Starting a lawn care business – Congratulations on your decision to start a landscaping business. If you’re not sure about where to start or how to grow your business, then you’re reading the right post. Good for you to look for ways to earn money. You are already on the right track by researching what to know.
Here we explain how to start a lawn care business from scratch and how to expand your existing landscaping business. The great news is that you can start small, without a lot of upfront costs. This can be ideal if you are, say, a teenager looking for a summer job, or an adult looking for a side hustle. Again, good for you to be ambitious and for realizing there are things to learn before starting.
Whether you are starting a lawn mowing business or looking to grow into a larger operation with more services, the best advice is to start small.
Yes, it’s exciting to embark on this adventure. However, it’s very important to be able to provide all of your customers with excellent service. With every job you accept and work, you must do an exceptional job. You need happy clients.
No matter who you are, what your plans are, and excited as you may be, it is important to do things the right way by learning what to know about starting a lawncare business. This will help you to:
- Avoid costly mistakes
- Maximize earnings
- Build an excellent reputation by earning outstanding customer reviews
- Be successful
Don’t buy anything yet. Read on to learn what you need to do first.
How to Start a Lawn Care Business
Grab a paper and pencil or open up a document on your computer to take some notes. The more information you know will help you. Let’s begin.
Identify Your Goals
The first step to starting a successful and thriving lawn care operation is to identify what you want to achieve from your new business. Consider:
- Why are you starting the lawn care business in the first place?
- Are you interested in serving residential (homes) or commercial (businesses) customers?
- Do you want to work full time or part time?
- What season will you be starting in?
- How big are you aiming to grow?
- Are you ready to manage the various business aspects such as taxes, legal, invoicing, sales, and marketing?
- What are your financial goals for one year? How about 3 or 5 years?
Think about how much time you have to commit to working in and on the business. Are you looking for extra money by mowing lawns in the spring and over your summer break from school? Perhaps you can expand to raking leaves and shoveling snow in the winter months in order to earn extra money year round.
Starting small and doing superior work will help you grow your business.
You can come back to this after reading the rest of the tips, but this is important. When defining your goals, create an internal mission statement to help you determine who you clearly are and why you’re starting this business. Your mission statement will help establish a purpose for your business.
Define Your Target Market
Your target market simply refers to the people you will be targeting with your marketing efforts. Who is your ideal customer? When you were thinking of starting a lawn care and landscaping business, where were you envisioning yourself working?
Perhaps it is homeowners with lawns in your neighborhood that are close enough so you can walk there with your lawn mower, and mow their lawns.
You must determine:
- Who are you targeting with your lawn care business?
- Corporate offices
- Residential lawns in your neighborhood
- Residential lawns in surrounding areas
- How is your ideal customer handling lawn maintenance currently?
- How will you get there with your equipment? Transportation to customer’s homes, including being able to get equipment there; may need pickup truck or trailer.
Who are your potential customers using now? Do you notice lawncare trucks in front of their homes? Or perhaps you will target customers who mow their own lawns. You may be able to find out who these people are on the weekends or during the week after the workday.
Understand the Lawn Care Industry
Before you launch your own lawn care business, take time to learn about what is needed to start in your locality. What grows and what needs tending and maintenance?
Do your neighbors and local neighborhoods have large lawns? What other services may they need? Some examples can be edging, aerating lawns, fertilizing, lay mulch, weed management, and trimming bushes and low-hanging tree branches.
Other ideas can include spring cleanups and brush removal. Consider expanding your range of services to include fall cleanups such as raking and collecting leaves. When the snow comes, you can shovel and/or snow plow driveways, walkways, and sidewalks, etc.
Or maybe you live in a desert climate where grass isn’t common. In this instance, you may need to focus on brush removal, raking (including people with mesquite trees who sometimes want the mesquite pods picked up), weeds, trimming, planting, moving gravel or rocks, and more.
