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Start a Garden Business


To succeed in a garden business you need to avoid the pitfalls that cause most businesses to fail; and it really isn't all that difficult to do this, provided to take time to plan and execute a sensible approach when starting out.

Common Reasons why businesses fail are:

  • Poor Cash Flow (Often caused by charging too little; or not properly managing money when it does come in.
  • Bad Attitude (Successful businesses make the customer number 1. Failing businesses often treat the customer as if he is low on their list of priorities).
  • Poor Service (Gardeners who can distinguish weeds from plants, know how to prune without causing damage and can successfully identify pests are remarkably few and far between. Even many "qualified" gardeners often attempt tasks beyond their skill level. Making mistakes will loose you customers and mean no new customers through referral). The ability to do the job gets repeat work; qualifications only get you noticed a little.
  • Poor Marketing (Some gardeners can do the job, but never succeed because no one is aware)

What about a Franchise?

Buying a franchise (eg. gardening or lawn mowing) can solve some of the common reasons for failure, but alone it is still no guarantee of success. Franchise Businesses are rarely as hassle free as much of a guarantee as what you expect; and they can have down sides as much as they have advantages.

Landscape construction includes a lot of different aspects. Some construction companies will choose to do all aspects of landscaping including: installing plants, paved areas, decks, water features and any other outdoor feature. Other companies will choose to specialise, such as installing fences only, or only doing plant and lawn installations and leaving the 'hard' features to another firm. Regardless of which road you choose to go, either specialist or full service, there are some criteria necessary for success in this area.
First of all, a willingness to undertake hard work is essential. Planting trees and constructing features means digging in to all types of soils, from nice loams to hard clay or rocky substances. The successful contractor must also be tolerant of all types of weather, as well as be sensible about the weather. It is nice to think of working outdoors on a sunny, spring day but working outside in the heat of summer or on a cold, wet winter day can be very uncomfortable. Working in the heat, especially in very hot areas, can also be a health risk and may require you to complete less than the desired day's work.
Lots of landscape construction work can be made easier with the use of equipment. Hiring equipment is an ideal way to get started in the business without having to outlay money for expensive pieces. However, once business is established, purchasing equipment may be more cost-effective. A trailer or utility vehicle for hauling materials is often needed, too.
As with all areas of business, making it clear exactly what service is being provided is the key to a happy customer. A client's perception is often different to a contractor's perception and it is not uncommon for this to lead to disputes. You need to be a very good communicator, and make sure your client is clear on what they will be receiving for their money. Having agreements in writing and backing up any discussions with drawings of what the finished product will be and how it may look a couple of years later, is important. And while all businesses want to satisfy the customer, there is a duty, as a landscape contractor, to advise clients of what may become problems. For instance, a client may insist on a particular type of tree, but may not be aware of the size of the mature plant or how the roots system may affect nearby structures or watercourses.
All this said, landscape contracting is very hard, and very rewarding work. It is one of the areas where a hard day's labour can give instant results. And, as we move toward a more service-based society, less people have time to do their own landscaping and construction, so the demand for landscape contractors will continue to increase.
Regardless of whether you are building solid structures or installing plantings, you will be working with the soil. One of the most important factors in creating a successful landscape is understanding and properly managing the different soils that you will be working with. Soils usually form the base on which the majority of landscape features are formed - for example: raised garden beds, mounds, ponds, lawns, and as a base for paths and driveways. Soils also provide sustenance and support for plants in the landscape.
Earth Shaping
Slopes, mounds, depressions and other changes in the shape of the ground surface can be exciting, giving interest and individuality to a garden which might otherwise be relatively boring. Let your imagination run free and you might just surprise yourself with your own creativity.
What Do You Need to Learn?
No matter what sort of garden business you go into, you will need to have two things:
  • A knowledge of Plants and an ability to look after them
  • Skills in Business Management (eg. basic bookkeeping, understanding law etc).

If you are only going to do just one course the following are your best three options. You should choose from these on the basis of the amount of time you are able to devote to study:

Horticulture I - a 100 hour course providing a very solid foundation of knowledge.  Can be studied alone or as part of a higher level qualification.

Foundation Certificate In Plant Growth For Horticulture Level 2 - an extensive 150 hour course.

Certificate in Horticultre VHT002 - a 700 hour qualification


Any Questions?

Our tutors are all horticultural experts and more than happy to advise on suitable courses and eBooks. Please get in touch.


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