How to Start a Landscaping Business in Just 6 Steps
Starting a landscaping business gives you the freedom to choose your own projects, set your own hours, and create beautiful outdoor spaces for your clients—and bring in big money doing it.
In this article, we’ll go through how to open a landscaping business that turns a profit right away and how to grow the business over time.
1. Choose which landscaping services to offer
Now that the legal side of your business is set up, you’re ready to provide landscaping services. But there are lots to choose from—which ones will you offer?
First decide whether you’ll serve residential clients, commercial clients, or both. Homeowners and businesses have different landscaping needs, so choose the one that best fits your skills.
From there, you can choose to provide services like:
- Landscape design (also known as landscape architecture) involves planning and designing outdoor living spaces. This can be a standalone service or part of a bigger landscaping project.
- Hardscaping includes any “hard” elements of a landscape design, like patios, decks, fences, paths, and water or fire features.
- Softscaping deals with plant life in a space, from grass and flowers to bushes and trees. This could include planting, turf, grading, and even plant removal.
You can also provide lawn maintenance services like mowing, edging, wedding, and fertilizing. Along with winter landscaping services, this is a great way to stay busy year-round and create repeat clients.
Pro Tip: Check with your state or municipality to see if you need a landscaping license to perform certain services. For example, landscapers in California require a state license for any job that exceeds $500.
Is a landscaping business profitable?
Starting a landscaping business can be very profitable. Experienced landscapers make $41,553 (USD) per year on average.
You can make even more as a landscaping business owner. It all depends on how much work the business brings in and how high your profit margins are.
2. Get your landscaping equipment
What do you need to start a landscaping business? Use this equipment list to see what you’ll need to start your own commercial or residential landscaping business:
- Lawn mower
- Weed whacker
- Leaf blower
- Hedge trimmer
- Lawn aerator
- Broadcast spreader
- Pressurized sprayer
- Shovel, spade, hoe, and rake
- Pruning shears
- Tool kit (hammer, screwdriver, etc.)
- Small gardening tools (weeder, trowel, etc.)
- Garden hose and nozzle
- Landscaping gloves
- Safety goggles and earmuffs
- Steel-toed boots
- Bucket (to carry smaller tools)
- Cargo net (for vehicle)
Curious about what kind of equipment a successful landscaping and lawn care company uses to get their jobs done? We asked Brian Boase from MIL-SPEC Landscaping to open his shop doors to give you an inside look at his tools and setup.
Otherwise, all you need is hands-on experience for each of the services you offer. Start by getting your equipment, then asking friends and neighbors if you can landscape their yards at a reduced rate.
You can also work for another landscaper for a year or two to gain some practical experience. Or, get a mentor in the industry to share their knowledge with you.
“One of the best things when you are starting something new is go find a mentor,” said Brian Boase, owner of MIL-SPEC Landscaping. “Someone who has been in the business and has been successful in it.”
Brian found a lawn care company in his city that he admired—then asked the owner, Mark, if he could be Brian’s business mentor.
Mark didn’t mind helping out a competitor. “There’s enough grass for everyone,” he said.
How much does it cost to start a landscaping business?
You can expect to spend about $1,760–3,065 (USD) getting your landscaping business up and running:
- Registration and business license ($75–400)
- Business insurance ($600)
- Landscaping business software ($400)
- Equipment ($685–1,665)
Expect to add another $30,000 to that if you also need to buy a truck or trailer.
Check with your bank to see if you’re eligible for a business loan or personal loan, or apply for a landscaping or lawn care grant.
READ MORE: How to start a lawn care business
3. Price your landscaping services
Pricing landscaping jobs might feel challenging when you’re just getting started. Use this tried-and-proven process to accurately estimate the cost of any service:
- Estimate labor hours required, then multiply by hourly labor cost. Make sure to factor in any wage differences between your employees—for example, if one employee makes $3.25/hour more than another.
- Estimate total material costs for the service (e.g., plants, rock). This should also cover any equipment rentals you might need.
