Articles in the Series:
- Starting a Lawn Care and Landscaping Business
- The Landscape and Lawncare Services Industry
- How to Start a Lawn Service Business
- Tools and Equipment Used for a Lawn Care and Landscaping Business
- Pricing Your Lawn Care and Landscaping Services
- Marketing and Promoting a Landscaping or Lawn Care Business
- Additional Services and Revenue Streams for a Landscaping or Lawn Care Business
- 10 Tips to Succeed in Lawn care and Landscaping Business
- Resources to Help Start a Landscaping or Lawn Care Business
Getting Started with Your Lawn Care Service and Landscaping Business
To get started on this business, the first thing to do is to research everything there is to know about the mechanics of the business.
Go to your library and check out books on lawn care and landscaping. Read and learn as much as possible about lawn maintenance, including technical information such as soil quality, varieties of turf grass, fertilizers and more. Also check out books on how to start a lawn care and landscaping business in order to get tips, information and advice on how to succeed in this business.
Visit your local Home Depot or other tool stores and ask about the best tools and equipment for the job. Even go to workshops, which will not only increase your knowledge but also provide a great networking opportunity.
If you know of any lawn care specialists in your area, or if you employ a lawn maintenance company or landscape company, talk to them and ask them about the business (some will not entertain you especially if they see you as potential competitors while others will be more willing to talk).
If you are ready to start your own lawn care or landscaping business, here are some steps to follow:
Decide on the legal structure of your business.
Determine whether you want to start as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. While you can start slow and choose sole proprietorship as your initial legal status, service businesses typically have a high likelihood of getting sued. Hence, it is best to organize yourself in a way that separates your personal from business assets, such as LLC or corporation.
To help understand the different business legal structure, go to our Business Structure section.
Think of the name for your business.
You can choose to use your own name, or use a fictitious business name. The name should be catchy and will be easily remembered. Avoid using numbers in your name, as numbers are harder to remember.
To get ideas on naming your lawn service business, go to our Business Name section.
Determine regulatory processes to start a lawn care or landscaping business.
Check with your local county clerk’s office for licenses (if any) and other regulatory requirements you need to operate this type of business in your area. This includes business registration, licensing, deciding on your fictitious business name or DBA (doing business as, and other permits you may need to operate the business. If you will operate as a partnership, LLC or corporation, you will file business registration with your Secretary of State.
To determine the requirements in your state, go to our State by State Guide to Starting a Business section.
Verify if you need to be licensed.
You will have to do some legwork to find out who regulates the license you want to obtain. In Virginia, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation handles the business licensing for landscape and lawn care contractors. You will want to ask the licensing department what their requirements for obtain a license are to ensure you can meet all of their standards. Some common requirements include, but are not limited to: passing a test, meeting certain financial requirements, industry experience, clean criminal records, and a surety bond.
Prospective clients are more likely to work with you if you are licensed and bonded as it gives them a sense of confidence that you will deliver the work. After all, a surety bond means a guarantee of performance. To be bonded, shop around for surety bond providers as various bonding companies have different requirements. Most bond companies look for minimal risks; hence you need to have a good record of performance and good reputation in the industry. Surety companies typically look for proof of your financial stability, integrity as manifested by great recommendations, longevity, and steady growth.
As a new company, the surety company may consider you as high risk and as such may suggest bonding for a specific job as opposed to your company as an entity. After you prove your worth, they may extend or add more bonding capacity to your account.
For more information about getting bonded, read the article Startups and Surety Bonds: Does Your Small Business Have to be Bonded?
Check the sales and uses tax rules for your State.
Check with your state’s Department of Taxation (or however this government body is called in your state). They will give you business tax information, forms and processes for your state.
Get insurance for your business.
In deciding what types of insurance you need for your business, assess the biggest risks you face given the types of services your company offers. You need to get at least general liability and workers compensation insurance.
To learn more about business insurance, go to our Business Insurance section.
Choose the market you will your lawn care service.
Location is a very important factor in the success of lawn care and landscaping business. You don’t want to start a lawn care business in a high tourist beach area, for example, where beach houses don’t have grass and residential areas are few and far between. Set your target market, and select the locations where you can find these potential customers.
Organize your office.
If this is a home-based business, you will need desks, chairs, file cabinets, computer system, printer, scanner and fax. You will also need mobile communication equipment including mobile computers or tablets to allow you to work while on the go.
Set-up how you will operate the business from scheduling to billing systems.
Before you start, you need to think how you will set up your scheduling and rescheduling jobs, which should also include arranging for fertilizer treatments and other big jobs. It is important that half your time is spent servicing your existing customers and another half looking for more clients.
Find legal counsel for your business.
Lawyers can help resolve litigious problems and prevent specific issues from arising. Lawyers can help you draft contracts, billing statements and subcontractor agreements to ensure they comply with the law and do not open the business to liability.
Recommended Books on How to Succeed in Lawn care and Landscaping Business:
- Lawn Care Business Guide: The Definitive Guide To Starting and Running Your Own Successful Lawn Care Business
- Lawn Care Business Bidding Tips, Upsells, And Disasters To Avoid.
- GopherHaul Extreme Lawn Care Business Tips.: Unfiltered, unedited, and a little rough. A collection of landscaping & lawn care business lessons.
- Start & Run a Landscaping Business (Start and Run A)
- How To Get Commercial Lawn Care And Snow Plow Customers.: From The Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum & The GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show.