Cost to Start a Lawn Service

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cost to start a lawn service

If you are looking to break into the landscaping industry, you may wonder how much it costs to start a lawn care business. Lawn services are interesting outdoor work and can be quite profitable when appropriately managed. 

The equipment required for a lawn service company varies depending on the extent of the services provided. Due to this variance, it can be challenging to know what to expect for equipment start-up costs.

For this reason, I decided to give a list of start-up equipment and their associated costs to share with you. We’ll start with a small scale start-up, and I’ll include some notes on growth and scaling up along the way for you.

Lawn Services Equipment List – Small Scale Initial Startup

Approximate Equipment Startup Cost Range: $12,420 – $86,750

This budget is intended for a residential and small property commercial target client base and may not be inclusive of all equipment required.

Here is a note on equipment and vehicle expenses. The grade of equipment chosen for this study includes what I consider to be heavy residential use to medium commercial grade equipment.

As your business scales, you may want to upgrade specific machinery to a more industrial grade of professional machinery. It will depend on the duty cycle your customers need, requiring out of individual pieces of equipment as you start to learn what services work best for your business.

Learn More: How to Calculate Your Small Business Startup Costs

Truck or Vehicular Costs

When you first start your lawn service company, you will need a vehicle to drive around from client to client. Unless you’re intending to start with clients within walking distance, you’ll likely require a car, van, or truck. The best vehicle for a lawn service company is a pickup truck.

A truck allows you to tow a trailer (assuming you get a hitch attached). It also can have a pile of tools in the bed of the truck for easy access during your workday.

You can pick up a used truck or buy a new one, and depending on which decision you make here, the associated costs will change dramatically.

However, although a newer vehicle may cost more initially, statistically speaking, a new truck will cost less in maintenance and repairs than an older vehicle would. It is assuming for an initial period as all cars and trucks will eventually break down and require replacement.

With over half a million of each the Ford F-Series, Ram Pickup, and the Chevrolet Silverado sold in the U.S. alone in 2019 [Source], there’s no question as to the truck’s popularity. It’s their robust and versatile nature that makes them so accessible, and not just for lawn service trucks either.

Depending on options, and whether you buy new or used, a truck can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000 plus.

Equipment Trailers Pricing

You may not require a trailer at first if you start on a tiny scale. But, you will likely need one shortly after acquiring a few more clients. If you need to hire on staff and provide equipment for them to use, then it is reasonably apparent that a trailer will be required sooner. For this reason, you should include a trailer in your initial equipment budget.

Equipment trailers usually cost between $1,000 and $6,000 new for a small trailer.

Lawn Mowers Cost

Every lawn service provider has to have a lawnmower. It is a staple of the lawn care industry.

A small scale start-up lawn service might be able to get away with just one or two lawnmowers, but I would recommend starting with at least one extra mower.

When your livelihood depends upon your working equipment, you won’t have time to wait for a lawnmower engine repair. It is smart to make sure you have an excellent small engine repair person or company available to you, should the need arise. And if you’re using the equipment regularly, then the demand will most certainly occur. Having an extra lawnmower will cover you in case one of your primary machines fails.

Lawn Mowers cost between $500 and $1,000 for a medium grade gas-powered mower. You will likely need at least two for the start-up.

Edger Expenses

An edger works beautifully to correct the grass overgrowth around the edges of a lawn. This essential tool is one that any lawn care provider will tell you is worth spending the money on a good machine. And when it’s your company’s reputation on the line, you want to dress to impress, the lawn that is. And dressing up the edges with a suitable edger is just what the lawn doctor ordered.

Edgers cost between $100 and $600 when purchased new.

Trimmer Costs

Unlike an edger, trimmers are specially designed to get around things like signposts, trees, and objects that your lawnmower cannot get close enough to be truly useful. Trimmers don’t generally cost much, but your arms will soon tire if you don’t get a decent lightweight unit. Spending a few extra dollars on a professional grade trimmer is well worth the money, and your arms will thank you.

Generally, purchasing a new trimmer will cost you between $100 and $500.

Hedge Trimmer Costs

Most lawn care professionals offer essential hedge trimming services as well. It is because most people who have a hedge have it located around their lawn. It would seem odd to have to hire a separate company to come and trim the hedges that line the perimeter of the lawn or yard. So, having a decent hedge trimmer on hand is a necessity. Luckily, hedge trimmers aren’t overly expensive.

A new hedge trimmer will cost between $100 to $400 for a medium-duty unit.

Leaf Blower Prices

Another lawn care essential is the leaf blower. Although you should also have some handheld rakes available, a leaf blower cuts time in half when cleaning up leaves on a larger area. And like the hedge trimmer, these vital pieces of equipment are not usually too expensive.

Leaf Blowers range from $100 to $500 when purchased new.

Gas Container Expenses

Assuming you are purchasing all gas-powered equipment, you’ll need to stock up on several gas cans to get you through your workday or week. You may find that you only have to stop at the gas station every couple of days rather than several times a day. I would have at least four gas cans to get started.

5-gallon gas cans range from $20 to $50 for a new product.

Cost of a Spreader

Whether you are helping a client’s lawn with fertilizer or needing to re-seed, having a spreader will be required. Spreaders are generally relatively inexpensive and readily available.

A new spreader usually costs between $100 and $600.

Sprayer Costs

For fertilizing or spraying chemicals like herbicides or pesticides, a sprayer is another essential component of the lawn care services tools and equipment.

Typically priced between $50 and $500, a sprayer is also relatively inexpensive.

Various Hand Tool Expenses

You may not need many hand tools, but it doesn’t hurt. Sometimes, you might need a hammer to drive a stake into the ground or some means to repair your equipment. Either way, it’s better to have a few tools on hand and not need them instead of requiring them and not having them.

