Image from Adam Harris, HealthyHandyman.com
According to the Horticultural Trades Association, Brits spend around £7.5 billion on garden goods and £2.4 billion on garden maintenance and landscaping services every year. As people are viewing their garden as an extension of their homes, the popularity of gardening services is on the increase. Also, many homeowners lack the skills or don’t have the time to do the work themselves. This is demonstrated by the fact that 30 percent of the UK population feel that they don’t have the tools or skills to garden, 23 percent hate doing it and 56 percent would consider paying someone to do it for them.
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So, why not put your green thumb to work and help your clients achieve the garden of their dreams with a garden maintenance business? In this article, we are going to explore the different types of job in the sector and provide some information about our top six franchise opportunities.
What different gardening jobs are there?
Gardeners are able to take a pile of dirt and transform it into a luscious, green outdoor space full of in-bloom flowers and plants. This pile of dirt is blank canvas and, as well as being a horticulture job, for many it is a form of art.
Many gardeners work at people’s homes, office complexes, botanic gardens, for the government and even zoos. But it’s important to note that landscape design and garden design do vary:
1. Landscape design
Landscape designers take the ideas and needs of their clients and turn them into reality. It’s all about visualising a picture for an outdoor space and then creating it. Incorporated into it are botanical elements like trees, lawns and flora, as well as hardscapes like furniture, pathways, planting beds, fences and water features. Essentially, it bridges landscape architecture and garden design.
- Although you don’t necessarily need any qualifications to become a landscape gardener, attending courses and having the certificates to prove it adds credibility to your business. You can demonstrate your knowledge and experience to clients, which will differentiate you from your competition. Showing your expertise and artistic composition to clients is particularly important with landscape design roles.
- A great place to start looking for courses is the Royal Horticultural Society. On the website, you’ll find a list of all the qualifications that are available, along with the course providers. Lantra Awards and City and Guilds Land Based Services also offer short courses related to landscaping.
- If your learning style is more suited to a hands-on approach, you could always consider looking for an apprenticeship with an experienced landscape gardener in your area. This will not only give you the experience you need, but also essential skills for running a business, should you choose to start your own venture in the future.
2. Garden design and maintenance
Similar to landscaping, gardening involves the design and maintenance of plants and shrubbery in a space, but it doesn’t usually involve any hardscapes and is done by professionals of varying levels of expertise. While landscape designers can sketch a design for a garden and create a plant list, gardeners will plant, cultivate and harvest the plants.
You’ll also probably use machinery like lawnmowers and hedge trimmers, look after the appearance of plants and the landscape, and complete basic building tasks like putting up a fence.
- To get some of the knowledge and practical skills you need to become a gardener, you could do a college course. For instance, Level 1 Certificate in Horticulture Skills, Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture and Level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture.
- You can also take the apprenticeship route if that’s more suited to you.
- Starting out as an assistant gardener and working your way up is another route to becoming a garden maintenance pro.
- For all of the above, having some volunteering experience will be helpful; you could look to organisations like the National Trust, The Conservation Volunteers and The Wildlife Trusts.
- If you’re going to carry out hazardous tasks like using chainsaws or handling pesticides, you will need to complete a Certificate of Competence.
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Top 6 garden maintenance franchises
If you’re keen to make profits from your passion for gardening but have concerns about going it alone, then there is another way you can merge your love of horticulture with the desire to be your own boss. By investing in a gardening maintenance franchise, you can have the best of both worlds.
Here are a few of the franchise opportunities that are perfect for green-fingered budding entrepreneurs.
Lawnkeeper is a reputable franchise that has more than 20 years of experience in designing and maintaining lawns for both residential and commercial customers.
What is the investment?
For an investment of £25,000 plus VAT, you’ll receive a franchise package that offers all the equipment and marketing support you need to get your business off to the best possible start.
What will I get in return?
As a franchisee, you’ll attend an intensive, two-week training course, which includes recognised gardening qualifications to give your new business credibility. When you’ve completed your training, you’ll get a fully branded silver Ford Transit van stocked with a full range of high-quality equipment. What’s more, Lawnkeeper provides you with your first 20 customers to help launch your new venture.
2. Countrywide Grounds Maintenance
Countrywide Grounds Maintenance is a garden design franchise that serves the commercial rather than the residential market. This well-established franchise has built up a strong reputation for excellence across the UK and currently has 50 regional offices that maintain more than 12,000 site locations nationwide.
How much is the investment?
The franchise fee is £44,950 plus VAT, but the total investment cost will be in the region of £250,000. The comprehensive franchise package includes a three-week training programme, where you’ll receive both classroom-based and on-the-job coaching.
What can I expect?
Once you’re up and running, you'll be responsible for managing a team of highly skilled grounds maintenance staff and generating sales to develop your franchise. So, it’s perfect if you have an interest in gardening but prefer not to get your hands dirty.
3. Ed’s Garden Maintenance
Ed’s Garden Maintenance is a fast-growing franchise that has recruited an average of five franchises per year since launching 10 years ago, and you could be next.
What is the opportunity?
You’ll receive guidance and ongoing support through training programmes, gatherings with other franchisees and marketing campaigns. Everything is designed to make running your own business as easy as possible, so you can concentrate on growing your customer base and enjoying your success.
What is the investment cost?
For a total investment of just £15,000, you can benefit from the flexibility and freedom of running a mobile franchise with the option to grow into a multi-van operation in the future. As well as the quality training and support, you’ll receive a work guarantee, so you can be confident that you’ll have enough jobs to provide you with instant revenue from day one.
A large part of maintaining a garden is the addition of durable and attractive fencing. Colourfence is a fencing franchise that produces and fits a product that is supported by a 25-year guarantee against rotting warping or peeling. Unlike its timber fencing counterpart, it requires no upkeep and can even withstand wind gusts of up to 130mph. It’s no wonder that this fencing product featured in the top 10 products of the BBC Gardening website.
You’ll need to invest between £20,000 and £35,000 in becoming a Colourfence franchisee. In return, you’ll have exclusive rights to Colourfence in your own protected territory of 150,000 homes. If you want to increase your income, then you have the opportunity to pitch for commercial projects too.
Support and training
You’ll also receive training on how to become a business owner and manager, rather than a fence fitter. Your training will be designed to suit your requirements and will include a mix of sales, management, administration, technical and practical skills.
TruGreen is an expert in lawn and garden maintenance. There are currently around 60 successful franchises in the UK, but the brand is keen to expand even further. New franchisees can look forward to joining a franchise with scope to achieve 70 percent profit on every job.
What does a standard day look like?
- Lawn inspections
- Buying materials
- Recruiting staff
- Office administration
- Talking to customers
How much is the investment?
To be accepted as a franchisee, the lawn and garden maintenance franchise asks that you make a maximum investment of £28,000. In return, you’ll take part in a personalised training programme and receive ongoing support.
Now this is a business opportunity you might not have thought of. Born over 20 years ago, StumpBuster is in the running for the largest tree stump removal franchise in the UK. If you want to join its 30-strong network, you’ll need to invest a total of £27,500. To get started, you only need £7,500.
Start your own garden maintenance franchise
Exploring those six gardening franchises shows just how diverse the sector is and how much each opportunity differs. Make sure to visit their client pages to learn more about the opportunities and find one with a brand philosophy you agree with, that will allow you to achieve your goals and is at a suitable investment level. Be sure to also check out our five things you must know before starting your own gardening franchise article.
Becky Martin, Point Franchise ©