How to Start a Landscaping Business

Starting your own landscaping business can be a lucrative and worthwhile investment. Learn the benefits of owning your own landscaping business, review an estimate of how much money is needed and discover how to register it and hire employees. 

 

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Benefits of starting your landscaping business

A lawn care and landscaping business consists of maintaining a residential or commercial lawn by performing basic tasks like mowing the grass, trimming shrubbery and weeding or fertilizing the lawn. You even have the option to advance your skillset to offer additional services as you gain more experience later on. Common benefits of owning your own landscaping business include: 

  • Stable and ongoing work: There are many lawns that need regular maintenance and upkeep on residential and commercial properties. Home and business owners all need their lawns regularly cared for and some lack the time, energy or physical stamina to do it, which guarantees you ongoing and stable work.
  • Potential for additional work if more income is needed: If you realize you have more time and resources available to enhance your knowledge and skillset, learn how to complete additional lawn care tasks and offer extra services to customers. The more valuable lawn care and landscaping abilities you develop, the more you’re able to charge for your additional services and talents.   
  • Plenty of fresh air and sun: Rather than working in an office all day, a landscaping business gives you the opportunity to spend a majority of your time outdoors. It also allows you to be active throughout the day and improve your physical stamina, instead of sitting in a chair at a computer for several hours at a time. 

 

Estimate of how much money is needed

To get started with your landscaping business, you must have a set budget to pay for necessary expenses like equipment, licensing fees and advertising efforts. The initial amount you’ll need to start the business varies depending on factors like if you own a truck to transport equipment, whether you plan to purchase or rent equipment and the quality of lawn care tools you’ll use. Starting out, it’s best to have around $50,000 ready to spend on business expenses. Your budget will go toward expenses such as: 

  • Lawn care equipment: The number and quality of lawn care equipment and tools you purchase depends on the type of service you’re offering customers. Common lawn care tools you’ll need starting out include a weed wacker, sit-down or stand-up mower, clipper and trimmers, shovels, hoes and rakes. If you own a seasonal business that primarily operates in the summer, consider renting your equipment and compare those costs to owning your own set of tools.
  • Licenses, taxes and permit fees: These fees depend on where your business is located, the size of your business and the services you offer. Conduct research with your local, state and federal government offices to determine exact fee prices.  
  • Transportation vehicles and fuel: You’ll need a larger vehicle, like a van or truck, to transport both you and your lawn care tools to and from jobs. Consider fuel costs as well when estimating your startup expenses. 
  • Marketing and advertising expenses: Much of your budget and resources will go toward promotional efforts and advertising campaigns to increase your target audience’s awareness of your new business.
  • Equipment maintenance: Since you’re constantly using your lawn care tools, they’ll need regular attendance and upkeep to continue working properly. You’ll also need to budget for replacement or backup tools in case yours unexpectedly quit operating in the middle of a job. 
  • Employees: As your business grows and offers more services, you’ll need to onboard additional employees. For full-time team members, you must budget for wages and benefits, like health insurance and paid time off. 

 

How to register your landscaping business

Before you’re able to operate as an official legal business, you must fill out the paperwork and applications required by your local, state and federal government. Follow these steps to register your landscaping business as an official organization: 

 

1. Pick the types of landscaping services to offer 

Select the landscaping service you’d like to provide to your customers. If you plan to start out as the sole employee, consider sticking to basic landscaping and lawn care services that are still valuable to the customer, but manageable for you to handle. As your business grows and you gain more clients, you’re able to hire more employees and offer additional services. Common types of landscaping services you can provide include:

  • Lawn mowing and basic lawn maintenance 
  • Pest control application 
  • Landscape design and contracting 
  • Lawn fertilization 
  • Landscape architecture 
  • Hydro seeding and sod installation

 

2. Construct your business plan 

When you know exactly which services you’ll offer your clients, draft your business plan, which outlines the operational details of your business. It should explain your business’ status and financial standing starting out, where you see the business going over the next few years and the tools and resources needed to get there. Make sure your business plan is professional, relevant and free of any grammatical errors, as your potential inventors, suppliers and lenders will be viewing and analyzing it. 

A strong business plan typically includes: 

  • A summary of your business and the services you offer 
  • A description stating how your business benefits and provides value to customers 
  • The current and upcoming business costs, how much you have saved and the additional fund amount you need to be successful 
  • Your projected income over the next few years 
  • Your marketing and business strategies for success 

 

3. Pick your business name 

It’s best to pick a name for your business that accurately represents your company and the landscaping services you provide. Make sure it appeals to your target market and is simple for people to understand and recognize. Narrow down potential names for your business and determine which are available to use by entering it into the name database on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website

It’s also best to research other landscape business names to make sure yours isn’t too similar to theirs. This helps avoid any potential trademark issues or confusion. 

 

4. Choose your business structure 

To operate as a legal business, you must choose a structure to categorize your business under. Your business structure determines how much you’ll pay for taxes and which paperwork you need to file. Conduct research to determine your state’s rules and regulations on business structures before choosing yours. Fortunately, you’re able to switch to a new business structure as your company grows. The two main structures recommended for small businesses include: 

  • Sole proprietorship: If you’re confident about your lawn care business’ success and know you have the necessary funds for its success, this is a great option for you. This structure ties your personal and business assets together, so your personal assets will be affected if your company undergoes any unexpected financial troubles. When you gain more employees and partners later on, research other structures that are a better fit for your larger company. 
  • Limited liability company: This structure lets you separate your personal and business assets from one another to ensure your personal property, car and other investments are safe if your business experiences an unexpected financial decline.

