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How to Run a Garden Centre

Read on for how to run a successful garden centre in SA.

Garden Centres are a booming industry. South Africa has a very nurturing and receptive climate with plenty of year-round sunshine. Meaning that hobbyist gardeners have a lot of options to customise their green spaces however they like.

So, if you’re thinking of managing your own garden centre, there’s a couple of things you should know to get this potentially lucrative and profitable business in the black. 

Skilling up

First and foremost, you need to keep yourself as informed as possible on all various services you can offer. This would include the more obvious things such as botanical knowledge: expertise on plants, their characteristics, and care requirements. But this also would include garden design, landscaping, and DIY.

You’ll need to be able to know the in’s and out’s of everything you offer. For example, if you offer landscaping and garden DIY products, you’ll need be knowledgeable about things like laying decking, building planter arrangements, and fencing.

This will require a fair amount of training and research on your part to remain skilled up, but presumably you’re passionate about this field so hopefully, this shouldn’t be a problem! 

Your products

In keeping with the extent of your knowledge, you should be thinking about how extensive you want your wares and services to be.

If the extent of your knowledge and passions is to the purely botanical side of garden ware, be sure to focus your products in this field. Avoid spreading yourself too thin by stocking building materials or pool installation services if you don’t know much about them.

You also need to ask yourself about how you will maintain your garden centre. Will you grow your own plants or buy them from a wholesaler? How will you ensure all plants are disease free?

Train Staff

You won’t be able to run your centre without reliable and competent staff. Not only will they help with the obvious sides of the business associated with stock and customer service, they’ll also be able to pad out any of the gaps in knowledge or experience.

Now the business will likely have staff as part of the business when you purchase it. However, it is important you ensure your staff stay on top of their training. Reviewing their understanding of your botanical products, how to care for them and ensure they remain disease free, will go a long way.

Additionally, employees who feel that they are being invested in are likely to feel more positive about the change in ownership.


One of the things you'll have to stay on top of is the effective marketing of your new garden centre. And online marketing remains one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

It’s a known fact that most people frequently check a screen – often multiple times per day. Every instance representing a time you can get your business in front of their eyes. 

The beauty of online marketing is it’s one of the best ways to alleviate the inherent seasonality of a garden centre business.  The high season and summer months tend to see the most footfall for garden centres; however, there are numerous plants like spruce and primroses that do well outside of those months

Using conventional marketing channels on various forms of social media can give you the opportunity to notify potential customers that their gardening doesn’t need to stop when the temperature drops


Build relationships

Garden Centres require a variety of services to maintain quality and stock. Do your best to build a reliable relationship with your suppliers, delivery drivers, and others that will help you keep your business in shape.

You can also start building relationships with other businesses, who can help you plug the gap of what services you don’t actually offer.

For example, if a customer is thinking about building new decking or having a pool installed, having some businesses on hand you can refer will help both the customer and the business your referring.

Doing so will endear them to your business and prompt them to refer their customers in a similar way if you’ve something to offer them!

Running a garden centre is a challenge; however, you can read up on extra advice so that you’ll find yourself thriving in no time. If you’re ready for your next challenge, free to check out our garden centre listings here.

Kyle Cairns

About the author

Junior Film Producer at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.