Starting a landscaping business can be a rewarding venture, with the beauty of nature as your canvas and the satisfaction of transforming spaces. With an initial investment that can range from $5,000 to $50,000 or more — covering equipment, licenses, and marketing — you’ll tap into a market with high demand in both residential and commercial sectors.
Essential skills for success include knowledge of horticulture, landscape design, and business management. Profit margins can be lucrative, ranging from 15% to 50%, but be prepared to navigate challenges such as weather dependence, seasonal fluctuations, and managing labor and equipment costs. Let’s explore how to turn your green thumb into a thriving landscaping business.
|Initial Investment||Estimated startup costs range from $5,000 to $50,000+, covering equipment, licenses, and marketing.|
|Skills Required||Knowledge of horticulture, landscape design, business management, and customer service.|
|Demand||High demand in residential and commercial sectors, especially in the spring and summer months.|
|Location||A physical location for equipment storage and an office for administrative tasks can be beneficial but are often not necessary.|
|Hours||Seasonal. Spring and summer are typically busier with longer working hours.|
|Permits and Licenses||Depending on your location, you may need a business license, contractor’s license, and specific landscaping or pesticide application licenses.|
|Profit Margin||Average profit margins range from 15% to 50%, depending on the services offered and pricing strategy.|
|Challenges||Weather dependence, seasonal fluctuations in demand, and managing labor and equipment costs.|
Whether renovating outdoor spaces or simply not having time to cut the grass, people want someone else to maintain and upgrade their outdoor surroundings for them. Despite a 6% dip during 2020, the industry grew 3.3% between 2015 and 2020 — faster than the national economy. With the average American household spending over $500 per year on lawn care and gardening alone, growth is expected to resume in 2021.
When you own a landscaping company, you work outside and build your own client list based on the quality of work you do. You’re not stuck at a desk, and the business can start as small as one person with a lawnmower and easily scale up to several landscaper crews as your reputation grows.
Ready to open your landscaping company? Use our LLC formation service to make it official.
Getting started isn’t all roses, of course. Competition is high: The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) forecasts over 100,000 new landscapers and entrepreneurs entering the industry by 2025. How will you stand out?
Use the checklist below to help you on your path to running your landscaping business.
While the industry is home to big companies such as TruGreen, SavATree, and BrightView Landscapes, no major name has more than 5% of the market share. Most landscaping companies are small businesses, and many employ no one but business owners.
Work to understand who your customers are, from local residents in upscale neighborhoods to businesses to a mix of both. Also take some time to decide what unmet need you’ll satisfy. It can be easy to think of a landscaping business as one person using a lawn mower in the front yard of a customer’s house. However, less than one third of companies handle residential landscaping.
Your business plan may stick with yard and garden maintenance or landscape design that includes installing flower beds or planting trees and shrubs. Some lawn care services also offer snow removal or manage holiday decorations.
Also examine how you’ll charge. Will you have a set fee for certain services? An hourly or daily rate? Innovative companies create weekly or monthly packages that drive recurring revenue from regular customers.
Be SMART about how you want the business to grow. Tracking goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely can help you see how the business is doing, and what adjustments to consider as experience teaches you about your customers, services, and pricing.
Lastly, if you don’t know at least some Spanish, consider learning. Latinos constitute over one third of landscape and lawn care company workers. If Spanish is the preferred language of a significant portion of the talent you’ll employ, some level of Spanish fluency could help you hire, retain, and engage with employees.
Sole proprietorships, general partnerships, and S corporations are all common entities you may use for your lawn care business’s structure. S corps can be more expensive and complex to establish and maintain. Sole props and partnerships are simple to set up, but higher taxation can prune your profits. Plus, as a sole proprietor, your personal assets may be in trouble in the event of a lawsuit, business debts, or other problems that may arise from financial troubles, a project gone wrong, or an employee injury claim.
