If you’re considering starting your own landscaping company, now is a good time to start planning it. While it might seem very simple, owning a business is far more complex. Proper preparation and strategic planning are keys to expanding your landscaping business and achieving sustained growth.
In this article, we will walk you through the essential steps and key considerations to launch your own landscaping business. Whether you have years of experience in the field or are just starting out, we will provide you with valuable insights and practical advice to kickstart your entrepreneurial journey.
Understanding the Landscaping Industry
Landscaping is a broad term used to cover multiple services provided by landscaping professionals. There are different markets within the landscaping market that cover different types of services and activities. Although some services may overlap, it’s important to understand the industry in your area.
Residential Lawn Care and Landscaping
Residential lawn care and landscaping services generally cover the most common landscaping services, including:
- Lawn mowing
- Leaf blowing
- Flowerbed maintenance
- Removing trees/shrubs
Commercial Lawn Care and Landscaping
Commercial lawn care and landscaping companies provide all the services of a residential company, however, their services are geared towards businesses, industries, and governmental projects. As such, many commercial landscaping companies will need to have additional licenses and permits to operate in their service areas (which often varies by state).
If you’re considering starting a landscaping business from scratch, a residential lawn care company might be an ideal choice because it allows you to enter the market without as much capital. Since landscaping companies tend to provide different types of services as well as more specialized applications, starting small might make it more feasible to be successful as you expand.
Mixed-Use Landscaping and Lawn Care Services
Many locations in the U.S. have implemented mixed-use zoning options to provide beauty, character, and enjoyment to busy pedestrian areas without impeded passage or right-of-ways. These projects are a combination of residential and commercial landscaping services and lawn care.
Most Common Challenges When Starting a Landscaping Business
Starting a landscaping business can come with its own set of challenges. Being aware of these obstacles can help you prepare and develop strategies to overcome them.
Finding and Retaining Quality Labor
Labor shortages have plagued professional trades for years and landscaping is no exception. The physical demands of landscaping, the lack of training for trades in academia, immigration reform, and the lower unemployment rate are the four main causes cited for the labor problem.
There are almost 650,000 landscaping companies in the U.S. with more than 1.3 million people working in the industry. This means competition is high for landscaping newcomers, who will need to spend a lot of time focusing on how they’ll most successfully enter the market.
Landscaping is often a seasonal business, with demand varying throughout the year. Balancing cash flow and maintaining a steady stream of income during slower periods can be challenging, particularly in regions with harsh winters or rainy seasons.
Landscaping can involve physically demanding work, long hours, and tight schedules, which can lead to burnout among crew members. The seasonality makes it challenging to provide consistent work and income to your team year-round, potentially leading them to seek employment elsewhere during off-peak seasons.
The high turnover rates make it hard to provide consistent training, but untrained crew members can negatively impact your business. From reduced employee retention to potential risks to safety and quality standards, it can ultimately lead to the need for costly rework.
Step-by-Step on How to Start a Landscaping Business
Of course, there is a lot of work that goes into starting any kind of business but, this guide can be used as a starting point to help you understand what you need to start a landscaping business.
1. Decide What Landscaping Services You Want to Offer
When deciding on the landscaping services to offer, it's important to consider your target market, local demand, and your team's expertise. While the specific services you choose will depend on various factors, here are some common landscaping services that you may consider offering:
- Yard cleanup
- Leaf removal
- Spring maintenance
- Lawn mowing services
- Lawn aeration services
- Landscape design services
2. Calculate Start-Up Costs
When calculating the cost to start a landscaping business, there are some basic rules to follow, and probably more expenses than you may think.
First, estimate the costs of acquiring essential equipment like mowers, trimmers, and hand tools. Next, account for vehicle expenses, such as purchasing or leasing a truck or van. Additionally, consider costs related to licenses, permits, insurance, and marketing materials. Don't forget to include initial purchases of plants, seeds, fertilizers, and other landscaping supplies. Lastly, factor in expenses like legal fees, accounting services, and any necessary software or technology.
By carefully estimating and summing up these various costs, you can calculate your start-up expenses accurately.
3. Establish Your Service Rates
Pricing is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and it may vary based on factors like location, target market, project complexity, and customer preferences. Ensure that you take into account your overhead expenses, including supplies, labor, and marketing costs when determining your service prices. It's important to set realistic expectations to establish your pricing strategy.
4. Financial Projections
Once you’ve established your landscaping prices and startup costs, you’re better able to provide financial projections. This will be an important part of obtaining financing if you need to invest in tools, equipment, or other startup needs. Whether it’s lending institutions, investors, or family and friends, you’ll need to show them it’s worth investing in.
5. Determine the Business Structure
Before getting licenses and permits, you’ll need to establish your business structure to get started. If, at first, it will be just a one-person operation, a sole proprietorship might be the best option. But as your company grows, so will your liabilities so you’ll need to research LLC vs. C-Corp vs. corporation, partnership. Before choosing your business structure, research the legal and tax considerations.
6. Get Licensed and Insured
The types of licenses and insurance you’ll need will depend on the type of landscaping or lawn care company you have. Some landscaping services require advanced training such as dealing with chemicals or hazardous materials. Licenses and insurance requirements may also vary based on your service areas so it falls to you to determine which ones you need to be legal.
7. Invest in Equipment and Tools
While you don’t want to overspend on startup costs, you also don’t want to be ill-equipped to provide professional services or use faulty/dangerous equipment on your jobs. The minimal equipment and tools needed for starting a lawn care or landscaping business include:
- Hedge trimmers
- Garden hoses and spray nozzles
- Industrial garbage bags
- Bags for clean-up
- Soil aerator
- Work gloves
- Sprayers (for fertilizer or pest control)
- Seed spreader
- Leaf blower
- Gas and oil containers for refueling equipment
This equipment will allow you to provide basic landscaping/lawn care services as you continue to grow your company. You should also consider winter/cold-weather equipment you might need (snow shovel, etc.) if you’re in a colder zone.
Choosing the right field service management software will help you streamline your operations and increase profits.
8. Find and Retain New Crew Members
With the labor shortage, it’s challenging to find and retain new workers but there are ways to find new hires. Create a job description for each position you’re hiring for and advertise your job openings in multiple places. You can share jobs on social media and have prospective employees contact you there or via email. You can also post job opportunities on bulletin boards, spread the word with family and friends, and check out websites like Craigslist or job boards in your area.
9. Begin Getting Customers
Once you’re ready to get to work, you’ll need to begin marketing your services to get your name out there. You can, of course, go door-to-door or advertise online, however, be sure you also have a professional website for clients to visit and contact you for services, as well as company signage, to display in customers’ yards. You can offer incentives for referrals from new customers, and offer first-time specials for new customers.
Start Your Landscaping Business With The Right Tools
Starting a new landscaping business can be a profitable venture. However, you’ll need to be meticulous in your planning and execution, and be sure you obtain all the right tools - including technology - to get started confidently.
For more advice on getting new customers, read our blog post, 10 Tips on How to Get Landscaping Customers, to prepare yourself even more for success with your new landscaping company.