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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.

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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.


Starting out at this time of year

Hello everyone, 

On Tuesday I handed my notice in at my PAYE job. It felt amazing.

I've only been employed 10 months but it was enough to know it's not for me and I'm out. Prior to that I was self employed for 18 years; it's what I know and love. However, those 18 years were spent cleaning. Mainly building site work with a bit of domestic thrown in. 

I've joined the website and paid for my Pro membership as I'd like to transfer my hobby into a job. They say never to do it but I'm definitely not going back to cleaning!

This website has been incredibly useful so far and I'm wondering if you can help me further? I feel I've hit information overload.

I understand that I'm starting this at the wrong time of year so would appreciate any advice that will keep my head above water. 

My questions are:

• Should I go to college and complete a one day a week RHS course whilst working? The £1000+ for the course could be spent upgrading my gear instead. Is it worth it? 

• I'm wanting to do basic garden maintenance (no hard/soft landscaping). Starting off, is a PA1 & PA6 license necessary? I'm not adverse to acquiring them but wondered how it'd affect business initially. 

My experience is watching and helping my parents design and landscape their gardens since I was a child and then my own. I wouldn't call myself a novice gardener but I'm no expert, hence my question regarding the course.

I'd like to hit the ground running. I hope that having previously been self employed and running a business has given me a head start. I just need some guidance into how to do it so late in the year.

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  • PRO

    Also, I tried posting this in the BOG but it wouldn't let me?!

  • I know you're keen to work for yourself butI'd recommend getting a job with a garden maintenance company to start with........... they'llhave all the gear for you to get familiar with and you'll pick up how to do "commercial" gardening which is quite different to helping your parents...... work needs to be done much quicker but still keeping to a high standard. If you're lucky, they might even send you on the  PA1/6 courses

    • PRO

      Thanks for your input Graham.

      I appreciate experience with my own and parents gardens aren't of much significance. I was trying to paint a picture that I'm not a complete novice jumping into the trade.

      There are definitely upsides to gaining employment with a gardening business. The possibility of training alone and experience with commercial work (although not what I intend to do) are definite pluses. Finding such work, not so easy.

      I've taken on board everything you've said though. You know more than me after all!

  • Amanda, I started in the trade 40 years ago in a very similar way to yourself, you probably have more knowledge than I did!

    The biggest challenge I faced was getting work, no Facebook etc in those days. As you seem to have some horticultural knowledge I wouldn't spend a £1000 on a course which with the domestic market, which I assume you are targeting won't in most circumstances help you get work. We are mainly commercial now but in my experience the majority of residential customers are looking for value for money, quality, reliability and sometimes a little advice. Spend your money on marketing and equipment , only buy equipment that you need NOT what you think you need! Buy quality kit from a well established dealer who will look after you when something goes wrong, avoid Chinese made stuff such as petrol multi tools with 5 attachments advertised on the internet for £150 ! When I started a dealer said to me - anyone can take your money, it's what happens after that !

    Be. Polite, positive and professional and you will succeed.

    Anything else please post on the forum, good luck 😀


    • PRO

      Thank you Peter.

      That's exactly what I intend to do regarding the residential clients. Fill the gap! I actually don't want to use Facebook or a website as, from my research on here suggests, it's a waste for my target market. I have some connections though so I'm hoping work will trickle in. 

      The £1000 for the course is much better spent on equipment. I'm not afraid to admit something I don't know, so learning on the job is my preferred choice. 

      Thanks again!


  • I'm a qualified gardener did a two evening course whilst working at a private estate. I think it's a good thing, it gives me a USP over other gardener that don't know there Japanese onions and of course you can charge more money, but in reality you just need to read lots of books (lost count after 80) and apply that knowledge.

    Working for others/with does help, it will increase your plant knowledge improve your methods and help you to understand the complex systems involved. There's a lot learn.

    If your determined to be self employed try getting work partime or as a sub contractor. Sub contractor has its pittfalls, main contractors can be really bad payer's.

    Good luck



    • PRO

      Hi Amanda I dont feel it is too late in the year to start a gardening business , the timing is perfect , the demand is out there i am turning new work away on a daily basis . 

      Since we never stop learning in this job there is never going to be the perfect starting point other than focus on the skills you have and not on the skills you need to acquire through experience , training etc . 

      Mowing and weeding is a good starting point , a bit of pruning perhaps .

      Just do what you feel comfortable with to start . 

      Getting work is an individual preference , You will have some experience if you have being self employed previously so all the usual advertising routes . 

      Paul Powers book how to start a gardening business is worth reading . 



      • PRO

        Thank you, John! It's good to know I'm not too late. 

        I've seen the Paul Powers book mentioned on here a lot, it's going to be my first purchase. 

    • PRO

      Thanks for your input, Honey Badger.

      I'm going to invest in books as I'm sure they'll be a constant resource for reference. Do you have any suggestions? 

      •  RHS pruning and training (always in my van), RHS gardening throughout the year, the doctor hession expert books, RHS encyclopedia of plants and flowers, a book on wild flowers (helps with weed identification) of course there's all the vast info on the interweb, but I like a book. 

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