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Founded in 2008. The Landscape Juice Network (LJN) is the largest and fastest growing professional landscaping and horticultural association in the United Kingdom.

LJN's professional business forum is unrivalled and open to anyone within within the UK landscape industry

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For the researching visitor there's a wealth of landscaping ideas, garden design ideas, lawn advice tips and advice about garden maintenance.

Advice Please on starting up

Hi there Fellow members, I have just joined LJN and I am starting out with my new Gardening business in the next few weeks.

I come from a background of Professional Gardening at Stately Homes so gardening as a landscaper as my own business will be all very new to me.

I would be very grateful if you could advide me on what to charge in some way, I will be working near Fleckney Leicestershire.

Please advise on machinery also, I will no doubt need blower, strimmer, hedgecutter, etc, already have a small stihl shainsaw  but you guys and girls know what would be best - Im thinking a load of Stihl stuff.

As to vehicle, i am just starting out and have been advised that an old estate car is a good option as can go to tip easy. What do you think?

Would also be most grateful for your advice on things that i need to know but have not mentioned above.

All in all please help

I have 40 years gardening experience and am well qualified but only ever done peoples gardens part time.

Thanks David

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  • PRO
    David, to answer a few of your questions.

    How much to charge, depends on your target market and your charging structure ie per hour or by the job.

    Equipment, again I would say a lot depends what your local dealer stocks and repairs. If it breaks you need it fixed quickly.

    As regards waste, to transport this you need either a higher or lower teir waste carriers licence. From free (green waste only) to £150 every three years (anything else).

    Taking commercially produced waste to the council tip is not permissible, you need to find a local commercial waste disposal site to dispose of this.

    Also don't forget your liability insurance!
  • PRO

    Hi David Welcome to the forum , I came into self employment  from a similar background private estate gardening although not as grand as yours i.e stately home gardening . 

    Your previous experience and skill set will come in useful and be automatically transferable to self employed gardener which is a great start . 

    First thing to do is obviously register with the hmrc I found their advice really helpful , Then read a little on working as a self employed gardener and if you have not already I highly recommend Phil Voices book which is instantly downloadable on LJN  and provides a really useful guide . 

    Machinery ? , What were you familiar with using when you were employed ?  for me it was Atco , John Deere and Honda lawnmowers and Stihl and Makita when it came to strimmers and hedge cutters so i based my initial purchasing decisions on what i was already familiar with apart from the Mower i chose Toro and purchased all my machinery to suit the level of work i intended to do as not one size fits all . 

    An estate car will be a suitable means of transport but you will probably need to consider attaching a trailer if you intend to remove lots of waste as there might not be enough room for equipment and waste inside the vehicle , I find managing  waste is an important part of the job if not a major consideration and you need a license to carry the waste produced as already mentioned by Adam , It takes minutes to register for the lower tier license and free of charge .

    Have you considered how you will generate business ?  How will you advertise ? Pricing is another area heavily discussed on here some charge hourly and others charge by the job but the golden rule is to know what your costs are and there are some useful links on this site to help you work these out , I find using the search button at the top of this page provides a wealth of information but it's also great to have the interaction of fellow members to get updates , opinions and the benefit of their experience etc as this is an industry which is constantly evolving . 

    The hardest part of this job is perhaps dealing with the public , It is what your business depends upon , It can be very unpredictable but also extremely rewarding , It's an area of fluctuating focus , a constant learning curve , working out where you can make improvements and adjustments . 

    All the best David 

  • PRO

    Hi David

    Welcome to LJN and thanks for joining.

    I've collated a few topics on search here:

    starting landscaping business - Recherche Google
  • Hello David, I got a familiar background to you as I worked for the National Trust as a gardener working my way up to Gardens Manager. I been self employed for over 5 years and I based my business model on the NT principles which works well for me. My professional background has put me in good stread with my well heeled customers who want a professional Gardener to maintain their borders to a high standard. Don't be shy about saying you worked at a Stately Home as this will be to your advantage.

    As others have said, charge accordingly and buy good equipment such as Stihl. Also it goes without saying being reliable, punctual and doing a good job will put you in good stead. Also don't be afraid to turn down a job but do tell the customers that you cannot do that particular job.

    Good luck.
    • Thank you all for the excellent advice and encouragement.

      Does anyone have advice on marketing serices when starting out, thought about notice boards and the like?

      • PRO
        Hi I have been running my business for six year but previously had over 20 years in sales so my view is skewed in that I think all businesses are sales businesses we just happen to sell gardening services. The other guys are right to say word of mouth is the best way to get business but that only works if you have a customer base to refer you.
        I would go to your local printers and get 20-30 thousand (yes thousand) leaflets printed. Ask to use their copy writer to word it for you making sure it focuses on what benefit the customer will get from your service not just your name and phone number. You should get 1to1,5 % return if the copy writer did his job well. This doesn't sound a high return but if this are regular accounts it is a very high ROI.
        You have nothing but time so get them out. As Dan said big gardens are not usually the most profitable for me either. Too many guys get hung up on which brand of mower blower etc while that is important the most important thing is to buy a brand which has a dealer nearest you so it can be fixed if is brakes. There is no point in buying something that if it needs repaired you have to drive 100 miles to get a part.
        I wish you the very best of luck
  • David it's all word of mouth. Get some jobs by speaking to friends/neighbours and delivering leaflets to lots of doors. Don't just focus on large houses - many of my good clients that turn over a great rate are in ex council houses.

    If you can get a small van I'd definitely do that; it's far more convenient. You can use a pair of planks to run the mower in and out (trying to lift a mower into a car ten times a day is a short route to a hospital bed with back problems). 

    Don't feel the need to get Stihl tools - find your local machine repair/service shop and see what they sell and can get parts for quickly. I much prefer Tanaka/Echo and Husqvarna tools.

    • I second everything Dan says. My most profitable work is smaller houses. A smaller van is much more convenient if you can afford one. I don't have any Stihl tools anymore, mine are all Shindaiwa + Echo and couldn't be happier. For instance, my Shindaiwa multi tool is now in it's 5th year of operation and, other than annual servicing, I've spent less then £50 on it in all that time so go for what works for you and what is local.

      My number one bit of advice would be to be reliable. When I first started my business being reliable was way more important than how good a gardener I was. You'll improve your skills over time, but you need to be reliable straight away.

      All the best.

      • Some good advice here.  Van - a definite! Tools - if you are working to a budget, build up as you go, it's so easy to spend on something you may only use twice a year - hire some items until you are set up. Reliability - a must, as is knowing when to say no. A reliable, EXISTING client is worth more to you than a POTENTIAL new client - look after them! Annual contracts are the way to go, try and steer clear of 'hourly rates'.

        Strangely, you may find working at a different pace the hardest thing to get used to! 

        Good luck.

        • I have a skoda octavia with an enourmous boot It can take very long tools

          I thought I could run a mower into it on planks what do you think

This reply was deleted.

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