Lawn Care Business Start-up Costs and Income Potential

There is a huge variety of lawn care businesses out there – everything from simple one person businesses to huge corporations with many thousands of employees. And they also perform a huge variety of services. From mowing to fertilization to tree trimming. They also work for individuals, neighborhood organizations, businesses, golf courses, etc. This post will focus on costs associated with starting a one person lawn care business.

To start a lawn care business from scratch, it could cost you as little as $0 if you already have your own lawn mower and string trimmer. For many lawns these two pieces of equipment is all you will need. And if you already have a truck (or car) you’re good to go. Chances are that if you want to start a lawn care business you already have a mower and you like doing the work. All you need to do now is place an ad on craigslist (free), on nextdoor (free), on facebook marketplace (free), and place some flyers at local stores (free).

But if you need to buy the equipment (push lawnmower, trimmer, and leaf blower), this can be done for around $450 for new equipment (much cheaper if you buy used).

That’s really it! If you do a good job then you will always be asked to keep doing it from your existing customers and they will naturally spread the word about you to their friends and neighbors. Doing a good job means:

  • showing up when you say you will
  • being friendly and talking to the customer
  • acting like you want to be there instead of having to be there
  • doing more than what you agree to – include a small, simple free service such as sweeping off their porch

Do these things and you will get busier and make more money. Your customers won’t even consider looking for another service. You’ll also be able to raise your rates easily and sell additional services to your existing customers.

At this point it would be a good idea to make yourself legal with an LLC, business license, and insurance. But I would not spend a penny on these until you’ve proven that you can get and keep customers. If you’re sure you like the work and want to continue doing it, I’d also invest in some business cards, nicer looking flyers (both very cheap) and a website. And if you have larger yards, you’ll want to invest in a larger, nicer mower.

Lawn Care Income Potential

I’ve personally seen two new lawn care companies go from nothing to having a full schedule in about 2 years. In terms of income, they’ve gone from making nothing to making about $100,000 per year and needing to hire help. The hard part is going to be your first year. If you can scratch through your first year, and find a way to make some income in the winter, you should be able to make a very good living. Having a nice looking lawn care website and marketing materials says a ton about you to potential customers. Invest in both and you’ll be glad you did. These things really do demonstrate to customers that you take your business seriously.

Advantages of Having a Lawn Business

Lifestyle: Not only can you wear jeans and be dirty, it’s actually expected. You can work outside all day long. You can take the day off when it rains. You get exercise naturally. You get sun and fresh air naturally. You have no boss. These are all HUGE benefits!

Repeat Business: Lawn care service is perpetual, meaning ongoing and consistent. Your customer base will need their lawns mowed once a week, making for recurring income for you.

Potential to Upsell: Offering lawn mowing is the natural way to get your lawn care business started. But always keep in mind that mowing is just the beginning. The big money comes by offering other services once you’re established. Not only do people need their lawns maintained, but they also need numerous other services to keep a great looking lawn.

  • aeration
  • fertilization
  • tree and bush trimming
  • irrigation system maintenance
  • new sod installation
  • flower bed design and installation
  • retaining wall installation

Many of these services quickly get into the thousands of dollars per project. And at some point you’ll need to decide which direction to take your business in. Should you continue to mainly mow and trim? Or focus on sprinkler systems? Or provide hardscaping services? You’ll also need to decide whether to go after residential customers or commercial contracts (the B2B route). Everyone’s goals are different. Some people aren’t trying to make as much money as possible, they instead want to do work they actually enjoy and focus on keeping customers happy for long term success.

Many people dream of starting a lawn care business but wonder about the cost to start up and the income potential. I can tell you that neither should stop you – the startup cost is small and the income can be quite large. The key is getting started and keeping with it!

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