How to Start a Landscaping Business in 2024: 8-Step Guide

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    Maintaining a yard is hard work, which is why so many landscaping businesses exist—to take the chores of mowing, weeding, and treating lawns off your hands.

    If you’re the type who relishes the smell of freshly cut grass or a newly mulched garden, you might have considered starting your own landscaping business. It’s a thriving industry, particularly in areas with warm climates where work can continue nearly year-round. 

    The landscape services sector generates $93 billion annually and employs over a million people, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals report. If launching a landscaping business sounds like a fit for you, read on to learn how to get started.

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    What is a Landscaping Business?

    A landscaping business specializes in designing, creating, and maintaining outdoor spaces for residential and commercial properties. These businesses offer a range of services, including garden design, lawn care, planting trees and shrubs, installing irrigation systems, and constructing features like patios, paths, and retaining walls.

    Pros & Cons of Starting a Landscaping Business


    • Growing Market Demand: Interest in enhancing residential and commercial property aesthetics, promoting environmental sustainability, and creating outdoor living spaces is driving up demand for landscaping services.
    • Creativity and Satisfaction: Landscaping allows you to unleash your creativity and see the direct impact of your efforts. Transforming spaces not only offers personal satisfaction but also fosters strong client relationships and repeat business.
    • Flexibility: Running your own landscaping business offers the advantage of schedule flexibility and the potential for seasonal work, depending on your local climate. This flexibility is ideal for those looking to balance work with personal life.
    • Low Initial Investment: You can start small in landscaping, providing basic services with minimal equipment. As your business develops, you can gradually invest in more specialized tools and broaden your range of services.
    • Diverse Services: A landscaping business can expand into various areas such as design, maintenance, hardscaping, irrigation, and even snow removal in colder climates, thus creating multiple streams of revenue.

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    • Seasonality: Landscaping work often varies with the seasons, leading to fluctuating income. In many areas, winter can be particularly slow unless you offer alternative services like snow removal.
    • Physical Demands: Landscaping is physically demanding, involving heavy lifting, extensive bending, and frequent use of machinery. Such labor-intensive work can cause fatigue and increase the risk of injuries.
    • Competition: The landscaping market can be fiercely competitive, especially in regions with numerous established companies. Standing out from the crowd and building a client base may require considerable time and effort.
    • Regulatory Challenges: Depending on where you operate, you might face strict regulations related to business licensing, environmental laws, and employment. Navigating these requirements demands a deep understanding and meticulous management.
    • Economic Sensitivity: The landscaping industry is vulnerable to economic shifts. During economic downturns, residential and commercial clients will likely reduce spending on non-essential services, including landscaping.
    • Weather Dependence: Landscaping schedules are highly susceptible to weather conditions, which can lead to disruptions in operations and income. Bad weather can delay projects and extend work timelines unpredictably.

    How to Start a Landscaping Business in 8 Steps

    Landscaping is a profitable sector. Although initiating a landscaping business requires an investment in tools, equipment, and business registration fees, it’s not excessively expensive. Additionally, the legal requirements to get started are relatively straightforward. We’ll guide you through the steps to start a landscaping business, helping you launch your new venture swiftly.

    1. Create a Plan

    2. Decide on the Services You’ll Offer

    3. Register Your Business

    4. Apply for the Appropriate Licenses and Permits

    5. Set Your Rates

    6. Acquire Your Equipment

    7. Land Your First Client

    8. Market Your Business

    1. Create a Plan

    Starting a landscaping business begins with creating a plan. It doesn’t have to be as detailed as a traditional business plan, but it’s important to outline key aspects. 

    Consider the areas you intend to serve, the types of services you’ll offer, any specializations, the tools and equipment needed to start, your budget, and a basic strategy for marketing your business and attracting customers. This initial plan will provide a clear direction as you set up your landscaping enterprise.

