Becoming self-employed gives you the freedom about when, for who, and how much you work. Setting out on your own is an exciting opportunity, but how much is it possible to earn as a self-employed gardener?
This article will look at the ins and outs of the earnings of self-employed gardeners, and things you might have to take into consideration if you are considering starting a gardening business of your own. We’ll dive into the following areas:
- What can self-employed gardeners earn per hour
- Things to consider when setting your rate as a self-employed gardener
What can self-employed gardeners earn per hour
According to popular recruitment sites, the average annual salary for a gardener employed by a gardening or landscaping company is around £20,000. This boils down to just over £10 per hour, based on an 8 hour day and a 5 day week.
The National Careers Service notes that landscapers and gardeners can earn up to £25,000 when employed by another company, based on experience and skills. This boils down to £13 an hour, for 8 hour days, five days a week.
If you are doing general maintenance like trimming grass and weeding, then you may earn less than someone who is carrying out more intensive labour to landscape a garden or build a patio for example. The National Careers Service also notes you should expect to work between 35 and 40 hours a week, and potentially on weekends too.
The benefit of going self-employed is that you can usually charge more for your time, and you can choose the hours you work, if you work weekends, how far you’ll travel — the opportunities for flexibility are endless. However, even though you get to charge more for your time, you also have to stump up the costs for running the business, and you might also need to spend a few hours a week doing administrative work to maintain your company finances and records.
So we’ve looked at what a company will likely pay you, but how much can you earn as a self-employed gardener?
Things to consider when setting your rate as a self-employed gardener
When choosing your own rate you’ll want to consider quite a few things.
Time it takes to complete a job
Let’s say you are travelling to do routine garden maintenance, and one garden takes up to an hour. You won’t be able to squeeze 8 gardens into one day because you’ll also have to consider travel time between jobs.
A good way to manage this is to charge one rate for your first hour working at one property, then a slightly discounted rate for your hours thereafter. For example, you could charge £30 for your first hour of work, and then £20 for extra hours you spend on the same job. By doing this, the extra £10 you charged accounts for some travel time and keeps your hourly rate at £20 for the rest of the day.
If you used this system, you could be making up to £160, for an 8 hour day, depending on the time it takes to travel and complete jobs.
If we use the above example of £20 per hour, based on a 40 hour week, you could be making around £3,200 per month.
But don’t forget that gardening is a largely seasonal trade. In the winter months (November to February) you won’t be able to do as much regular maintenance. You may still be able to take on jobs such as building patios or other structures, or certain landscaping tasks, but there likely won’t be as much work in the colder months.
So, say you work half the hours you do in the warmer climate (March until October), which leaves you with £1,600 a month during winter. You’ll have to be careful about planning work and your finances around these peaks and valleys of work.
Based on these rough seasonal timings, using our hourly rate example, you’d make up to £32,000 annually in revenue (before paying your taxes) if you had a full schedule during summer and halved your hours in the colder months. You could also supplement your income with another job if you are hit harder by seasonal fluctuations.
When you’re managing your own business, you will also have to consider how much it costs to provide your own equipment and maintain your tools.
Many tools needed for maintaining or tidying gardens you could get hold of for relatively cheap, such as:
- Fork and hoe
- Plant feeder and food
- Gardening gloves
- Protective goggles and hard hat
These are other pieces of equipment that you might require, and these will likely be more costly items. You can have the choice of buying them so you have them as a permanent part of your kit, or you might choose to rent them for occasions that you need them:
- A van or trailer
- A mower
- Leaf blower
- Axes or a chainsaw
- Power washer
You might choose to put aside a set amount yearly to update or add to your tool kit. This way you won’t be caught unaware if things break, and you can potentially rent items for certain jobs if you don’t want to purchase them upfront to save more money.
You’ll also need to consider the costs associated with trading, such as:
This could add up to a few hundred per month, so you’ll need to factor that in when totalling up your annual profits.
We’ve mainly covered hourly rates in this article, but you can also charge per project, or certain prices for specific services, based on how long they will take you or how complex they are.
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