How To Start A Lawn Care Business: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide
From start-up costs to stand-out marketing and proven lead-gen strategies (that actually work), learn everything you need to get your very own lawn care company off the ground and make money.
What do you think is the #1 most grown crop in the world?
Here’s a hint: It’s not edible…
Yep, it’s lawns.
Whether it’s mowing lawns, planting trees, or maintaining an existing space, launching a lawn care business can be a highly rewarding and profitable step…if you know what you’re doing.
As the owner of your own lawn care company, you can set your own hours, take on as few or as many clients as you can handle, and decide when and who to hire.
When done with the right planning and a bit of marketing, lawn care businesses can also be lucrative. Very lucrative. The lawn care industry pulls in $77 billion in annual revenue, with one-third in residential lawn care and landscaping.
And if you’d rather focus on your potential revenue then the average revenue for a landscaping business is $217,000 – not a bad gross income and still plenty of money for you to play around with after you cover your business expenses.
Aside from the potential earnings, lawn care businesses are appealing because they typically don’t require you to have a lot of money up front to get started. Plus, there are fewer legal requirements and operational overhead to worry about, too.
We put together this simple step-by-step guide. Within 10 minutes (less if you’re a fast reader) you’ll have a solid understanding of how to start a lawn care business, plus operating guidelines, supplies and equipment, and ways to attract customers.
Why start a lawn care business?
If you want to be your own boss, you have countless options to choose from. So why start a lawn care business?
We’ve already touched on revenue figures, but the industry market size is a staggering $105.1 BILLION in 2021, so there’s an opportunity to be had for those who can create a name for themselves at a local level.
If you’re still on the fence about lawn care, here’s why there’s always a source of revenue for you to tap into.
Growing markets mean more customers
Why is the lawn care industry so large and still growing?
Because lawn care services are considered necessary and tend to be recession-resistant. Even if people make cutbacks in tough times, lawns still require basic care and maintenance.
You may think that lawn care is a seasonal business, but savvy entrepreneurs offer year-round services.
In warmer months, landscapers focus on bed maintenance, thatching, pruning, weeding, seeding, and new plantings. As cooler months approach, yard clean-up and leaf removal become strong needs. Businesses can pivot in frigid and snowy months by offering snow removal, storm tree removal, and even holiday lighting installation.
Predictable and structured scheduling
Since most lawn care services aren’t driven by emergencies, scheduling can become fairly predictable and structured.
Clients expect their lawns to be maintained once each week or every other week based on an agreed-on schedule. Mulching and seeding can be scheduled conveniently for properties in the same area to cut down on trips to pick up supplies. You’ll have a good idea of volume, resources needed, and whether you can take on new clients with a regular service schedule.
What type of person is suited to a lawn care business?
Money is great, but no amount of revenue will keep you excited to wake up on a Monday morning if you’re not suited to your job.
Lawn care businesses rely on the marketing skills that we’ll be teaching you in this guide, but there are a couple of personal characteristics you should try to identify in yourself before you start buying lawn care equipment.
Enjoys physical work in the great outdoors
Loves connecting with people
Here’s a little more info to see if you fit the bill.
Physical work in the great outdoors
Not everyone is cut out to start a career in lawn care.
Successful lawn care business owners should enjoy being outside for long periods of time. Weather conditions can vary quickly and extremely throughout the year, and owners and employees alike will work in a variety of temperatures and tempests.
The work also requires individuals who can withstand a large amount of physical work.
Strength and stamina help as you move heavy items or work long hours in the hot sun. Equipment can be unwieldy and supplies require extra lifting, pushing, or pulling.
Connect with People
Core to the success of any lawn care business is great customer service.
You’ll be more likely to succeed if you genuinely like talking with people and keep your commitments to customers. This helps with keeping the clients you have as well as creating referrals that will grow your business in time.
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What’s it like to have a lawn care business?
Deciding on lawn care over landscaping for your business can seem like the simpler choice, and in some ways, it is.
But lawn care is more than just mowing a lawn.
You’ll want to research lawn care basics specific to your local region.
What seasonal changes do most grasses go through? Do all yards have the same grasses? (hint: not in the least) What are the best fertilizers to use and are they pet or child safe?
