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Looking for a career that lets you work outdoors and put your gardening skills to use? You might be thinking of starting your own gardening business.
But while it can be a relaxing hobby, setting up a gardening business requires plenty of planning, time and effort. Keep reading for a simple guide to what's involved in starting a gardening business and what you can do to maximise your chances of success.
A gardening business takes care of key garden maintenance and design tasks for homeowners. However, the services provided can vary greatly from one business to the next.
This guide refers to businesses that specialise in basic garden maintenance tasks such as weeding, pruning, fertilising, watering plants, growing seedlings and the like. Some also offer services such as lawn mowing, patio cleaning and outdoor repair.
Then there are some gardening businesses that also provide design and landscaping services – check out our how to start a landscaping business guide for more detailed information.
Ready to get your gardening business up and running? There are several important steps to consider, so here's a quick rundown of the key tasks you'll need to complete:
A gardener should have expert knowledge of plants and how to care for them. A basic knowledge of grass and how to recognise and remove harmful weeds will be useful, while you'll also need to know your way around tools like hedge trimmers, lawn mowers and leaf blowers.
Gardening also requires a certain level of physical fitness. You're going to be on your feet a lot and doing plenty of heavy lifting, so you'll need to be able to cope with the day-to-day requirements of working in the garden.
Growing your gardening business will require constant communication with people and suppliers. Negotiation skills will help you come to pricing agreements, while the ability to build good relationships with clients will help you attract repeat customers.
Finally, you'll also need a decent understanding of the basics of business management, including everything from managing your workload to invoicing and keeping records for tax purposes.
You don't need any formal qualifications to be a gardener. However, you should have a basic knowledge of plants, weeds and how to keep a garden looking its best. You can improve your skills by completing a horticulture or gardening course. For example, one common qualification is a Certificate III in Horticulture, which can be completed through a wide range of training institutions.
If you'll be doing any landscaping work as part of your business, check whether you need a licence. The exact requirements vary from state to state, so contact the relevant authority in your area
You'll need to invest in some essential gardening equipment to get your business started.
Depending on the services you offer, this may include:
In many cases, you'll also need a ute or van for transporting supplies, as well as a trailer to carry your equipment from one worksite to another. Items like a laptop, computer desk and office chair can all help you take care of the admin side of the business.
Next, think about what sort of software you may need to help simplify the day-to-day running of your business. Some gardening businesses may simply require accounting software (such as Xero) to manage finances and invoicing, while those with a larger number of clients or employees could benefit from job management software (such as Tradify or Ascora).
Now that you have decided on your niche and services, think about the direction you want to take your business in.
The business structure you choose will dictate how your business will operate:
Once you've decided on the right structure, you'll need to register your business, your business's name and for GST. Our guide to starting a business will walk you through the key steps you need to complete.
You'll need to make sure you satisfy all legal requirements when setting up your business.
Some of the documents you may need to get drawn up include:
You can access a wide range of free legal document templates online. However, for personalised advice that suits the needs of your business, you may want to consider getting some online legal advice.
Don't forget that you'll also need to consider your tax obligations, such as whether you need a new tax file number (TFN) and whether you need to register for GST. You can find out more in our small business tax guide or ask your accountant for tailored advice.
Insurance is an essential consideration when starting a business. Some of the types of cover you may need to consider for your gardening business include:
Working out which types of cover you do and don't need can be a confusing process. That's why it's a good idea to get advice from a business insurance broker who understands your needs and the risks you face.
According to Service Seeking, the average cost of hiring a gardener varies from state to state, from $40.65/hour in Tasmania to $56.20/hour in NSW. However, it's worth mentioning that the cost can also differ substantially based on the type of work being done. For basic tasks like weeding and garden tidy-ups, many services charge around $30/hour. But for more complex and advanced tasks, rates are commonly in the $50-$80/hour range.
You can choose to charge clients by the hour or by the job. Factors to take into consideration are the area size and terrain, types of plants, the equipment you'll use, the number of services required and even what season it is.
For example, you may want to charge a higher rate for jobs that require petrol-powered tools. This can help cover the cost of fuel and maintenance.
You'll also need to consider the costs you'll incur to complete the job, plus the ongoing costs of running your business. It's worth researching what prices your competitors offer to get a better idea of what customers in your area are willing to pay for gardening services.
The simplest way to attract customers in the modern world is to create a high-quality website that showcases your skills and past projects to potential clients. You can find a web design business or a freelancer on a site like Upwork to build your site, and use a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) marketing agency to help boost your visibility in Internet search results.
You can also use social media such as Instagram or Facebook to showcase your gardening skills and accumulate client reviews by offering your services for a discount. Some gardeners gain a following by posting helpful resources and short guides on social media platforms.
Next, take advantage of online marketplaces such as hipages, Airtasker and Oneflare where people post about the gardening services they need. You can also consider spending on online or social media advertising, while investing in eye-catching signage on your work vehicle can also go a long way towards spreading the word about your gardening business.
Even keeping your own garden looking neat and tidy is a great way to advertise your services. If a potential client drives past and sees a beautiful garden with your work ute parked in the driveway, chances are they'll give you a call.
Should I have a minimum call-out charge?
Working as a gardener can sometimes mean spending a lot of time travelling from one job to the next. Imposing a minimum call-out fee can ensure that it's worth your while to travel to a customer's house – just make sure they're fully aware of the minimum call-out fee ahead of time.
Are there any drawbacks to working as a gardener?
Just like any other occupation, gardening does have a few downsides. These can include working in extreme heat or rainy weather, daily exposure to ultraviolet rays, and the fact that there's often plenty of physical labour involved. The amount of work available can also fluctuate depending on the season, so make sure you're aware of the pros and cons of working full-time as a gardener before starting a business.
Does the client need to be there while I garden?
No. As long as you have access to the garden and know what work needs to be done, your client doesn't need to be there.
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