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How to start your own Gardening Business.....

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Gardening

 

Have you got 'green-fingers'? Do you enjoy working outdoors? If the answer is yes then setting up as a freelance gardener might be the ideal option for you. Let's face it, we all want our gardens to look beautiful. There's nothing like sitting outside in the spring and summer months with a drink on the table, book in hand and the view of glorious blooms, neatly cut lawns and trimmed hedges. However, not all people can manage to keep their gardens in pristine condition despite how much they'd like to. This might be for a number of reasons including work commitments, family commitments, health or age related issues, or simply because they just don't have the skills and knack required for creating beautiful gardens.

    As a freelance gardener you can offer the following services:

    • General Maintenance (weeding,
      planting, digging, sowing, general tidy up)

    • Creating Landcapes (experience required)

    • Lawn Mowing Services (high fitness
      level required)

    • Hedge Trimming (good hand with the
      trimmer, some previous experience)

    • Weed extraction

    • Clearing out gardens (no experience -
      ideal client would be new homeowner or
      owner who has let their garden overgrow)

    • Pressure Cleaning Drives and Patios
      (although not a gardening job, per se,
      you could still offer it as part of the service)

 

Getting your Gardening Business started

So, what do you need to get started? Primarily you will need gardening tools. The first thing you need to establish is whether you are going to use your own tools or your clients' tools to carry out the work. Many people will have their own lawn mowers and tools that you will be able to use but if they haven't you will need to buy some. You can buy reasonably priced tools from Argos, AMAZON and for hand tools you might like to try Blooming Direct.

The basic tools you will require are:

Lawn Mower (electric or petrol), Shovel, Spade, Fork, Hoe, Rake, Hand Fork & Trowel, Garden Gloves, Shears, Secateurs, Wellington Gardening Boots.


Additional tools may include:

Hedge trimmer, Wheelbarrow, Pruning Saw, Watering Can, Jet Spray Cleaner, Garden Kneeler (protect your knees), Hose.

Make sure that you have an appointments book to keep all your jobs in order and a receipt pad, should your clients require a receipt upon completion of work.

 

Gardening Courses

Once you've set yourself up with your gardening equipment and you feel confident enough to take on work, you are ready to go. However, if you are a little rusty or would like to learn more about gardening before you start then you may want to consider taking a Gardening Course. Elearn offer the following two courses:

Horticulture Course, which covers the following topics:

Basic Botany, Plant Classification, Soil Science, Plant Nutrition, Plant Pests, Diseases & Problems, Organic Gardening, Weeds, Basic Propagation, Amenity Horticulture, Plant Groups and Families, Planting and Plant Care, Plant Notes and Indigenous Plants, Exotic Plants, Indoor Plants, Lawns.

The course costs £289.99.00* and is conducted online from home. On successful completion of the course you will be awarded with two qualifications. This is definitely worth looking into if you are serious about making a career out of this profession. For more information or to sign up for this gardening course click here.

Landscaping Course, which covers the following topics:

Basic Design Procedure, History of Gardening StylesDraughting and Contracting, Basic Landscape Construction, Surfacings, Furnishings and Features,How to Make Trails, Tools and Machinery,Earthworks,Cottage Garden Features, More on Tools and Machinery.

This course costs £240.00 and is conducted online from home. On successful completion of the course you will be awarded with a Landscaping Diploma and a Landscaping Award Certificate. A good course for those of you who are interested in developing your career as a Landscape Designer. For more information or to sign up for this gardening course click here.

 

How much can you make?

Now the important part, how much should you charge? Typically, anything from £10.00 - £25.00 per hour, depending on what type of work is required. If your client wants any materials, such as plants, hanging baskets, pots, lawn feed etc., this is an additional cost. You can choose to charge 'per job', for instance, if you were clearing out a garden then it may be beneficial to you and your client to agree on a fixed fee, this can be anything from £100 to £500, depending on size and work required. For regular customers you could charge a monthly rate to maintain their garden, including mowing the lawn. The amount you charge largely depends on the area you are working in and the size of the garden. On a typical scale anything from £50.00 to £100.00 per month. These prices were researched in May 2009.

 

Finding Gardening Jobs Online

If you'd like to get in touch with people who are looking for a gardener you could try registering with RatedPeople. RatedPeople put clients in touch with tradesmen, including gardeners. There is a fee imposed by the agency which works out to around 50p per day.

*For just £20 +VAT for the first 3 months you'll get:

- Unlimited job alerts by email
- £20 worth of free leads every month
- 100 free SMS job alerts
- Your own website

After the trial period:

After the first 3 months the service is charged monthly at £20+VAT with £10 worth of free leads every month on a 12 month contract. Leads vary in price, starting at £4 +VAT. The price of a lead is based on the job's size, scope, location and the skills required to carry it out.

Job alerts by text are the best way to ensure you don't miss out on the jobs you want. When you join, they'll give you 100 text alerts so you get immediate access to jobs via your mobile.

Do bear in mind that in order to make sure the service runs smoothly for you, they'll automatically top up your text alerts (at £10 +VAT for 100) when they run out, but you can choose to opt out of this part of the service at any time. So please do look into this before registering.

It might be worth signing up to their trial period to see how you go, and then cancelling if it doesn't suit you. If you decide to register do familiarise yourself with their costs and terms first. Interested? You can find out more here...

 

Registering as a self-employed Gardener

You will have to register with the Inland Revenue as self-employed when you become a freelance gardener, you can find out more details on our Tax Page.

 

Gardening for your business

It's recommended that you should take out some to cover yourself against any mishaps or accidental damages.

 

Gardening and fitness levels

Gardening is hard work and much as you may enjoy it, you must ensure that you are physically fit to work in the garden. Don't consider this type of work if you have any health issues relating to stamina, back pain or heyfever. Speak to your GP about your plans to work as a gardener and ensure that he/she confirms that you are fit for the job.

Get yourself some FREE Business Cards

The next thing you need to concentrate on is getting your client list. It's imperative that you have a flow of regular customers to keep you in business. Once you get one or two customers, you're on your way as these customers will recommend you to others. Or you may find neighbours popping their heads over the fence, admiring your efforts and offering you work. But as a starting point you will need to advertise. Get some business cards printed. You can get 250 free business cards at VistaPrint (they charge only P&P). You can also advertise free online at UK Classifieds.

 

Other tips on advertising your gardening business

Preloved offer an effective advertising campaign. They offer business users a free two month trial, and then a flat fee of £20.00 plus VAT per month thereafter. If you cancel your membership within the two month free trial period, you will owe nothing.

If you're short on cash you can advertise for free on:

Vivastreet

UK Classifieds

 

Get some leaflets printed

VistaPrint have a great range of leaflets and flyers or if you have a printer, you can print some flyers off yourself for local distribution. Place an ad in your local supermarket, newsagents, library and ask local estate agents if they would keep some of your cards. Finally, you can create your own gardening website using a sitebuilder, which will create beautiful pages for your business in a few simple steps - click on this link to find out more about a free or budget website.

Freelance gardening can be a productive business, and although initially your customers will be house owners you may also look into offering your services to companies who have gardens surrounding their buildings. Good luck.

 

Summary:


  • Advantages:

    Be your own boss

    Choose your hours

    You can earn good money


  • Disadvantages:

    Hard work

    Seasonal work (not much work in winter)

    Outdoor (you can't work in bad weather conditions).


    *correct at time of publication - 21/08/2011

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