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    2. Decide on the Services You’ll Offer

    Many people lump landscaping and lawn care together, but it’s important to note that lawn care, or lawn maintenance, is its own distinct business category. A lawn care business focuses specifically on the health of lawns and gardens. Typical services provided by a lawn care business might include:

    • Mowing
    • Fertilizing
    • Weed control
    • Dethatching
    • Aeration
    • Cleanups
    • Pruning
    • Lime application

    A landscaping business covers a broad range of services aimed at enhancing and maintaining outdoor spaces. Typical landscaping services might include:

    • Planting
    • Installing sod
    • Hardscaping work, such as installing water features, pavers, concrete, and retaining walls
    • Foundation planting
    • Ponds and outdoor patios
    • Garden sculptures
    • Driveways for vehicles
    • Mulching
    • Landscaping design

    Many businesses opt to specialize in either landscaping or lawn care services, although it’s certainly possible to offer both if you have the capacity. However, for startups, it may be more practical to focus on landscaping services initially.

    Begin by evaluating your skills and knowledge to determine which services to offer. For instance, if you have a strong understanding of how to integrate hardscape materials with plants, this could be a promising area of specialization. Business owners who tailor their services to their specific skills often thrive in this industry.

    Additionally, take a close look at your local competition. Identifying a niche can help you distinguish yourself. For example, if your area is saturated with sod installation services, you might consider focusing on a different niche like garden sculptures. Alternatively, offering a unique combination of services that competitors don’t provide could also set you apart.

    Conducting thorough market research is essential. This will help you assess the demand for your services and understand the profit potential of your chosen niche before fully committing to it.

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    3. Register Your Business

    Registering as a legal business entity is a crucial step in establishing your company. Before registering, choose a business name and design a logo.

    Then, depending on your needs, you can register your landscaping business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, or partnership. 

    An LLC registration service can streamline the process, ensuring you understand the terms and conditions thoroughly and helping you avoid any complications during registration. To set up your business as an LLC, consider using one of the registration services listed below. This can simplify the process and ensure it’s done correctly.

    Tailor Brands – Best LLC Service Overall

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    Tailor Brands offers an online business registration service designed to be user-friendly, helping entrepreneurs quickly and easily set up their businesses. Their platform guides users through a simple, step-by-step process, covering all the legal requirements and paperwork needed to establish their business as a separate legal entity.

    With Tailor Brands, users can secure a tax ID number, register for any required licenses and permits, and gain access to a variety of resources to ensure their business is poised for success. 

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    ZenBusiness – Best for New Business

    ZenBusiness is highly regarded for its quick business filing options and affordable incorporation costs. Their customer service team is available at any stage of the process to assist with questions, though they’re not equipped to provide legal advice.

    Starting a business might seem simple compared to ongoing management, which is why ZenBusiness offers tools to streamline these aspects. They can assist with tax documents or act as a registered agent, taking some administrative burdens off your shoulders.

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    Northwest Registered Agent – Best for Transparency

    north west registered agent

    Northwest Registered Agent is celebrated for its transparency and commitment to treating customers like real people. The service is upfront about its pricing and depends on excellent, accessible customer support to ensure things are done correctly on the first try. Moreover, they prioritize the security of your private information.

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    4. Apply for the Appropriate Licenses and Permits

    When starting a landscaping business, it’s essential to check with your county clerk’s office to determine if you need a business license. The permits and licenses required vary by state and the specific landscaping services you plan to offer. Generally, basic landscape maintenance or lawn care might not require a permit.

    For specialty services, however, you may need specific licenses. For instance, in Alabama, a Horticulture Professional Services license is necessary for most landscaping services, including tree surgery, landscape design, turf pest control, and setting landscape plants.

    In California, you will need a C-27 Landscaping Contractor license to offer landscaping services. Almost all states also require a special pesticide license if you work with pesticides.

    Insurance is crucial, even if not legally required for your service category. General liability insurance is recommended as it covers damages you might accidentally cause to a client’s property, such as damaging sprinkler heads with a mower.

    Some states mandate workers’ compensation insurance, even if you don’t have employees. This insurance is important as it covers injuries that an employee might sustain on the job, along with potential medical and legal costs.

    Lastly, ensure you obtain the necessary business licenses to operate in your area. You will also need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes if you have employees. Consulting with an attorney or an experienced landscaper can provide clarity on the specific licenses, permits, and insurance needed for your landscaping business in your specific city and state.

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    5. Set Your Rates

    When setting your rates for landscaping services, it’s important to start by researching the going rates in your area. Consider calling other local landscaping companies to understand the average cost range for similar services. 

    Typically, you might set one rate for routine maintenance like weekly mow and blow services and another for more intensive landscaping tasks such as installing new grass or plants. For example, weekly mow and blow services could range from $45 to $100, depending on the yard’s size. 

