Starting a landscaping business is a great way to profit from your skills. Find out how to start a business and land lucrative landscaping jobs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, landscapers are responsible for performing the tasks necessary to create and maintain a "pleasing and functional outdoor environment." Depending on the circumstances, a landscaper's job description may include duties such as mowing and fertilizing lawns, trimming hedges and shrubs, mulching landscape beds, planting flowers and trees, monitoring plant health, and irrigating lawns and gardens. Some landscaping jobs involve constructing patios, creating walkways, and installing outdoor lights or sprinklers.
If you have experience with lawn care, horticulture, or any other aspect of landscaping, starting your own business is a great way to increase your earnings. This comprehensive guide explains what you need to do to establish a landscaping business, find landscaping jobs in your service area, and handle your business finances.
The experts at CraftJack have extensive experience supporting professional landscapers. Click to learn more about how we can help your business find new customers.
Table Of Contents
- The Landscaping Industry
- Types Of Landscaping Businesses
- Starting A Business
- Pricing Strategies
- Bookkeeping Basics
- Marketing A Landscaping Business
The Landscaping Industry
As of 2021, the U.S. landscaping industry generated more than $114 billion per year in revenue, an average of $185,366 across 315,000 active companies. Several factors make the landscaping industry especially attractive to home service professionals who want to start their own businesses, including a somewhat low concentration of competitors and the relatively small amount of capital needed to enter the industry. The landscaping industry is also less vulnerable to major changes in technology, making it ideal for service providers who'd rather spend their time completing projects than updating software or purchasing new equipment.
The landscaping industry is a major contributor to the American economy, with landscaping firms paying more than $38 billion per year in wages and employing approximately one million people. Landscaping companies also help other firms stay in business by buying their products and services. For example, the typical landscaping company buys from chemical manufacturers, auto manufacturers, tool manufacturers, home improvement retailers, and manufacturers of lawn care equipment.
According to the BLS, the number of jobs available in the industry is expected to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030, creating approximately 93,000 openings. Analysts from IBISWorld also have a positive outlook for the industry, as they're predicting annual growth of 2.4% between 2021 and 2026.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic prevented many landscapers from running their businesses at full capacity in 2020 and 2021, the demand for landscaping services has started to rebound. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever for enterprising service professionals to start their own landscaping businesses. The pandemic also caused lenders to slash mortgage interest rates, increasing the demand for residential properties. As a result, nearly six million units sold in 2020, the highest number since 2006. The demand for residential landscaping services is much higher than the demand for commercial services, so increased home sales are a good thing for landscapers.
One of the most important trends to understand is "green" landscaping, which emphasizes the use of environmentally friendly landscaping methods. Many people are concerned about the harmful effects of climate change on the environment, prompting them to experiment with xeriscaping or choose plants and grasses that require less water than other varieties. Some customers are interested in green landscaping because it can help preserve local butterfly and bee populations. Eco-friendly landscaping is also used to save energy and slash utility costs. If your customers express a desire to use environmentally friendly landscaping practices, consider specializing in green landscaping or eco-friendly lawn care.
As more homeowners hire landscaping pros, we're here to help you connect with them. Click to learn more about how CraftJack can help your business grow.
Types Of Landscaping Businesses
Most companies offer either commercial landscaping or residential landscaping services. Commercial landscaping jobs involve designing and maintaining visually appealing business spaces. Shopping malls, apartment complexes, and hotels are just some of the businesses that hire commercial landscapers to plant flowers and shrubs, put down mulch and gravel, install fountains and other water features, mow lawns, and create natural fences.
Residential landscaping focuses on private homes rather than commercial properties. Depending on the size of the property, a homeowner may want you to plant flowers and shrubs, install water features, fertilize and maintain the lawn, pull weeds, trim shrubs, water gardens, and monitor the health of trees, bushes, and ornamental plants. Although residential landscapers provide many of the same services as commercial landscapers, each type of customer has different needs.
Commercial customers may want to make their businesses more appealing to consumers or use landscaping features to create an environment that helps them attract repeat business. Residential customers typically hire landscapers to beautify their outdoor spaces and make them more functional. A residential customer may even ask you to give them more privacy by creating natural fences with shrubs and trees.
Once you decide whether to focus on commercial or residential jobs, you need to decide whether you want to be a generalist or a specialist. Specializing has some benefits, such as the ability to charge more for your specialized knowledge and skills, but some landscapers prefer the variety that comes with handling all kinds of landscaping jobs.
