A cornerstone of any successful business, taking advantage of digital marketing is essential for growth. So, when thinking about marketing online, make sure you set aside budget for the following areas:

  • A company website – a major contact point for new customers, your website is the face of your business online. To learn more about building a website, read our article on designing a small business website
  • Your social media presence – most trades are highly visual in their work, making sharing your work on social media an absolute must. Learn more about how to do this in our piece on marketing your business through social media
  • Joining an online directory – you might not know it, but many customers still use online directories to find reputable tradespeople. Reach out to the Checkatrade team today to find out more about joining us

3. Advertising your gardening business

While not as prominent as digital marketing, traditional advertising is still an incredibly useful tool to make use of. We definitely recommend looking into all the following areas if you’re considering using traditional forms of marketing:

  • Print marketing – despite common misconceptions, print marketing is still as powerful as ever. Why not read our article on print marketing to learn more about using it in the digital age?
  • PPC – also known as pay-per-click, PPC can be a great way to get yourself in front of customers online. We suggest reaching out to a local PPC expert if you want to learn more about this
  • Company branding – an essential part of any business, company branding can go a long way towards getting your name out in the local area. From your work van to your company uniform, good branding will act as free, mobile advertising while you work
  • Sponsorship – lastly, sponsoring local events is a good way to get your name out to new customers both near and far. Not only that, but it will provide you with an opportunity to network with other trade businesses as well

4. Other marketing ideas

Finally, if you’re interested in some passive marketing ideas, we have four suggestions below you can make use of:

  • Customer reviews – few things are better at attracting new customers than a good review. So, whenever you finish a project, don’t be afraid to ask your customer to leave a review of your work
  • Networking – gardening covers a wide area of projects, so by networking with other construction and outdoor trades, you could quickly find yourself acquiring additional work
  • GMB listings – a quick and easy way to appear in local searches online, getting a Google My Business listing is entirely free but can do wonders for finding new customers

As you can probably see, there’s plenty to think about when marketing. That’s why we suggest downloading our free marketing guide for more help.

How to get more gardening work

After looking into carrying out all the steps we’ve discussed above, you can keep going to find even more work. Naturally, you want to be sure your business can expand to cover the following points, but they’re worth considering nevertheless:

  • Other qualifications – the more qualifications you have, the more gardening knowledge you can bring to the table, which lets you do more advanced work for your customers
  • Specialisation – specialising in unique areas of gardening is always a good idea, as doing so will let you corner certain markets in your work area
  • Repeat business – it goes without saying that doing a good job will lead to previous customers calling you back for more work

Save money and time marketing your business

With all that covered, you should know how to start a gardening business from scratch. Of course, if you want help expanding your business further, then you should consider joining Checkatrade.

You’ll get access to more marketing tips and a business profile on the UK’s largest online directory. This means more customers will be able to find you and you can display testimonials of your great work.

Sign up today to learn more about our 12-point vetting process. And don’t forget to visit our trades blog for more articles like this one. Such as our piece on how to start a landscape business.

Gardening business FAQs

Is a gardening business profitable?

Owning a gardening business comes with many costs, but you can also look forward to a decent profit. Most gardeners charge an average of £20 per hour, or £230 per day if you’re a landscape gardener.

However, you’ll then need to account for your overheads and taxes before you can work out your profit and wages. That’s why it’s very important to do your research on becoming a sole trader or a limited company.

For more on what you could earn in this trade, read our piece on how much gardeners earn.

How much does a gardener make a day?

Gardeners can make around £150-£200 per day, depending on the amount of work and the type of project being undertaken. Landscape gardeners will typically charge on a per-project basis.

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What others think of this article:


Just closing my garden business after 25 years. It's been a pleasure to look after gardens for others. My advice to those entering this business today: check your overheads, costs today are much higher than most think. A good public liability package is very pricey , a van , tools which will need repair , lawnmower x 2 they just don't go on and on and if one requires repair you a second one as back up. Repairs are v pricey the mechanic will.probably be on double your hourly rate and I was recently quoted 50.00 for a new front wheel!!!! Factor in lost days to weather conditions and your costs which will eat away at profit. Gardening is very hard work ,low pay etc. You may well see your hourly rate when you have to do your own accounts, fetch parts and down days due complications : van going for mot , tools broken fall below minimum wage . If you can't see yourself living this lifestyle for many years don't enter this industry if you can the rewards of being your own boss are significant. I wish you the very best . Statistics show only 1% remain after 10 years of those only 1/4 turn over a profit. In my case I did fall into the 1% alas not the 1\4 who turned over a profit I often fell below minimum wage taking into account costs but overall loved the industry.

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