For some people, a landscaping business is the ideal combination of their passion and work. It gives people the opportunity to work outside in the fresh air, to be creative, to be active and, crucially, to work for themselves. Self-employed landscape gardeners can choose their own hours and which projects they take on and get a great sense of job satisfaction from seeing the results of their labour and design skills. Of course, any new business venture is a challenge and requires plenty of planning. If you are hoping to start your own landscaping business, this guide will take you through the key steps involved.
Make sure it’s the right business for you
Before you get started, you need to think hard about whether the job is right for you. Of course, if you have been working as a gardener with a larger company, you will have a good idea of what exactly is involved. But if you are new to the industry, you need to consider what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Meeting with clients to try and understand what they want from their outside space.
- Creating plans to meet the brief and estimating costs for materials and labour.
- Physically carrying out the work of gardening, making structures, fencing, turfing, building water features.
While you will be working alone a lot (unless you choose to take on another labourer), you will need to be able to collaborate with clients, suppliers, and other contractors to complete a project.
Qualifications and experience
There are courses in gardening, horticulture and other structural skills which could be useful, such as woodwork, but many people do not have formal qualifications when they start working in landscaping. Experience and having the right connections can often be more useful, so consider working as an apprentice or volunteering for an organisation.
Consider the seasons in your business plan
Most practical landscaping work takes place during the summer while planning happens during the winter. Clients can be commercial, residential, or a combination of both, and this will impact when you can work in terms of hours. Because of this seasonal workload, it makes sense to save some of your summer earnings to tide you over in the winter. A lot of landscape gardeners use the quiet winter months to supplement their income with another job.
Think about how to charge your customers
Most landscape gardeners will work out how much materials will cost, the complexity of the job and approximately how many hours or days the job will take to complete. To work out your hourly labour rate, do some research into what others are charging in your area.
Decide on a legal structure
A lot of landscape gardeners register as sole traders, but you may want to set up your business as a limited company as there are lots of benefits. To avoid fines, you need to register your business with HMRC as soon as possible as you will need to pay tax and National Insurance via an annual self-assessment tax return.
Insure your business
You will need public liability insurance to cover you financially should a member of the public become injured or your work causes any damage. If you are planning to employ others, you will also need employers’ liability insurance.
Find and compare suppliers
You are going to need to find a balance between the cost of materials you use in your work and ensuring you are delivering a high-quality service. Companies like Tradefix Direct offer a wide range of tools and materials at competitive prices.
Start promoting your business
Finally, you can begin promoting your business and finding customers. It is essential that you have a website and a social media presence as most people turn to the Internet when they are looking for a landscape gardener. To increase the chances that your website is found by your target audience, you should invest some time in search engine optimisation. When you have completed jobs and have positive customer testimonials, you will in a much stronger position in terms of attracting referrals.