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How to Start a Botanical Garden

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Botanical Garden

Fast Facts

Investment range

$52,800 - $85,800

Revenue potential

$120,000 - $288,000 p.a.

Time to build

6 – 12 months

Profit potential

$36,000 - $86,400 p.a.

Industry trend

Stable

Commitment

Full-time

Botanical gardens are land with a variety of plants and are used for educational programs, conservation, or for public display. Botanical gardens can make money by allowing universities to use the space for education and research, by selling tickets to the public to view the garden, or by renting out the garden for special events.

In any case, botanical gardens are a beautiful addition to any community, but they can also be a profitable business opportunity.

But before you start planting, you’ll need to understand the business. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide details all the information you need to start a successful botanical garden business.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Help with education and conservation
  • Beautify your community
  • Make a healthy living

Cons

  • Investment in land required
  • Good location needed

Botanical garden industry trends

Industry size and growth

Little information is available about the botanical garden industry, but globally the aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens industry is worth $16.7 billion. 

Trends and challenges

Trends

  • “Edible” botanical gardens have emerged that grow food, and sometimes hold cooking classes to bring in revenue.
  • Botanical gardens have become more recognized for their contribution to climate change research.

Challenges

  • Botanical gardens require a lot of ongoing care, and labor shortages are common.
  • Often, botanical gardens have only seasonal income.
Botanical Garden Trends and Challenges

How much does it cost to start a botanical garden business?

Startup costs for a botanical garden range from $50,000 to $85,000. Costs include the land, plants and tools, and a labor budget to prep the land and plant. 

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your botanical garden business, including: 

  • Gardening tools
  • A variety of plants
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Insurance$100-$500$300
Website$500 - $1,000$750
Land$30,000 - $50,000$40,000
Plants$1,500 - $2,500$2,000
Labor budget$20,000 - $30,000$25,000
Sales and marketing budget$500 - $1,000$750
Total$52,800 - $85,800$69,300

How much can you earn from a botanical garden business?

You should be able to charge about $20 per person for public admission to your garden. If you host events and educational programs as well, prices will vary, but these calculations will assume an average price of $1,000 per event. Your profit margin after all labor costs should be about 30%. 

In your first year or two, you might have 300 visitors and 4 events per month, bringing in $120,000 in revenue. This would mean $36,000 in profit, assuming that 30% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might have 1000 visitors and 4 events per month. With annual revenue of $288,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $86,400.

Botanical Garden earning forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a botanical garden. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Funding the startup costs
  • Finding suitable land in a good location
  • Having extensive knowledge of botanical science

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a botanical garden, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research botanical gardens in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of botanical gardens that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies.
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can strengthen your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a Japanese garden, or public garden that provides guided tours for field trips.

You might consider targeting a niche, such as hosting educational programs.

What? Determine botanical garden plants and services that you’ll offer

First, you should decide what types of plants you want in your garden.

Selecting plants and herbs for a botanical garden requires careful consideration of the garden’s climate, soil quality, and sunlight availability. It’s crucial to choose species that are well-suited for the local environment to ensure their survival and growth.

While some botanical gardens focus on showcasing native plants, others might opt for exotic or rare species to provide educational opportunities for visitors. You could choose native plants or tropical plants in a greenhouse, or a vegetable garden and herb garden. 

Additionally, considering the garden’s thematic focus, be it medicinal herbs, ornamental flowers, or edible plants, will drive selections.

Lastly, maintaining biodiversity is key; diverse plantings not only create a visually appealing space but also promote a healthier ecosystem by supporting various wildlife and enhancing resilience against pests and diseases.

Then you should offer a variety of services at your botanical garden including things like: 

  • Guided tours
  • Hosting field trips
  • Educational programs
  • Gardening workshops
  • Special events like weddings

If you grow food, you could also sell the produce and/or host cooking classes. 

How much should you charge for botanical garden services?

Your prices should depend on market prices in your area, but also your costs of operation. 

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

If you offer a variety of services, you’re going to attract a variety of people, so you should spread out your marketing to include Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. 

Where? Choose a location for a botanical garden

You’ll need to find a plot of suitable land for your garden. You should choose a space that’s centrally located in your area so that its accessible to people all over your area. You’ll also need to check zoning requirements for the land. 

Botanical Garden business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Botanical Garden Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “botanical garden” or “botanic garden”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Flora Frontier” or “Botanic Burst” over “Fern Haven” or “Orchid Oasis”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Botanical Garden Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize the key elements of your botanical garden business plan, including its mission, location, and unique features.
  • Business Overview: Provide an overview of your botanical garden, including its size, location, the types of plants and ecosystems it will feature, and its importance in promoting environmental conservation and education.
  • Product and Services: Detail the various services and attractions your botanical garden will offer, such as guided tours, educational programs, event hosting, and plant sales.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the demand for botanical gardens in your target market, including visitor demographics, tourism trends, and the potential for partnerships with schools and environmental organizations.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify other botanical gardens or similar attractions in your area and explain how your garden will differentiate itself through unique plant collections, interactive exhibits, or community engagement initiatives.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategies for promoting your botanical garden, including advertising, social media campaigns, partnerships with local businesses, and educational outreach programs.
  • Management Team: Introduce the key members of your team, emphasizing their expertise in horticulture, education, event management, and environmental conservation.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the day-to-day operations of your botanical garden, including plant maintenance, visitor management, event scheduling, and conservation efforts.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections for your botanical garden, including startup costs, revenue forecasts based on visitor admissions and other income sources, budget allocation for plant maintenance and staff salaries, and expected profitability.
  • Appendix: Include supporting materials such as detailed plant inventories, landscape design plans, educational program outlines, and any relevant partnerships or endorsements from environmental organizations.
what to include in a business plan

