Starting a Landscaping Business: 15 Essential Steps

Starting a Landscaping Business

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Landscaping is an $82 billion industry, making it an attractive option for aspiring entrepreneurs thinking about starting a landscaping business. In addition, it offers the opportunity for people to work outside, improve the look of homes and local businesses, and even improve the environment.

If you’re interested in getting started with your own landscaping businesses, here are some important steps to take, along with insights from industry groups and landscaping business owners.

Starting a Landscaping Business

Landscaping Business

Gain Experience in the Industry

Before actually jumping into business ownership, it’s a good idea to actually learn the trade. Find a job working with an existing landscaping business so you can hone your craft, see how the business side works, and make valuable connections.

Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs at the National Association of Landscape Professionals said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “I would suggest that anyone with a passion for working outside and working with people and the environment should explore this industry.

There are incredible career opportunities available. So if you’ve not yet worked in the industry but are interested in learning the skill set and how to manage a business, go and work with a landscape professional who really understands the business so that you can hone your craft, find a mentor, learn and soak in all of the intricacies that go into running a business in this industry.”

Learn About the Business Side

It can also be beneficial to do some extra research before actually jumping into business ownership. You can do this by talking to other business owners, reading online resources, or taking business courses.

Jim McCutcheon, CEO of HighGrove Partners in Atlanta, GA said in an email to Small Business Trends, “I have always considered myself to be a life-long learner so I decided to speak with someone smarter than me about business.

He is the father of one of my friends who was a very successful businessman. He had me develop a list of all the things I did know and felt confident about. But, the most valuable part was developing a list of things that I did not understand about running a business.

Of course, he had to give me most of the list. From there, I developed a plan to learn about each of those things. I gained the knowledge through studies on some and hard knocks on the others.”

Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan

A comprehensive business plan is crucial for your landscaping business’s success. This plan should outline your business goals, target market, services offered, competitive analysis, marketing strategy, and financial projections.

A well-thought-out business plan helps you navigate the startup phase and guide your business decisions, making it easier to manage growth and change.

Landscaping Business

Get Licensed and Insured

The licensing requirements for landscaping businesses vary by state, with some also required at the federal level depending on the actual services offered. But Henrickson acknowledges that most businesses will need some type of licensing, with some even requiring ongoing certification. She also says that business and liability insurance can be beneficial.

Secure Equipment and Financing

You may be able to get by early on with just a couple of lawnmowers, a truck and a few other small tools. However, if you do want to make a bigger investment, it could be worthwhile to build relationships with bankers to secure financing for those items.

Shayne Newman, founder of YardApes, Inc. in New Milford, CT said in an email to Small Business Trends, “When starting off, I worked with a banker to secure capital for investments in equipment and vehicles. It takes cash flow to grow a business, so a solid relationship with your loan officer is very important.”

Invest in Quality Tools and Equipment

Investing in high-quality tools and equipment is essential for efficiency and reliability. Research and invest in durable, high-performance lawn mowers, trimmers, blowers, and other landscaping tools.

Quality equipment reduces downtime due to repairs and maintenance, ensuring consistent service delivery.

Landscaping Business

Determine Your Rates

You also need to determine what you’re going to actually charge for your services. Several factors go into this decision: how much time will a particular job take you, how much should you make hourly, what do you pay employees, and what equipment is needed.

But just make sure that your rates are going to allow you to continue to operate and grow while actually earning a profit.

McCutcheon says, “Running a landscape business is first and foremost a business. You must understand the foundations of a successful business and give it equal footing to the landscape work you want to do. This means you must make money. You must understand how you make money and make decisions about estimating, pricing, hiring, operations, etc., accordingly.”

Consider a Specialty

Some landscaping businesses choose to have a very particular specialty, like lawn maintenance or landscape design, while others offer a wider array of services.

According to Henricksen, this decision ultimately comes down to the entrepreneur’s preferences, experience, and access to the equipment necessary to complete each type of job. In some cases, businesses might even choose to start out with just one type of offering and then add in other services as they’re able to pay for the equipment and bring on employees with the necessary skills.

Join Trade Associations

Getting a landscaping business off the ground requires a lot of resources and expert input, from employee training to marketing plans. One great way to get access of those resources is to join some trade associations.

Newman recommends, “Join state and national trade associations like The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). NALP has been instrumental in the growth of my business and has given me and my employees the guidance and courage to become true professionals.

The association also provides templates for training, safety plans, marketing and PR ideas, human resource help, legal advice and much more. Being a member of the NALP has also offered unbelievable networking opportunities.

My employees and I have met so many passionate and experienced landscape professionals who share the same struggles that my company has experienced, is experiencing or will experience in the future. This type of networking is invaluable to a small business owner.”

Create a Marketing Plan

Marketing your business is essential to growing your base of landscaping customers. The actual tactics you take can vary based on your resources, target customers, and specialty. You might focus on local SEO or put up some flyers around your community.

But whatever tactics you choose, make sure they’re consistent so that potential customers can recognize your business across platforms.

Newman says, “Marketing and branding should be consistent and constant. If potential customers don’t recognize you, it’s hard to develop new leads.”

