How Much Does It Cost To Start A Lawn Care Business
Startup costs for a lawn care business can range anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000 or more. It all depends on the equipment you have and the services youll provide.
Many lawn care business startups begin as a simple mowing business with:
- A home lawn mower
- A used truck
- Liability insurance
- Basic flyer or sandwich board marketing
If you dont already have a reliable truck or trailer, itll cost you a lot more to start getting to work.
But you dont need anything fancyjust enough space and towing capacity to transport your mower and other lawn care equipment you plan to own.
New business owners who need extra funding usually apply for small personal loans, or they rely on their personal credit cards.
Learn How To Price Your Lawn Care Services And Create A Profit Plan
If youre starting a lawn care business without a profit plan, you risk putting your money to waste.
Its important that you dont charge very bare minimum prices in your lawn care business, says Jason Creel.
You need to be making a good profit in your lawn care business so that when it comes time to bring on employees, you can pay them enough to get a quality employee, versus one thats going to be a hindrance to your business.
Setting prices for your services affects the types of clients you get and how much financial wiggle room you have. It also determines how much you can grow and scale your business in the future.
- Calculating your hourly rate with employees
- Factoring in overhead and equipment
- Making adjustments for special services and materials
Once youve calculated an hourly rate that works for your business, you can create a pricing sheet based on service costs and yard sizes. This will help you quickly and easily provide accurate, consistent, and fair lawn care estimates to clients.
Use time tracking to measure productivity
Tracking time on lawn care jobs can help you make better pricing decisions.
Its not about micromanaging your team. Time tracking helps you measure productivity, calculate hourly rates for different types of work, and invoice clients properly.
Lawn Care Pros For The Win
In looking at the pros and cons of each decision, the pros of hiring a lawn care service far outweigh the cons. While the cost may be one of your biggest concerns in hiring a professional, with the right company you can actually end up saving money and preventing costly mistakes.
The key is to find the right company. In order to truly receive the benefits of the pro category, you must find a company that practices proactive lawn care with the best commercial grade products on the market. A company with knowledgeable and skilled technicians is also key.
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Fertilizing: Feed What Your Lawn Needs
Sunshine and water can only do so much to make your landscape healthy and green. Sometimes, your yard needs a little boost of nutrients provided by fertilizer. A trip to your local gardening store can yield a dizzying array of fertilizer choices that promise to help your landscape grow big and lush, but even the best fertilizer wont help you if you dont use it properly. Follow these steps to ensure that you feed your lawn what it needs:
- Check your soil pH often. Instead of flying blind and guessing what your landscape needs, ask it with a pH test available at your local gardening store. If your soil is too basic, use acidic fertilizers to help balance it out. If your soil is too acidic, choose a lime treatment instead.
- Only fertilize when neededusually only twice per year. Fertilize cool climate grasses in the spring or summer and warm season grasses in the fall or winter.
- Consider using compost to help feed and insulate your plants. Compost is packed with nutrients and is an eco-friendly way to keep your greenery happy.
Dont Forget To Price Special Services And Materials Differently
Special services like mowing, mulching, and weed control and fertilization application should be priced accordingly, rather than lumped into one cost.
Jason explains that these are actually very different services because they require different types of labor.
Weed control and fertilization, for example, is typically a one-person operation, so your labor is cut downand that one person can actually generate a lot more revenue than one person can mowing, he explains.
But there are expenses in the weed control: the actual fertilizer, weed control product, labor, and drive timeall those things are factors.
The main thing Im concerned with is how big the actual yard is, and the actual amount of turf that Im going to be applying the fertilizer or herbicide to. The bigger the yard, the more of the product Im using. Thats my biggest expense, Jason explains.
So, Im pricing strictly based on the square footage. I need to get an accurate measurement of the square footage of the lawn so that I know how to price it. Then I use a pricing chart that shows square footage from 2,000 square feet all the way up to 30,000 square feet.
I can then look at my pricing chart and give them a price quickly. So as the square footage goes up, the price per square foot actually goes down.
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Herbicides & Weed Killers
Weeds can quickly turn the most beautiful lawns and gardens into unsightly messes. Herbicides can control and prevent weeds from overtaking your lawn to keep your lawn healthy. DoMyOwns selection of herbicides are the same products the professionals use, allowing you to do your own lawn care with fantastic results.