To keep customer lawns looking their best, you’ll need to become an expert in the finer details of lawn care itself. Grasses are plants with unique needs and seasonal changes that respond to different temperatures and techniques. The more you can learn, the more likely you’ll keep client lawns looking healthy and green all year, getting you positive reviews and repeat business.
Customers will also likely look to you to help keep their lawns looking fresh during the changing seasons. Make sure you build in spring brush clearing and fall leaf removal if you are in an area impacted by these conditions. Mulch usually gets refreshed on a regular basis to keep flower beds healthy and pleasing to the eye.
“What are the working conditions of a lawn care business?”
You get to set your own hours
As a business owner, you get to set your own hours – for the most part.
Clients will come to expect regular maintenance, and your schedule will start to shape itself. You’ll also find yourself working around Mother Nature – skipping rainy days too wet to mow lawns and starting early in the morning to avoid the hot summer heat.
Expect to work the long hours in the early stages of your business
When you first get started, you’ll probably also work long hours.
To cover your costs and become profitable, plan to work 70 hours a week. This includes time to do the actual lawn care as well as promote your business. Once you are at a comfortable revenue level, you can look to cut back your hours or consider bringing on workers to help you with the overflow.
Choose a location closer to an interstate or highway
Targeting clients close to you or your business location will make it easier for you not only to get to work but to move from job to job quickly.
If you expect clients to be spread out, choose a home base closer to an interstate or highway so you can move easily between locations.
Focus your marketing in a very specific area to keep your business centralized and to maximize referrals. Mowing three yards in a row on the same street is much easier than packing up the mower and moving the trailer between each job.
“Are there any legal considerations?”
While none of the information in this article is intended to replace qualified legal advice, we do know that, as with any business, there are certain legal considerations you don’t want to overlook.
1. Check whether you need a permit
Check with your town to determine whether you have to get permits or file permission to operate a business.
Most states will require you to register a business, such as a limited liability company (LLC), and this cost is worthwhile in the long term. This is designed to protect your personal property and assets in case your business is sued.
2. Check for any local guidelines
States and towns may have guidelines particular to their locale.
Think you are going to use RoundUp to kill pesky weeds? Some towns might require a permit or license for you to use herbicide. Want to get started at the wee hours of the morning? Check that there are no noise restrictions that would stop you from mowing a lawn at six in the morning.
3. Hire a lawyer to help you with contracts
A lawyer will be a great resource to help direct you in setting up your business and creating templates for contracts and services. This will protect you and make it clear what clients owe you and how you can enforce those agreements. These often cover risk, payment options, liability, and deliverables.
4. Check insurance options
Insurance can also fall into this category. Check with your state board, or your attorney, to find out what types of insurance are required or available to you. Common insurance options include general liability insurance, workman’s compensation, auto insurance, and commercial umbrella insurance.
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“What lawn care business equipment will I need?”
Knowing which services you will (or won’t) offer is key for the next step in starting a lawn care business – equipment purchases.
You’ll need a number of basics to start out with and can always grow your supplies as a business (and income) allows.
Here are some of the core items you’ll need to get started.
This one might be obvious, but what might be less obvious is the type of mower to buy.
Ideally, you should choose a commercial-grade lawn mower that will give you high performance, speed, efficiency, and a bit of comfort during operation. These can be priced from $6,000-$12,000, but a mid-range mower for $8,000 should have the right blend of power and handling for you to get started.
If you already own one of these, you’ll be ahead of the game. The right vehicle will let you transport supplies in the truck bed as well as tow and transport your mower from job to job.
If you don’t have a truck already, you can start with a used pick-up truck that has a mid-range towing capacity.
You’ll need a trailer (to attach to your new-used truck) for moving your mower between projects. You don’t need anything fancy here.
Make sure it’s large enough for your mower, has a wide flat bed, and a securely locking gate. You should also check with your local or state guidelines for trailer registration, license plates, and lighting to make sure you comply with required laws.
While there are many other tools that you can buy (and we’ll outline them shortly), the one other piece of equipment you’ll need to get started is a commercial trimmer.
These let you cut back grass along edges, in corners, and around tight spaces that your mower cannot reach. This gives your lawn care a professional touch that customers will appreciate.
“What are the costs of starting a lawn care business?”