Are there other opportunities you can see? Perhaps you can take on gardening tasks such as tilling soil and adding dirt to garden beds. You can make a garden bed out of cinder blocks. Maybe you can help start a compost pile and then haul and spread the compost to people’s gardens. You can also expand to some light landscaping work by moving rocks to border trees and to create walkways. There’s lots you can do.
Research: Who are the competitors in your area? Pay attention to lawncare trucks in your neighborhood. In the spring, pay attention to the lawns in the areas you want to serve. Are people cutting their own lawns, raking their own leaves, and shoveling snow themselves?
Learn from the Competition
Check out what lawn care companies are in your area. Professional lawn care businesses will service residential and commercial clients. Look up their websites to learn what types of services people are looking for in your area.
You can also search on Google to see what people are searching for in terms of lawn care services.
Note, you don’t need to position yourself to compete against professional lawn care businesses. Your customers may be people who are mowing lawns themselves. However, checking out established local lawn care businesses will be helpful to give you an idea of what people want and need.
Establish Your Niche and Define Your Services
Once you’ve identified your target market, it is crucial to identify the types of services they need. Is it edging, fertilizing, lawn mowing, spring pruning, gardening, or spring and fall cleanups?
After you’ve done some research to see what types of lawn care customers are looking for in your area, consider what do you want to do? Finding your niche is important. What do you want to offer?
Another thing to consider is what access to equipment you have. You may have the ability to trim trees and edge lawns but if you don’t have the equipment, you cannot advertise these services.
Surveying your expected client base can be a great place to start. If you aren’t planning to launch your business immediately, you might want to work for a similar company for a while. It is an excellent way to gain knowledge and experience without putting your capital at risk.
Some ideas include:
- Lawn mowing
- Trimming trees, bushes
- General clean up, spring and fall clean up
- Picking up sticks
- Small bush and tree removal
- Weed Control
- Hauling dirt and compost
- Tilling soil
- Refilling gardens with soil
- Leaf collection and removal
- Brush collection and removal
- Snowplowing, shoveling
- Erosion prevention and management
- Moving rocks
- Insect and pest maintenance
- Pond maintenance
- Weekly or monthly maintenance – Many professional services do not remove doggie waste; if you do, this can set you apart.
- You may want to specialize in eco-friendly lawncare by offering less harsh chemicals and yard treatments.
Learn the Area
- What day is trash pickup?
- What are the rules regarding lawn waste? Are there special brown bags you need to use or can you but it right in the garbage can.
- Are there special brush and bulky pickup days quarterly?
- Business insurance, permits, licensing
Learn anything you can from the cities and towns you want to work in.
Check with the City, Town, Village
If you are a teenager cutting lawns, raking leaves, and shoveling snow, it’s likely you won’t need a special business license. If you are an adult, check with city government for business licensing and insurance requirements.
If you offer services to apply herbicides, pesticides, and/or fertilizer, you may need a permit. Check online with the city or county to see what information you can find. Call them to follow up with questions.
Learn the Equipment But Don’t Buy Anything Yet
It is natural to want to buy lawn care equipment. It can make you feel like you are doing something and on your way to starting your business. However, do not buy anything until you are exactly clear on your goals, basic business plan, what services you will be offering, and any licensing, business insurance, etc. requirements.
While you shouldn’t buy anything yet, it is important to assess what lawncare equipment you have and what you will need. Start researching what equipment you will need at a minimum to launch your lawn care business. This will depend on the needs in your area.
Consider the topography. Are their lush green lawns, lots of trees with leaves to maintain, big driveways which can offer you the opportunity to shovel snow?
Or do you live somewhere where natural landscaping is the rule, such as the southwestern United States, where much is desert and grass is a minimum? In these instances, you will provide other services.
How to Promote Lawn Care Business
In addition to the physical labor of mowing lawns and other yard maintenance, you will need to advertise and market your business. This can be fairly simple if you are starting out. If you already have an existing business that you want to expand, be sure to consider creative ways to advertise your business.