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Starting A Landscaping Business
If you use your favorite search engine to look for information on landscaping, you'll find that "how to start a landscaping business," "how much does it cost to start a landscaping business," and "how to start a landscaping business with no experience" are some of the most common questions. This guide to starting a business discusses common start-up costs and provides an overview of the legal considerations involved in starting a landscaping company. After reading it, you'll have the answer to a common question: What do I need to start a landscaping business?
Common Start-Up Costs
Equipment And Supplies
If you don't already have a van or a truck with a trailer, you may need to purchase a used vehicle before you get tools and other equipment. Buying a compact pickup versus a full-sized pickup can help you conserve funds until your business is profitable enough to upgrade to something bigger. If a used pickup isn't in your budget, consider purchasing a trailer that's compatible with a vehicle you already own.
Once you have transportation capable of hauling everything you need to provide landscaping services, it's time to buy equipment and supplies. Lawnmowers, sprayers, hedge trimmers, spreaders, and blowers are some of the most common pieces of equipment used by landscaping professionals. You're also likely to need hand tools, buckets, and lawn bags to make it easier to do small jobs and clean up when you're done.
Business Formation Expenses
When you start a business, it's important to do it the right way. That means following all state and local laws regarding business licenses and permits, business registration, and tax payments. Depending on where you live, you may have to pay multiple filing fees or application fees to make sure you're in compliance with the rules. In some states, you must publish an announcement in your local newspaper when you register a business. The cost of meeting this requirement varies based on where you live and which publication you choose.
A sole proprietorship is the easiest type of business to start, but it may not be the right structure for your business. When you're a sole proprietor, you're legally responsible for everything that happens with your customers and your employees. If you damage a customer's property or inadvertently violate a labor law, you could be sued, putting your personal assets at risk.
Forming a limited liability company separates your personal assets from assets owned by the business. If your business is sued, only the business assets are at risk, not your personal assets. You can also avoid paying corporate taxes by passing the profit from your LLC to your personal income.
It's also possible to structure your landscaping business as a corporation. This offers the strongest protection against legal liability, but it can be expensive to start this type of business. Corporations also have extensive reporting requirements, which can be difficult to meet if you're focused on growing your business and serving your customers.
No business structure is right for every landscaping company. Choose the right structure based on your unique circumstances or consult an experienced business attorney for advice.
Naming A Business
"How to name your landscape business" is one of the most popular searches performed by people interested in starting their own landscaping companies. The name you choose should be easy for customers to remember. You may want to include your first or last name, service area, or type of service you offer. Coral Gables Lawn Care, Southwestern Landscaping, and Mike's Mowing Service are examples of names that are easy to remember and tell potential customers what you do.
Whether you choose to start a sole proprietorship or a corporation, you'll need to pay taxes on what you earn. Due dates and amounts due will depend on where your business operates. As of 2022, nine states don't have state income tax, but all other states do. You'll also have to pay federal taxes and any local taxes charged by your municipality. If you decide to hire employees, you'll also have to meet certain requirements regarding payroll taxes. You may even have to pay sales taxes or vendor taxes. To avoid costly mistakes, speak with a tax attorney or certified public accountant before setting up your landscaping business.
Depending on where you live and what type of work you do, you may have to obtain a license before providing landscaping services to customers. Some states don't require licenses, while others have strict education, training, and licensing requirements. For example, California requires landscapers to obtain the C-27 Landscaping Contractor license if they plan to charge more than $500 for landscape services.
Even if your state doesn't require a license, your municipality might so contact your county clerk or county planning office to find out what you need to do to comply with local requirements. To qualify for a landscaping license, you may need to obtain a surety bond, which gives customers peace of mind knowing that a third party has guaranteed you'll complete the work you agreed to do. Each surety company has different requirements, but you may be required to prove you're of good character, have the skills needed to complete a project, and have an established line of credit or a good relationship with a bank.
If you plan to specialize in pest control, you may need to obtain a license from your state's agriculture department.
It's important to obtain insurance before you start providing landscaping services to customers. No matter how careful you are, there's a chance you could damage a customer's property with a piece of equipment, harm someone while driving a company-owned vehicle or have some type of work-related accident that injures a customer or an employee.
