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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.

Do you love your job?

Hi all,

Firstly, thank you to all members who share knowledge on this site. It's great to see this happening in the industry and as a first time user, it's so helpful to read your conversations advice.


I am thinking of sacking it all in...

I currently work as a project manager for a big corp. I am a real outdoors lover in both how I spend my spare time, as well as what i love to read and learn about. I have worked as a tree cutter groundy for a couple of years whislt travelling, on a farm etc. I know its graft but I am fine with that and actually look forward to it. The thought of being sat down and tapping keys for the rest of my life destroys me and it's not happening. I would be aiming to set up my own company asap doing lawns or some of the easier to acess work to begin with, building up to full garden redesign after some courses, books and experiance.


I would love to just generally hear how you all find it as a career. The ups,  downs, amazing moments, little perks and your viewpoint of working in an office?


Do you love your job?

Has anyone done the same move I plan and how is it on the other side? Is the "grass really greener"?!


I can't thank you all enough for taking time to reply. If anyone is around the Bristol (where i work) and South Wales, Cardiff area (where I live) to chat over a pint and life, I will buy! 


Thanks all

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  • PRO

    I spent 20 years in polyurethane manufacturing, I had a great team of workers and ran 5 departments and was hands on and loved my job and then when we got bought out by a huge company called Trelleborg and I spent more and more time in the office with paper work I knew it was time for a change. I took the leap and became self employed subbing for a friend who had already started his own grounds company after being made redundant and he gave me the chance I needed to kick the factory in the head.

    I still sub for him aswell as having my own customers and contracts and would not go back to working in a factory. I get to choose how much or how little I want to work and the people i want to work for.

    You have to plan ahead for winter and save jobs for when its raining or snowing, such as fencing and laying patios etc and make sure you have some savings from the times of plenty for when there is little or no work or you just want to take a break.

    We all have differing reasons why we do what we do and how we do it but if it works and youre happy thats the ultimate goal.

    • PRO

      Hi Steve and welcome to the forum . 

      Everyone's journey will be different , Self employed gardener for me means a situation which is constantly evolving , new opportunities present themselves almost on a daily basis and its a constant learning curve , mistakes can be plentiful and costly and as Dave mentions Winter can be a hard time for many so i am always focused on Winter trying to plan ahead . 

      This can be a very lonely job also if you work alone but as you have already discovered this is a very supportive site and it can get you through and sharpen your focus . 

      Three words someone once wrote on here in a post made a lot of sense to me '' Set Your Criteria '' such obvious words but they suddenly made me realise i didn't have any criteria which meant i had no navigation but it was a turning point . 

      I suspect you have to weigh up what you have to lose but if you love this work as i do you are on the right path and then it all depends on how ambitious and lucky you get .


  • PRO

    20 years as an aerospace engineer, office based, out in the hangars, around the country to other sites. 

    I got so bored with paperwork, not being able to make decisons without my signature, boss signature, offsite office signature, same people, same grumbles, same issues, appraisals, career ladder and all of the other rubbish that goes with it.

    Jumped ship years ago, went back to university, was poorly, then started as a gardener.

    Wasn't prepared for the absolute hard graft, the investment in machinery and vehicles/ equipment to be able to do a professional job. 

    Job satisfaction, well it is mostly spot on, whether it be looking at a really well striped lawn, a happy customer, a compliment about my work, or sometimes looking at a border my other half has planted up and it has grown really well. 

    I look after the business, and that has been a challenge, LJN has some great people, and I've learnt a lot here. 

    Winters have been tough, lower income, not so nice jobs, I'm learning still and working with monthly billing split  over 12 months helps.

    Would I go back and do something different - nope, not a chance!

  • PRO

    I had 30 years in Broadcast TV which early on was fun operational stuff then promotions meant management dull meetings etc. Took the leap last June having been setting up the gardening business in the background and studying RHS practical course. 

    Wish I had done it sooner, it is hard physical work compared to the desk but no tension headaches and massive commutes, now much healthier and slimmer! 

    Obviously I am not as experienced as a lot on this site and it is a learning curve from sussung out the good customers to repairing machinery on the weekend....even the best pro stuff needs regular attention. 

    Winter was still pretty busy with project stuff postponed from the summer, make sure you prioritise customers (usually with big gardens) who will need all year services.Those that contact you saying they will need you up to October are taking valuable diary space for an all year customer.

    You are probably used to working alongside others being in the corporate world so you may find it wise to take on someone to work with fairly soon as it can be lonely otherwise. I enjoy the days when I have additional help plus it's safer if doing something risky, on ladders, heavy lifts, chainsaws etc. 

    Good luck with your decisions.

    Use this website, loads of knowledge here, watch Gardeners world and listen to gardeners question time no matter how dull some of the episodes are!

    P.S a corporate background supprisingly really helps I find, you can comunicate in a "business" way with clients who live in that world ie sending out emails/texts to keep them updated,project progress summaries on larger jobs some people love all that and it does help.

