Lawn & Garden Landscaping

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscaping Business?

The typical cost to start a landscaping business ranges between $5,000 and $8,000. The exact cost can vary depending on the services offered, type of equipment, office and storage space, marketing, and other factors.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscaping Business

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Highlights

  • The average cost to start a landscaping business can fall between $5,000 and $8,000.
  • The main factors that will dictate the total start-up cost for a landscaping business include business structure, licenses and permits, taxes, bonding and insurance, and tools and equipment.
  • Equipment commonly purchased by landscaping start-ups includes mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and vehicles.
  • The benefits of starting a landscaping business include a high potential for success, relatively inexpensive start-up costs, the freedom to determine prices, and the ability for business owners to choose clients and set their own schedule.

For individuals who enjoy working outside in nature with their hands, starting a landscaping business is an attractive career choice. The job also allows for flexibility, creativity, and the opportunity to learn new skills as more services are added. Plus, the landscaping industry is booming, especially in mild climates where the work is in demand year-round. In fact, the landscaping industry has a market size of $129 billion in revenue annually and employs over 1.2 million people.

Before launching a landscaping business, it is important to assess all the costs associated with making this dream become a reality. The typical range of start-up costs for a landscaping business is between $5,000 and $8,000. However, costs can fluctuate depending on numerous factors including the location of the business, number of employees, equipment purchased, insurance, office and storage space, among others.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscaping Business
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Factors in Calculating the Cost to Start a Landscaping Business 

Anyone who has ever contemplated how to start a landscaping business knows it involves much more than just buying a lawn mower and cutting a few neighbors’ lawns. Building a business from the ground up takes a great deal of work and resources. In order to fully grasp what a new landscaping business entails, it is critical to consider all the expected costs. Start-up costs can vary significantly depending on the following key factors.

Business Structure

One of the first decisions business owners need to make is determining the type of business structure they want. Most small start-up businesses opt to set up a sole proprietorship. This is the simplest approach; there is no separation between the owner’s personal and business assets, and any debts the business owes are the responsibility of the business owner.

As the business grows, the owner may choose to form a limited liability company (LLC), which costs around $100 to file the paperwork. This type of structure provides the simplicity of a sole proprietorship and the liability protection of a corporation by keeping business assets and personal assets separate and therefore protected. Forming an LLC requires some paperwork and knowledge in addition to paying the filing fees. It may be beneficial to hire one of the best LLC services (such as LegalZoom or Northwest Registered Agent) to provide guidance throughout the process. There are additional business structure options, such as a partnership when there is more than one owner, a corporation, and even more complex structures.

Business Licenses and Permits

Each jurisdiction has different requirements regarding licenses and permits, so it is critical for would-be business owners to do the research before opening any business. At a minimum, most states require business owners to obtain a business license before operating a landscaping company. A landscaping license costs between $50 and $100. Cities and counties may also require certain licenses and permits. Additional licenses or permits may be necessary to certify a business has first aid training, knows how to properly use safety equipment, and handles pesticides and herbicides in an environmentally responsible manner.

Furthermore, federal licenses may be needed if a business transports plants or other greenery across state lines or if the business has customers in multiple states. Business owners will need to check with the local state Department of Agriculture to learn about license and permit requirements. It’s possible that licenses and permits can get rejected if the business owner has a criminal record, fails to pay taxes, violates zoning laws, or fills out the paperwork incorrectly.

Taxes

Business owners are responsible for filing federal, state, and local taxes. These expenses need to be factored into the cost of running the business. This means the owner will have to register with the government to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to withhold taxes, open a bank account, hire employees, and apply for permits. Paying taxes as a business owner may include paying both the employee and employer portions of state and federal taxes, such as FICA taxes, which include Social Security and Medicare. Most states require businesses to collect and pay sales tax on services completed. It is advisable to check with the state’s department of taxation for the local requirements regarding taxes.