At a minimum, you may want to purchase general liability insurance and commercial vehicle insurance. General liability insurance protects you if you damage someone's property or do something that causes another person to be injured, while commercial vehicle insurance protects you if you have an accident while driving your work vehicle. Commercial vehicle policies are available for utility trailers, pickups, and other vehicles used to run a landscaping business.
Depending on where you live, you may also need to pay for workers' compensation insurance, which protects employees who are injured at work or come down with some type of occupational illness. An occupational illness is a medical condition that develops due to exposure to harmful working conditions.
"How to price a landscaping job" is another common search term. Some landscapers charge by the hour, while others charge a flat rate for their services. One of the main advantages of hourly pricing is that you get paid more for jobs that take more time than you anticipated; if you charged a flat fee, you'd get paid the same amount no matter how many hours it took you to complete the job. A key disadvantage of hourly pricing is that clients may wonder if you're padding your invoice by spending more time on the job than necessary.
Some clients prefer fixed pricing because they don't have to worry about paying more than they expected if a job takes longer than you estimated. If you charge a fixed price, there's also no need to worry that you'll lose revenue if market conditions change before you start a project. The main disadvantage of fixed pricing is that it's easy to underestimate how much you'll need to spend on labor and supplies. If you don't estimate accurately, you'll have to deduct those costs from your revenue, leaving you with less profit when the job ends.
Once you decide whether to charge an hourly rate or a flat fee for each project, you need to learn how to bid on landscaping jobs. Make sure you consider the cost of materials, equipment, and labor when you prepare a bid. It's also important to measure everything carefully and draw up a plan for the customer to review.
Before you can bid on a landscaping job, you need a source of high-quality leads. Click to learn more about how CraftJack helps landscaping professionals.
Some of the best landscapers in the world struggle to run profitable businesses because they don't keep track of their revenue and expenses. If you want to run a successful landscaping company, you need to understand some bookkeeping basics.
One of the most important tips is to keep accurate records. If you purchase supplies from a home improvement store, keep the receipt. When you order equipment online, make sure you keep a copy of the invoice. Keeping track of your expenses makes it easier to understand how much profit your business is generating; it can also make tax season a little less stressful. It's also important to keep track of your revenue. When you complete a job, make sure you record cash payments and deposit any checks as soon as possible.
It's a good idea to prepare monthly or quarterly financial statements to ensure you understand how much you're spending and how much you're bringing in. These financial statements are also helpful if you need to apply for a business loan or if you want to ask someone to invest in your company. You can even use your financial statements to understand which services are the most profitable.
If you've never run a business or done any bookkeeping, it can seem overwhelming at first. The good news is that a bookkeeper or certified public accountant would be happy to help you get organized and learn what you need to do to keep track of your business finances.
Marketing A Landscaping Business
When it comes to starting a landscaping business, many of the most common questions focus on finding customers and building a brand. "How do I find landscaping jobs near me?" is a popular search phrase, as are "how to grow a landscaping business" and "how to market your landscaping business." This section of our guide explains some of the most common methods used to market a landscaping company and make sure as many people as possible know about the services you provide.
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Once you establish your business, setting up a website should be one of your first steps. If your budget is limited, you don't need to build out a site with thousands of pages. Just make sure you have something that tells people what you offer and makes it easy for potential customers to contact you. Over time, you can attract new customers by adding content that educates consumers and helps them solve their landscaping problems.
When you hear the word content, you may think of a blog post or an educational article. These are some of the most common formats, but content is almost anything that presents information to an audience. If you're developing content to promote your business, the target audience consists of people in your service area who need landscaping services and have the ability to pay for them. Videos, photos, product guides, infographics, and webinars are just a few types of content that can be used to promote a business.
Here are a few ideas for using content marketing to promote your landscaping services:
- Publish a series of articles on the best trees, shrubs, and flowers for the climate in your service area. If you live in Arizona or New Mexico, for example, you may want to focus on succulents and other landscaping features that require limited amounts of water due to the desert environment.
- Post before-and-after photos of some of your most impressive projects. Writing 1,000 words about how great your services are just isn't as effective as showing people how you transformed a yard or patio.
- Create video tutorials on a variety of landscaping topics. You may want to explain how to choose the right flowering plants, demonstrate the right way to water a garden, or educate viewers on the installation of water features. At the end of each video, include a call to action to prompt audience members to contact you for an estimate.