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What Happens During A Typical Day At A Lawn Care Business
The days start very early. Before going to the customers job sites, the equipment needs to be inspected and to make sure it is in proper working order. Typical activities of this type are cleaning the mowers and sharpening the cutting blades. Additionally, all equipment that uses gasoline needs to be filled with a mixture of gasoline and the appropriate amount of oil required. After all the equipment has been checked, the trucks are loaded and the crews are assembled and given the days job orders that have been prepared in advance.The rest of the day is spent working at customers job sites. Naturally, any problems that come up, like truck breakdowns or equipment troubles, need to be dealt with. When the crew return to the office, they should fill out a report of the work completed, making note of any special conditions or requests by the customers. This information is added to the system for billing purposes, and to help in the preparation of future job orders for those customers.At the end of the day, equipment should be cleaned and checked for damage to see if it needs repairs. For some owner/operators, these can be very long work days, until they can hire enough crew to reduce their workload.
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How Much Do Lawn Care Business Owners Make
According to a survey by a lawn care company magazine, lawn care businesses can generate profits of $50,000 or more annually. However, this can vary depending on the size of the business, the location, and the services offered.
For example, a lawn care company located in highly populated areas tends to make more money than those located in rural places. And, businesses that offer a wider range of services, such as lawn care, landscaping, and irrigation, tend to make more money than those that only offer lawn care.
Choose How To Structure Your Business
Youll need to choose how you want your business structured. There are four main types:
- Sole proprietorship: a business run by a single individual
- Partnership: An agreement between two or more persons who run the business together
- Limited liability company: a hybrid of partnership and corporation
- Corporation: a group of people authorized to act as a single entity
If youre just starting out, youll probably want to be a sole proprietorship. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships because this is the easiest and cheapest way to start a business.
In a sole proprietorship, you and the business are one and the same. A sole proprietorship is unique among business entities because its the only one that doesnt have to register with a state.
Starting one is easy.
All you have to do is:
- Come up with a name for your lawn company and decide where you want to be located
- File for a business license with city hall
- Set up a business checking account so theres a separation between your business and personal cash
If you plan to sell taxable things, youll need to register with your local taxing authority.
Sole proprietorship advantages include:
- Easy startupno complicated business structure
- Controlsince youre the only owner, youll have total power over every aspect of your company
- Use of lossesbecause youre including your business income and losses on your personal tax return, you can use them to offset personal income
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Step : Plan Your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a lawn care business?
The costs include obtaining a simple business license, equipment, supplies, promotional signage, flyers, business cards, a website, Internet connection, and having a pickup truck .You can have very modest liability insurance for this business however, you will need to pay for workers compensation insurance if you hire employees.A typical start-up budget for an owner/operator business with no assistants is under $3,000 and consists of:
- Mower – $500
- Oil and Gasoline – $20 per tank needed.
- Promotional Signage – $100 for magnetic signs
- Flyers – $50
- Website Creation Free to $500
- Internet Services – $50 to $75 per month
- Insurance $50 to $200 per month
- Pickup Truck Lease – Nothing down with good credit, $299 per month plus $100 per month for insurance
Read our lawn care business purchasing guide to learn about the materials and equipment you’ll need to start a lawn care business, how much to budget, and where to make purchases.
What are the ongoing expenses for a lawn care business?
The ongoing expenses include labor cost, truck and equipment maintenance, and operating expenses. A typical monthly expense budget for a small operation with a home-based office would be:
Healthy Lawn Care Services
After more than 15 years of business, we know how to grow golf-course grass on any lawn. Better yet, our comprehensive services allow us to begin with what your yard needs most. Whether the first step is weed control or a yard renovation, the following lawn services will bring immediate improvement:
- Insect Control: Do you have an insect infestation? Grubs, beetles, web worms, and other pests have the potential to destroy your entire lawn. If theyve moved in, well send them packing with our expert insect removal methods.
- Weed Control: While a four-leaf clover is often considered lucky, a whole crop of clovers overrunning your yard isnt. Weeds steal water and nutrients from your grass, and invasive weeds can ruin your entire yard. Well eliminate the weeds, so your grass can thrive.
- Organic Lawn Programs: Organic lawn services provide holistic, natural care. We can teach you how to start compost piles, plant native plants, encourage beneficial insects, and other organic methods to naturally boost your lawn back to life.
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Use Organic Lawn Fertilizers
Organic lawn fertilizers are another effective way to give your lawn an occasional boost during the growing season. Available at most garden centers, the best organic lawn fertilizers contain natural ingredients such as seaweed for potassium, bone meal for phosphorous, and feather meal for nitrogen.
