Landscaping and Urban Gardening

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Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

THE BRIEF

Who doesn't love a peaceful gorgeous backyard (or front yard for that matter), packed with beautiful, growing things? Green spaces, especially for those of us who live in cities, are a sanctuary, an escape, a haven. So why shouldn't we spend big bucks making them as beautiful and lush as possible? That's where entrepreneur gardeners and landscapers come in -- and there's money to be made there. According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals' State of the Industry report for 2018, the median revenue for a landscaping company in 2017 was $287,000; the mean revenue was $1.1 million. The number of employees for landscape companies was 13; part-time, 2; and seasonal, 6. And lawn care was the No. 1 service.

Of course there are other services landscapers and gardeners offer as well, from the purchase of plant materials and the maintenance of sprinkler systems to the creation of decorative accents and weekly watering, pruning pertilizing and pest control tasks. Seasonal projects are also big and range from seasonal plants to winter holiday lighting to snow removal.

ASK THE PROS

What are the startup costs?

"Gardening tools are pretty basic. A work vehicle. Basic carpentry, masonry and horticulture tools. Honestly, you could start up for $5,000" -- Spike Appel, whose "urban gardening" company Passionate Produce designs, builds and maintains urban gardens in North Brooklyn, N.Y. 

How much money can you make?

"I think it depends. I think you can expect to make anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000" -- Spike Appel

What kind of experience do you need to have?

"A real knowledge of plant and horticulture and know-how of how construction is done. I've done this 15 years. I started in the high-end, rooftop garden sphere. I'm always reading and trying to expand my knowledge about the science, about pest managment; but there's nothing like first-hand experience" -- Spike Appel

What's the most important thing to know about this business?

"It's going to take a lot of work and dedication" -- Spike Appel

The Market

Your customers will be homeowners and businesses that want their properties beautified and kept looking good. Target commercial types like apartment and condominium complexes, hotels and motels, hospitals, large and small businesses and office parks, and government institutions. Architects, real estate developers and contractors building new homes or small tracts also make good customers. Nab residential customers by going door-to-door with fliers or door hangers. (Don't place them in mailboxes--the U.S. Postal Service gets very upset about this.) Place ads in your local newspaper and in your neighborhood Yellow Pages. For small-business commercial customers and architects, developers and contractors, go on-site to hand-deliver fliers or brochures and explain your services. You may not get any takers the first time you visit, but don't get discouraged. A repeat visit or two can often seal a deal. A direct-mail campaign of a brochure will work better for large corporations; follow up with a phone call. You can also target real estate agents with noncurb-appealing sale or rental properties on their books. Take a Polaroid of the place, then give it to the realtor with suggestions of how you can spruce it up.

Needed Equipment

You'll need a power mower, edger, leaf blower, seed and fertilizer spreader and sprayer, an assortment of shovels and rakes, and a gasoline can for on-the-job refills (take care to use an approved container and follow safe storage and usage practices). You'll also want a pickup truck and perhaps a small trailer to carry it all in.

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