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.
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.
Published on March 18, 2022 Updated on November 27, 2023
$3,050 - $8,100
$80,000 - $400,000 p.a.
Time to build
0 – 3 months
$64,000 - $120,000 p.a.
Have you and your green thumb built one of the prettiest gardens in town? Why not help beautify the rest of the neighborhood by starting your own gardening business. You could help friends and neighbors with their landscaping, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, house plants, and more. You’ll be doing what you love and providing people with natural beauty, and cleaner air, while making good money.
But before you dig your way into the business, you need to dig up some information. Luckily, you’ll find everything you need to know in this handy step-by-step guide designed to plant the seeds of entrepreneurial success.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
To clarify, the type of business this article focuses on provides gardening services to homeowners or businesses, similar to a landscaping or lawn care business. It is not about opening a gardening shop or establishing a gardening design and consultancy firm.
Starting a gardening business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.
Sunshine! – Work outdoors in the sun
Flexibility – Run your business from home on your time
Fulfilling Work – Everybody will enjoy your lovely, natural creations
Seasonality – Business will likely slow in the winter
In 2019, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) launched an apprenticeship program in collaboration with the US Department of Labor. The goal is to train more workers to fill labor shortages in the landscaping market.
Gardening is moving toward a more naturalistic style with less grassy areas and more foliage and garden space.
Challenges in the gardening industry include:
Labor shortages will be a challenge for gardening businesses that grow large enough to need employees.
The number of gardening businesses in the US has been increasing exponentially, creating a highly competitive environment.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your gardening business, including:
Shovels, trowels, spreaders, rakes
Edgers, trimmers, tillers
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
Gardening Tools and Equipment
$500 - $1,000
Trailer to haul equipment
$1,000 - $3,000
$3,050 - $8,100
How much can you earn from a gardening business?
The average basic gardening job costs about $1,000. Larger landscaping jobs can cost $5,000 or more. These calculations will assume an average job price of $2,500. Your profit margin after fuel and other costs should be about 80%.
Keep in mind, if you offer garden design and lay-out as well as planting and maintenance, you could charge significantly more.
In your first year or two, you could do four jobs per month for 8 months of the year, bringing in $80,000 in annual revenue. This would mean about $64,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As you get repeat customers and referrals, sales could climb 20 jobs per month, 8 months of the year. At this stage, you’d rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 30%. With annual revenue of $400,000, you’d make a tidy profit of more than $120,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a gardening business. Your biggest challenges will be:
The skills needed to deliver great work
Standing out in a saturated market
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a gardening business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research gardening businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a landscape gardener that plants and maintains vegetable gardens, or a gardening company that uses only organic pest control products.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as vegetable gardens or general lawn care services.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You’ll need to determine the extent of the services you offer. You could do:
Bed cleanouts, design, and planting
Tree planting and maintenance
Hedge and bush trimming
Lawn mowing and trimming
Vegetable garden planting and maintenance
Flower garden design and installation
How much should you charge for landscaping services?
Your prices will vary based on the extent of the services that you provide. You should estimate the hours that it will take you to do each job and the cost of materials. You should aim for a profit margin of about 80% when you’re working by yourself.
Once you know your costs, you can 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
Your target market will be more well-established homeowners. You can find them on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Business owners may also have gardening needs, and you can also find them on LinkedIn.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a space for your equipment. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Gardening Business 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 “gardening” or “gardener”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Garden Oasis” over “Indoor Jungle Design”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
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 with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Gardening 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: A brief summary outlining the core elements of the gardening business, highlighting its unique selling points and goals.
Business Overview: An introduction to the gardening business, covering its mission, vision, and the specific niche or focus within the gardening industry.
Product and Services: A concise description of the gardening products and services offered, emphasizing their features, benefits, and unique qualities.
Market Analysis: An examination of the gardening market, including target demographics, trends, and potential growth opportunities in the industry.
Competitive Analysis: A review of key competitors in the gardening market, analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and strategies to position the business effectively.
Sales and Marketing: A strategy outlining how the gardening business plans to promote and sell its products or services, encompassing pricing, distribution, and promotional tactics.
Management Team: Brief bios of the key members of the gardening business, highlighting their relevant experience and skills.
Operations Plan: An overview of the day-to-day activities and processes involved in running the gardening business, covering logistics, suppliers, and key operational details.
Financial Plan: A comprehensive overview of the financial aspects of the gardening business, including projections, budgets, and funding requirements.
Appendix: Supplementary materials, such as detailed market research, additional financial data, or legal documents, providing additional support and context for the 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’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to gardening businesses.