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to botanical gardens. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your botanical garden will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
types of business structures

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Venture capital investors take an ownership stake in exchange for funds, so keep in mind that you’d be sacrificing some control over your business. This is generally only available for businesses with high growth potential.
  • Angel investors: Reach out to your entire network in search of people interested in investing in early-stage startups in exchange for a stake. Established angel investors are always looking for good opportunities. 
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

You may be able to find grants available to start your botanical garden. The American Public Gardens Association offers many resources. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

Step 8: Apply for Botanical Garden Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a botanical garden business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your botanical garden business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as ACME, or doubleknot, to manage your tickets, client database, memberships, and event registrations. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Order Tickets Now”. This can sharply increase purchases. 

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  1. Thematic Events: Host specialized events such as plant-themed workshops, seasonal festivals, or botanical art exhibitions to attract diverse audiences and keep visitors engaged throughout the year.
  2. Educational Programs: Develop educational programs targeting schools and colleges to cultivate a sense of environmental awareness and attract student groups, creating a steady stream of visitors.
  3. Membership Programs: Introduce membership packages offering exclusive benefits like guided tours, workshops, and early access to events, encouraging repeat visits and fostering a loyal community.
  4. Collaborate with Local Businesses: Partner with nearby restaurants, hotels, or travel agencies to create joint promotions, enhancing the overall visitor experience and attracting a broader range of customers.
  5. Social Media Campaigns: Leverage the power of visually appealing content on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to showcase the garden’s beauty, share gardening tips, and engage with a wider audience.
  6. Community Involvement: Engage with the local community by participating in neighborhood events, sponsoring green initiatives, and collaborating with schools, positioning the botanical garden as a vital part of community life.
  7. Botanical Photography Contests: Organize photography contests centered around the garden, encouraging visitors to capture and share their experiences on social media, creating a user-generated content stream.
  8. Special Access Days: Designate certain days for exclusive access or discounts for local residents, encouraging repeat visits from the community and building a strong support base.
  9. Corporate Partnerships: Forge partnerships with businesses for team-building events or wellness programs, emphasizing the garden’s serene environment as a unique venue for corporate activities.
  10. Seasonal Membership Drives: Launch membership drives during peak seasons, offering discounted rates or additional perks to incentivize visitors to commit to long-term engagement with the botanical garden.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your botanical garden meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your botanical garden business could be:

  • Find inspiration and serenity amidst the lush landscapes of our botanical garden
  • Explore a living tapestry of colors and textures at our botanical garden
  • Unleash your senses and reconnect with nature at our botanical garden
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a botanical garden business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in botanical gardens for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in botanical gardens. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a botanical garden business include:

  • Admissions workers – sell and take tickets
  • Gardeners – plant and maintain garden
  • Guides – lead tours of the garden
  • Marketing Lead – create and implement marketing strategies

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Botanical gardens serve an important purpose, promoting conservation efforts, helping with research, and educating the community. By starting your own botanical garden, you’ll be doing something of value, and with the proper management, making a nice living.

Now that you understand the business side of things, you’re ready to start digging up your successful botanical garden!

Botanical Garden Business FAQs

Is a botanical garden profitable?

The profitability of a botanical garden can vary depending on factors such as the size of the garden, the number of visitors, admission fees, revenue from events and programs, and any additional sources of funding or donations. Some botanical gardens may generate profits, while others operate as non-profit organizations relying on grants and public support.

What happens during a typical day at a botanical garden?

During a typical day at a botanical garden, various activities occur to maintain and enhance the garden’s beauty and functionality. These may include horticultural tasks like planting, watering, pruning, and maintaining the plants and gardens. Visitor services staff provide information and assistance to visitors, while education and outreach programs may be offered to engage and educate the public.

What is the growth potential of a botanical garden?

The growth potential of a botanical garden depends on several factors, including its location, the size and diversity of its collections, the quality of visitor experiences, and its ability to adapt and innovate. Botanical gardens can experience growth by expanding their collections, attracting a larger number of visitors through marketing efforts, offering new programs and events, and collaborating with other organizations.

What type of business is a botanical garden?

A botanical garden is typically classified as a non-profit organization or a public institution dedicated to the study, cultivation, and preservation of plants for educational, research, and recreational purposes. While botanical gardens often generate revenue through admission fees, memberships, gift shops, and venue rentals, their primary focus is on promoting botanical knowledge, conservation, and public enjoyment rather than generating profit.

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How to Start a Botanical Garden