Unlike conventional fertilizers, which deliver a heavy, instant dose of synthetic nitrogen for your lawn to binge on, Turkey says organics provide an easier-to-handle diet of nutrients that are released more slowly.
The thicker your grass, the more easily it can crowd out weeds. So once your soil’s been treated, overseed the lawn using an appropriate turf grass . Choose a seed mix that suits your climate, sun/shade conditions, and moisture needs, and make sure it blends well with your existing lawn. Water daily until new growth is established.
Is It Hard To Start A Lawn Care Business
Starting any business is a massive challenge.
Luckily, the lawn care industry doesnt have many barriers to entry. As weve said, some businesses dont need more than a mower and truck to get started.
In most cases, you wont even need a license or certification to do basic lawn care work.
While its easy to qualify to be a lawn care professional, heres a hard truthgetting your first customers and making a profit can take months or years of grinding non-stop.
To help you ease the process of getting started, weve laid out exactly what you need to start your lawn care business.
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Organic Lawn Care Schedule
In March or as soon as the ground thaws enough for you to dig 4-6 inches deep, get your soil tested. A good lawn has at least 6 inches of soil.
While you can pick up your own soil test kit in the store, its much more accurate if you get it done by your local extension office. If you find your soils pH is below 6.0 add garden lime but if its above 7.0 add garden sulfur. The experts at your local extension office will also be able to guide you in amending your soil and which grass or plants to grow. So dont be afraid to ask!
March or early spring is also a great time to clean up from winter by raking away dead leaves and branches. Learn how to use these in your compost pile here! Lastly, aerate your lawn. This allows water, nutrients and air to get to the grass roots after the snow has compacted your lawn tightly down over the winter.
Its a common myth that you should mow your grass very short so that it will take longer to grow back. But this actually isnt true and will only weaken your lawn and invite weeds to grow. When you cut your lawn short, the grass blades just grow back faster in order to do photosynthesis for the roots. Ideally, for cool-season grasses set your mower blades 3.5-4 inches high and for warm-season grass set your mower lower to 2.5-3 inches.
Two Common Types Of Mulch
Wood products gradually decompose and enrich the soil.
A layer of mulch, usually shredded wood or bark, vastly reduces gardening chores. It discourages weeds by shutting out light to the soil and keeping weed seeds from germinating. It reduces the need for watering by slowing evaporation. And it enriches the soil as it breaks down, reducing the need for fertilizer.
Apply a 4-in. layer of mulch to the bare soil for best results. Itll gradually decompose, so youll have to replenish it every few years. For more information, type mulch in the search box above.
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Start Mowing And Growing
Make your first lawn care hire
When your business has taken off and youre overbooked and desperate for help, youll need to hire lawn care technicians.
A bigger team will give you the freedom to focus on higher-level dutiesmarketing, customer service, and operational efficiencythat will help you grow the business.
There will be plenty of eager job-seekers out there itching to get their hands dirty and join your team.
Or, if youre swamped with scheduling and paperwork, consider hiring an administrative assistant.
Invest in efficiencyand do it early
Lots of experienced business owners have serious efficiency problems, even several years into running their company. They most commonly struggle with:
- Making crew schedules and keeping track of job progress
- Staying on top of unpaid invoices
- Running the business while always on the go
You can avoid those issues before you even start your business. Jobbers lawn care business software is designed to keep job and customer info organized as you move through each stage of a job.
We have a new customer completely set up for the season before we are off the phone with them, says Chris Senger, owner of Mow Town Edmonton.
In less than two minutes, we are set up to run on autopilot for the year. Customers have been impressed by this because the organization on our side translates to assurance for them that we are professionals.
Expand your marketing efforts
- Create ads for Send marketing emails through Mailchimp
Cons For A Lawn Business
There are a few issues that you’ll need to consider while planning your business.
- Seasonal: Unless you live in an area where winters arent bad, your customer accounts go into hibernation by mid-October. If you are looking for a year-round business, you will need to find something to diversify your product offering to keep business up and running through the winter.
- Start-Up Expenses: Depending on the type of lawn care business you decide to build out, you will need equipment and something to transport this equipment with. This may require upfront cash and in some cases, a sizable amount.
- Competitive: Open your phone book and you will find a number of lawn care businesses in your area. If the market is too oversaturated, you will find the need to compete on price and this will cut into your gross margins. Research your area and if possible speak to existing lawn care companies about what they are experiencing in your area.
- Some Economic Risk: When economic times get tough, existing residential customers may find the need to cut non-essential expenses, and for many, outsourced lawn care is one of those.
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