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Gardenary Garden Consultant
Published March 14, 2024 by Nicole Burke

How to Make Money Gardening as a Side Hustle

Filed Under:
garden business
garden careers
garden coach
garden consultant
business
garden consulting is the perfect side hustle for women

Do You Need a Job That Can Work Around Your Crazy Schedule?

Up until 2015, I had been homeschooling my four children. My youngest was finally old enough to go to preschool, so I decided to send all my children to school and re-enter the workforce. We had been living very conservatively, but no matter how much my husband and I tried to save, money was always tight.

I started applying to a ton of different jobs—substituting gigs, office work, etc. "I can start at 8:30 a.m., after I drop my daughter off at preschool," I'd tell the interviewer. "And I need to be off by 11:30 so I can go pick her up."

It shouldn't have come as a surprise that no one wanted to hire me with that kind of schedule. Being a mom was still my number one priority, and I didn't want to have my youngest in daycare all afternoon. I also couldn't imagine missing afternoon snack time with my older kids or family dinners or those precious weekends.

garden consulting is a fun and easy side hustle for money

When I couldn't find anything that would fit my crazy schedule as a mom of four, I decided I'd just have to start my own business.

But what kind of business can you start with very little time and very little money? I wondered. I was drawn to the garden, but the idea of selling my produce or turning my backyard into a plant nursery wasn't appealing (or HOA-approved!). It was thanks to a friend that I eventually realized my knowledge of the garden was the best product I had to sell. (You can read more about the path that led me to garden consulting here.)

I soon found that garden consulting was the perfect side hustle for a busy mom like me. Here's how I built my own garden consulting business working just a couple hours a day.

garden consulting is a great side hustle for stay at home mom

How I Worked as a Part-Time Gardener

When I first started, I intended to only do garden consultations. I would visit the client's home, consider their available outdoor space, and tell them where I thought they should put the garden. I charged $25 and scheduled these hour-long consultations in the mornings between preschool drop offs and pickups.  

It didn't take long for my business to morph into something more comprehensive. If I told a client I'd do a raised bed and some trellises, they would ask, "Well, which raised bed would you buy? Could you get a raised bed for me?" So I began sourcing garden structures and products for my clients. Thanks to my new wholesale license, I'd procure the bed at a discounted price and grab soil bags at a wholesale price. I charged clients the retail price for both. For every item I sourced for their garden space and delivered to their home, I'd add a little markup.

Some clients would then ask me to walk them through how to install and set up their raised bed, so I started charging for my time to coach them through their DIY installations.

side hustle for teachers who love to garden

After a couple months, I increased the price for my consultation from $25 to $50. By August of 2016, my company was making about $20K a month. I would gather all the materials during the day while my youngest was in preschool. After I picked her up, we'd deliver the materials to my clients and then go pick up the rest of my kids and drive them to their various after-school activities. I got into a flow that was really working for me.

By the time my daughter went to kindergarten, my business had grown enough for me to work more hours each day and even begin hiring part-time employees and contractors to help me out. If I'd wanted to, though, I could have stayed working part time and kept my business small.

My focus was on finding a way to make money while still doing all the things for my family I'd held dear as a stay-at-home-mom. Now I want you to hear about two Gardenary consultants who built their businesses on the side while working full time.

Sara Rubens Built Her Business as a Side Hustle While Working Full Time in Corporate America

Sara Rubens of Seed to Sanctuary had a long career working more than full time as an account manager for a technology company. She took up gardening as a hobby during the pandemic, enrolled in our Kitchen Garden Academy, and built her first garden. She started posting pictures of her new garden on her personal Instagram account, and all of a sudden, people were coming to her and saying, “Oh my God, Sara, I didn’t know you could do that. How did you learn to garden? Will you help me?”

She turned to her husband one day and said, “I feel like I could make a business out of this.”

He looked scared to death, she recalls. “You’re not quitting your corporate job, are you?”