Bonding and Insurance

Running a landscaping business comes with potential risks, such as injuries and property damage, so it is imperative to consider the types of insurance to purchase and understand how much lawn care business insurance costs. General liability insurance is the minimum coverage for a business and runs about $45 per month. Other types of landscaping business insurance to consider include commercial equipment coverage, vehicle insurance, business property insurance, and workers’ compensation for employees. Workers’ compensation insurance rates range from $0.50 to $2 per $100 of covered payroll.

A landscaping insurance policy that includes general liability coverage has annual premiums between $900 and $2,000. Finding the best insurance for a lawn care business (such as a policy from NEXT Insurance or Thimble) is a cumbersome but necessary task. While landscaping insurance costs can be adjusted based on budget and coverage needs, it’s wise for business owners to have general liability coverage at a minimum before showing up at the first job.

Tools and Equipment

A landscaper is nothing without all the helpful tools and equipment required to get the job done. However, the cost of these items can quickly add up and cause stress to the owner trying to start a new business. While equipment costs can vary depending on the type of equipment and amount purchased, there are some helpful guidelines to project the budget. It is estimated that equipment for a landscaping start-up will cost between $12,000 and $85,000, or even more.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscaping Business
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Additional Costs and Considerations

The best lawn care services and landscaping businesses often have additional costs at start-up that may not have been factored in when the business owner was first planning the company. Business owners will want to keep several additional costs in mind, including their client base, technology costs, operations and fuel costs, marketing, and equipment storage and maintenance.

Residential vs. Commercial

A critical question for a business owner to ask is: Who will the clients be? Small landscaping businesses often start out with local residential clients and add in commercial clients, such as retail shopping centers, hotels, and college campuses, as they expand. Business owners may want to keep in mind that if the focus of their operation is residential clients, start-up costs will be lower. If their preference is commercial clients, more equipment and labor will be required. While business owners tend to have more freedom when working with residential clients, commercial landscaping can provide more consistent revenue with fewer clients. As a comparison, the average lawn care business start-up costs for a residential lawn care business are $6,900 compared with $75,000 for a commercial lawn care business.

Business Software and Technology

While the main part of the job takes place outdoors, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to keep the business operating smoothly. Investing in the best lawn care scheduling software (such as Jobber) can help landscaping business owners save time and money, communicate consistently and effectively with customers and staff, track purchases and inventory, and streamline invoicing and payments.

There are many types of software programs available at varying price points. Most business software suites for landscaping companies cost between $30 to $50 per month, but there are free options as well. “Leveraging JobNimbus for client management and QuickBooks for finances has streamlined daily operations,” explains Phil Sarros, CEO of Sarros Landscaping in Cumming, Georgia. “This tech duo not only enhances efficiency but also helps us with client communication and financial tracking.”

Finally, business owners and their staff may decide to take training courses to further develop their skills. The best online landscaping design courses vary from free of charge for the home gardener to professional-quality programs that cost $600 or more.

Operations Management

Another critical part of the business is determining operations expenses. These are typically recurring overhead costs such as staff wages, office rent, utilities, phones, answering service, computers, and internet, among others. These fees will vary based on how large the company is and where it is located.

To get an idea, the average hourly wage of a landscaping worker is $17.92, or $37,270 annually. Renting a 2,500-square-foot office and warehouse at a rate of $20 per square foot per year will cost around $4,000 per month, with an additional $4,500 to $5,000 per month for utilities. To minimize these costs when starting out, a small-business owner may choose to work out of the home and use a personal computer and cell phone.

Fuel Costs

Landscaping companies can’t avoid fuel costs since the business model relies on traveling to numerous locations to service clients. Fuel costs will vary depending on miles traveled, geographic location, type of fuel, and economic factors. Transportation fuel costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month. For a landscaping business with two small vans each traveling 50 miles per day (covering 8 to 10 miles per gallon at $4.50 per gallon), that costs upwards of $600 in gas per month per van, or a total of $1,200.

In addition to transportation fuel costs, owners will need to consider the fuel to run equipment. It costs about $7 per hour in fuel to run a gas-powered mower, which quickly adds up when multiple mowers are being used throughout the day. Of course, choosing battery-powered tools can save money and reduce environmental impact.