    Average landscaping costs are generally between $4 to $12 per square foot. More complex landscape design projects can exceed $7,000, influenced by the project’s complexity and size. Ensure that your pricing covers all your overhead costs, including fuel, supplies like fertilizer, and labor if you employ others. 

    Remember, if you have employees, you’re also required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. Your rates should not only cover these costs but also allow for a reasonable profit margin to sustain and grow your business.

    6. Acquire Your Equipment

    To effectively offer your landscaping services, it’s crucial to have the right equipment. Here’s a complete list of standard landscaping tools you might need:

    • Lawnmower
    • Rake
    • Shovel
    • Weedwhacker
    • Leaf blower
    • Clippers and pruning shears 
    • Fertilizing equipment
    • Hoe
    • Lawn aerator
    • Eye and ear protection
    • Buckets
    • Hedge trimmer
    • Gardening gloves

    You have the option to buy your landscaping equipment outright, though this can be costly. A more economical approach might be to rent the equipment, especially items you won’t use frequently.

    Renting not only reduces initial costs but also relieves you of maintenance responsibilities, landscapers often invest significant time and money in equipment upkeep. As your business develops, you can gradually save funds to purchase your own equipment outright.

    When deciding whether to buy new or used equipment, consider that while used items are less expensive, they may require more maintenance and repairs. To further minimize startup costs, you could initially limit the range of services you offer, which reduces the amount of equipment needed at the outset.

    Lastly, consider the necessity of transportation. As you’ll likely need to transport equipment to various job sites, investing in a reliable truck and trailer is essential. If opting for a used vehicle, exercise caution to ensure it is dependable and suitable for your business needs.

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    7. Land Your First Client

    Congratulations, you’re now open for business! Building your brand and becoming a recognized landscaper will take some time, but securing your first customer can be straightforward if you’re proactive. Start by tapping into your existing network, including friends, family, acquaintances, and former colleagues.

    Inform everyone you know about your new venture. They could become your first clients or help spread the word through their own networks. Additionally, make sure to leverage social media to announce your business, a simple tweet or Facebook post might just land your first paying customer.

    Don’t hesitate to engage with people in your local community as well. Distribute flyers and posters, or go door-to-door leaving flyers, door hangers, or business cards to promote your services.

    Finally, join your local Chamber of Commerce and connect with local business associations. These groups are invaluable for networking and can be a significant source of potential clients as you establish your landscaping business.

    8. Market Your Business

    As you embark on marketing your new business, remember that building a solid client base through word-of-mouth will take time. Meanwhile, focus on establishing a strong social media presence. Set up dedicated accounts for your business on popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach a broad audience.

    Social media is an excellent tool for engaging with your audience. Use it to share useful information, post high-quality content, and interact directly with your customers. These efforts can significantly enhance engagement with your target market.

    Additionally, make it easy for potential clients to find you online. Listing your services on marketplaces like Angie’s List not only increases your visibility but also helps build credibility for your business. These platforms are invaluable for attracting new clients and establishing trust in your brand.

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    Why Is Starting a Landscaping Business Worth It?

    Landscaping services are perpetually in demand worldwide, with slight seasonal and regional variations. Despite unpredictable markets and economic fluctuations, the landscaping business remains relatively stable. 

    People consistently need lawn care and landscaping services, ensuring a reliable revenue stream for these businesses. Starting a landscaping business is accessible due to its low barriers to entry. 

    The straightforward business model allows for a quick setup with minimal resources. You can begin with just a few pieces of equipment and dependable transportation. This type of business is also conducive to solo entrepreneurs who can start independently and hire additional staff as the business expands.

    Additionally, running a landscaping business offers significant flexibility. You have the autonomy to set your own hours, select your clients, and choose the services you provide. 

    You can opt to work locally to minimize transportation costs or target higher-paying corporate clients like community parks, apartment complexes, and hotels. This level of freedom enables you to tailor your business to fit your vision and lifestyle perfectly.

    What Is the  Difference Between a Landscaping and Lawn Care Business?

    A landscaping company specializes in designing and transforming outdoor spaces. This involves planning, constructing, arranging, and planting elements such as trees, shrubs, grass, and decorative features like pathways and water installations.