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 gardening business 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re 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.
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.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a gardening business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
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.
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 gardening 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.
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 FieldRoutes, Jobber, or lmn Gro, to manage bids, projects, invoicing, and payments.
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.
Develop your 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 website builders. 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.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
For your gardening business, the marketing strategy should focus on showcasing your expertise in landscape design, garden maintenance, and plant care. Highlight your ability to create beautiful, sustainable, and functional outdoor spaces, and emphasize any specialized services such as organic gardening, native plant landscaping, or water-efficient gardens.
Professional Branding: Your branding should convey a sense of nature, growth, and professionalism. This includes your logo, business cards, work uniforms, and vehicle graphics.
Direct Outreach: Network with local home improvement stores, real estate agents, and community groups. Building relationships with these entities can lead to referrals and collaborative opportunities.
Digital Presence and Online Marketing
Professional Website and SEO: Develop an attractive website showcasing your services, portfolio of past projects, and customer testimonials. Use SEO best practices to rank for local searches related to gardening services, landscape design, and garden maintenance.
Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Instagram and Pinterest for sharing before-and-after photos of your projects, gardening tips, and plant care advice. Facebook can be used for engaging with the local community and sharing customer reviews.
Content Marketing and Engagement
Gardening Blog: Share informative blog posts about seasonal gardening tips, sustainable practices, and landscape design ideas. This positions your business as a knowledgeable authority in gardening.
Email Newsletters: Keep your clients informed about seasonal services, special offers, and gardening advice through regular newsletters.
Video Content: Create how-to videos on gardening techniques, plant care, or mini-tours of your completed projects.
Experiential and In-Person Engagements
Gardening Workshops and Seminars: Host workshops or seminars on topics like home gardening, sustainable landscaping, or DIY garden projects to engage with potential customers and showcase your expertise.
Participation in Local Events: Take part in local home and garden shows, fairs, and farmers’ markets to increase visibility and network with potential clients.
Collaborations and Community
Partnerships with Local Businesses: Collaborate with nurseries, home improvement stores, and eco-friendly businesses for mutual promotion.
Community Projects: Engage in community gardening projects or sponsor local green initiatives to build goodwill and brand recognition.
Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs
Referral Programs: Implement a referral program that rewards clients for referring new business to you.
Loyalty Discounts: Offer discounts or additional services to repeat clients to encourage ongoing business relationships.
Promotions and Advertising
Targeted Local Advertising: Use local newspapers, community bulletin boards, and online platforms like Google Ads to reach potential clients in your service area.
Seasonal Promotions: Offer special promotions for seasonal services like spring planting, fall cleanup, or holiday decorating.
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 gardening business 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 gardening business could be:
Productive vegetable gardens – eat from your own backyard
Organic gardening services to naturally beautify your yard
Imagine your dream flower garden — we’ll make it real!
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 gardening business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in gardening 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 gardening. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
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 gardening business include:
Gardeners – assist with gardening jobs
General Manager – scheduling, staff management, accounting
Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media
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: Run a Gardening Business – Start Making Money!
Wouldn’t it be great to wake up every day to do what you love? Gardening is a beautiful thing that can produce spectacular results. It’s also a great way to make good money. You can start your business from home with a small investment and become part of an industry worth more than $100 billion.
Now that you’ve dug into the business side of things, get out those shovels and begin your entrepreneurial journey!
Gardening Business FAQs
How profitable is a gardening business?
A gardening business is profitable because your ongoing expenses will be low. You should be able to grow your business by doing great work and getting repeat customers and referrals.
How do I start a local gardening business?
To start a local gardening business, you will need to develop a business plan, obtain any necessary licenses and permits, purchase equipment and supplies, and develop a marketing strategy to attract customers.
What types of gardening services are in high demand?
Some types of gardening services that are in high demand include lawn care and maintenance, landscape design and installation, tree and shrub pruning and removal, pest control, and irrigation system installation and repair.
What are some ways to differentiate your gardening business from competitors?
To differentiate your gardening business from competitors, you can focus on providing exceptional customer service, offering unique or specialized services, using eco-friendly or sustainable practices, and developing a strong brand identity through effective marketing and advertising.
Can you start a gardening business on the side?
Yes, you can start a gardening business on the side by offering your services on weekends or after work hours. This can be a good way to test the market and gain experience before transitioning to a full-time business.
How to Start a Gardening Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Gardening Business Name
Create a Gardening Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Gardening Business Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Gardening Business - Start Making Money!
Gardening Business FAQs
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