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Hello All,

I'm new to the forum and thought I would introduce myself.

Currently looking to start a small gardening business In March after handing in my notice next Thursday.

I'm trying to do my planning at the moment but struggling with the wealth of options available in Vans to Machinery. Using the search facility in the forum is helping somewhat.

Out of interest, if you could go back to the position I am now in, what would you say to yourself and what do you wish you knew then?

Lastly, if anyone fancies becoming a super helpful mentor-type to myself, I would be extremely appreciative.




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  • Hello and welcome to the club. Welcome to life being controlled and dominated by the weather.

    The advice I would give the ‘me’ of 29 years ago when I went self-employed is the critical advice I would give to any new start up gardening business.

    Get your charges/prices right from the start. If you under charge a customer for a period of time they will get used to it and assume that is the correct level of charge. When you then try to put the price up to where it should be they will baulk at it. I can’t stress enough how important it is to charge the right amount and to charge per job and never by the hour.

    Have a read through this thread -https://landscapejuicenetwork.com/forum/topics/set-price-garden-mai... All the pricing advice is here in detail.

    Don’t make the mistake of under quoting just to get the work. You will be kicking yourself when you are there on a job working for peanuts. It is soul destroying.

    Also I would suggest that you don’t buy cheap domestic grade gear. It will ultimately make the job harder. A cheap hedge cutter will not cut like a good pro item. Good quality machinery will make you more efficient and will take some of the hard work out of the job. So not only is the cheap gear less good to use but when it breaks you won’t be able to get parts for it so it will go in the bin. The pro gear won’t fail nearly so much, is very well supported parts wise and so will actually be cheaper in the long run.

    I think that’s enough to be going on with.

    Set price garden maintenance.
    Hi all,  just wondering how people get on with set price garden maintenance, I’m trying to expand my business and want to get away from hourly rates.…
  • Hi- and welcome to a great industry and a great forum. 

    I would say that the first thing that you should do (as with any business) is to research what your likely market is. This will mainly be determined by your location and working area and what competition there is. Do you think that it will be mainly domestic householders or business and what typical garden sizes are in your area.  Will it be mainly lawn/hedge work, or more general garden maintenance that you plan to offer. Answers to these questions will allow you to make important decisions on what is the right type of equipment, van etc, since different gardens require different size mowers etc. For example there is no point in buying the very best hedge trimmer if you only going to use it a few days per year! 

    I would also then produce your initial advertising material, which you can use even before March, and which you could carry out maybe at weekends etc in the interim. Feb/Mar is when many customers start thinking about their gardens. Don't worry if it takes a while to build up a customer list- it will likely take the first full season, before you get anything like a full schedule.

    • Hi Ian, 

      Thank you for your reply.

      Sensible stuff, I am somewhat stepping into the unknown and Im aware the better course would have been working for someone else for a year to learn the business and expand my skills but circumstances dont really allow for that. What I will be offering is restricted to my low skill set at first, lawn maintanence, hedge cutting etc and I plan to learn further as I go. Im working to the asumption that the work will be residential at least intially but steppig into the unknown with frequency etc due to lack of experience. 

      My preference is to buy once and have gear that I can grow into but I have found it really difficult to judge, I imagine it will come down to what the dealer can recommend for my circumstances. 

      Im close to producing marketing material although the first port of call would be to get a logo designed on line which will take a bit of time. Although planning has been ongoing for a good while now, I havent achieved a great deal, primarily because of the unknown. 

      • From personal experience a dealer knows very little about machinery outside of their shop, they can sell or push an item but they don’t use them daily so don’t listen to what they have to say about performance, they only know what they have read in the leaflets for the machine they are trying to sell you.... ask other contractors, they will give you a better idea on how a machine will perform in the real world... good luck

      • Hi James,

        You mention that you will be offering mowing and hedge cutting in line with your ‘low skill set’. Having been grass cutting and hedge cutting professionally since 1985 I wouldn’t characterise these tasks as low skilled. In fact the opposite is true.

        When I cut a hedge it is as good as anything you might see at a stately home or similar. To be able to produce a very high finish whilst still being efficient is a highly skilled discipline. Handling a hedge cutter professionally is both an acquired skill and an art. Being able to mow grass to a high finish and knowing how to use and apply the various equipment properly is also something that requires both skill and experience. I won’t even go into the skills needed around using a chain saw.

        I have seen people mowing and strimming, usually on the Council, who have no idea what they are doing, thus producing a rough finish. They have the expensive gear and are used to doing the job, but still they fail because they don’t have the skills or the right attitude.

        So be careful not to assume that mowing professionally is just like mowing one’s own lawn. I once read a remark from someone online commenting about a Council Cemetery where the grass was not mowed well [it was about the contractor who had the job after me, that I had previously done to a very high standard]. The individual online commenter said that he had mowed his lawn that weekend and thus said of the cemetery mowing ‘how hard can it be’. Equating these two things is to miss the point entirely.

        So be careful not to think that these seemingly simple tasks are necessarily easy or straight forward.

        • Hi Vic, it was not my intention to state that these jobs do not require skill or people do not have a large varience in ability. More so to state the jobs I can do to a competant level is limited at the minute. 

  • Morning Vic,

    The pricing thread makes perfect sense to me, just a case of getting my quotes right with no experience but im sure it'll come in time.

    I reached out to all local garden business to request general prices as I don't want to undercut them nor do i like the idea of gaining prices from getting quotes that I had no intention of taking but none really responded to this. 

    Gear wise, it's difficult for me to decipher the correct stuff as even the John Deere specs seem to indicate certain items are only fit for a medium size garden, It's difficult for me to decipher if things are actually commercial grade or more high quality once a week items. I plan to speak to a couple of dealers in the next few weeks but I have an inherent distrust of sale folk. I'm happy to spend the money if I know it to be the correct thing, I just cant afford to lose a large amount of money on the wrong thing.


    • PRO

      Hi James I'm in the same position as you only I haven't handed in my notice yet. I was wondering what you current job is and what background you have had in the industry if any? Good luck in you venture and I wish you all the best

      Maybe we could help each other out if we find something that works well in picking up our first clients 

      • Hi James, 

        I have next thursday pencilled in as the big day to hand it in, nervous but excited. 

        My position of the last 8 or so years has been office management and various different office type things, prior to that retail and liesure management. All very sedentary stuff as well as enjoying gaming in spare time, meaning that gardening is quite the opposite to my norm but I see that as a big plus. 

        I have no background in this industry, just a need to change my circumstances to something I enjoy doing. Ive read quite a few books on the subject and continuing my learning daily for the last 6 months but nothing compares to experience I imagine. 

        Id be happy to keep in touch regularly if we are in similar circumstances, shared knowledge, experience and a bit of encouragement would only help im sure. 

        Thank you for the good luck. 

  • PRO

    Hello James,

    I'd say you need to be clear what sort of gardening, you're offering, as it varies considerably.

    Maintance or restoration.

    All power tools or hand work.


    Organic, peat & pesticide free?

    This will determine who you are aiming at.

    No point buying loads of power tools if you don't really need them.

    Small domestic or large rural?

    There are many choices, W.Sussex, is there strong 'Green' influence in your area?

    What are your interests? Be confident. But also mindful of plonkers.

    Get used to the idea, that people will treat you like idiot, etc, can you handle that?

    Good luck

    Been a pro for 15 years, started gardening 52 years ago :-)


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