- Publish a short report filled with helpful landscaping tips. Insert calls to action throughout the report to encourage readers to email or call you for more information on your services.
Direct mail is exactly what it sounds like — mail that you send directly to potential customers in your service area. Some business owners avoid direct mail because they don't want to pay for printing and postage, but direct mail is more affordable than you might think. You can limit your postage costs by sending a small postcard instead of a sales letter or brochure requiring a separate envelope, for example. The United States Postal Service also allows you to target addresses in specific areas, making it possible to send direct mail pieces to customers in one or two neighborhoods rather than an entire city.
Another benefit of mailing postcards is that you can include a discount or some other type of offer, prompting the people who need your services to keep your contact information on hand. Your postcard should list the services you offer, give potential customers a reason to contact you instead of one of your competitors, and provide contact information for your business. It should also be as visually appealing as possible, especially if you're promoting landscape design services. Pictures of colorful flowers and emerald-green lawns may help potential customers feel more comfortable contacting you.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making your site more visible to Google, Bing, and other search engines. Every time you enter a keyword into your search bar, the search engine looks for the most relevant pages. When search results are displayed, most users click the links at the top of the first page. A solid SEO strategy can help you rank better for relevant keywords, increasing traffic to your website, and helping more customers find your business.
Here are several tips for optimizing your pages:
- Make sure you publish high-quality content that meets the user's needs.
- Consider incorporating video and other media elements on your site. The longer visitors stay on your pages, the higher your rankings are likely to be.
- Include relevant keywords on each page of your website. If you publish a page on choosing flowering plants, you might want to use phrases like "best flowering plants for hanging baskets" or "flowering plants for shade." These keywords tell the search engines what your pages are about.
- Optimize your pages with local keywords. Local SEO is especially important for home service providers, as they typically operate in somewhat limited service areas. Unlike Amazon, which ships all over the country, a landscaper might focus on customers in Pittsburgh or San Francisco. The one in Pittsburgh would benefit from using keywords like "Pittsburgh landscaping service," "landscaping in Pittsburgh PA," and "Pittsburgh landscape design."
Word-of-mouth marketing is highly effective, especially for service-based businesses. If you wanted to hire someone to provide a service, would you rather choose a random business from an online directory or contact someone who did a great job for one of your friends? Most people would value the personal referral over the information in the online directory, making referrals an important aspect of growing your business. When you complete a job, ask the customer if they can think of anyone who'd benefit from your services. If they say no, give them some business cards and ask them to give them to anyone who needs landscaping services in the future. If the customer says yes, ask if they'd be willing to make an introduction.
"How can I find small landscapers' jobs near me?" and "How can I find landscaping jobs hiring near me?" are common questions for new business owners. In many cases, the answer is simple: social media. Once you start your business, make sure you set up accounts on Facebook and Instagram. If you provide commercial landscaping services, you may also want to set up a profile on LinkedIn, which is a great place to connect with executives and other business professionals who have the authority to hire you.
The good thing about using social media for marketing is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you publish an e-book on your website, you can easily create a Facebook post letting followers know about the book. You can also post some of the same photos and videos available on your website, eliminating the need to create completely new content every time you post.
Seasonal Business Tips
If you're in a city with a mild climate, you don't have to worry too much about losing revenue in the winter. For landscapers in Boston, New York, and other cities that deal with snow and freezing temperatures, it's a different story. Fortunately, it's possible to continue generating revenue even if you can't plant flowers or fertilize lawns. Here are a few ways to keep your business running during the winter:
- Offer ice and snow removal services. If you have the right equipment and the ability to withstand cold temperatures and inclement weather, this is a great way to generate revenue when you can't do many of your regular landscaping duties.
- If you love the holidays, consider setting up outdoor light displays for customers in your service area.
- Focus on landscape design or consulting when it's too cold and wet outside to work on landscaping projects. This works especially well if you have commercial clients or work with a lot of apartment buildings or condo associations. You can draw up new designs or advise customers on what they can do when it gets warmer to beautify their properties without a substantial increase in costs.
Find More Landscaping Jobs
Free landscaping leads are great, but the quality isn't always what it should be. CraftJack makes it easier to find new customers by generating landscaping leads and screening them to make sure they're valid.
Even if you have the best lawn care sales pitch in the world, you may struggle to find enough customers to keep your business running. Contact CraftJack to find out what tools we offer to help you find new customers.