Container gardening as a trend shows no signs of slowing down, and for good reason. These micro-gardens are workhorses in the landscape — providing dramatic focal points, welcoming entryway plantings, seasonal spots of color, and self-contained greenery for small spaces.
Container gardening also offers unique opportunities for the landscape designer, contractor, and landscape materials supplier to upsell both residential and commercial clientele. By and large, container gardens are seasonal plantings that require quarterly replantings and monthly maintenance — and when stylishly designed and perfectly installed, create a high demand with a waiting list of repeat clientele.
To tap into this market and make it a lucrative part of your business, consider offering a container garden subscription service for your market rather than focusing on a “one and done” approach to sales. Your goal is to create regular income without needing to chase your clients or require your client/buyer to chase you by creating a year-round service that is built in to your business.
Container Garden Subscription Services for Suppliers
Whether your business supplies plants, pottery, soil, or décor, you’re in a unique position to cater to your buyers and, in the process, turn yourself into their “one stop” supplier for all things container gardening. You can even “plant the seed” of a new business opportunity for them.
Here are some tips for you:
Email your buyer list and let them know you have what they need for their container gardening projects. These materials include specialty potting soils, seasonal color, high quality containers, lightweight containers, evergreen topiaries — all in-demand materials for the container garden designer. If you’re primarily a grower, then just focus on the plants. (See next tip.)
Create a seasonal container garden display at your place of business to inspire projects for your buyers. Label each plant/product, and have a price list available both at the counter and as a regularly updated online PDF. Create order forms for standard container sizes so that your buyers have a turn-key solution to turn around and sell to their customers.
Encourage your buyers to place custom growing orders. Many professional designers plan at least a season ahead, knowing that they will need a certain amount of specific plant material later in the year. Market that you’re available to grow custom orders of annuals, evergreens, flowering vines, and ornamental cabbages and kales, and have them ready for pick up at the designated time.
Interested in setting up a container subscription service for your clients? First, you’ll want to plan out a 4-season schedule with details about which plants are in season in your area. Then, design container plantings accordingly. Seek out suppliers in your area to partner with.
Before you start selling the service create some simple marketing materials showing the container design options available for each season, including sizing and prices (installed) and detailing payment information.
Email your client list and let them know that you are offering this service. Include inspiring images of container designs you’ve completed. No previous designs? No problem! Create a pair of containers for your own entryway or garden and take pics of those! Email well before a given season and encourage clients to “get into your schedule” by a particular date — this not only helps you plan your installation schedule, but creates a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and a sense of urgency with your clientele.
Play up the holidays. From October through December, the latter part of the year presents many opportunities for container planting designs. Think ornamental grasses with harvest-colored annuals along with a few well-placed mini pumpkins for the fall, and elegant topiaries or seasonal branches, cool-weather annuals and twinkly lights for the holiday season. And remember, you’re not selling “container plantings,” you’re selling “cozy and welcoming!”
Consider a year-round payment plan. Many clients want those extravagant poolside or entryway container plantings, but may not have the budget to get what they want. Smart designers allow their clients to place larger orders and pay it off monthly — this creates options for upsells, income during the leaner winter months, and clients who feel like they’ve scored the jackpot.
Not sure how to price? Most designers have an hourly rate for installation, plus the cost of the materials. In-demand designers charge anywhere from $75 - $130/hour for their style and expertise, with plant material marked up 100%. Think people won’t pay that amount? They will and do!
Offer a maintenance service. To keep those container plantings fresh and colorful, a little maintenance goes a long way — the problem is that most clients aren’t willing to do it. Sell them on a maintenance service that includes weekly check in, monthly fertilizing and trimming, plant replacements, and irrigation checks.
By planning out your offerings, whether you’re a buyer or a supplier, you can offer more standardized “plug and play” solutions for customers. This makes your business more efficient, and increases your bottom line.