If you’re looking to break into the landscaping industry, you may wonder how much it costs to start a lawn care business. Lawn services 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 startup costs. It can be helpful to look at a basic equipment list and consider how you can expand upon it as your business grows.
Approximate Equipment Startup Cost Range: $12,000–85,000+
This startup cost budget is intended for a residential and small-property commercial target client base and may not be inclusive of all equipment required. The grade of equipment chosen for this study is for heavy residential use to medium commercial-grade equipment. As your business scales, you may want to upgrade specific machinery to a more industrial grade.
When you first start your lawn service company, you’ll 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. A suitable vehicle for a basic 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 for easy access during your workday. You can buy a used truck or a new one, and depending on which decision you make, the associated up-front costs will change dramatically.
However, although a newer vehicle may cost more initially, in the long run, a new truck might cost less in maintenance and repairs than an older vehicle would. Depending on options and whether you buy new or used, a truck can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000+.
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. For this reason, you should include a trailer in your initial equipment budget. Small equipment trailers usually cost between $1,000 and $6,000.
Every lawn service provider needs a lawnmower. A small-scale startup lawn service might be able to get away with just one or two lawnmowers, but you might want to start with at least one extra mower.
When your livelihood depends on your working equipment, you won’t have time to wait for a lawnmower engine repair. Make sure you have a small engine repair company available to you should the need arise, but having an extra lawnmower will cover you temporarily in case one of your primary machines fails.
Lawnmowers cost between $500 and $1,000 for a medium-grade, gas-powered mower. You’ll likely need at least two.
An edger corrects the grass overgrowth around the edges of a lawn. Without one, your freshly cut lawns could look sloppy and unprofessional. Edgers cost between $100 and $600 when purchased new.
Unlike an edger, trimmers are specially designed to get around things like signposts, trees, and other objects that your lawnmower can’t get close enough to cut around. Spending a few extra dollars on a professional-grade trimmer can be well worth the money, and the lighter weight makes it easier to use for long periods. Generally, purchasing a new trimmer will cost you between $100 and $500.
Many lawn care professionals offer hedge trimming services as well. It would be a bit odd to have to hire a separate company to trim the hedges that line the perimeter of the lawn. So, having a decent hedge trimmer on hand is a necessity. Luckily, hedge trimmers aren’t overly expensive — they’ll cost between $100 and $400 for a medium-duty unit.
Another lawn care essential is the leaf blower. Although you should also have some handheld rakes available, a leaf blower cuts time when cleaning up leaves and grass clippings from 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.
Assuming you’re purchasing gas-powered equipment, you’ll need to stock up on several gas cans to get you through your workweek. You may find that you only have to stop at the gas station every couple of days rather than several times a day. You should have at least four gas cans to get started. Five-gallon gas cans range from $20 to $50 new.
Whether you are helping grow a client’s lawn with fertilizer or needing to re-seed, having a spreader will come in handy. Spreaders are generally relatively inexpensive and readily available. A new spreader usually costs between $100 and $600.
For fertilizing or spraying chemicals like herbicides or pesticides, a sprayer is another essential component of lawn care tools and equipment. Typically priced between $50 and $500, a sprayer is also relatively inexpensive.
You may not need many hand tools, but it doesn’t hurt to have some around. Sometimes, you might need a hammer to drive a stake into the ground or some wrenches 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.
The classic lawn care toolbox includes a spade or two, at least two types of rakes, hoes, and more. Having weeding tools is also helpful, as are pruners. Hand lawn tools cost between $200 and $1,000 or more.
Although it may seem like a small expense, buying things like gloves, eye protection, hearing protection, hats, sunscreen, and proper footwear is essential for the operation of a lawn service company. It’ll also be an ongoing expense as items get worn out. Typical PPE expenses per person will likely range between $50 and $500.
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Like any business, a lawn care service must also have a certain amount of working capital. And the amount you’ll 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 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 for each visit. This sort of structure could eliminate the need for 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 30-day terms and often stretch longer. If you have staff on hand and your clients won’t pay you for weeks, who’s paying your team in the interim? You are, and you’ll need the working capital to cover it.
Johnny has a landscape company that he’s just started. 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 by 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.
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 startup 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’re planning on renting a commercial property from the beginning, the startup costs could be much higher, especially if you need to renovate the property to make it suitable for your business model.
Depending on where you operate your business, there may be specific permits you’ll need to obtain. This 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’ll need to operate your business in compliance with the law.
In the lawn service industry, the majority of companies are small to medium-sized and locally based. It’s often the case that the industry evolves in a local hemisphere rather than a national or even regional one. However, there are some multi-state players in the industry.
Purchasing a franchise from a more established lawn service provider will accomplish two things. First, it’ll help back you with proven strategies and an established and tested program. Second, purchasing a franchise typically costs considerably more to start. There are also usually stipulations that you must follow upon startup, which might increase costs.
The typical costs associated with franchises of landscape and lawn service companies vary considerably. However, an average lawn service franchise could cost at least $100,000 to get you in the door.
If you compare the base startup costs for a small-scale lawn service company, you’ll see that they are often less than half of the amount required for franchise opportunities.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.
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