- Add up your overhead costs (e.g., rent, marketing, utilities). Then divide this amount by the number of weekly labor hours worked. This gives you the amount of overhead you need to charge for every hour of labor.
- Factor in your markup percentage. This allows you to profit from a service. Charge a 15–20% markup for residential clients and 10–15% for commercial ones.
If you offer lawn care maintenance, you’ll need to explore different pricing strategies for your work, like square footage rates, hourly rates, or flat rates.
FREE TOOL: Try our free profit margin calculator
4. Register your landscaping business
Pick a landscaping company name, register your business, and get a business license to ensure you’re operating legally.
Choosing a business structure
Before you do anything else, choose a business structure. You’ll need that information for the rest of the business registration process.
Here are your options:
- Having sole proprietorship (U.S., CA) or becoming a sole trader (UK, AU) allows you to run your business alone and have complete control over it. This is the most common option for individuals starting a landscaping business.
- Register as a partnership (U.S., CA, UK), or form a joint venture or co-operative (AU) if you’re starting your business with two or more self-employed people.
- If your business has medium or high liability risk, register as a limited liability company or LLC (U.S.), corporation (CA), limited company or limited partnership (UK), or company (AU). This will help protect your personal assets in case of legal problems.
You may be able to get special registration for your business if you belong to certain visible minority groups.
Pro Tip: Want to find out more about the business structures and registration process in your country? Just search “COUNTRY + business registration” and find your government’s website in the search results.
READ MORE: Should I incorporate my small business?
Business name registration
Next, register your business with your regional government. You can do this at any local registry, or using a tool like Ownr. All you need is the registration fee and a name that’s unique, simple to spell, and easy to remember.
Here’s how the registration process will look for you, depending on your country:
- United States: Trademark your business name and register your domain name if there’s no other business in your state with the same name.
- Canada: Register and trademark your trade name to protect your brand. However, if the business’s name is the same as your personal name, you don’t need to register it.
- United Kingdom: Decide if you’re a sole trader or business partnership, check name availability, search for a trademark, and register the company name and business.
- Australia: Register your business name through the Business Registration Service, ASIC, or a private service provider. Like in Canada, you don’t need to register your business if you use your personal name as your business name.
Pro Tip: Check if your business name is available to use by googling “[NAME + LOCATION],” or search your country’s trademark database.
Landscaping business license
You may be required to have a landscaping business license in your city or state. If you do need one, don’t start landscaping homes or businesses without it.
Your business license will have an up-front cost, and you’ll need to renew it every year. The cost will depend on the type of license you need and what services it allows for.
Head over to your city or state website and look for information about business licenses. You can also find other local regulations by googling “YOUR CITY NAME + business laws.”
5. Market your landscaping company
Marketing helps you reach potential clients and show them what you have to offer.
Start by setting a budget that you can afford. Then create a marketing plan that describes the landscaping and lawn care business marketing ideas you’ll invest in, like these:
- Brand your business with a logo and company colors, then order matching business cards, uniforms, and vehicle decals.
- Set up profiles and ask clients to leave reviews on Facebook, Google Business, and contractor lead generation sites like Thumbtack and Angi.
- Build a landscaping website and attract potential customers to it through Google’s Local Services Ads.
- Send out landscaping and lawn mowing flyers in the neighborhoods where you’d like to work.
Some of these ideas might work better for you than others. Give each of them a try, then focus on the ones that bring in the most new residential or commercial landscaping clients.
6. Hire landscapers and grow your business
If you find yourself turning away work because you’re too busy, or unable to manage your business’s daily operations, it might be a good idea to hire your first employee.
This will free up more time for you to focus on running and growing your business.
Here’s how to hire lawn care employees and landscapers:
- Write a lawn care job description and post it on social media and job search websites
- Prepare questions to ask a new employee and interview qualified applicants
- Check applicants’ references and ask them to get a police background check
- Choose the applicant you’d like to hire and offer them the position
- Schedule the landscaper’s first day of work and train them to do the job properly
FREE TOOL: Get our free landscaper salary guide
Ready to get your hands dirty? Start your own landscaping business today.