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How to start a lawn care business: a comprehensive guide

Homeowners and businesses are willing to invest in keeping their lawns lush and healthy, so starting a lawn care business can be a profitable venture.

There is a high, steady demand for professional lawn maintenance services, with the landscaping and lawn care industry showing considerable growth in recent years, generating billions of dollars annually

As more people focus on enhancing their outdoor spaces, the potential for a successful career in lawn care is significant. If you’re thinking about it, take some time to explore our guide, covering what you need to know to start a lawn care business, including all the key points to consider before you take the leap.

How much does it cost to start a lawn care business?

A lawn care business provides services to maintain and improve the aesthetic appeal of lawns and outdoor spaces. These services may include lawn mowing, fertilization, weed control, landscaping, and more, so naturally, the cost to start a lawn care business will vary depending on the services you plan to offer and the scale of your operations.

Among the key costs to bear in mind are equipment, licensing, insurance, marketing, and any staff you’ll need to hire. Below, we’ve outlined a breakdown of potential expenses research for starting a lawn care business and some average estimates.

Equipment costs

  • Lawnmowers: from around $100-$5,000 and up per unit
  • Trimmers and edgers: around $100-$400 per unit
  • Blowers: on average, $80-$200 per unit
  • Weed sprayers: typically $70-$345 per unit
  • Transportation (new transit van): around $45,000-$60,000

Licensing fees

A lawn care business license typically costs around $100/year, but this varies by locality. The cost of pesticide applicator's licenses and vehicle registration varies significantly from state to state, so make sure you look into your local fees and regulations.


  • General liability insurance: on average, about $805 annually
  • Commercial auto insurance: on average around $1,800 annually (varies based on vehicles and coverage)
  • Workers' compensation insurance (if you’re hiring a team): on average around $550 annually (varies based on number of employees)

Marketing and advertising

When it comes to marketing, it’s difficult to give a meaningful estimate of costs as it will depend entirely on the type and level of marketing tools, materials, and activities you decide to invest in.

For example, you could opt to build your own simple “DIY website” using a content management system like WordPress, which you can access for free at the most basic level or from around $48/year. If you need a larger, more complex, custom-built website with a bespoke design and advanced functionality, on the other hand, you could easily spend thousands of dollars both for build and ongoing maintenance.

Other marketing expenses to consider include business cards, promotional materials, online advertising, and print advertising. Again, these costs will vary wildly depending on factors such as whether you use a professional graphic designer, where you are based, and the amount of advertising you need to undertake.   

Operating expenses

Core operating costs to consider might include:

  • Fuel for your business vehicle and equipment
  • Maintenance and repairs of equipment
  • Protective gear
  • Uniforms for yourself and any staff members
  • General office supplies

It’s also a good idea to invest in smart software for invoicing, accounting, work scheduling, and HR processes (if you’re hiring employees) to help automate your financial management and general business operations and ensure you stay tax compliant. If you join or get accredited by any industry associations, there will typically be annual fees for this as well.

Employee costs

Salaries or wages can vary drastically based on location and position. Entry-level positions might start at minimum wage, while experienced technicians or managers will earn more. Remember that you may also need to pay for training programs and certifications.

If you’re hiring a team, you’ll also need to cover payroll taxes, approximately 15-20% of total wages. If you opt to use a good payroll software solution, it will automatically process your payroll for you, calculating things like employee wages, deductions, overtime, and taxes.


Tips for starting a lawn care business in 7 steps

So, what do you need to do to start a lawn care business, in terms of planning and preparation? We’ve outlined some of the key steps below.

1. Write your lawn care business plan

Creating a well-researched and thought-out lawn care business plan is an essential early-stage task, providing you with a roadmap for your company's growth and development. It should include the following key elements.

  • Executive summary: provide a concise business overview, including its mission, vision, and key objectives.
  • Company description: describe your business and the services you plan to offer, including things like lawn mowing and edging, fertilization, weed control, landscape design and installation, irrigation system installation, and pest control. Tailor your services to meet the needs of your target audience and stand out in the local marketplace, highlighting your unique selling points and competitive advantages.
  • Business objectives: outline your short-term and long-term goals, including your revenue targets, market share targets, and any other key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Market research: conduct a thorough analysis of the lawn care industry for your chosen service area and the type of services you plan to offer, including your target audience. Identify competitors, market trends, and potential opportunities.
  • Organization and management: outline the organizational structure of your company, including key personnel, as well as the qualifications and experience of your management team, if applicable.
  • Financial plan: offer detailed financial projections, including your lawn care startup costs, operating expenses, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis. This section should also cover how you plan to fund your business (see the FAQs section for some suggestions to get your started).
  • Logistic needs: outline the logistics of your lawn care business, including the type of equipment needed and any partnerships with suppliers or service providers.

2. Start your lawn care business legally

When establishing your lawn care business, choosing the right legal structure is essential. The most common options include a limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, or partnership.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

  • Provides personal liability protection
  • Simplifies taxation, combining personal and business income
  • Offers flexibility in management

Sole proprietorship

  • Simplest form of business ownership
  • Owner has complete control
  • Pass-through taxation


  • Shared responsibility among partners
  • Pass-through taxation
  • Potential for more resources and ideas


Research local and state regulations to determine which licenses you need to open up a lawn care business and how to obtain them. This may include a general business license and a pesticide applicator's license.

