- When deciding on a business name, come up with terms that are familiar and relevant to the landscaping industry
- Know what expenses are tax-deductible to help lower your startup costs
- Recurring contracts are essential for successful landscaping businesses
If you love being out in nature and have a green thumb and entrepreneurial spirit, starting a landscaping business could be the right fit for you.
Beyond setting your rates and hours, the best part of having a landscaping business is the abundance of potential clients around you. Every homeowner has considered lawn mowing or some form of landscaping services at some point. And with more people working from home, they’re looking for ways to improve their space—including outdoors.
Entrepreneurship isn’t without its challenges, and every new business must overcome obstacles. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. This six-step guide offers detailed instructions on how to start a landscaping business so you can succeed in this thriving industry.
How to start a landscaping business in 6 steps
According to GlobeNewswire, the landscaping market in the United States is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% between 2020-2025. If you’re skilled and can provide landscaping services, there’s plenty of business for the taking.
As you go through these six steps to start your business, it will help you compile the information needed for your landscaping business plan, which is necessary to get off on the right foot.
Step 1: Choose a business name
Naming your business doesn’t have to be a burden—it can even be a fun and creative endeavor. To begin, make a list of the specialties your startup will provide, using words relating to lawn care or landscaping services.
For example, the following words are all related to your business idea:
- Landscape professional
Now, create other lists that branch off your first list with related words.
Soil becomes earth, fertilizing leads to growth, and so on.
While creating these lists, you’re bound to come up with a relevant business name, like Grass is Greener Mowing or Earth Loving Landscaping.
Before settling on a business name, do a quick search online to make sure that the business name doesn’t already exist.
Step 2: Register your landscaping business
Register your business as a limited liability company (LLC). This will protect you if a client, partner, or third party vendor attempts to sue your company.
You’ll also need to look into state-specific licensing for your small business. A business license can cost anywhere from $50-500 dollars per year depending on a few factors such as:
- The issuing body (local, state, or federal)
- Types of activities your business will perform
- Location of your business
- Business size or number of employees
- Annual income
An employer identification number (EIN) is the last piece of the puzzle. This will allow you to apply for a business bank account and receive tax deductions for relevant startup costs. You can apply online through the IRS website.
Step 3: Define your niche
While there’s plenty of work in the landscaping industry, there’s also lots of competition. Start by thinking about who your customer base is and what solutions they’re in need of.
With so many potential landscaping services for you to choose from, it can help to pare them down into two main categories: landscaping services and lawn maintenance.
- Landscape architecture for homes that consider the urban impact and ecology of the space
- Improving curb appeal by planting trees and shrubs and updating the outdoor space
- Landscape design for larger businesses that need contract landscapers
- Seasonal landscaping services
- Hardscape design that incorporates fences, benches, rock sculptures, waterfalls, brick or stone patios
- Mowing services
- Pruning shrubs and hedges
- Plant care
- Leaf collection
- Pesticide treatment
- Irrigation system services
You may choose to offer all of these services or pick a handful. However, the more specialized you are, the easier it will be to carve a niche for yourself within the landscaping market. You’ll be able to focus your hiring efforts too and that will save you some expenses.
Step 4: Map out your business expenses
There are a few key business expenses you’ll want to track when launching your small business. These include utilities, advertising, payroll (if you hire employees), and equipment such as blowers, trimmers, and lawnmowers.
It helps to know that many of your startup costs and operating expenses may also be tax-deductible. At tax time, you can be reimbursed for a portion of the taxes you paid for these qualifying business costs.
Tax-deductible expenses can also be a result of the “cost of doing business.” For landscaping business owners, this may include your vehicle, gas, tools, professional services (an accountant, for example), or any professional training that you take.
Knowing where you get a tax break as a small business owner can affect your pricing and help you plan financially.
Here are several ways to track your expenses:
- Manual tracking with a spreadsheet: This is the most cost-effective option because you can do it yourself. However, unless you’re a pro at using Excel spreadsheets, it can get complicated as your startup grows. There’s also a larger margin for human error when adding things up manually. Create tax-related codes for each category of expenses so you can organize them more efficiently.
- Accounting software: Accounting software is a good middle-of-the-road option. It still requires some manual setup and data entry, but it’s mostly automated. This means at tax time you can sort through invoices and expenses with relative efficiency. Arguably, it also gives you a stronger leg to stand on if you happen to get audited.
- Accountants: Hiring an accountant isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s a tax-deductible expense that will save you time (and spare you stress). Having a professional who can answer all your questions related to your small business can be worth it. Many entrepreneurs realize saving time can be more valuable than saving money, especially in the first year.
Step 5: Market your new business
Putting together a marketing plan when you’re learning how to start a landscaping business can seem overwhelming. It helps to take it step-by-step. Here are some core areas you can focus your efforts on to attract new clients.
- Social media accounts: Set up a free account on LinkedIn, and claim your Yelp Business Page. Centralizing a place for potential customers makes it easy for them to find you online.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Optimize your website according to keywords that your customers might be searching for. Using keywords drives traffic from search engines to your website. When you use SEO to attract your ideal customer, it can mean a better chance of them contacting you for your services. If you need help with this, check out our guide to small business SEO.
- Word-of-mouth referrals: These types of referrals are like gold to any small business. If you do good work, people will share their experience with their colleagues, friends, and family—both in person and via online reviews like on your Yelp Business Page.
Step 6: Retain clients with competitive pricing
Repeat business has a stabilizing effect on your finances and strengthens your relationship with customers. It’s why customer service must be an integral part of your approach with every job—and that includes fair pricing.
Knowing how to prepare a fair quote gets easier with experience. But in the beginning, it helps to consider the following:
- The size of the lawn or garden
- The average pricing for similar services in the neighborhood
- Special machinery or tools required for the services
It’s relatively easy to calculate your hourly rate if you’re a team of one, but it can get more difficult as your team size grows.
Recurring clients will help make it easier to predict the amount of time it takes to do a job because you’ll have a sense of their space and client requirements.
Start and grow your landscaping business
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and enjoy being outside, starting a landscaping business can be fruitful. Lawn mowing might have been a job for the neighborhood kids in the past, but the landscaping industry is expected to continue flourishing over the next several years.
To set your new business up for success, create a solid business plan, brand your business, define your niche, track expenses, and maintain client relationships.
Catch the eye of potential customers by claiming your Yelp Business Page. Your collection of customer reviews can be a major factor in turning potential customers into recurring clients.