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How to Hire Lawn Care Employees and Landscapers: 5 Steps

May 6, 2022 7 min. read
Academy / Lawn Care / How to Hire Lawn Care Employees

Hiring lawn care and landscape employees lets you help more clients, offer more services, and make more time to run your business. To meet those goals, you have to know how to find good landscape employees and lawn care workers—and how to properly hire them.

We’ll walk you through how to hire lawn care employees, from creating job descriptions to onboarding new hires, so you can find the right people and quickly get them to work.

1. Decide what kind of employees you need

The type of employees you hire should depend on what kind of support your business needs most.

Start by hiring field workers so you can take on more jobs. Here’s how to decide between permanent and temporary field workers:

  • Permanent field workers can be loyal, long-term partners who grow their skills with you and build strong relationships with your customers. Permanent workers cost more in wages, but they also save you the time and money it takes to hire and train new staff every year.
  • Temporary or seasonal workers are great for scaling your team when you have increases in customer requests—or when spring and summer come. Temp workers keep you flexible when business fluctuates, so you won’t have to let go of employees when you’re overstaffed.

When hiring your first employee, part-time field workers are a cost-effective starting point. Once you and your part-time employee have more work than you can handle, you can continue to gradually grow the team to cover your growing volume of work.

For certain jobs, you might need a subcontractor instead of a part-time or temporary field worker. Subcontractors make the most sense when hiring lawn care field workers for one-off jobs or work you wouldn’t normally do, like pruning or snow removal.

READ MORE: Subcontractors vs. employees: what’s the difference?

You can consider hiring office staff once you have a team of several field workers and plenty of customers to manage.

An administrative assistant can help you take calls, book jobs, handle customer service issues, and organize paperwork. You might also want a bookkeeper or accountant to manage your finances.

2. Create a lawn care job description

Once you’ve decided what kind of employee you want to hire, create a job description so you know exactly what skills, experience, and traits you need to look for.

Here are the sections you need in your lawn care job description:

  • Summary of the position, including the purpose of the job and how it fits into the goals you set in your lawn care business plan
  • Description of your ideal candidate with traits that will help them succeed in your team (e.g., supportive, focused, creative)
  • List of responsibilities, like completing multiple hardscaping jobs per day, operating lawn care equipment, and dealing with customers
  • List of qualifications, like previous lawn maintenance or landscaping experience, vehicle licenses, any special certifications

Pro Tip: Avoid hiring inexperienced employees to save money. Experienced lawn care and landscape laborers will save you training time, reduce costly errors, and improve the quality of your jobs.

READ MORE: Stan Genadek’s top 7 small business hiring tips

Network with home service professionals

Talk to industry contacts, previous colleagues, and other contractors who know where to hire lawn care employees and landscapers. The more people you chat with in the industry, the more likely you are to hear about candidates.

You can also join Facebook groups where landscapers in your area network and share job opportunities. To increase your odds, join other groups for trades and home service professionals—you might find lawn care pros looking for work there, too.

Pro Tip: Connect with lawn care and other home service pros in the Jobber Entrepreneurship Group on Facebook.

Ask your current employees

Advertise the job to your existing employees, too. Someone on your team might be ready for a promotion, or they might know someone who’d be a good fit.

Referrals from existing employees can also help you attract and retain more qualified workers, since you’re getting recommendations from people you already trust. Consider starting an employee referral program that rewards your employees for recommending candidates.

4. Interview the best candidates

Once you’ve collected several good resumes, schedule interviews with the most qualified applicants.

Here are some interview questions to help you find great lawn care and landscape workers:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Describe your past experience in lawn care and landscaping.
  • Why do you think you’re the right person for this job?
  • What type of lawn care or landscaping equipment have you used? Do you have experience operating powered equipment such as mowers, tractors, snow blowers, electric clippers, chain saws, sod cutters, and pruning saws?
  • How do you keep a property free of plant diseases or harmful insects?
  • What are the most effective methods for mixing and spreading fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides?
  • Describe an experience when you followed planned landscaping designs to sow grass, lay sod, or plant foliage.
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer or coworker. How did you handle the situation?
  • Do you have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving record?

READ MORE: 10 questions to ask a new employee before you hire them

Make sure you explain why your company is a great place to work—the candidate has to decide whether your business is a good fit for them, too. The way business owners act during the interview is a big part of what attracts employees to a company.

Once a candidate passes the interview and you’re ready to hire, ask them to send you professional references. Call these contacts to ask about their experience working with the candidate.

Finally, ask the candidate to provide a criminal record check and motor vehicle report to check if they have a safe driving history.

5. Offer the job and onboard your new employee

Now, you can phone your top candidate and let them know they got the job. Put your offer in writing in an email, and attach an offer letter to make the hire official.

The offer letter should outline their starting date, job responsibilities, compensation, benefits, and the conditions of their employment. Your employee needs to read and sign this document to show that they’ve agreed to meet your expectations for the role.

Next, you need to prepare for your employee’s first day—this is when you’ll welcome them and start onboarding them to the team. Before the start date, you should prepare:

  • A meeting place to welcome them to the team and get them set up for work
  • Forms to collect their Social Security number (SSN), verify their eligibility to work (IRS Form I-9), and deduct income taxes (IRS Form W-4)
  • Their work uniform (e.g., a company-branded t-shirt or hat)
  • Your company vehicle, equipment, lawn care business software, and other supplies they’ll need to start working

On their first day, walk your employee through your company policies and their initial work schedule.

It’s a good idea to document all your company policies and add a dotted line where your employees can sign. This official agreement can be useful if the employee fails to meet your requirements and needs disciplinary action.

When should you hire lawn care employees?

Hire lawn care and landscape employees when you’re struggling to keep up with demand. You can also start hiring landscaping employees and lawn care workers when:

  • You need workers with specialized expertise so you can offer more services (e.g., arborists, horticulture specialists, irrigation technicians)
  • You get new customers flooding in when spring comes
  • You start winning large commercial lawn care contracts
  • Your landscaping clients start asking for bigger and more complex projects

Before you hire, your cash flow should be steady enough that you can afford to pay wages and still have money left over.

How to pay lawn care employees

You should pay lawn care field workers and landscapers hourly. Experienced lawn care and landscape managers are often paid an annual salary.

For green industry field workers, work hours can fluctuate a lot due to changing weather conditions. An hourly payment structure is the most effective way to compensate them for actual working hours.

The median hourly wage for lawn care employees in the U.S. is $15.49 per hour, or $32,220 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Landscapers make an average of $34,570 per year, or $16.62 per hour.

Wages should vary based on experience, certifications, and typical wages in your region.

Grow your team and your lawn care business

Once you figure out how and where to hire lawn care employees, it’ll get easier to adapt the size of your team when you need more efficiency in your business.

Choose the right kind of employee for your specific goals, make a great job posting, and keep adjusting your interview and onboarding process. Your excellent new hires will be proof that you got it right.

Originally published in January. 2020. Last updated on May 6th, 2022.

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