With your lawn mower, truck, and trailer, you’ve likely already spent $15,000 on your core equipment.
If you choose to get started with used tools, you may run into costly repairs down the line. Though the type of repairs and the equipment in question will influence your overheads, repairs can range from $50 to $100 and up, so it’s worth considering excess costs as well as the upfront costs we’ll outline below.
Take a look at your spending and your savings and determine whether buying new is best for you.
Non-equipment expenses can come up in business operations. Your state or municipality may charge fees for creating a new business or LLC. These can be one-time costs or yearly fees. If you hire a lawyer to review or create contracts, disclaimers, and other fine print, you will have to pay for their services.
Insurance is also important, especially in an industry where physical work is frequent and could result in injury. You can purchase modest liability insurance (anywhere from $50 to $200 each month) but will need to pay worker’s compensation if you bring on employees.
Keep track of all of your expenses so that come tax time you are ready to account for your spending. And if you use an accountant, you’ll need to factor in their costs, too.
What can you realistically expect to spend as you start your lawn care business?
If you are getting started as an individual, you can look to invest $3,000 to get up and running:
Oil and Gasoline
$20 per tank
With the right branding and a little bit of promotion, you can lock in your first customers and get on your way to generating an income.
To get started, you will want to consider the following:
Magnetic Truck Signage
Free to $500
Google My Business Listing
Internet and Phone
$50-100 per month
Ongoing Business Costs and What to Expect
You can get started with a lean budget and make a name for your business at the local level.
If you stay small with 50 customers a week, you can keep your costs at a predictable and manageable level.
If demand rises, you’ll need a plan to scale. This likely means hiring workers who can help with the labor. While this helps you take on more business and earn more income, it also means more expenses to consider. Factors to investigate include payroll management, taxes, healthcare, workman’s compensation, and human resources.
Some of your initial costs will also come back around as a recurring expense. While you may be hesitant to keep spending on marketing or new equipment, these are investments in your business that will help fuel your growth and success.
Here are some of the ongoing costs you can expect to see in your business.
Labor (per worker)
$15 per hour minimum
7.65%-15% of paid wages
$50-200 per month
Internet and Phone
$50-100 per month
Business Card and Flyer Reprints
Truck Payments (if not owned outright)
$300 per month
$100 per month
Gas (Truck and Mower)
$200 per month
$50 per month
How to Define Pricing for Your Lawn Care Business
You’re all ready to get started and even have a few interested customers.
But what do you charge them for lawn care services? This can vary depending on region, with different costs of living setting the market.
How to Set Up Pricing Plans
Wondering how to price your lawn care services?
Conduct a little research on the competition and find out what they’re charging. You’ll want to remain competitive without devaluing your services, so start with a Google search for “lawn care near me” or similar terms.
See who has a GMB result or organic listing. Who comes up in the results? Do they have a website?
If they do, visit their site and take notes on their services, service area, and any pricing. You can also look through customer reviews to see where they are excelling, and where they are not.
This can also give you a great idea as to what homeowners might already be paying and how you can make your services stand out from others.
Does the competition haul away debris or leave it on the curb for the township to collect? Do they make scheduling ongoing maintenance easy or do customers have to call in to get on the list each year?
Keep your fees simple with set charges for monthly maintenance, and consider rewarding customers with a discounted rate if they sign on for an entire season or year. A good rule of thumb is to base your fees on 150% of the minimum wage for the time spent.
How to share pricing with your customers
Include your rates up front on your flyers or create a pricing chart you can share with potential clients.
This is also where you can showcase how you stand out from the competition – high-touch service, the latest equipment, dedicated service dates, and more. Don’t be afraid to point out where you offer more services for the same or less cost.
Customers are comparing their experience and your inclusions when deciding to switch lawn care companies.
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Predicting profits and paychecks in a lawn care business
After reading lists of expenses, you might be wondering what to expect to make for all of your hard work.
And with hard work and dedication, you will see profit start to roll in.
When businesses are small, and perhaps you are the sole worker, your operating margins will be high since profit goes right back into the business (or your own paycheck). When you start to bring in more customers and more cash, you can see margins around 5% to 10% on $1,000,000 in revenue.
What can you expect to pay yourself?