  • Dave, John, Scott and Trevor, thank you for your valuable replies and welcoming. I know a few people in my position and i hope the thread helps people like me and them It's really insightful and motivating to hear what i had hoped, that is challenging in many ways (consistent income, bad weather, learning new skills etc) but totally worth it. The big one is really being your own boss vs following shareholder pressures or some BS strategy.

    I am quite sure its the right move. I am nearly 30 with kids not to far off and if I am going to make the change, now is my chance. Its quite hard to walk away from the 10 years I have worked towards and good career promotions, so hats off as it must be harder when that 10 is 20,30 or 40 years in the game.

    My biggest weakness is that I have very little experience apart from doing some fencing and tree work. However, I can’t make ends meet on an apprentice wage with my current financial commitments - house, loan etc. The ideal is to do that for a year or two but I cant afford you think I am stupid and naive to try and start on my own from the year 1? I plan to start on more the maintenance side to get things rolling and hopefully make some connections to other landscapers, arbourists on bigger jobs and elements that are out of my area. Plus before it all, take a garden design course, speak to people, read books, binge on podcasts (nothing compared to real experiance, but it all helps)

    My main concern is the hardscaping of which i have zero clue today!

    @John you my main concern on the head! I do enjoy the teamwork element at work but also hate being told what to do and when (i understand the customers may try/will to do this to a certain extent but it's more expectation management). I think i am accepting of this trade off until I can employ someone and build the business. The forum is awesome for this and just great to speak to like minded people.

    Out of interest, what is the criteria you set yourself? My criterias more point to self employment but landscaping is my target because i love the outdoors & what it does for people, being active and creating things.

    @Trevor, glad to hear you have done it! I know you said “sooner” but at least you did it thats what many people can’t or won’t ever do - good man. Thanks for the tips and being specific.

    Thanks all

    • PRO

      Quick reply, off to work.....we don't do landscaping - I don't have the knowledge, and don't know how to gain the skills without working for someone else, so we decided in the beginning not for us.

      Depends what you want to do really, picking up mowing work, maintenance and maybe tree work in winter should get you going, doubt it will be enough to give you an income in year 1. We took about £10 gross in Yr 1, but we don't own our own home, which helped to be honest, as we could claim to pay our rent so we were secure but skint.

      • Hi Scott, 

        I like reading that you wouldnt switch back!

        My end goal is to offer the full landscape and planting service. Thats waht I know i will enjoy. But I am fully aware of the skills involved (and that i don't have them) so i need to pick some elements that are easier to start.

        My thoughts are to start on pruning, mowing, clearing, building beds etc. Is this similar to how you started? Any advise on areas to focus on 1st is much appreciated! 



        • PRO

          Only just seen this, sorry.

          Yes pretty much how I started. My better half works with me so in one sense it is easier, we worked it out together, in another sense it wasn't as I didn't have another income to rely on while we got going. She is good with plants, and wanted us to go in the planting direction but we didn't have the skills and experience to jump in.

          We advertised mowing, border weeding, pruning, garden clearances and general work. Biggest surprise was border work, feedback we got was that many gardeners didn't do border work, or if they did the standard was low. Yr 1 and Yr 2 we made a point of advertising for borders and it was a good income stream. I've got a bit sick of it to be honest, well planted borders, 2 of us working together I can cope with, unkept/ undug and overgrown, I try not to take on now unless we need the work.

          Mowing I really pushed, and one week out two in season is fully mowing work now, I find it a good earner.

          Garden clearances, that was a mistake. We did a few in Yr 1, one I think  last year, and don't advertise them now. Brought the money in but we worked in some shoddy properties, and decided that wasn't our market.

          Last year we took on a large property, and planted up a border - had to be ready for a family party. Quite stressful and massive learning experience. Didn't realise how much planning and sourcing of plants and materials there would be. On a personal note I don't like having to plan, list and buy prior to doing a job, so design and landscaping isn't for me, but I can see the attraction of that type of work. 

          The goal in the short term must be to bring in the cash, find a set of regular customers and keep your eye for the work you really like?

          If you advertise, could you gradually change the services you advertise as your skills change, and maybe keep the parts of the job you like, to keep your income stable?

          • Thanks Scott. Sounds like a good plan. 

            Certainly at the start I would say yes to everything. It would be nice to get to a position to turn away work I don't fancy but I doubt that would happen much. Its more about the jobs I lack the skills to exacute at this stage. If someone turns around and asks me to instal a massive pond, build a big summer house etc. Part of me would want to say yes, absolutely., and then research the hell out of it after. But i think in landscaping and manual work, this could be utterly stupid. As its seems quite driven by rep, networking and location, I dont want to skrew up and have a potential know on effect which wouild have just been better to turn it down or give the job away....which i dont like doing! 

            Your spot on, after gaining my RHS and some basic skills, I am taking a design course and then I will change my offering. 

            Thanks Scott 

  • Hi Steve, you've mentioned garden design courses a couple of times. I don't know how much practical gardening experience you have but it might be worth looking at what day courses are available. I'm just thinking things like lawn care, rose pruning/training, fruit tree pruning, staking in herbaceous borders etc. Day to day things to get the work in. Get the practical experience then build up to design.

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