International Women's Day- Breaking Ground: Meet Nicola Preston, the Woman Revolutionising Lawn Care and Inspiring Others to Join the Industry
Looking for inspiration? Look no further than Nicola Preston, owner/operator of Greener Gardens Lawncare. Despite facing the challenges of being a female in a male-dominated industry, Nicola has built a successful business from scratch and become a respected member of the UK Lawn Care Association.Her passion for lawncare stems from a childhood spent helping her father in the garden and admiring her grandfather's immaculate lawn. Read on to discover her journey, the challenges she's faced, and her advice for women looking to break into the industry.
Nicola grew up on the outskirts of Walsall near Birmingham and has been passionate about lawncare since she was a child. You will be completely inspired by her story below.
Let's hear her story....
Tell me a little bit about you
I grew up as a Jehovah’s witness so I had always been a little different to other children. I went to an all girls school and never really fit in, I enjoyed spending time with boys rather than girls and doing things that girls don’t “typically” do. Growing up with 2 brothers and their friends probably had a lot to do with this.
I am a single Mom to an 8 year old boy, I love being a boy Mom of course, I am not sure I would have been very good playing dolls, instead its Fifa, Pokemon, pool, football and darts. Mom life definitely keeps me busy, especially as unfortunately I don’t get to have time with my parents and brothers now, there’s a lot on my shoulders but I have always enjoyed a challenge.
My down time usually revolves around films or music and during the summer months I practically live outside. I always have my headphones in while I am working on lawns, I’m at my happiest with my favourite artists in my ears, singing along (badly) and striping up a lovely lush lawn with the mower in the sunshine.
Where did your passion of lawn care come from?
I would always be the first to help my Dad in the garden. Despite having two brothers, my Dad would usually ask me as I was much more interested than the boys were.
My Grandad had a lovely big garden that he would tend to constantly, keeping it immaculate, he grew his own produce including a vine in the greenhouse where I would sneak off to and pinch the grapes when he wasn’t looking. I used to love trying my hardest to push his mower over the lawns which he did at least weekly, but I was never allowed to mow the “putting green” lawn at the bottom of the garden, this was his ‘pride and joy’ lawn of course.
How did you set up your own Lawn Care business and what you offer
I began in self employment back in 2010 after leaving a job working in the office of a local lawn care franchise. At the time, these and another franchise were the only lawn care businesses I had ever noticed or heard of.
I loved the idea of providing a lawn care service myself but felt that it was a real luxury service that only the most wealthy would go for. It seemed too daunting to approach as I wasn’t sure it was a very big industry, however after working doing some garden maintenance jobs and practically anything I could put my hand to in order to pay the bills; life changed for me and I re-evaluated the direction and path I wanted to take with my career.
I had split with my son’s dad, saved up some money of my own so I decided to take the plunge into lawn care with the business. I doubted myself and didn’t think it was possible for me to achieve on my own and especially so as a woman as I didn’t see any other female operatives let alone business owners. I had no direction, no idea where to go for supplies, no clue about industry regulations or running a business or anything I felt I needed, but I did it.
My first step into the lawn care industry included me joining the UK Lawn Care Association, from the moment I began my membership and the first conference I attended in 2019 I didn’t ever look back. I realised I wasn’t alone in the industry and I found myself with a nationwide group of fellow minded owners and operatives who were and still are a wealth of knowledge and support as I grew my business. I would not be where I am now without this support in the industry.
Despite my time on the tools being limited with childcare restrictions and other challenges, my business has grown steadily each year and I am now in discussions with a fellow business owner planning to form a partnership to help Greener Gardens Lawncare grow even further.
What are the challenges you have faced along the way as a female
I quickly discovered that lawn care was aimed at the male population, when I attended any events, I was extremely outnumbered as a female. The work clothes and PPE I needed were difficult to come by in women’s shapes and sizes. Tools and equipment I find are shaped and manufactured for male ergonomics. This can make working life a little challenging and it took me some time to find equipment that was comfortable for me as a user.
What needs to be done to inspire more women to take up lawn care?
Marketing by the industry leaders could change their approach and make it know that lawn care isn’t just a male world. Knowledge and awareness that women are capable to will help. Tool and equipment manufacturers to take into account the size and shape of women, this would make it easier for females to approach the industry. More female work wear please, we need waterproofs too!!
What advice would you give to females looking to get into the lawn care industry or even those just wanting to take care of their own home lawn?
Don’t feel inadequate or scared to go for it, I managed to create an established known lawn care business through channelling my lack of confidence and doubts into wanting to prove a point, women can do it do!
Greener Gardens Lawncare