If you’re working 70 hours a week and carrying 50 customers yourself, you’ll max out around $50,000 per year. Not a bad income, but this will go up as you bring on more clients and start to hire staff to help you grow.
Choosing and targeting your lawn care customers
You might think that your customers choose you, but you also get to pick your customers.
You have some control over this simply by where and how you market your services. Here are a few tips to help you find and target the right type of people.
Pick areas that are easy for you to get to, near other customers, and make moving between jobs easy. Target customers in these neighborhoods with on-the-ground marketing. Distribute flyers, introduce yourself personally, and share how you might be different from the competition.
Offer Long-Term Contracts
The best customers will be long-term customers willing to sign a contract for seasonal or yearly maintenance. Even better are those who sign up for autopay. With a set book of business, you’ll be able to have a more reliable, expected schedule to plan around and gauge how much new work you can take on.
Ask for Referrals
When you build your reputation with a customer, ask them to refer you to their friends or neighbors. A reliable, first-hand recommendation can be the best lead for your business. You can also offer an incentive such as a discount off of their next service if their referral signs with you.
How to market your lawn care business (with zero marketing experience)
Knowing where and who you’d love to have as clients is one thing; getting them to pay for your services is another.
Marketing can seem overwhelming to small, local business owners, but it doesn’t have to be. It also doesn’t need to be a high-cost activity.
Print marketing materials
Take the flyers you had printed as part of your budget and get busy doing drops in mailboxes or doorstops.
Include a discount for an initial service or offer a free estimate. You can also keep your business cards on hand and hand them out as you meet people in local businesses.
Ask for customer reviews & referrals
When you complete a successful job, ask the homeowner if you can leave a sign in their yard promoting your business.
This is a great way for neighbors to know who did such a wonderful job on lawn care and who they should call to sign up.
Don’t forget that current customers make excellent add-on customers.
Already mowing a client’s lawn? Remind them at the end of the season that you do snow removal and offer a discount if they sign up now. Finishing a fall clean-up project? Encourage your customer to sign up now for the spring, and you’ll guarantee they get added to your busy schedule.
Make a Professional website
Websites also give businesses a lot of credibility.
They make an excellent platform to show your industry knowledge and share client experiences that demonstrate how trustworthy your company is. Customers will take to the internet and search for “lawn care near me” if they are in the market for a new maintenance plan.
You can use your website to list your services, share photos, and collect leads. Lead generation simply means gathering contact details for potential customers. Including a contact form on your site is one easy way to get names and numbers to call back.
Forms should be short and to the point. Ask for a name, email address, and telephone number and give the user a space to add their comments or share what they need your help with. This way, you can quickly reply with exactly the answers they need.
The best websites keep information easy to read, concise, informative, and include professional images.
If you’re concerned that you’re not tech-savvy enough to launch a site, there are tools and web building platforms designed for beginners AND lawn care businesses.
Pedestal, the website builder with built-in marketing and conversion features, offers templates specifically designed for lawn care companies for high-converting websites. They’re simple to create, easy for users to navigate and include sections just right for your services and relevant pictures.
You can always turn to direct mail for an old-fashioned, effective way to get in front of potential customers.
But nowadays, you’ll get more for your money if you spend your time creating social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter) or paying for a few digital ads if you feel adventurous. Of course, nothing is better than a referral or a repeat customer signing on for next season.
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You’ve got the lawn care skills you need. Now it’s time to get out there and kick some grass
Lawn care might not seem like the most profitable trade at first, but if you lay the right groundwork in your pricing and marketing approach from the start, you’ll be positioned for success and sustainable growth.
Remember to be transparent and personable with every customer; their value extends beyond a one-off job to recurring work, long-term contracts, and referrals.
Treat your business just like any other, which means professionalism and presentation are key to putting the right foot forward.
You can achieve effective marketing and branding with simple, engaging flyers and a lot of business cards. Be proactive and get your name in front of people with localized marketing. Share your services in the community and online with free listing sites, and point everyone back to your website for more details and contact information.
A strong website is CRITICAL to a great first impression and scaling your business effectively. And since a website qualifies leads and generates quote requests 24/7, your site actually helps you work LESS.
Remember to include your services, contract details, photos, testimonials, and how you stand out from other lawn care businesses in your local area.