When it comes to our image of the quintessential home, a perfectly maintained lawn is right up there with a white picket fence. For homeowners, there’s nothing like the scent of freshly cut grass, or the pride that comes with an even, bright green lawn. If you’re considering starting a lawn care business, you already know that lawn care takes time and energy that most homeowners don’t have.
While it might seem like all you need is a lawn mower and the time to start selling your services, proper preparation can help your business grow. With the right planning, you can extend well-beyond just mowing and move into other in-demand services. In this short guide, we’ll cover the steps towards starting a successful lawn care business.
Step 1: Decide what lawn care services to offer
While most households need their lawns cut, a little know-how and the right equipment can help when starting a lawn care and landscaping business that’s truly full-service. In addition to mowing, consider offering the following services:
- Sale of fertilizer, insecticide, and other lawn care products directly to clients
- Weeding, mulching, and other gardening work
- Lawn installation
- Planting native lawns
- Planting native species and pollinators in and alongside grass lawns
If there’s a demand for green and eco-friendly practices in your area, building your knowledge and offering specialized services can help you compete with other lawn care providers and attract more customers. You may also be able to charge more for your expertise. Likewise, a little basic landscaping knowledge goes a long way towards finding new streams of revenue.
The services you offer will strongly affect your startup costs. If you’re only offering mowing, you may just need a lawnmower and a vehicle for transport. However, other services will require specialized tools including wheelbarrows, hoes, etc.
Step 2: Set up your lawn care business
Once you’ve secured startup money to purchase any necessary equipment, you can begin setting up your business. Even if lawn care is a part time, seasonal job, organizing your business can help it succeed in the years to come.
Consider taking the following steps:
Check on business licensing requirements – You may not need a license to offer mowing services. However, if you apply pesticides and herbicides, there’s a chance your city or county will require a permit.
Network through word of mouth – Many small lawn care businesses start with only a single customer. Consider offering discounted services to family, friends, and neighbors as you start out. You can even run a promotion: if someone refers a friend, offer them a one-time discount.
Set up your social media presence – Make it easy for people to find you on Yelp, Google Businesses, and Facebook. Consider adding photographs of any landscaping jobs, as well as positive customer testimonials.
Set up a legal business – If you need a federal tax ID to pay employees or independent contractors, you will need to create a legal business entity like a Limited Liability Company (LLC), S corp, or partnership. If you’re an independent contractor, you don’t have to take this step, legally speaking. Still, separating your business assets from your personal assets (with a sole proprietorship or LLC) provides you some legal protection in the case that something goes wrong.
Step 3: Protect your lawn care business
Once you start providing lawn care services, make sure your business is legally protected. Having a legal business entity is not enough. While an LLC, for example, can protect you from some liability, it’s called a limited liability company for a reason. If your personal finances and your business finances aren’t rigorously separated, you could find your personal assets liable in the case of a claim made against you.
“Wait,” you might ask, “what can go wrong with lawn care?”
Imagine your client has asked you to install a new lawn and treat it with pesticides. You’ve sprayed the one-acre expanse as requested. Should this practice lead to your client’s child suddenly breaking out in a rash, they could claim it’s from exposure to the pesticide and sue you for bodily injury and medical costs. If this happened, you could be held liable.
Bodily injury isn’t the only thing you could be held liable for, either. If you get distracted while riding your mower and this leads to you damaging a part of your client’s property, you could be liable for the replacement or repairs.
That’s why lawn care professionals need general liability insurance. General liability insurance can protect you in the event of a client or third party’s claim of bodily injury, medical costs, or property damage related to your lawn care work.
Note: General liability insurance does not cover you in the case of your employees’ injuries or medical costs. If you have employees, you may also need a workers’ compensation policy.
Bonus: Lawn care insurance on your schedule
As you start your lawn care business, make sure that a client or third party’s claim doesn’t cut your business off at the root.
Getting lawn care business insurance with Thimble is fast, easy, and best of all, flexible. Lawn care is a seasonal business in most areas. If your city doesn’t have year-long balmy weather, you don’t need a year-long policy. With Thimble, your policy lasts only for as long as you need it: choose between daily, weekly or monthly policies.
When you’re ready to sign up, enter your ZIP code, crew size, and a few details related to your business, you can get an instant quote, purchase your policy, and get proof of insurance in just 60 seconds.
Let Thimble take care of your insurance needs so that you can take care of your community’s lawns, worry-free.
A fresh cut awaits
Now that we’ve covered the basics, you’re ready to mow ahead and start your lawn care business. Remember, you need to:
- Decide what services to offer
- Set up your business structure
- Ensure your business is protected
At the end of the day, you’re providing a valuable service for your community. Treat your business with the same care, and it’ll be as squared-away as the lawns you tend to.
Our editorial content is intended for informational purposes only and is not written by a licensed insurance agent. Terms and conditions for rate and coverage may vary by class of business and state.
For New Hampshire landscaper Jamie Vanagel, owning a business means freedom to work when, where, and how he wants.