Marketing and Advertising

In order to be successful and continue to grow, a landscaping business needs to have a strong and strategic marketing and advertising plan. Key marketing components include:

  • Printing business cards, brochures, door hangers, and signs;
  • Designing and managing a helpful and user-friendly website that shows up when a potential client searches online for “lawn mowing service near me”;
  • Ordering uniforms and truck decals;
  • Investing in social media ads and print ads for local newspapers and magazines;
  • Paying for sponsorships of local events and teams;
  • Attending conferences and networking events; and
  • Joining business associations.

A simple website can run $100 to $500 on the low end to several thousands of dollars, especially if a business owner hires a website designer. It is recommended to start with an online marketing budget of $200 to $2,000 per month. Business owners will want to check with local publications for their ad rates and ask for multiple bids for printing and ordering items such as signs, brochures, uniforms, and truck decals, since these costs will vary spending on the vendor.

Equipment Storage and Maintenance

Once all the equipment is purchased, the question that needs to follow is where will it all be stored? Small businesses can rely on portable storage units, with an average monthly cost of $150. Self-storage facility units run about $90 per month, while larger units can cost around $300 per month.

In addition, there are maintenance and repair fees to keep equipment running efficiently, and business owners will need to factor these into their landscaping costs. Common maintenance tasks include sharpening blades; changing oil in motorized equipment; replacing filters; and inspecting and replacing tool belts and hand tools such as rakes, shovels, and shears. The cost to repair a lawn mower, for instance, typically ranges from $60 to $100. Landscaping businesses with heavy machinery can expect to pay around $500 to $1,000 annually for maintenance and repair of equipment.

Cost to Start a Landscaping Businesses by Type of Equipment

Landscaping and lawn care equipment is one of the largest start-up costs for a landscaping business. Landscaping is a service-driven industry, so the equipment needs to be reliable to get the job done effectively. Each company needs certain essential tools to take on projects. As the business grows, the business owner can consider investing in additional equipment or higher-quality items. The equipment necessary to start a landscaping company commonly includes mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and vehicles and trailers.

Mowers

The best landscaping companies will have at least one top-quality lawn mower, if not several. Most companies have more than one lawn mower in case one breaks. A new basic push mower for a landscaping business start-up costs between $500 and $1,000 for a medium-grade, gas-powered model. Used mowers can be purchased at a discounted rate to save money. Once the business is more established and there are multiple clients to serve, the owner will most likely want to invest in additional mowers of higher quality. A commercial-grade walk-behind mower has a price tag between $1,000 and $5,000, and a ride-on mower will cost $6,000 to $10,000 or more. To save money, shop around for deals on the best lawn mowers and ask about bundles with other types of equipment. Financing options may also be available to avoid paying the entire amount up front.

String Trimmers

Landscaping companies that offer mowing services also need the best string trimmers to tackle the spots that the mowers can’t reach. Also called edgers, weed eaters, or weed wackers, string trimmers not only create a clean-cut edge but also cut grass and weeds around driveways, lawn ornaments, tree bases, signposts, and playground equipment. Their quick rotation easily chops off the tops of grass and weeds. Landscape company owners can expect to pay around $100 to $500 or more for a high-quality string trimmer.

Leaf Blowers

The best leaf blowers are an essential tool for any landscaping business. They help clean up a location after mowing and other work takes place to leave the yard as clean and tidy looking as possible.

Leaf blowers are often used at the end of the job to remove grass clipping, leaves, dirt, and other debris from a driveway, patio, or walking path. Although a homeowner can use a rake to clean up, pros have a better understanding of how to use a leaf blower efficiently to save time. New leaf blowers typically cost in the range of $100 to $500. Small residential-size leaf blowers are on the lower end, while the best backpack leaf blowers have a higher price point.

