If you love being outdoors and have a few hours to spare a week, you might like to consider making some extra money by offering gardening services. You don’t need to be Monty Don, but you do need to be reliable and not put off by a little rain! Here’s how to go about it.
Put simply, the more of your own equipment you own the greater the range of services you can offer. Lawn mowing is the number one garden chore that people like to ‘farm out’, and sometimes they won’t even own a lawnmower that you can use. Having your own equipment means you’ll always have exactly what you need, and there’s no chance of accidentally breaking something that belongs to a client.
The basic equipment you’ll need is a spade, fork, rake, gloves, tub (for weeding into), trowel and hand fork, secateurs, shears, lopping shears, kneeling mat, sweeping brush, some decent wellies and waterproofs and a vacuum flask. Later on, you can also consider a lawnmower, chainsaw, strimmer and leaf-blower. This might sound like a lot, but you may be able to borrow some of it from family and friends. If you have to buy it new, it’s worth investing in decent quality equipment as it makes the job easier. You’ll also need a vehicle capable of carrying all your gear!
As always, it’s well worth thinking about getting some insurance, even if you only intend to work a few hours a week. Not only will it make clients more likely to employ you, it also means you’ll be covered if a passer-by trips over a rake you’ve left casually leaning against an outside wall, or you cut through a gas pipe with your spade.
Experience and qualifications
Although it obviously helps if you have some experience, you don’t need any formal qualifications. You’ll need some basic knowledge, such as how to tell which plants are weeds and how and when to prune different shrubs. If you’re starting from absolute scratch, then enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend or enrol on a short course. The greater your skill and experience, the more likely you are to find work.
The amount you can earn varies greatly depending on where you are in the country, the amount of local competition and what services you’re offering, but you can expect to earn between £9.50 and £18 an hour. Your overheads will be fairly minimal, but remember to allow for fuel for your vehicle and maintenance for your tools, particularly your lawnmower.
The pros and cons
If you love working outdoors and doing something creative, then gardening is an ideal choice. It does fluctuate seasonally though, and you’ll probably find you’re overwhelmed in summer and twiddling your thumbs a bit in winter. It can be physically demanding, and you’ll normally be expected to work in all weathers.
How to find work
The best way to find work locally, which won’t involve too much travelling, is to advertise on neighbourhood noticeboards or on local Facebook groups. Once you get up and running, you’ll probably find you’re being referred via word of mouth as well, plus it might be useful to join and advertise through a trade network for professional gardeners.
Even more important than gardening knowledge to most customers is to have someone who’s reliable, tidy and is equally good at following instructions and working on their own initiative. If for some reason you can’t fit a client in as usual, always get in touch and let them know when they can expect you instead.
Just like any other type of work, there’ll be times when it’s tipping down, you’re freezing and you’ll wonder what on earth you’ve signed up for – but there’ll also be times when you’re outside in the sunshine, the birds are singing and everyone else you know is stuck in an office.
Related posts – How to make money from renting out your garden.