Want to learn how to start a landscaping business? We can help.
In this article, you’ll learn about three broad activities — preparation, organization, and operation — and a number of specific steps that can help you get your landscaping business off the ground and running.
Table Of Contents
How To Start A Landscaping Business: Preparation
1) Research The Industry
The first step in learning how to start a landscaping business is research. More specifically, research regarding the landscaping industry in your area.
There are several ways to do this for free, including reading articles online, talking to other landscapers (business owners and employees alike), and visiting community organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
As you conduct your research, ask plenty of questions about the industry, such as:
- Is there a need for this type of business in the area?
- Are there enough customers to support a new landscaping business?
- What services do landscaping customers expect?
- How long does it take to complete the average job?
- Do you need any special equipment?
- Will you need special training or certification?
When you have answers to these questions, you’ll be better prepared to build a business that lasts.
2) Try Before You Commit
Before committing yourself and your hard-earned money to starting a full-scale landscaping business, consider experimenting in the industry first.
You could take on a few jobs for friends and family or get a job with an existing landscaping company. Pay attention to things like whether or not your body can handle the physical labor, how long it takes to finish tasks, and what goes into hiring and paying employees.
Obtaining this first-hand knowledge will give you a better idea of what the day-to-day operations of the business will be like.
3) Decide What Services You’ll Offer
As you research the industry and try things out for yourself, do your best to settle on the specific services you’ll offer.
For example, you might develop a strategy to specialize in:
- Landscape design
- Yard cleanup
- Tree maintenance
- Leaf removal
- Snow plowing
You might also decide to offer a combination of these services, but keep in mind that certain activities require specialized equipment that you might not be able to afford right away.
Consider starting with small jobs that require fewer tools — pruning and hedging, for example — and then expanding into larger jobs as your business grows.
4) Create A Name For Your Landscaping Business
Early on in the process of learning how to start a landscaping business, brainstorm business names and try to come up with something you like.
The reason we suggest doing this at the beginning of the planning process is because you’ll need time to come up with something you like.
Plus, once you start filling out paperwork, registering your business, buying insurance, and opening a checking account, it will become much more of a chore to change the name.
You can save yourself a lot of paperwork by creating a name for your landscaping business in the early stages and sticking with it through the entire process.
How To Start A Landscaping Business: Organization
5) Register Your Landscaping Business
Registering your landscaping business starts with deciding how you’re going to legally organize the operation.
- Sole proprietor/self-employed — working by yourself under your own name (e.g., Joe Landscaper)
- Doing Business As (DBA) — a sole proprietor doing business under another name (e.g., Dramatic Landscape Design)
- Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) — a legal arrangement that serves to keep personal assets and business assets separate
- S-Corp — an independent corporation that allows profits and losses to pass through to the owner’s personal income
- C-Corp — an independent corporation that is taxed separately from the owner’s income
After you settle on the type of business you’re going to run, you’ll need to register with the IRS, the federal government, and state and local authorities in order to obtain the necessary licenses and permits.
6) Purchase Business Insurance
Many first-time business owners skip this step when learning how to start a landscaping business because it’s an expense that doesn’t contribute to profits.
But don’t discount the importance of insurance — it can save your business should an accident occur.
With business insurance, the business pays a yearly rate that will cover any damages up to a certain dollar amount.
Such coverage can protect your business from having to empty its bank account — and possibly close its doors — because of an accident on the job.
7) Open A Business Checking Account
Even if you start out as a sole proprietorship, it’s essential that you open a separate business checking account.
Doing so can make recordkeeping and payroll (if you hire employees) much easier. And keeping your personal account and your business account separate can simplify your taxes come April 15.
When you separate your business and personal checking accounts, you won’t have to spend hours at the end of the year trying to determine what your business paid for and what you paid for.
8) Investigate Task Management Software
During the planning and organization phases, take some time to investigate task management software and how it can help you succeed.
Whether you do the work yourself or you hire employees to make the appointments, tools like Inch can help you keep track of essential details, such as:
- Customer names
- Appointment times
- Appointment locations
- Tasks to be done
- Necessary supplies
- Who’s doing the work
Technologies like Inch that streamline workflow and keep everyone headed in the right direction will allow you (and your team) to get as much done in a day as possible.
How To Start A Landscaping Business: Operation
9) Purchase Equipment
Depending on the specialty you choose, your team may need a variety of equipment, including:
- Hand tools (e.g., shovels and rakes)
- Power tools (e.g., chainsaws and blowers)
- Heavy equipment
- Trucks and trailers to move it all around
Some of these items can get very expensive very quickly, so consider starting small by purchasing used or renting when need be.
You can always add pieces slowly on an as-needed basis or purchase new equipment as your business grows and brings in more income.
10) Set Your Rate
Setting a rate for your landscaping business — both a flat rate and a per-project rate — can be tricky, but, with a little thought, you’ll be able to come up with a number that works for everyone involved.
As you do the math, don’t forget to factor in such variables as time, taxes, supplies, overhead, and profit/markup.
11) Advertise Your Landscaping Business
When first-time business owners think about advertising, they often jump right to expensive options, such as radio, TV, and print media.
But there are plenty of inexpensive (and even free) advertising options that can be just as effective, including:
- Asking family and friends to spread the word
- Posting flyers
- Putting signs in customer’s yards
- Starting a Facebook page
- Building a website
Get creative with your advertising, and we’re sure you’ll find plenty of ways to get the word out about your business.
12) Hire Employees
When you first start your landscaping business, you may choose to do all the work yourself or hire employees to help out.
Doing all the work yourself is a great way to get things started, to build your business from the ground up, and to save money for the future. But, as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire employees so you can get more done in a day or take on more and bigger projects.
Coordinate Your Activities With Inch
A big part of learning how to start a landscaping business is keeping your team organized — whether it’s one employee (you) or 100 — and coordinating their activities for maximum benefit.
You’ll also need to keep track of customer names, appointment times, locations, specific tasks for each job, necessary supplies, and lots of other details.
Inch can help!
Inch is a suite of task and workforce management tools — including shared task lists, built-in time clock, and communication features — that can simplify every aspect of the way your landscaping business operates.
The Inch app works on any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop and makes it easier than ever to coordinate and optimize, not just your own activities, but the activities of your team and your entire landscaping business.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.