Vehicles and Trailers

Trucks and trailers are fundamental pieces of equipment for every landscaping business in order to haul the rest of the tools to and from jobsites. Pickup trucks are a popular option since they can transport many items at once, but also provide the flexibility to attach a trailer for additional storage capacity. A single truck can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $75,000 (or more) depending on features and whether it is new or used. A new pickup truck, for example, starts at around $30,000.

While a trailer may not be necessary when a business owner is first starting a landscaping business, as the business expands and gains more customers, it will most likely become a necessity. Small equipment trailers cost between $1,000 and $6,000. Open flatbed trailers are less expensive than covered trailers at around $1,000, but they expose equipment to rain, wind, and other elements, as well as to theft. Covered trailers range from $3,000 to $10,000.

Additional Equipment

In addition to mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, and vehicles, a landscaping business owner may need to acquire the tools necessary to provide the desired landscaping services. These additional equipment pieces can include some or all of the following: edgers, gas containers, fertilizer spreaders, sprayers, chainsaws, pressure washers, aerators, hedge trimmers, hand tools, lawn tools, and personal protective equipment. While many of these costs are reasonable individually, the total cost to the business can quickly add up over time.

ToolAverage Cost
Aerator$250
Chainsaw$250
Edger$100 to $600
Fertilizer sprayer$50 to $500
Fertilizer spreader$100 to $600
Gas container (5-gallon)$20 to $50
Hand tools$100 to $500
Hedge trimmers$100 to $400
Lawn tools$200 to $1,000
Personal protective equipment$50 to $500
Pressure washer$800

Owning a Small Landscaping Business vs. Working for a Large Landscaping Business

For those who enjoy working for themselves and outside in nature, starting a small landscaping business can offer tons of benefits including a high potential for success, ability to choose clients, and freedom to set prices and service offerings. Landscapers have the option to work for themselves or for one of the best landscaping companies in their area. Weighing the following benefits of owning a landscaping business can help potential business owners decide if it’s a good fit.

High Potential for Success

Landscaping businesses are known to have a high potential for success, mainly due to steady demand and endless clientele options. Landscaping tends to be a business niche that is immune to fluctuating economies and unpredictable markets since the lawn still needs to be mowed and the vegetation planted, watered, and trimmed. Even during off-season months, landscapers can offer additional services such as snow removal and sprinkler system winterization. Plus, owning a business means earning 100 percent of the profit from a job versus a portion going to the owner of the company.

Relatively Simple and Inexpensive Start-Up

In general, launching a small landscaping company is pretty easy and inexpensive, making it an attractive option when compared with working for a large company. Keeping it simple is key; business owners can start small with just a few pieces of quality equipment and minimal staff. The key pieces of equipment to get the business off the ground include a lawn mower, clippers, rakes, and shovels. Entrepreneurs can use what they have, or borrow, rent, or buy used equipment to get started. They’ll also want to handle critical business-related tasks, such as getting an Employer Identification Number; obtaining necessary permits, licenses, and insurance; purchasing marketing assets such as landscaping business cards; and setting up a website.

Freedom to Determine Services and Set Prices

Unlike those who work for a large landscaping company, a small landscaping business owner is in charge of determining the services offered to clients and setting fees. This gives them the power to charge whatever they feel the market can bear and to offer special discount promotions when they want. Business owners can do market research to determine the average lawn mowing cost or lawn care cost in their area and set their prices to be competitive but profitable. By having control over services, they can also choose what products to use in the business. This means possibly avoiding certain brands or toxic chemicals that don’t meet the needs and vision of the business. Having this hands-on approach can businesses help build more trust with clients.

Ability to Choose Clients

Being able to customize a client list is a huge benefit to owning a small landscaping business. This can mean having stronger, friendlier client relationships; finding higher-paying clients who value the services being offered; doing less driving if clients are located nearby; and working in preferred neighborhoods. Plus, there are many options when it comes to choosing clients: single-family homes, apartment complexes, schools, hotels, community parks, government properties, corporate buildings, and so on. The freedom to handpick clients is simply not possible for those who aren’t working for themselves.