Establish Your Online Presence

In today’s digital world, an online presence is vital for business success. Create a professional website showcasing your services, portfolio, and customer testimonials. Utilize social media platforms to engage with your community, share your work, and promote special offers.

Regular updates and search engine optimization (SEO) will increase your visibility and attract potential clients.

Develop Relationships with Customers

Once you start to actually build that customer base, you need to actually build relationships with those customers to keep them happy and make sure that they continue to utilize your services.

Build a Skilled Team

As your business grows, building a skilled team becomes crucial. Hire experienced and motivated individuals who share your business vision. Provide training to enhance their skills and ensure they are well-versed in the latest landscaping techniques and customer service standards.

Build Your Team

To scale your business, it may also become necessary for you to bring on some employees. But Newman cautions business owners to only hire and keep the employees that show motivation and perform up to your standards.

It may be difficult to turn down or let go of team members, but in order to be a successful landscaping business, you need to have the right people in your corner.

Focus on Customer Service Excellence

Exceptional customer service can set your landscaping business apart from competitors. Ensure timely and professional service, be responsive to customer inquiries and feedback, and always aim to exceed customer expectations.

Building a reputation for excellent service can lead to repeat business and referrals.

Importance of Sustainable Practices

Landscaping Business

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the landscaping industry. As a responsible entrepreneur, incorporating sustainable practices into your landscaping business can not only attract eco-conscious clients but also contribute positively to the environment. Here are some ways to embrace sustainability:

  • Adopt eco-friendly landscaping techniques: Implement practices like composting, water-efficient irrigation systems, and native plant installations to reduce environmental impact and conserve resources.
  • Reduce chemical usage: Minimize the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides that can harm the environment, wildlife, and human health.
  • Emphasize recycling and waste reduction: Implement recycling programs for green waste and strive to minimize waste generation in your operations.
  • Educate clients about sustainability: Raise awareness among your clients about the benefits of sustainable landscaping and offer eco-friendly options in your service offerings.
Sustainable PracticeDescription
Eco-friendly landscapingImplement composting, water-efficient irrigation, and native plant installations to conserve resources and reduce environmental impact.
Reduce chemical usageMinimize harmful chemicals and pesticides to protect the environment, wildlife, and human health.
Recycling and waste reductionEstablish recycling programs for green waste and strive to minimize waste generation in operations.
Client education on sustainabilityRaise awareness about the benefits of sustainable landscaping and offer eco-friendly service options.

By prioritizing sustainability in your landscaping business, you can position yourself as a forward-thinking and environmentally conscious service provider, attracting a growing segment of environmentally aware customers.

Continuously Adapt and Innovate

The landscaping industry is constantly evolving. Stay abreast of the latest trends, technologies, and sustainability practices.

Continuously seek ways to innovate in your services and business operations. This could mean adopting new landscaping techniques, exploring eco-friendly solutions, or incorporating technology for efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)  

What makes landscaping an attractive industry for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Landscaping is a lucrative $82 billion industry that offers opportunities to work outdoors, enhance the appearance of homes and businesses, and contribute to environmental improvement.

How can I gain experience in the landscaping industry before starting my own business?

Consider working with an existing landscaping business to learn the trade, understand the business side, and establish valuable connections with professionals in the field.

What should I know about the business side of landscaping before starting my own venture?

Conduct thorough research by seeking advice from experienced business owners, reading online resources, and taking relevant business courses to equip yourself with essential entrepreneurial knowledge.

Are licensing and insurance necessary for a landscaping business?

Most landscaping businesses will require some form of licensing, and some services may even require ongoing certification. It is also recommended to obtain business and liability insurance for added protection.

How can I secure financing for landscaping equipment and other investments?

Building strong relationships with bankers can help secure capital for essential equipment and vehicles necessary to start and grow your landscaping business.

What factors should I consider when determining my service rates?

Calculate rates based on job duration, hourly wages, employee pay, and equipment costs, ensuring they are competitive enough to allow for sustainable business growth.

Should I consider specializing in a particular aspect of landscaping?

The decision to specialize or offer a wide range of services depends on your preferences, experience, and access to equipment. Some businesses start with one specialty and expand later.

How can trade associations help with starting a landscaping business?

Joining trade associations, such as The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), provides access to valuable resources, training, safety plans, marketing ideas, networking opportunities, and expert guidance.

What is the importance of creating a marketing plan for my landscaping business?

Developing a consistent and targeted marketing plan helps attract potential customers and build brand recognition within your community and target market.

Why is building strong customer relationships important for a landscaping business?

Developing meaningful relationships with customers fosters loyalty, encourages repeat business, and contributes to the long-term success of your landscaping venture.

How can I scale my landscaping business by building a competent team?

To grow your business, hiring motivated and skilled employees is crucial. Focus on maintaining a team that meets your standards and contributes positively to your business’s success.

Why is embracing sustainable practices important for a landscaping business?

Incorporating sustainable techniques, such as eco-friendly landscaping, reduced chemical usage, recycling, and waste reduction, not only attracts eco-conscious clients but also positively impacts the environment and promotes responsible business practices.

Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.

One Reaction
  1. I considered this before because there is just something healing about touching the soil and beautifying the environment.

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