Related: Planning for Business Success

 

5. Get the proper business licenses 

The type of business license you’re legally required to retrieve depends on your state and local requirements. There are some states with landscape contractor licensing laws that require you to obtain a specific landscape business license. If your business grows and you plan to offer additional services, like selling or planting flowers, shrubbery or other outdoor plants, you may have to apply for your nursery license. 

Some states also require a home improvement contractor license if you’re performing certain landscaping services on people’s lawns. Spraying pesticides on people’s lawns also requires a license in some states. Research your state and local websites to learn more about their licensing rules and regulations. You’ll also need to apply for a general business license in your city or county. 

 

6. Invest in the necessary business insurance 

The basic insurance you need to protect yourself, employees and your finances is general liability insurance. This keeps your business from experiencing any legal repercussions in case any employees or customers are hurt while on the job. Other optional business insurance for your landscaping company to pursue include: 

  • Workers’ compensation: This protects your company by covering any medical treatment your employees might need if they’re unexpectedly hurt or injured from operating tools or performing any other work duties.
  • Inland marine insurance: Your tools and equipment receive protection with this insurance as it covers any accidental loss, theft or vandalism that could occur as you transport them to and from jobs.
  • Commercial auto insurance: This covers any vehicles you or your employees drive and keeps you from paying extensive fees for any property damage or employee injuries in case an auto accident occurs.

 

7. Figure out which permits you need

The permits you’re required to obtain to operate your landscaping business usually vary depending on where you’re operating and your county’s zoning regulations. If you decide to rent out an office space eventually, you may need to obtain additional permits for that later on. Get with your local and state government officials to determine which permits are required. Common small business permits and additional licenses include:

  • Permit to hang certain signage sizes 
  • Sales tax license 
  • Occupational license 
  • Zoning permit or waiver 
  • Fire department permit 
  • County permit 
  • Federal license 
  • Health department permit

 

How to hire employees

When you’re ready to offer additional services and grow your business, start listing the additional skillsets and expertise you’d like your potential employees to have. Follow these steps to hire quality employees to your landscaping business: 

 

1. Determine your hiring budget and which roles you need to fill 

The amount and type of employees to add to your team depends on the amount of work and budget you have available. If you’re unable to cover full-time wages and benefits for employees and you operate primarily during the summer, consider hiring high school or college students to handle your basic lawn care tasks. For more complex landscaping work, consider budgeting for full-time employees with advanced skillsets and expertise. 

  • Groundskeeper or gardener: These employees complete basic lawn care tasks, along with additional plant and greenery care on the property’s garden or greenhouse. Many of them have advanced knowledge in horticulture and plant care.
  • Landscaper: Basic landscaping employees install and maintain the upkeep of plants, trees, sod, rocks and mulch. They may also offer additional services like hardscape construction or sprinkler installation.
  • Lawn care professional: These employees perform basic lawn care duties like watering the grass, mowing the lawn and removing weeds. 

 

2. Recruit candidates and post your job description

Once you have a clear idea of the skills and roles you’re searching for, use this list of preferred qualifications to build your job descriptions. Outline the responsibilities of the position and your desired skills and experience for candidates. Your job description must also include your employee value proposition, which details the benefits and perks candidates receive if they work with your business. 

Post your job descriptions on job listing sites and on your social media pages, encouraging your followers to share with their connections. Sort through your batch of applications to find quality candidates that match the skills and expertise you’re searching for. 

Related: Writing a Mission Statement for Your Team or Business

 

3. Interview and hire the best candidates for the role

When you’ve found a handful of candidate applications with your desired skills and experience, screen these candidates by calling them and asking basic interview questions regarding their background and why they’d like to work for your business. Narrow this selection down to candidates that seem like a great fit for your company and invite them to interview in person. 

Ask questions related to their current skills and willingness to gain more valuable landscaping skills and experience. Reach out to the candidates who seem like they’d work well with your team.

 

Best ways to market your landscaping business

When your business completes the necessary paperwork to operate as a legal company, it’s time to start marketing to your audience and building stronger awareness of who your company is. Effective ways to market your landscaping business include:

  • Build your website. Create a website for your company that lists the services you provide and your contact information so visitors can easily reach you to request a quote. 
  • Add your company to online listings. Contact online listing sites to get your company and its services featured to help people easily find and contact you for more information on maintaining their lawn. 
  • Go to landscaping shows and events. Attend one of the many gardening and landscaping shows and events to meet people in your industry and find potential customers looking for landscaping services. Make business cards and hand them out to attendees interested in learning more about your company and offerings. 
  • Create social media pages. Write posts on popular social media outlets that entertain and engage your followers. Showcase your work by sharing pictures of your finished landscaping projects to get your audience excited to work with your business.

 

Frequently asked questions about starting a landscaping business

 

How much does a landscape business owner make per year?

The amount a landscape business owner makes typically depends on the type of service they offer, their experience and expertise in the industry and how often they work each week. During their first year, a landscape business owner can make anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. After being in business for a while, they can earn anywhere from $160,00 to $250,000 each year.

 

Can a landscaping business be profitable?

Since there are many businesses and residents who need their lawns maintained, landscaping is very profitable, provided you give each customer a valuable and meaningful service each time. 

 

How can I start a landscaping business with no money?

It can be fairly simple to start a landscaping business with little to no money if you currently own basic equipment like a lawnmower, rakes and shovels, and transportation to haul yourself and the equipment around. As your business grows and you start earning a larger profit, you can invest in more equipment and marketing efforts. Consider taking out a small business loan or applying for a grant to cover your initial funds starting out.

Conduct research to ensure you’re following the proper rules and guidelines within your area to operate as a legitimate landscaping business. Once your business is legally formed and ready to operate, you can start providing a valuable and one-of-a-kind lawn care service to your customers.

 

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