“No,” she said, “I could fit this in part time.” So that is exactly the way she started. She quickly landed a large garden project for a restaurant in her town, and her business was officially up and running.

She was still working from home due to the pandemic, so every evening at 5:00, she'd switch from her corporate job to her gardening job. Sometimes she’d work at lunchtime, and she used the farmers' market on Saturday mornings to market her business.

Sara did around $80,000 in sales her first year—that’s just doing it part time! She was astounded when she looked at the numbers. She hired a local landscaper to be her boots-on-the-ground person and continued to build her business on the side.

Sara didn't switch to working for her business full time until she was unceremoniously laid off from her corporate job two days before Christmas that next year. She was 63 at the time—so close to retirement!—and had no desire to brush off her resume and go look for another job. Fortunately, her gardening business was doing well enough that she could still earn a great income for her family. 

"You can do as much or as little as you want," she says. "This is so easy, and it’s just joyful."

Sara Rubens built her gardening business while working a full-time job

Nicole Jagielski Runs Her Gardening Business While Working Full-Time as a Lawyer

Nicole Jagielski of Patio Produce is a full-time lawyer. She had grown up gardening with her mom and grandmother and then started doing a lot more gardening during the pandemic. She was feeling a little unfulfilled working at her old firm and wanted to make gardening more of a focus in her life. She found Gardenary and began setting up her gardening business during a week she had off work before she started at a new law firm.

Nicole's business focuses on garden coaching and garden installations. She limits herself to one garden installation a month to protect her free time so that she can still see friends and family. Each day, she does just a little bit for her business. On some days, that’s responding to emails or managing her relationships with clients. On other days, that’s making lists for which plants she needs to grow herself or pick up from the nursery for a client. Then, Saturdays are her time to get all her social media posts done for the month. Doing a little bit each day adds up over the course of a month. "If you put the time in," she says, "even if that’s just a couple hours a week, you can make a world of a difference."

She's kept that pace up for over a year and says it feels pretty sustainable to her. She expects to make about $10,000 every few months, which is more than she ever hoped to make on the side.

Some day, she'd like to transition to garden consulting full time, but for now, her garden work is "the most fulfilling and rewarding part of my day."

Nicole Jagielski runs a garden business while working full time as a lawyer
SAVE YOUR SEAT

Join the Gardener's Side Hustle Workshop

If you're interested in working as a garden consultant, join us on April 19th to learn 3 steps to start making money from your garden.

Gardening Products to Sell

What to Sell If Gardening Is Your Part-Time Gig

Now that you have a better idea how others have fit their businesses into their busy lives, let's look in more depth at some of the things you can sell working as a garden consultant on the side.

Garden Coaching Sessions

A coaching session is the simplest thing you can offer in your spare time. Your client would be someone who already has a garden set up and planted. They hire you to come in and teach them the gardening system that works for you. This is a great side hustle for teachers who love to garden because you're already great at distilling information into easy-to-digest lessons for your students.

Garden coaching is a needed service because so many people set up their garden the wrong way, only to quickly find themselves disappointed with the results. I’m sure you know at least one person who’s started a garden that failed, right? You can provide coaching sessions at private residences, community areas (hospitals, parks, etc.), and businesses.

This type of one-on-one service is the easiest thing to sell. You can complete it in just two hours (that's one hour for the coaching session and 30 minutes on each end for drive time). Coaching sessions can also be super fun. You can charge anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour for your time.

garden consulting as side hustle for moms

DIY Garden Kits

I created my first DIY garden kit for a client who wanted a little garden as a Christmas present for her kindergartner. We did the consultation while the little girl was in school, I designed a simple garden for her—just a 4ft x 4ft raised bed with a little trellis in the middle—and then I ordered all of the garden elements.

The client was a busy mom like myself who didn’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out which raised bed would be best and ordering soil. She wanted me to pick out every single element of the garden, right down to the plants, and get them to her doorstep before Christmas. (The family set up the garden together on Christmas morning.)

