Dorothy’s Open Gardens – Hints and Tips

Hints and Tips for running a successful Dorothy’s Open Gardens event



Choosing the date

  • Weekends work best – Sundays also tend  to attract the best turn-out. Check with family and friends to make sure they can make it.
  • A couple of hours is usually enough (e.g. 10am – midday, 3pm – 5pm etc.)
  • Avoid opening your garden over lunchtime unless you are hosting a barbecue


  • We suggest an entrance fee of £4 (although some gardens charge more)
    Start collecting change for an entrance float
  • Ask a friend or neighbour to be at the entrance to collect the fees (they will need a small table, chair and float)

British weather

  • Have a contingency plan in case the weather is against you. Perhaps have a gazebo or think about a covered space in the event of a quick downpour


  • Think about selling tea and coffee to raise even more money for the Hospice
    Perhaps ask your friends to bake or provide cakes and serve drinks
  • Use disposable cups or ask friends and neighbours to lend you cups (perhaps your local supermarket will support your event by donating cups, paper plates and serviettes).
  • Remember to provide a clear price list and have a second float for small change

More ways to raise money

  • Hold a raffle – ask friends to donate unwanted presents or perhaps ask a local business to help with prizes
  • Hold a plant sale – sell your own or ask a green fingered friend or neighbour to donate some plants and seedlings for sale
  • Hold a competition – perhaps guess the plant’s Latin name, best veg display or sweetest smelling rose…
  • Hold a book sale – ask friends and family to donate pre-loved books to be sold on the day

Safety First

  • Opening your garden and fundraising for the Hospice should be fun, but it’s important to stay safe!
  • Make sure you check your garden for health and safety hazards well before your planned opening and take any necessary steps to remove or minimise the risks from any hazards that you identify. For example:
    • Water features – use signage
    • Trips and slips – use signage
  • Gardening tools/products/weed killer – keep locked away
  • Garden furniture – check for any broken bits
  • Stick injuries – cover pointed sticks/bamboo to prevent injury
  • Consider access to the garden for people with additional needs and make sure any promotional literature clearly states how accessible your garden is.
  • If you are not a qualified First Aider, have a phone ready in case of an emergency.

Car Parking

  • Do you have a local hall/school/field that could be used for visitors parking?

Food and Drink

  • Always ensure any food you’re providing has been stored at an appropriate temperature, has been hygienically prepared and thoroughly cooked. Visit www.food.gov.uk for further guidance. Be aware of food allergies.
  • If you want to sell alcohol at your event you will need a licence.

Safeguarding Children

  • Make parents/guardians aware that they are responsible for the safety of the children they are accompanying.


  • Is your garden accessible to visitors with restricted mobility? Wheelchair access available/not available?


  • Decide if you are happy for visitors to bring their dogs and make it clear, either way, in promotional material.


  • Do you have outside toilets? If not, are you happy for people to access your house – this is entirely your decision. In our experience, equally as many people allow as don’t allow, so it has to be your decision but make this clear on all promotional material.

*Dorothy House Hospice Care cannot accept liability for any loss, damage or injury as a result of opening your garden and/or fundraising for us.