24 September 2019
You’ve always wanted to be your own boss – and you love working outdoors.
That’s why you’re ready to learn how to start a lawn care business.
Lawn care is a competitive industry, but it’s got some of the most affordable startup costs around. It’s great for people who like to set their own schedules. And if you want to get paid to exercise, starting a lawn care business can do that, too.
If you’re not sure where to begin, no worries. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to start your own lawn care business. From competitor research to building up your customer base, we’ve got you covered!
Don’t fire up the mower just yet! First, take a look at the demand for lawn care in your area. Are you near a few residential neighborhoods with big yards? Or maybe there’s a call for commercial jobs, maintaining green spaces for local businesses.
Commercial or residential, remember that potential clients may already work with an established lawn care company. That means you should look not just for possible customers, but for ways to differentiate yourself from your competition. What can you offer that they can’t?
To answer that, you’ll need to do some research. The easiest way is to start online. Google “lawn care” and check out the local business listings. Take a look at their websites, especially the services offered and any price lists.
If you want to start your own lawn care business, you probably know at least a couple of people who are already working in the industry. See what they think: How hard is it to find customers? Is there a demand for specialized skills, like working with pesticides or fertilizers? You’d be surprised how helpful a simple conversation can be.
Whatever the answers, make sure you have a solid understanding of the market before you begin.
You’ve got a good idea of the market; now it’s time to take a look at what you do best – and what skills you might want to add.
Lawn care is a physically tough job, no doubt about it. But for many lawn care professionals, being outside on a beautiful day makes the hard work worthwhile. You not only make lawns look their best, you can help clients solve problems. But it takes specialized knowledge.
The more you learn, the more valuable you become to your clients. That shady spot under a tree where grass won’t grow? Recommend a solution, make it happen, and they’ll see you as a trusted expert.
Or maybe a prospective customer asks about applying a pesticide to get rid of persistent weeds. Every state requires certification for commercial pesticide use. The pesticide certification process doesn’t take long and it’s cost-effective, especially if it means you can do jobs that other lawn care businesses can’t.
One more thing: How are your people skills? You’ll be bidding on jobs, talking with customers every day, and making sure their expectations are met. You want to present yourself as a true professional: friendly, responsible, and knowledgeable. If clients like your personality as well as your work, they’ll be excited to recommend you to their friends and neighbors.
Once you have a good feel for what your customer base might look like, it’s time to get official with the town your business is located in.
Each state has different requirements around getting a business license, which, let’s face it - can be pretty annoying to find.
Fortunately, you can check out our Business License by State hub, which lists everything you need to know about getting a business license for your lawn care service in your state.
Simply choose your state and follow the instructions in the resulting blog article.
It’s really that simple!
Business insurance might not seem like something that should be at the top of your to-do list.
But as soon as you walk onto your first customer’s lawn, you’re putting yourself - and your business - at risk. You could end up accidentally causing property damage, or you could have a customer who sues you for something that you didn’t even do (hey, it happens!).
Or you could have some of your lawn care equipment stolen from your truck while you’re working on a job site.
Whatever the scenario, it’s likely that business insurance - especially general liability insurance with tools & equipment coverage - can keep you protected.
Here’s how it works: Business insurance can be tailored with specific policies that cover the common risks you’re exposed to on a day-to-day basis. For example, as a lawn care specialist, you’re probably exposed to property damage risks (like accidentally killing a customer’s prized bush or backing into a stone wall, causing some of it to fall over).
Based on what those risks are, you can get policies to offer protection, so you don’t have to pay out claims from your own personal bank account.
Additionally, if you have employees, getting workers compensation isn’t just important for protecting your business - it may also be a legal requirement where you live.
Fortunately, you don’t have to hunt around to find the right insurance coverage. Here at Simply Business, we specialize in helping you find lawn care insurance policy options that fit their needs and their budget.
For example, we can help you find a general liability insurance policy (with tools and equipment coverage) for as low as $22.50 per month.*
And with the ability to compare quotes from the nation’s top insurance providers, you can feel confident that you’re getting the right coverage at the right price.
Start comparing quotes here or click below to get started!
Get an affordable & customized policy in just minutes. So you can get back to what matters: Your business.Start Here >
We just talked about how important it is to protect your tools and equipment with the right business insurance coverage.
Now let’s chat about what tools and equipment you’ll actually need to start your lawn care business. Keep in mind that this isn’t a definitive list; rather, it’s meant to help give you an idea of what you absolutely need right out the gate as a landscape contractor:
A mower and edger
You’ll use your mower every day – so do yourself a favor and start with a self-propelled one instead of a basic push mower. You can get a well-made entry-level model for around $400.
If you want to get a little (okay, a lot) fancier, look into a zero-turn deck mower, starting at around $3,000. That’s a major purchase, so unless you’re doing big lawns right off the bat, you might want to hold off.
And don’t forget an edger to make your lawns look really sharp. Expect to spend around $160 for a high-quality model.
With string trimmers, you tend to get what you pay for. So, while you could spend as little as $40 for a new trimmer, it probably won’t stand up to commercial use – and you’ll just end up buying another one later. Top models cost around $400, but you can get a very good gas trimmer for around $175-$200.