    In contrast, lawn care services concentrate on maintaining lawns through mowing, pest control, fertilizing, and applying seeds or sod. While lawn care and landscaping share similarities, many companies offer both services to cover various outdoor maintenance and design needs.

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    Services Offered by Landscaping Businesses

    • Design Services: Crafting detailed plans and layouts for gardens and outdoor areas tailored to clients’ preferences and needs, ensuring each space meets their vision.
    • Installation Services: Executing the design plan by planting flora, constructing hardscape elements like patios and retaining walls, and installing irrigation systems to maintain the health and beauty of the garden.
    • Maintenance Services: Providing ongoing care for landscapes, which includes mowing lawns, trimming hedges, fertilizing plants, and managing weed control to keep the outdoor spaces looking pristine.
    • Seasonal Services: Delivering specialized services tailored to the changing seasons, such as spring or fall cleanups, snow removal during winter, and festive decorating for holidays.

    What is the Target Market for Landscaping Businesses?

    • Residential Clients: Homeowners seeking to improve both the aesthetics and functionality of their outdoor areas, often to increase property value or personal enjoyment of their space.
    • Commercial Clients: Businesses, educational institutions, and public spaces that need professional landscaping services to maintain an attractive and welcoming exterior.
    • Government Contracts: Engaging in projects that involve public parks, roadsides, and the surroundings of government buildings, often requiring adherence to specific regulatory standards and expectations.

    Plan for off-season

    Living in a region with cold fall and winter months requires strategic planning to maintain revenue streams and keep employees engaged during the off-season. Adding seasonal services is an excellent way to ensure continuous operation. Consider incorporating services such as:

    • Leaf Removal: Clearing leaves from properties to maintain neatness and prevent lawn damage.
    • Gutter Cleaning: Removing debris from gutters to prevent water damage and maintain home integrity.
    • Snow Removal: Clearing snow from driveways, walkways, and other areas to ensure safe access.
    • Christmas Light Installation: This service involves decorating homes and businesses for the holiday season, which can be both lucrative and festive.

    These services not only help you stay profitable from late fall to early spring but also keep your team productive. During the slower periods, you can also:

    • Update Your Business Plan: Reflect on the past year and adjust your strategies to better meet your goals.
    • Market Your Services to New Customers: Use the downtime to reach out to potential clients and promote your services.
    • Clean or Maintain Your Landscaping Equipment: Ensure all your tools and machinery are in top condition for the busy seasons ahead.

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    The Investment Needed To Start a Landscaping Business

    Kicking off a landscaping business isn’t exactly cheap, and the cash you’ll need can vary widely. For a smaller operation, you’re looking at anywhere from $5,000 to a hefty $15,000 or up to a cool quarter-million for something a bit more substantial.

    Now, the big money sucker here will be the gear required to get the job done. Depending on the type of landscaping services you plan to roll out, you might need a whole arsenal of tools. 

    We’re talking lawnmowers, edging shears, string trimmers, backpack blowers, and the like—not to mention a trusty vehicle to haul all this stuff around, probably a truck or van, with a trailer hitched to it for good measure.

    Shelling out for equipment alone might set you back as much as $50,000. A dependable set of wheels will hit the five-figure range too. But hey, there’s no need to splash all your cash at once. 

    Consider borrowing, renting, or leasing the gear you need. And maybe hold off on buying new equipment until you really need it. Since cash flow can be a beast in the early days, it pays to invest wisely and gradually.

    Setting up your business entity won’t be free either, costing about $750. You’ll also need to fork out various licenses and permits, which will run you between $70 and $250 each, depending on where you’re setting up shop.

    And let’s not forget about insurance. You’ll need general liability insurance, property and casualty insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance, all of which will likely total around $2,400 annually. 

    Other potential costs include marketing, paying your crew, monthly bills, phone expenses, storing your equipment, and maintaining a business website. So, while the path to starting your own landscaping biz can be lined with expenses, careful planning and smart spending can help pave the way to success.

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    How to Start a Landscaping Business – FAQs

    Bottom Line – How to Start Landscaping Business

    Kicking off a landscaping business is pretty straightforward, but you’ll need the right tools and equipment to do the job well. First, take stock of what tools you already have, then plan your budget for buying any additional equipment needed to launch your company. 

    It’s smart to start small and expand your operations as you attract more clients and increase your revenue.

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