How to Start a Garden Service Business
Do you love gardening and being outdoors? If so, starting a gardening service may be ideal for you. It is a business idea that can be structured to fit your lifestyle and health. Because it is your business, you structure your service offerings and the time necessary to achieve your work goals.
People who are retired and are in good health can certainly consider this home-based business option. The start up costs are low because you already have the tools you need to operate the service. You can focus on customers who are also retired but unable to do gardening or lawn trimming. You can also find customers who are working long hours and unable to find the time to maintain their gardens and lawns.
- Key Benefit: Flexibility to set hours and type of services you offer.
What Does a Garden Service Business Do?
A garden service can provide a variety of services:
- Grass cutting (type face change to match those below)
- Shrub and hedge trimming
- Garden design and planning
- Planting flowers and shrubs
- Yard waste removal
- Plan and Define the Service(s) You Will Offer
The services you provide will be up to you. However, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time just what you’ll be providing. Ask yourself the following questions and list the service or services you will offer to your customers.
- Do you have experience with garden design and a great eye for detail?
If so, you may want to help people plan and design their dream garden. Be aware that potential customers may ask about your qualifications and ask for samples of gardens you have previously designed.
2. Do You Want to Offer a Simple Service?
If design isn’t quite right for you, you may want to simply offer maintenance and/or planting services.
In this case, you may advise clients about certain plants, and help them choose new plants and then plant them and care for them.
You may simply want to offer light maintenance on existing gardens such as:
- Weekly schedule for grass cutting
- Monthly schedule for weeding
- Quarterly schedule for shrub and hedge trimming.
Again, the services you provide are entirely up to you.
- Case Study #1: Lawn Mowing in the Midwest
When Roy retired at age 67, his arthritis was very painful, but he didn’t want to sit around the house complaining about his pain. He had a lawn tractor and loved to mow his lawn. Several of his neighbors asked him to mow their lawn and he generated a monthly income during the spring, summer and fall months in the area where he lived. He had a snow blower and cleared their driveway(s) after every snowstorm. He was able to do this until age 80. He credits working outdoors as the key factor that kept him going for so long.
Roy charged by the project, not by the hour. His lawn tractor made short work of each project. He charged a monthly fee that would include weekly lawn cutting, snow removal and leaf mulching in the fall. It is a good business model that is successful in retirement communities and in areas where people are working long hours and are unable to keep up with their yard chores.
He said he worked out a deal for the small yards he was cutting. It would take him less than 15 minutes to cut the lawn and trim the edges. He charged $40 a month that included mulching leaves and snow removal. That gave him a annual income of $480 a month per yard. He has 30 customers and earns $14,400 a year for less than 15 hours a week. That gave him time to play golf and enough money to supplement his retirement income. He gave a good deal for his elderly clients and gained personal satisfaction in delivering a quality service.
- Case Study #2: Hedge Trimming in Florida
Joe is a retired landscaper, but needed to work to supplement his retirement income. He noticed that his neighbors in this Florida retirement community had installed bottle brush hedges for privacy. Bottle Brushes are native to this part of Florida and they never stop growing. He offered a shrub and hedge trimming service and business is booming. He had the trimming equipment and the skill to trim bushes to stimulate their growth.
Joe is busy and he loves being outdoors. He now has 120 clients with staggered time frame to trim the bushes and has an average charge of $50 a yard spending less than a half hour timing and removing yard waste. He is earning $24,000 a year for 20 a week. He doesn’t have a pension and the income supplements his Social Security check and offers a nice retirement in the Florida community.
These are just two stories to demonstrate that anyone who loves yard work can thrive at any age. Frankly, both men told me “they would rather wear out than rust out.”
- How to Get Started?
If you’re going to get started as a one-person business then you simply need all the relevant equipment. Of course, you need knowledge about gardening and plants. If you feel you are lacking in understanding horticulture in your area, you can take a community course to become a “Master Gardener.”
However, it is not necessary to obtain this certification. You can always brush up on your skills as necessary with a home-study course or by studying gardening books. Chances are, at our age, we gained the knowledge by the “school of hard knocks.”
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Planning Your Business
Make a list of the equipment you will need to do the service. This will help you to determine if you have what you need or if you need to make a capital investment to purchase additional equipment. Keep track of your receipts for tax purposes.
Estimate the cost of operating your lawn mower. This will help you to factor in the cost of doing business when you develop your pricing strategy.
- Meet Your State and Local Laws.
Once you have all your equipment, you need to ensure you’re meeting all the legal business requirements. Your local county office can advise you and help with this step. Incidentally, you can learn quite a bit about the gardening challenges in your area by visiting your county’s agricultural office.
- Pricing Strategy:
Do not charge by the hour. Estimate the time it will take to do the job and charge by the completed project. This is how you can build in a profit margin to run your business.
For example, if your lawn mowing will take fifteen minutes and you are charging $25 an hour, don’t charge $4.25. You need to factor in the gas, wear and tear on your mower, and travel expenses. Figure those expenses out and add a profit margin for your monthly service. Roy and Mike did that in the two case studies I presented earlier and they are doing quite well.
How Do I Find Clients?
This is a business that will largely depend on word of mouth. If your customers are happy with your service, they will likely recommend you to their family and friends. Ensuring you do a great job is important!
My wife found our hedge trimmer / flower planter by a recommendation from our neighbor. We found our grass cutting service by answering an ad on Craigslist. They are so dependable, we recommended them to several of our friends.
For more information on marketing plans for your lawn
- Baby Boomers’ Secret:
We learned that the secret to success is to be dependable to our employers and customers. Many people who offer gardening services are unreliable and deliver poor quality work. Boomers can be counted on to complete the job on deadline. Use this advantage to generate a thriving income.
- Key Resource:
How to Advertise Your Service:
To gain your first few clients, sending flyers out locally as well as placing a magnetic sign on your car (which has your logo and details) are easy and inexpensive ways to start. Be sure your business cell phone is boldly printed on the sign.
You may also want to place an ad in your local paper. If there is an Internet site popular with your area, such as “Talk of the Villages,” or “Village-News.net”, you can post an Ad at minimal cost.
You can also print off flyers and place them on the door steps of your neighborhood. Be sure you stress you are local, a neighbor, and dependable. Put your telephone number is large, bold print.
Building a relationship with a local garden nursery or garden center is a good idea as well. You can commit to buying your plants and equipment from them in exchange for their recommendation to their clients about your services.
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How to Start a Landscaping business Right Now with NO Start-Up Money by Keith Halfas. This is a Kindle book offered by Amazon. Click here for the book.
Drop me a line and let me know what you think.