How to Start a Landscaping Business

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Image of a home with a large lot

A Quick Overview of The Landscaping Business

The primary focus of a landscaping business is trimming and mowing lawns. You may also need to plant a variety of plants, trees, shrubs, and grass, or replace sod when necessary. Some of the larger landscaping companies even use organic herbicides and pesticides.

For these reasons, experienced landscapers understand the science besides the art of planting trees, flowers, and shrubs at the proper times as well as artistic placement of elements like brick, borders, rock, and other pleasing elements on commercial or residential grounds.

As a landscaper, at least a portion of your day is spent keeping up with the essentials of running the business. This is the time to pay all the bills, return or make any phone calls. In addition, some time must be spent taking care of paperwork, making schedules, managing client and employee relations, and necessary marketing tasks.

Skill Set:
  • Computing area square footage and other increments
  • Creating estimates
  • Schedule jobs according to travel time and types of work involved
  • Handle the necessary machinery
  • Maneuver a trailer pulled behind a truck
  • Experience in small engine repair is plus, but not necessary
  • Background in forestry or botany is a plus.
  • Understanding of fertilizer for the growth of various species.
  • Understanding of chemicals to ward off pests.
  • Understanding proper amounts of water needed for different plants and lawn types.
  • List of Common Business Skills
Employee and Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase or In The Future:
  • Lawn care professional
  • Landscape professionals
  • A crew member must have good workmanship, manage time effectively, and be responsible. A crew member must navigate to jobs, do manual labor, keep time records, and be reliable to take on any task delegated by the supervisor.
  • Common staff positions needed to run some businesses
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

General Hours of Operation –Typical hours are usually around 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., depending on the amount of daylight. Expect to spend additional time if there is a change in weather.

Hours Needed to Prepare – Give yourself an hour to load equipment into a truck and one to two hours to unload grass clippings, etc., and store & clean, and maintain equipment, and supplies at the end of the workday.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • Hedge Trimmer, Rakes, Shovels, Brooms, Shovel/hand trowel
  • Stand-On Mowers
  • Hover Mowers
  • Professional Walk-Behind Mower
  • Lawn Dethatcher
  • Trailer With Cage
  • Pickup Truck
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Brushcutter
  • Chainsaw
  • Clippers
  • Landscaping software
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Tractor with attachments
  • Large shed or rented/leased space to house equipment, supplies, chemicals, etc.
  • Gas-powered equipment (blowers, trimmers, edgers, etc.)
  • Cherry-pickers or other types of extension ladders
  • Small bulldozer or earth-mover
  • Personal Safety Equipment
  • First-aid kits
  • Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:
  • Phones (cell) and/or remote dispatching service
  • Equipment maintenance and gasoline
  • Truck and equipment and liability insurance
  • Fertilizers and chemicals
  • Fuel
  • Space/warehouse rental for storage of equipment and supplies
  • List of common business skills
Licenses:

If you offer services requiring the use of toxic chemicals, you may have to obtain a license for handling such substances. You may also be required to participate in a class on chemical handling, use, toxicity, and storage.

Check with the local authorities in your area for any additional permits or licenses that may be required to run a landscaping business in your state.

In addition, many states require certification for landscaping contractors to use certain chemicals and pesticides. The course is relatively inexpensive and generally runs about 6 to 8 weeks at a local college.

May need a heavy-equipment licensing and certification

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

Bare essential: Tools and equipment, along with a truck, will run approximately $7,500 – $15,000 to start.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • A landscaping business is one of the easiest to start
  • Being your own boss and working your own hours
  • Working Outside if your an outdoors person
  • There is usually plenty of work available
  • Easily expandable business

Cons:

  • Work tends to slow down during the winter months
  • Requires a great deal of heavy lifting and hauling of all types of machinery
  • May be required to handle toxic substances
  • Requires work with potentially dangerous machinery
Type of Customers You Need to Attract:

New homeowners who wish to replace a temporary lawn with manicured landscaping are major customers in the landscaping industry.

Homes where both parties work may not have adequate time to maintain their lawn and require landscaping services on a weekly basis. Older individuals with higher incomes generally need landscaping renovations to refresh and maintain a beautiful lawn.

An abundance of non-residential customers also require the services of a landscaping business, such as apartment buildings, restaurants, corporate buildings, etc.

Landscaping Business Statistics:

You will find a wide assortment of statistics, but the most current and reliable statistics for landscaping are located at Valuation Resources. You can also check with your state or local government’s agriculture and other agencies.

Revenue:

Landscapers make more money for commercial properties: upwards of approximately $60,000 to $80,000 per year; while residential landscapers generally make about one half of that.

Resources:

Related Sites:

Landscaping Ideas Online

Courses:

Lawn Care Directory

Equipment:

Echo USA

Toro

Supplies:

Rittenhouse (CA)

Forums:

Lawn Site

Associations:

Nursery & Landscaping Association Executives of North America

Association of Professional Landscape Designers

American Society of Landscape Architects