Ability to Set Schedules

An attractive part of owning a business is being able to decide when it’s time to work. While landscapers who run their own business need to please clients and show up when they say they will, they do not have to answer to a boss and clock in and out when told. In some regions, landscaping services are seasonal, which can be beneficial to schedule other activities such as vacations or business development efforts like marketing. Overall, owning a landscaping business means having control over one’s daily schedule, which can ultimately improve work-life balance.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Landscaping Business
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How to Save Money on the Cost to Start a Landscaping Business

The numerous costs involved in launching and running a landscaping business can quickly get overwhelming. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the start-up and ongoing fees of a landscaping business. These tips help prevent overspending on equipment and other expenses to keep the business thriving.

  • Start small. Limit service offerings in the beginning to minimize equipment and storage costs.
  • Rent equipment. Instead of making any large up-front investments, consider renting equipment from home improvement stores (typically for around $100 per day) to see how the business takes off before purchasing any products.
  • Buy used. Save money by looking for used and reconditioned equipment that are a fraction of the cost; check community boards like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
  • Search for deals. Reduce equipment costs by taking advantage of sales at hardware stores, nurseries, and farm supply stores; buying landscaping equipment in bundles; and networking with trusted local vendors who can keep you apprised of special deals.
  • Share costs. Partner with other business owners to rent an office or storage space.
  • Streamline the business. Avoid spending money on unnecessary or unused products by setting up an ordering system, such as through a software program, to track receipts, inventory, and vendor prices.

Questions to Ask About Starting a Landscaping Business

Starting landscaping businesses is a challenging and often intimidating endeavor for many. It is beneficial to explore any concerns by asking the right questions before making this big life decision. These questions can help a business owner get a good sense of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the viability of their business plan. The following are several key questions a landscaping professional may want to ask themselves before starting a new landscaping business:

  • Why am I starting this business at this time?
  • Am I willing to invest the time and money it will take to launch and manage my own business?
  • Do I understand the potential risks of starting a landscaping business?
  • Should I start a company from the ground up, or would it make more sense for me to become part of a franchise operation?
  • What services will I offer?
  • How will I finance my business?
  • How will my business be structured?
  • Do I have the right equipment?
  • Who are my target customers?
  • What licenses and certifications do I need?
  • Will I need an office and/or storage space?
  • Do I want to work with a team and manage staff?
  • What does the landscaping market look like in my area? Is it already too competitive?
  • How will I market my business to find new customers?

FAQs

The cost of starting a landscaping company is an investment, typically ranging from $5,000 to $8,000. Before landscaping professionals decide to start their own business, they’ll want to make sure they understand all the landscape costs involved, such as licenses, permits, taxes, equipment, fuel, and staff. The following common questions can help landscaping professionals decide if starting their own business is the right choice for them.

Q. What is the profit margin for landscaping?

The profit margin for a landscaping business is the ratio of profits earned by the business compared with earned revenue. It’s imperative to identify total costs, cost per job, and factors impacting the bottom net profit line. Typically, the net profit margin for a landscaping business ranges from 5 percent to 20 percent per job. The more expenses a company has, the less profit it will make.

Q. What state is the best for a landscaping business?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California has the most employees in the landscaping business, and they make the most money relative to workers in other states. Additionally, the mild and steady climate, in general, allows for landscaping services in California year-round.

Q. How much do landscapers make?

The average hourly wage of a landscaping worker is $17.92, and the average annual salary is $37,270, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. California is the state with the highest salary at $42,370, followed by New York, Illinois, Florida, and Texas, in that order.

Q. How can I come up with a landscaping business name?

One of the most important parts of starting a landscaping business is coming up with a catchy name that will attract potential customers and differentiate the company from competitors. Make sure the name clearly reflects the services offered; is simple and memorable; does not limit the business by including specific services or locations; and will resonate with the target audience based on their age, lifestyle, and preferences. Finally, check that the name is not already being used to avoid any trademark or website conflicts.

Sources: Lawn Love, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Association of Landscape Professionals, LawnStarter, ZenBusiness, SharpSheets, Upflip, DynaScape