How to start up a small landscaping business

Updated June 18, 2018

If you love plants and don't mind getting dirty, perhaps starting a landscaping business would be right for you. What's better than getting paid to do something you love? Starting a landscaping business isn't that hard and you don't need huge overhead costs to do it. With a little research, patience, perseverance and networking, your business should take off in no time. Below are some tips to get started.

Look in your garage to see what tools you might already have. If you do your own yard work, you probably already own most of the tools you're going to need to start up a landscaping business. You'll need the basic gardening tools such as a rake, shovel, clippers, loppers, and hand clippers. It also won't hurt to have a tarp, broom or blower, wheelbarrow and garbage bags. Depending on how many people you plan on hiring, try to keep your overhead as low as possible when you first start up. You can purchase more items once you start making money.

Think about how you plan on hauling your landscape plants. If you already own a truck, SUV, or estate car, you're pretty well set to go. If you need a small trailer, look in your newspaper's want ad section and you'll probably be able to get a good deal on a used one. You'll want to spend as little money as possible at first. You can always upgrade later on. Many plant dealers will deliver the plants you purchase directly to the job, if you buy the minimum quantity required.

Purchase an invoice book and blank contract forms. You can also make contract or bid forms on your home computer. You'll be able to create a form to your own requirements if you make them at home. Make yourself some business cards. These too can be done at home and they're relatively cheap and easy to do. You'll also want to have a calendar or schedule book so you'll be able to keep track of your jobs.

Buy some books on landscaping and your local plant life, if you don't already own some. Your customers will be relying on your expert opinion about what will grow well in their soil, look good on their land, and be easy to care for. Landscaping can be expensive and people want to know they've hired a knowledgeable person to do their work.

Make sure you have appropriate attire to work outside. Shoes are very important when landscaping. If you don't already own a pair, buy some work boots. They will protect your feet against all sorts of items that are laying around in the soil. It also wouldn't hurt to have a pair of gardening gloves to use. You never know when you'll get into thorns or have to deal with a sticky plant. If you'll be working in the sun, a hat and sunscreen are also advised.

Figure out how much you want to charge for your services and a plan of action when you land a job. Most landscape jobs will be charged by the job instead of by the hour. You'll want to figure out how many hours you think a job might be, so you can charge the appropriate price. Most landscapers make anywhere from £9 to £16 per hour, so you'll want to take this into account when setting a price. You'll also want to figure out if you'll pay for materials upfront, or have the customer put something down toward the job at the beginning. It's not unusual for a job to be half to a third down up front, with the remainder being paid upon completion. Other things you'll want to take into consideration are whether you'll be offering any guarantee on your work or materials. All of this should be listed on the contract when you fill it out and submit it. This will not only protect the customer, but you as well if there are any disagreements later on.

Hand your business cards out to your family, friends and neighbours. You might be surprised at how much work people you know can generate for you. Once they realise your business is serious, they'll generally be glad to help get your name and services out there. One job will usually lead to another one.

Give your business card and promote your services at your local gardening centres and with local lawn care crews. If the gardening centre doesn't have its own landscape team, they should be happy to use your name to plant the plants they're selling. Most lawn teams don't want to do any maintenance or landscaping. They make their money mowing and getting the job done quickly. If they know you are serious, they just might turn you onto a client. Be sure to do a good job, since it could lead to more job leads.

Visit your local real estate offices and banks and hand out your business card. Though a home is for sale or in foreclosure, it still needs to look good. If plants are needed to spruce a home up, you just might get hired. You can also go to local builders and contractors to check on work. They may be looking for someone to landscape one of their houses.

Advertise your business and services in local newspapers. If the landscaping business is slow, you might want to pick up some maintenance jobs on the side. Many times once you start sprucing up a place for someone, you can convince them to add some fresh plants and land more work. Whatever your willing to do, list those services in your ad.

Promote yourself and your business everywhere and to anyone you can. You can't advertise too much when it comes to trying to get work. Once you've landed a couple of jobs, you'll have references which will usually lead to more work. You might even want to take pictures of your landscaping jobs, to use as displays of your work for potential customers to see. You business might not take off overnight, but with a little hard work and patience, you should soon be starting to see success and a profit.

Things You'll Need

  • Landscape and plant books
  • Contract and bid forms
  • Basic gardening tools
  • Invoice book
  • Business cards
  • Calendar or schedule book
  • Vehicle large enough to hold plants and supplies
  • Work boots
  • Gardening gloves
  • Sunscreen
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About the Author

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.