As with string trimmers, leaf blowers can be bought very cheaply – but those won’t stand up to commercial use. A gas-powered backpack leaf blower from a reputable company will cost around $190 or so.
Truck and trailer
Now, how will you get to the job site? Lawn care involves a lot of driving, so you’ll need a dependable truck and a trailer for your equipment. While a brand-new truck can cost $30,000, one that’s only three or four years old should still be in great shape, but more affordable – say, $20,000. Shop thoughtfully, take your time, and your wallet will thank you.
You might be able to find a trailer on Craigslist or Ebay for a reasonable price, too. A new 5-by-8 landscaping trailer will cost around $1,000, but a used version will be quite a bit less.
Safety gear and other equipment
Don’t forget to budget for eye and ear protection, gloves, rain gear, and two gas cans (one for gas, one for gas-oil mix, depending on your equipment). Overall, set aside maybe $200 for these items.
Think of the above equipment as your “starter pack” when learning how to start a lawn care business. Everything else can be picked up along the way, especially once you start raking in money.
When talking to lawn care experts, one of the first things they advise new lawn care professionals is to invest in software to track time on the job.
Here’s why: Lawn care specialists spend a lot of time on the road, driving around to different customer properties. All that time on the road can really add up - and unless you’re tracking the time it takes to get to and from your customers’ homes, you could end up losing out on money.
Time-tracking software can help you accurately scope out your projects for the day, so you can plan the most optimal route to each job site.
Additionally, time-tracking software can come in handy if you have any employees who might be at other properties.
Finally, time-tracking software can help you accurately invoice your customers for time spent on their properties, especially if you charge an hourly rate.
As a lawn care entrepreneur, you probably have two big questions:
There’s never a cut-and-dried answer to these questions. However, using the above equipment estimates, you can get a good feel for what you can expect to spend just to get started.
Plus, don’t forget to include marketing materials when keeping track of your expenses.
Because you’ll have quite a few competitors out there, you probably don’t want to market yourself as the cheapest one. So, how to get lawn care customers fast and keep them? Focus on service. Simple flyers and business cards are affordable and a great way to get your name out there. You can get professional cards and flyers for less than $100.
Many lawn care pros start by going door-to-door, introducing themselves and offering a flyer that explains their services. “Dress up” a bit – say, a collared shirt and khaki shorts – to make a great first impression.
And always keep a few business cards in your pocket, even when you’re mowing a lawn, in case a curious neighbor asks you for your contact info.
Want to really impress clients? Be a great communicator. Text when you’re on your way to their homes and tell them when you expect to arrive. Then text pictures of their beautiful lawns when you’re finished!
There’s no magic formula for how to price lawn care jobs. Bigger lawns cost more than small ones, of course – but in general, aim for $30 to $80 per visit, including edging and blowing grass cuttings off sidewalks and driveways.
You can also charge a flat $50 per hour for other projects, like raking leaves in the fall. This is in line with national averages, so be ready to adjust up or down, depending on your area.
Your first few months will involve a lot of administrative work. It’s an important step in starting your own business – and if you spend a little more time on these tasks in the beginning, it can mean a lot less stress later on.
Your first step is to register as a lawn care business. Visit the Small Business Administration website for information about how to do this, or check the online resources for your town office or city hall.
Make time to sort out taxes, invoicing, and a few other items. To be a first-rate lawn care professional, you’ll need to do most (if not all) of the following:
Once you start your lawn care business, it’s important to find new avenues for building up your clientele base. Whether you create a referral program for existing customers or you invest in paid social ads to reach more people in your community, finding new ways to get more customers should always be an important part of your marketing activities.
Want to get a head start? Check out our guide on word of mouth marketing here.
It might sound like a lot – but just take it step-by-step, and you can do it! If it feels a little bit overwhelming, our advice is to find experts who can help.
For example, buying insurance doesn’t really sound like fun – but it’s part of running a successful lawn care business. A liability policy helps cover costs in case of an accident and shows prospective clients you’re a serious professional.
And it can be fast and easy when you work with the right team, like the experts at Simply Business.
Most of all, insurance gives you peace of mind, so you can focus on the most important thing – your new lawn care business!
We wish you the best of luck starting your lawn care business. If you need more help or advice on starting and growing your lawn care service, download our FREE guide on how to start a business. It’s chock full of advice on everything you need to know about starting a business, with advice including:
How to get a business license How to find the best name for your business An in-depth guide to finding your first customers How to make the most of online marketing And more!
Want some help getting your business off on the right foot? Download our FREE Guide for New Entrepreneurs here!
*Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on October - December 2021 data of 10% of our total policies sold.
I'm a freelance writer and editor with a passion for entrepreneurship, adventure, and my two rescue dogs. For more than two decades, I've created content for businesses of all sizes, from a small, daily newspaper to a Fortune 100 global giant. I landed my first writing gig at 21, and can't imagine doing anything else.
This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer
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*Harborway Insurance policies are underwritten by Spinnaker Insurance Company and reinsured by Munich Re, an A+ (Superior) rated insurance carrier by AM Best. Harborway Insurance is a brand name of Harborway Insurance Agency, LLC, a licensed insurance producer in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. California license #6004217.