3. Get the equipment needed for your lawn care business

Investing in good quality lawn care business equipment is crucial for delivering efficient and effective services. Consider the following equipment:

  • Lawn mowers / commercial lawn mowers
  • Trimmers and edgers
  • Leaf blowers
  • Sprayers for fertilization and pest control
  • Van, truck, or trailer for equipment transport

Regular maintenance is essential to keep your equipment safe, prolong its lifespan, and ensure optimal performance.

4. Source lawn care business insurance

Mitigate risks and save money by researching the best deals and getting the necessary insurance for your lawn care business.

  • General liability insurance for lawn care businesses: protects against third-party claims of bodily injury or property damage.
  • Commercial auto insurance: covers vehicles used for business purposes.
  • Workers' compensation insurance: provides cover for employee injuries on the job.

Insurance not only safeguards your business but also instills confidence in clients.

5. Price your lawn care services

Research your competition and decide on competitive and profitable pricing for your services. Consider factors such as:

  • The size of the lawn
  • Frequency of service
  • Complexity of services provided
  • Equipment/fuel needed to deliver services
  • Local market rates

Try to balance achieving a competitive edge and pricing that reflects the value and expertise you offer your customers.

6. Market your lawn care business

Effective marketing is a key business tool to master to attract and retain customers. You could consider utilizing a mix of online and offline strategies.

  • Create a professional website: showcase your services, pricing, and contact information, ideally including an email address that you check daily and a contact number. Highlight any qualifications, testimonials, positive trust scores, image galleries, and social media pages. Make it easy for visitors to find any other information they might want up front, such as which geographical areas you service.
  • Social media presence: it’s a good idea to have a visually appealing social media presence, with before-and-after photos of your work. Try to post regular updates, and make sure you engage with the community. Reply promptly and in a friendly manner to comments (including negative ones) and inquiries.
  • Local advertising: you can use flyers, business cards, and local newspapers, radio, or TV advertising to reach your target audience.
  • Word of mouth: encourage satisfied customers to refer your services to family and friends and to share reviews online.

Build a brand that communicates reliability and professionalism.

7. Hire lawn care employees

Consider the following when building your team.

Experience and training: look for individuals with relevant qualifications and experience in lawn care or provide thorough training.

Reliability: dependable employees are crucial for maintaining a consistent service schedule. Ask applicants for references and set clear expectations.

Professionalism: employees should represent your business well, interacting courteously with clients. Check-in with clients regularly to make sure they’re happy.

Create a positive working environment by treating your team well and offering working conditions and rewards that boost staff morale, foster employee satisfaction, and encourage loyalty.

FAQs about starting a lawn care business

You could potentially finance your new lawn care business in several ways if you don’t already have the capital secured.

If you have a good credit score and a solid credit history, you might be able to get an Small Business Administration (SBA) loan. The criteria for these loans can be restrictive, but they typically offer a high loan total and a low-interest rate.

Another option to consider is an equipment finance loan. This is often easier to secure than a SBA loan, which can cover up to 100% of your equipment cost. You can use this type of loan to buy or lease costly equipment, usually with a competitive interest rate. It’s worth bearing in mind that your equipment will normally serve as collateral, which means the lender could take possession of it if you don’t repay your loan.

You could also look into taking out a small business term loan. If successful, you can borrow a lump sum that you pay back with regular repayments at a fixed interest rate over an agreed time period.

Credit cards offer an alternative, possibly less admin-heavy, route to financing big purchases and expenses. But a loan with a reasonable interest rate can often be a more affordable, less risky option in the long run. 

Pros include:

  • High demand and repeat business. Depending on your location and the size of the area you service, you could have access to a practically endless supply of potential clients, many of whom may need ongoing, regular lawn maintenance and other related services. This means that for many lawn care startups, there’s significant potential to earn a stable income and grow the business.
  • Scope for diversification. In addition to needing their lawns mowed and maintained, your clients may need help with things like lawn fertilization, weed and bug treatment, trimming bushes and trees, and garden landscaping.
  • Affordable and easy to get started. Compared to many other types of startups, the cost to start a lawn care business is relatively low. You won’t necessarily need a lot of very expensive equipment initially, as long as you have the most essential tools and transportation for you and your gear.

Cons include:

  • Stiff competition. You’re unlikely to be the only lawn care business operating in your area, so it’s important that you research your competition and market demand thoroughly before you launch. You might want to consider offering lower prices than rivals to start with or providing additional services to give yourself a competitive advantage.
  • Seasonal slumps. If you live in a state with cold winters, getting regular, reliable lawn care and gardening work year-round can be tricky.
  • Risk of financially hard times. Unless most of your clients are wealthy, there’s a risk that many of them could cut back on non-essential services—like paying for lawn care—if the economic climate gets tough or their financial circumstances change.

Final thoughts on how to start up a lawn care business 

Starting a lawn care business can be a rewarding venture, provided you approach it with careful planning and execution.

From legal considerations to marketing strategies and employee management, each step plays a crucial role in the success of your business. You could build a thriving lawn care business in this growing industry by offering your clients quality services, building a strong brand, and adapting to market demands.

Looking to start a different type of business?

We've created a range of guides about startups and startup costs in a host of sectors and trades

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