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New Zealand is famous for its diverse landscapes and flora, and people take pride in their gardening. Your business may be a part of this industry, operating perhaps from a plant nursery or garden centre, selling garden supplies. However, you need to ensure that you comply with any legal requirements that may apply to your business. Therefore, this article will supply some legal considerations if you sell garden supplies in New Zealand.

Trading Hours

If you operate from a physical shop in the retail industry, you will need to take heed of the law that limits the hours that you can trade for. One particular rule applies to which public holidays you can continue trading on. For most businesses, they must be closed on:

  • Christmas Day;
  • Good Friday;
  • ANZAC Day until 1.00 pm on 25 April; and
  • Easter Sunday.

However, part of this law may not apply to your shop if it classifies as a garden centre, where your main business is the sale of:

  • plants;
  • garden supplies; or
  • both.

If this includes your business, then you can stay open on Easter Sunday. Otherwise, you need to make sure you comply with laws surrounding trading hours, which may include local council policies.

Trading Standards

The Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) also sets various trading standards for businesses. One of these standards applies to businesses that sell garden and landscape supplies, and regulates how you sell them and in what quantities. When you sell your garden supplies, you can legally do so by:

  • weight or measure, such as two cubic metres of bark chip;
  • number, such as three bags of compost; or
  • description, such as a scoopful or truckload.

When selling your goods by weight or measure, you need to ensure you use:

  • the metric system;
  • equipment or vessels that trading standards approve of; and
  • net weight, which means you do not include the packaging as part of your sale.

Furthermore, if you sell your gardening supplies using false measures or weight assessments, you can face fines and other legal penalties.

Consumer Law

If your garden supplies business sells to consumers, then you need to comply with consumer law. Consequently, you need to uphold various consumer guarantees and ensure you do not:

Consumer guarantees apply to the quality of your products and how you sell them. You need to make sure your garden supplies are:

  • of acceptable quality;
  • fit for purpose;
  • delivered in good condition and on time;
  • the same as you describe them; and
  • sold legally.

Otherwise, you need to give a customer an appropriate remedy, such as a:

  • replacement; 
  • return; or
  • refund.

Workplace Health and Safety

Depending on the kind of garden supplies you sell, you and your employees may be dealing with: 

  • dangerous equipment;
  • hazardous chemical products;
  • organic material;
  • manual labour;
  • heavy lifting; and
  • heat exposure.

Your business will likely qualify as a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), which means you have various workplace health and safety obligations you need to meet. Therefore, you need to ensure you eliminate potential risks within your garden supplies business as much as possible.

For example, a risk specific to anyone who works with bulk organic material like compost or potting mix is at risk of inhaling Legionella bacteria, leading to Legionnaires’ disease. As a PCBU, the law legally requires that you manage this risk and protect your employees.

Importing Requirements

If any of your garden supplies are imported goods, you need to make sure you comply with any importing requirements that apply to them. You may be importing organic material in items such as compost, which can engage biosecurity concerns that the law regulates. Therefore, you need to meet these requirements if you want to import:

  • fertilisers or other growing media that use decomposed or dried plant material or plant by-products;
  • manufactured fertilisers that use micro-organisms;
  • coco peat products;
  • processed sterilised peat;
  • raw peat; and
  • peat packing material.

There are specific requirements depending on what exactly you want to import, but generally, you should ensure that your imported products are:

  • free from pests and contaminants;
  • clearly labelled with their brand name and product contents, or have this information in your documentation;
  • shipped in a way to avoid pests and contamination; and
  • commercially packed in durable and appropriately packaging.

Additionally, for many products, you may need to apply for a permit to import them into the country.

Key Takeaways

When selling garden supplies in New Zealand to customers, you need to make sure you know what legal requirements apply to your business. These rules can range from essential biosecurity requirements to meeting consumer protection standards, so it is important that you know your legal obligations. If you would like more information or help with selling your garden supplies in New Zealand, contact LegalVision’s regulatory and compliance lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What holidays can my garden centre remain open on?

Most retail businesses need to close their shops on Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday, and ANZAC Day until 1.00 pm on 25 April. However, if your main business is selling plants or garden supplies, you can stay open on Easter Sunday.

What are consumer guarantees?

Consumer guarantees are promises you make to your customers when you sell your goods to them for their personal use. If you break one of these promises, you need to provide a remedy.

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