Various hand tools can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more.

Various Lawn Tool Expenses

The classic lawn care toolbox used to include a spade or two, at least two types of rakes, a hoe or two, and more. Having weeding tools is also helpful, as is pruners and other such devices.

Hand lawn tools will cost between $200 and $1,000 or more.

Personal Protective Equipment Costs

Although it may seem like a small expense, buying things like gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, hats and sunscreen, and proper hiking style footwear is essential for the operation of a lawn service company. It will also be an ongoing expense as gloves get worn out and so on.

Typical P.P.E. expenses per person will likely range between $50 and $500.

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Working Capital And Other Business Startup Costs

Like any business, a lawn care service must also have a certain amount of working capital. And the amount you will require will depend upon the clientele you target.

For example, having a strictly residential client base will require less working capital than a commercial property based lawn care service. However, the way that you set up your payment structure will also affect the necessary working capital.

Let’s say you wanted to work solely with residential clients. You could maintain a policy where you are paid weekly by the client or even paid each visit. This sort of structure would eliminate the need for a significant working capital due to client payment regularity.

On the other side of the coin is the commercial market. Most companies expect to pay on at least net 30 terms and often stretch their names longer. It is merely the nature of doing business. You can imagine that if you have staff on hand and that your clients won’t pay you for weeks after the work completion, who is paying your team in the interim? You are, and right out of your working capital.

Working Capital Example

Johnny has a landscape company that he has just started and has acquired some decent contracts to establish. Johnny hires two workers and pays them both $16 per hour for 40 hours of work per week.

That’s $640 in gross wages per worker per week. If Johnny doesn’t get paid from his clients for four weeks, he has to pay out $5,120 in total wages alone. Forget about all the gas for the truck, equipment, fertilizer, seed, insurance, and all the other expenses that come with running a company.

As you can well imagine, working capital can get drained very quickly. Hence, the way that you organize your business and client payment structure from the beginning has a significant effect on your success.

Get inspired and find a catchy landscaping business name.

Landscaping Business Name Ideas

Extraneous Factors Affecting Start-up Expenses

When you begin a lawn care service company, it’s great to look over the equipment list and understand those initial and ongoing expenses. But where do you intend to store your equipment?

A small start-up lawn service may be able to use a small garage to store the equipment. Perhaps you have a garage at home that you intend to use for your machines until your business gets off its feet and can afford to rent a commercial unit.

If you are planning on renting a commercial property from the beginning, the start-up costs could be extremely high comparatively. It would be especially true if you need to renovate the property to make it initially viable for your business model.

Legalities of Startup Lawn Service Companies

Depending on where you live, there may be specific permits you will need to obtain. It is especially true if you plan on administering any sort of chemicals like pesticides or herbicides. Always check with local regulations to see what kind of permits you will need to obtain for your business.

Starting A Business Or Buy An Existing Lawn Service Company

You might think that the start-up costs are quite high for a start-up lawn service business. However, if you compare the cost of purchasing an established company, they range anywhere from one to four hundred thousand dollars. Depending on where you live and the size of the company’s existing client base will weigh in on the cost of purchasing.[Source]

Franchise vs. Independent

In the lawn service industry, the majority of companies are small to medium-sized and locally based. Any time there is a service-based need, it is often the case that industry evolves in a local hemisphere rather than a national one. However, there are some multi-state players in the industry.

Purchasing a franchise of a more established lawn service provider will accomplish two things. First, it will help back you with proven strategies and an established and tested program. Second, purchasing a franchise typically costs considerably more at start-up. There are also usually stipulations that you must follow to upon start-up, which might increase costs.

The typical costs associated with franchises of landscape and lawn service companies vary from state to state. However, an average lawn service franchise insists on having a minimum of about $100,000 to get you in the door with the franchise.[Source]

If you compare the base start-up costs for a small scale lawn service company, you’ll see that they are less than half of the amount required for franchise opportunities.

Tips To Reducing Start-Up Costs

  1. Buy Used Equipment. If you’ll recall the equipment start-up costs, I shared at the beginning, remember that those were based upon price to purchase new equipment. If you want to save big, you can find reconditioned equipment at a fraction of the cost. 
  2. Do You Need A Big Truck? The truck you need could wait if you have a vehicle that can pull a trailer, and all your equipment can fit in the trailer. If the budget is tight for a start-up, there are plenty of creative ways to save when it comes to the equipment.
  3. Start Small On Service. One technique that can also work is to start by only offering particular lawn care services. For example, start with only lawn mowing and expand into fertilizing and so on. As you earn clients and income, you can expand your operations and purchase further equipment.
  4. Don’t Rent Alone Or At All. Saving on a rental property is a considerable way to save. Sometimes you can find an existing business in a different industry looking to rent part of a commercial unit. A small lawn care start-up can begin from your own home with nothing more than a lawnmower and some right old fashioned motivation.
  5. Plan Ahead. Having a business plan based on an aggressive growth strategy is one way to move your business success needle. Focus heavily on services you can provide and own those sectors before expanding and moving forward. But the best approach is to study those who are successful in the area and learn from existing industry practices.
  6. Seek Professional Help. Okay, I don’t mean you’re crazy for wanting to start a lawn service business, not at all. You should always speak with professionals like lawyers, bankers, accountants, and other industry professionals. Never be afraid to talk with any of these sorts of professionals. It can do a world of good, just make sure you write your questions down in advance when you go see them. That way you’ll save money and not waste either their time or your own.

Learn how much business licenses cost in your State in my guide here

Be sure to read my guide on how to calculate startup costs for your business here

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