I charged her for the consultation to cover my time. I bought the raised bed, soil, and plants and delivered them to her home. I charged her a margin on each and every piece I selected and delivered. So basically, I made a little bit of money on the raised bed, the soil, and the plants. I could have also charged her a design fee if I’d wanted.

I took this idea and turned it into what I call a concierge garden. We would drop off a raised bed, the right amount of a local soil blend to fill that bed, and a flat of plants. It’s not much, but this is how I grew my business with basically no startup capital.

A simple raised bed filled with great soil, plus a beautiful and sturdy trellis for vertical growing—this is a great setup for people who want to begin gardening, and you can sell it every day of the week. A great price point for this type of product is about $1,000. If you can keep your supply cost low (you'll need a wholesale license), you can pocket about half of that.

how to make money gardening part-time

Garden Consultations with Deliverables

You can do what I did and visit clients' homes for hour-long consultations. Your only expense for a consultation is the gas to drive yourself to their location, so consultations have a great profit margin.

You can even earn a little more by promising your client a deliverable after their consultation. That deliverable could be a garden design, a planting plan, a step-by-step guide, or a breakdown of the different growing seasons in your area.

We have some Gardenary consultants who charge upwards of $1,000 for a garden consultation with a design included. If you choose to add a deliverable, you can obviously add on a larger fee to the service. You’re now giving them one-on-one time, plus something valuable.

The first design deliverables I ever sent to clients were drawn with my daughter’s colored pencils. I basically made thousands of dollars using Crayola products, so this doesn't have to be anything super sophisticated. You can give your clients wonderful deliverables without spending a fortune to make them look fancy. Here's an example of a planting plan.

how to make money gardening on the side

Gardening Workshops 

Workshops are basically coaching sessions for a group of people. You pick a location, decide what you're going to teach, and then gather supplies. I started off doing salad and herb garden workshops. I'd buy little planters in bulk, plus flats and flats of herbs or lettuce plants, and then I'd divide enough soil to fill each planter into baggies. I'd walk my workshop attendees through the steps to fill and plant up their little gardens, and then I'd teach them how to tend and harvest their new gardens. At the end, I'd spend some time answering their questions.

Workshops are excellent offerings when you're getting started. People love going to fun classes with their friends and learning something new. Your only expenses are the supplies for each attendee to create their own little garden. Other than that, you're simply preparing, teaching, sharing the joy of gardening with others, and building relationships as you go.

how to make money gardening a couple hours each week

Do You Have a Couple Hours a Week to Start Building Your Gardening Business?

It's amazing what kind of future you can carve out for yourself with just a couple hours each week to devote to your business. To me, one of the biggest appeals of garden consulting is how you can dictate your own hours and spend as much or as little time per week working with clients and creating products as you'd like.

You don't have to sacrifice time with your children or quit you day job to get started. You can build your schedule as you go.

I closed the first year of my business with over $120,000 in gross revenue, and I got to keep a good bit of that. I was making a really nice salary for myself, especially considering I was working part-time and had taken almost the entire month of July off to be with my family.

So that's how I made my career goals come true. I got to be an active mom to my four kids and work around their schedules. I got to spend time with my preschooler in the afternoons.

If you're a gardener and this inspires you to start your own side gig, then I invite you to learn more about our Gardenary Consultant Certification program. I actually teach gardeners how to start their own garden consulting businesses like mine and like Sara's and Nicole's. I've taught consultants who had young children at home who needed most of their time. I've taught consultants who were still working full-time jobs. You could be next, no matter how much time you have each week.

Thank you for being here and making the garden a part of your busy life!

SAVE YOUR SEAT

Join the Gardener's Side Hustle Workshop

If you're interested in working as a garden consultant, join us on April 19th to learn 3 steps to start making money from your garden.

Related Reading

How to Make Money Gardening as a Side Hustle