Consider the following ways to advertise and market your lawncare business:
- Inexpensive business cards
- Chamber of Commerce events
- Drop off your cards at relator offices; market yourself as a reliable person to cut grass and rake leaves for people if they’ve moved out but their house is still on the market
- Table or booth at local festival, farmer’s market, school event
- You can pass out business cards and have a flyer listing your services. You can collect names of people in the area and raffle off a free lawn cutting.
- When you get much larger, you can invest in giveaways like pens, calendars, sticky notes, etc.
It can be as simple as walking around the area, knocking on a few doors and introducing yourself and leaving them with a flyer and/or business card about your new grass-cutting business.
You can also canvas the area by scrolling your flyer and rubber banding it to mailboxes. Do not put your flyer inside mailboxes. Check the weather for rain and wind before doing this. (Be sure to go around the next day, and pick up any flyers that are littering the neighborhood.)
Online: Take a few moments to consider the ways you can advertise and create a presence:
- Create a simple website with contact information
- Establish social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more
- As you expand and get customers, you can create a basic logo
In recent years, lawn care business owners could generate clients simply by the powers of word-of-mouth marketing and who you already know. It is still a great way to get clients, but don’t forget to take advantage of the internet and digital marketing tactics.
With the internet, it’s never been easier, more targeted, and more affordable to advertise. You can build an online presence which will go a long way toward establishing credibility and trust. Regardless of which marketing routes you take, be sure to act professionally.
Scheduling and Billing
- How will you be charging for your services? Do your homework here. It will be difficult to raise prices right away.
- Will you set up a business checking account? (Likely not necessary if you are a student.)
- How will you collect payments? Consider your ability to handle checks, cash and electronic payments (Venmo, Zelle, Paypay, credit card swiping on your phone, etc.)
- Have a plan to organize your jobs.
Formalizing Your Business
If you are an adult who wants to start a lawn care business, or if you already have an established customer base and are looking to take your business to the next level with employees and independent contractors, you will need to formalize things.
Establish an LLC
You will want to consult a business startup attorney. Another option is to access the forms through your state’s Secretary of State office and file them electronically. All the legal forms and instructions are there.
Get Business Insurance
Do more research to find out exactly what coverage you need. At a minimum, you should have business insurance, including general liability insurance that also includes coverage for tools and equipment. If you are hiring employees, you will need worker’s compensation insurance. Check with a local insurance agent to see what they recommend.
Bookkeeping and Accounting System
You can hire a part time bookkeeper or use an online accounting software to formalize your revenue and expense entries.
Protect Your Business and Clients
If you expand and grow your business to the point of hiring employees, start small. At this point, you will need a federal tax ID number to pay independent contractors and employees. You’ll also need to create a legal business such as an LLC. If you act as an independent contractor, you may not need to but you need to be sure to keep business separate from your personal. Consult online legal resources for information to get as much information as you can. Then you can reach out to your local chamber of commerce or other referrals for legal assistance.
Running a lawn care business means that you’ll be spending most of your time in the sunshine. It also means you’ll face many risks. For instance, you could damage a client’s property, break your equipment, or even your employee or customer can get injured accidentally.
With lawn care insurance, you are protected against all of these risks. You’ll not be required to reach into your pocket to pay for expenses resulting from accidents, personal injuries, and property damage while working.
Make a Business Plan
Be sure to make a lawn care service business plan. This will allow you to outline your goals, your costs and expenses, and how you plan on making money. It should also include information about your target audience and what services you’ll provide them with.
Lawn care is a booming industry, and it’s not hard to see why. The average American spends money on their yard and lawn maintenance in some way, shape or form. There’s no shortage of profit for anyone looking to get into the game.
Add to this all the businesses and commercial potential, and you can expand your business exponentially.
Buy Equipment If You Need To
You may want to start by offering lawn mowing services. Bring your lawn mower, do an exceptional job, and continue to acquire new customers. If this is how you intend to start out, then you will simply need a lawn mower and a broom to sweep up after you mow.
If you want to include edging which can be an easy add-on service, you may want to consider researching the best lawn edgers. Another service can be to offer aerating which means you would need to buy or borrow a lawn aerator.