That’s why many landscape businesses, especially smaller operations, choose a limited liability company (LLC) as their business structure. While there’s typically some upfront and annual costs (such as filing fees), starting an LLC for your landscaping business can make up for it with better shielding of your personal assets. Plus, it may be easier to seek outside funding for adding employees, upgrading tools, or increasing services. Want some help? Using an LLC formation service can significantly simplify this process.
Precision Lawn Maintenance. Cutting Edge Landscape & Design. Sperry Tree Care. Your business name is part of the first impression you’ll make with potential customers.
Before settling on a name for your LLC, see what competing landscaping businesses are in your area. Business names need to be unique, especially when they’re in the same industry, so search the business database at your state’s secretary of state website. Also explore what domain names and social media accounts are available.
Name Your LLC
Enter your desired landscaping business name to get started
Once you’ve picked out a name, register your LLC or other business structure, then apply for any required business licenses. Licensure requirements vary by state. Landscaping services may only need a general business license, but some specific services — such as pesticide applications, irrigation, or landscape architecture — may have additional licensure requirements. Also see what zoning or permitting requirements you may need for your base of operations.
In addition to getting the correct insurance, open business bank accounts to separate your business and personal accounts.
From hand tools to riding mowers, a truck and trailer to payroll, you’ll need to be able to cover the startup costs for your landscaping business. Non-equipment costs may include:
A local business insurance agent can be a good resource to get the right coverage, such as workers comp, property casualty insurance, and general liability insurance. As you book jobs, process payments, and grow your list of repeat customers, software and hardware for bookkeeping and payment processing can help you keep the company’s finances ship-shape.
Government assistance, such as grants or Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, may be available. If you are a veteran, minority, and/or a woman, additional federal small business programs may be an option, too. Availability and requirements vary, so do your research on the program requirements.
Business credit cards can expand your purchasing power, build your company’s credit, and make costs more manageable, but watch your interest rate and develop a pay-down strategy, or you may take on too much financial burden too early.
Loans from friends and family can be a good avenue. Having terms in writing can prevent ill will and confusion. You may also explore offering your services as payment for the loan. Your relatives or friends get their money’s worth, and you can gain experience, request testimonials, and refine your business before working to gain more customers.
Depending on your startup size and what equipment you already have, you may need landscaping tools such as:
You also need to maintain your equipment. Estimate up to 10 hours per week for maintenance, such as fueling vehicles, replacing parts, changing oil, and sharpening blades.
How will people learn about your landscaping services?
Marketing and advertising assets can help spread the word, such as business cards, door hangers, postcards, vehicle branding and signage, and advertising online, in print, or via broadcast.
Claim and optimize your business online, too, such as with a Google My Business listing. Also consider building a presence on social media platforms like Facebook. If you’re looking to land commercial or government clients, a LinkedIn profile may enhance your professionalism.
Lastly, budget for the design, content, and hosting of your landscaping company’s website. Like a 24/7 all-in-one customer service and sales rep, your website can be an essential way people find your business and become customers.
Landscaping businesses can take many forms, such as:
Growth abounds in America’s high-demand landscaping industry. It’s competitive, but with the right business plan and understanding of what customers in your area are looking for, you can build a landscaping services business that grooms your path to profits and success.
LLC filing starts at $0 + state fee
Connecticut, Ohio, California, Florida, Washington, North Carolina, Texas, Massachusetts, and New York are among the states with high employment, wages, and/or opportunity for landscaping businesses in the U.S.
$5,000 to $15,000 may be sufficient to get a small company underway. However, you may need up to $250,000 if you plan to open your doors with employees in an office and in the field, you’re pursuing government property contracts, and/or you need to purchase equipment such as vehicles and riding mowers.
Marketing, bookkeeping, and retaining customers can be challenging. Landscaping businesses that upskill in these areas may have a higher chance of success.
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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When it comes to compliance, costs, and other factors, these are popular states for forming an LLC.
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