Buy or Borrow Equipment
After developing your goals, a mission statement, and identifying your target market, it’s now time to choose your tools. But how do you choose them? By considering your goals and services you plan to offer.
Choose equipment that will help get things done efficiently, faster and professionally. We would also advise you to choose equipment that needs minimal maintenance and are commercial-grade. Also, talk to peers, dealers, and take advantage of the internet to get an idea of the best equipment.
Remember to check the type of guarantee or warranty that comes with the equipment, as well as the availability of replacement parts.
You will also need to consider how you will learn to use the equipment safely and accurately. Youtube can be a big help with this. Perhaps you can also learn from a relative or friend.
What equipment do you have or have access to and what, at a minimum, do you need? Some landscaping equipment ideas are:
- Lawn mower
- Weed eater
- Lawn edger
- Fertilizer spreader
- String trimmer
- Leaf blower
- Work gloves, garden gloves
- Snow shovel, snow blower
- Electric chainsaw, other larger equipment
Expanding a Lawn Care Business
Decide How Large You Want Your Business to Be
This can be months or years down the road. If you are interested in growing a lawn care business, you will need to decide how big you want your business to be. Most lawn care businesses start as a part-time job and grow from there. If you want it to be bigger, then you may want to hire a few employees or at least get some help with the work load so that you can focus on marketing and sales for the company.
If you enjoy doing the physical labor of the job, you can pay someone to handle the administrative and office responsibilities, including bookkeeping, accounting, and advertising, etc.
Build a Great Team
Even if you’re trying to get into lawncare or landscaping with little capital, in time, you can grow the business so that you have individuals or small crews taking on jobs.
Depending on the size of your business, you’ll need to hire employees to help you in running your business.
Whether it’s a part-time field technician or full-time office worker to help manage your business, the kind of person you hire plays a crucial role in determining how your business grows.
Be sure to perform a background check before deciding who to hire.
You will find there are several things to consider, which can seem overwhelming. Start slowly and learn all you can so there won’t be surprises later. It will also save you money by doing it correctly from the start.
Grow Your Skills
Learn more about what it takes to start and grow a lawn care business. Research tools online, their purpose and learn how they work. Learn things such as what size chainsaw do I need, how to start a chainsaw, the different types of lawn mowers, how to apply fertilizer on large lawns, and what size snow blower you would need for the homes you wish to service. It’s endless what you can learn online.
Perhaps you want to expand your lawn mowing business to include helping people with their gardens. You would want to learn about gardening mistakes that could be costly as well as no-till gardening, composting, and more.
Always be building your skills, whether it’s learning about how to use lawn equipment safely, ways to advertise, attract and keep customers, schedule jobs, handle accounting, and more. Learn about taking care of lawns and natural lawn care tips.
Getting Your First Customers
Consider your time, commitment, skills, and work ethic. The important thing is when you get your first customer is to do an exceptional job. Be sure you can overdeliver on whatever you promise.
Finding that first customer can be tough. Make a list of people you already know. If you are a teenager trying to get started, ask your family for some ideas of potential customers from who you or they know.
Communication with Customers
There is a fine line between keeping in touch with your clients and bothering them too much. For certain, you will need to be sure you understand the job you are being hired to do. You need to be able to communicate your payment requirements.
Be sure to find out how often they want you to maintain their yard. Track the weather to be sure there isn’t rain. If you need to change the day you will be there, let your customer know when to expect you. Find out if there is anything you need to know before you start working. This can be dogs or areas in the yard to avoid; property lines; etc. This will be especially important before trimming trees and bushes. Find out what the client wants you to do.
Pros to Starting a Lawn Maintenance Business
- Anyone can start a lawn care business.
- Low start up costs. You don’t need to have a lot of money to start a lawn care business.
- You don’t need special experience in the lawn care industry to start a lawn care business.
- There are many different ways to start this type of business.
- Apps can help schedule and track jobs, invoice, and more.
What to Consider Before Getting Started
- What skills do you already have: Know what you can do and what you can learn to do.
- What are the needs of your market? This will depend on the topography. Do you live in a neighborhood with lawns or in the southwestern United States with cactus and brush that needs tending?
- Licensing and insurance
- Advertising and marketing
- Lawn care equipment and supplies; what do you already own or have access to. Do you have a lawn mower? Do you own a lawn edger? Can you trim bushes and low-hanging tree branches?
- Pricing your services
- Ways to expand and grow your lawncare business
The first step is to come up with a business plan and pricing strategy.
If you have plans to expand your lawncare business, you always need the mindset of keeping your existing customers happy while working on ways to get additional customers.
Tips Before Starting Your Business
How large do you want to grow your business? Is this a spring, summer, and fall opportunity to earn some extra money?
While this can certainly grow and continue to expand, it may not be your full time priority if you are in school. But you can certainly work hard and expand your business.
Or are you someone who is interested in making this your full time career with the goal of making this a livelihood?
What grows in your area that needs tending? Grass, bushes, weed control, fertilizer, cleaning brush, removing brush, trimming bushes, helping with basic landscaping, raking and removing leaves, etc.
Experience and skills:
What experience do you have tending lawns and working with trees, plants, bushes, etc.? What skills do you already have? What skills can you learn from others or from videos, classes, etc.?
These skills can include whatever is applicable in your area. It can mean cutting grass, edging, trimming bushes and trees, removing brush, fertilizing, removing leaves with a leaf blower versus raking, and more.
Additional skills can include basic business skills. Much of this will depend on how large you want to grow your business. Is this a more of a temporary spring, summer and fall opportunity for you to earn extra money? Some class may include basic bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, etc.
Next up is getting the word out about your new business. You’ll want to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well as local advertising in order to attract clients who are interested in the services that you offer. You can also consider attending trade shows or networking events where people attend.
While many may view it as a waste of time and a little more corporate, the mission statement will help you remain true to your mission.
Spend time researching what to charge for your services. While you can offer specials (“spring cleanup special”) and first-time customer discounts, you want to avoid changing your prices. Customers may prefer to know in advance the rate (a flat rate) versus paying you by the hour.
Consider what start up expenses you will incur. What is your plan to pay for gas for the lawn mower? How will you get yourself and the lawn mower to jobs? Can you walk there or will you need a trailer? You will need upfront money to print flyers. (Check out your local library for an easy way to print out inexpensive color copies.)
Provide Excellent Service
When starting and growing a lawn care business, the best advice is to start small and slow. Yes, it’s exciting to embark on this adventure. However, it’s very important to be able to provide all of your customers with excellent service. With every job you work, you must do an exceptional job.
Customer loyalty is important. Soon you will have them as a regular customer. Make it affordable for them and profitable for you.
Whether this is will be a part time or full time venture for you, you want to start small and grow from there. Even something that starts as a way to earn money on the weekends or seasonally can expand to become a full time opportunity with employees or independent contractors.
In addition to being friendly, reliable, on time and courteous, it also means being organized with what your fees are, and being able to do whatever job you sell. If you “only” know how to mow lawns and “only” have a lawn mower, that is all you can offer. Do not get ahead of yourself by overselling and then be in a position of underdelivering.
Always clean up after you leave. Sweep sidewalks, walkways, and driveways… wherever there may be yard debris.
Check the rules in the areas you want to do business. Additionally, depending on the size of your business, you will need to find out if you need special insurance, permits or licensing. There may be a difference if say, you are a teenager mowing lawns for the summer versus an adult pursuing this as a side business or full time business.
Know your market. What is the look of the front lawns? What services might homeowners need?
Depending on your goals, decide if you want to start small with a mowing lawn business or larger with a lawn care business with plans to expand into other areas such as tree removal, landscaping, etc.
In time, as you build your reputation and skills, you can offer additional services such as edging, trimming bushes, weeding, mulching, tilling soil, fertilizing, applying insecticide, planting, etc.
As you continue to build your reputation by doing well with your customers, you can expand your services in the fall to include leaf collection and removal as well as snow removal in the winter.
Best wishes starting your landscaping business.