how to start a lawn care business with no money

How to Start a Lawn Care Business With No Money

If you’ve ever wondered how to start a lawn care company with no money, then good news—we have the answers you’ve been looking for! Much like starting any other business, creating a lawn care or landscaping company will require a large amount of dedication, time, and effort, so it’s not a decision that you should just jump into.

It’s essential to understand how to start a landscaping business with no money BEFORE you start building your business. Thankfully, the lawn care & landscaping industry is the perfect setting for aspiring entrepreneurs to shine!

From planning & best practices to marketing and mower types, we’ll go over everything you need to know for successfully starting your lawn care business.

Why Start a Lawn Care Business?

Many people dream of owning their own business. While there’s an unlimited amount of industry options available, lawn care is a common choice among entrepreneurs with limited funding and a high work ethic. But what’s so great about starting a lawn care business? Well…

  1. You won’t be indoors all day! If you’re tired of being stuck inside at your 9-5, then lawn care will be a pleasant change for you. Instead of spending your days in a chair, you’ll be outside, active, and enjoying the weather while building up your business. 
  2. There’s a huge market! The landscaping business as a whole is worth over 98 billion dollars, so why wouldn’t you want a piece of the pie? No matter if you decide to go commercial or stick with residential services, you’ll always have the option to expand your operations.
  3. It’s an ever-growing industry! More houses, communities, and neighborhoods are being built every day. This means more lawns to mow, trees to trim, and bushes to maintain for you!
  4. You’re your own boss! The appeal of running your own business is being in charge of your time (while also getting a larger cut of the profits!). As the owner, you’ll be able to make your own schedule, decide which clients to work for, and use your favorite equipment.
  5. You’ll always have a paycheck. There’s a constant need for lawn care services, so even though you may lose some clients if the economy takes a turn for the worst, you’ll never have to worry about running out of work.

Starting With Little Money Is a Good Thing

Even if you know how to start a landscaping business with no money, the task itself can still seem pretty daunting. After all, what happens if business is slow or you don’t make a profit? While these are definitely legitimate concerns, you’ll be happy to know that there are many advantages to starting a company with only a little bit of money.

  • You’ll be on top of your finances. Since money will most likely be your main concern, a limited budget will force you to spend smarter. This benefits you in the long run, as you’ll develop good spending habits and learn to make every dollar count.
  • There’s less risk. If you only have limited funds when you start your company, you’ll have a lot less to lose since you can’t invest as much.
  • You’re setting yourself up for success. When you start your business with only a small budget for equipment, you won’t be able to afford every piece of equipment under the sun. This gives you time to master the basics before moving on to offering additional services.

Bootstrap Your Business

You won’t need a lot of equipment to start your lawn care company. At the bare minimum, you could maintain a couple of lawns with only a string trimmer (which can be used to “mow”, weed-eat, and edge the sidewalks). However, you’ll be a lot better off if you can get your hands on a small mower, a string trimmer, and an edger to start with. This will reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a yard, meaning you can make more money per hour!

If you already have a vehicle, you can use it as your work vehicle until you have some funds to sink into a dedication work truck. As long as your equipment will fit inside the vehicle, even a large car or minivan can work in a pinch! When you have the funds, you can upgrade to a pickup with a trailer or a box truck for your business.

Note: Some locations will require licensing before you can legally provide lawn care services. Check with your local government to see if there are any requirements you will have to meet before beginning your operations.

bootstrap your lawn care business

Loans

Even though this article is about how to start a landscaping business with no money, unless you already have the necessary equipment, you will need to raise some initial funds to start your business. You can use money from your own pocket to begin with, but if you need additional cash, consider these three loan options.

  • Bank loans. Banks will often lend money to small businesses, but the rates (and loan amounts) vary a lot, so be sure to shop around before signing any contracts.
  • Ask your family/friends. Sometimes, it’s best to swallow your pride and ask for help. You may be surprised! Often, your friends and family will be more than happy to loan you some money to help you achieve your dreams. It never hurts to ask.
  • Find an investor. While you will definitely need a business plan if you decide to go this route, it is possible to find an investor for your business. Check online to figure out what options may be available to you.

Raise/Earn Money

Before you commit full-time to your budding business, you’ll want to raise some money to invest in your future. If you plan ahead and start saving now, you can reduce your financial stress in the future while also building some healthy money management habits! 

First, you’ll want to figure out how much money you will need to raise in order to start your business. Once you know this number, you can compare it to your current weekly savings rate and calculate how long it will take to reach your financial goals. With this time frame, you can create a savings plan so by the time you launch your landscaping company, you’ll already have a solid foundation for your new business. 

Cost for Starting a Lawn Care Business As a Side Hustle

Even if you’re not ready to commit full-time to lawn care just yet, you can still start making a profit on the side. It won’t cost as much as setting up a full-time operation, but you’ll need some money nonetheless. Exactly how much will depend on the type of lawns you plan to maintain.

If you plan on only servicing residential properties then you can get away with smaller equipment. This is the minimum you will need:

  • Push Mower. These are great to have because they are capable enough to mow the front yard, but small enough to fit through gates to the backyard. Put aside about $200 for your first mower. 
  • String Trimmer. You’ll need one of these to cut the grass near objects such as trees and buildings. If you skip out on buying one, your lawns won’t look professional or finished. They can also be used for edging a sidewalk, although you will be better off with a dedicated edger (or at least a string trimmer with an edger attachment). You can pick up a trimmer/edger combo for around $300.
  • Handheld Blower. These aren’t as good as backpack blowers, but they will work for smaller areas. A decent handheld blower will cost $100 or more.

If you plan on servicing commercial properties or if you really want to take this seriously, you will need to buy better equipment to efficiently maintain these larger properties. In addition to the equipment above, you will also need to purchase:

  • A commercial-grade mower. You can get a stander, a walk-behind, or a riding mower. Cheaper commercial riding mowers start around $3,000, although prices can easily exceed $10,000 for higher-end models.
  • An edger. Dedicated edgers work a lot better than the trimmer/edger combos. Expect to spend upwards of $300 for a quality machine.
  • Backpack blower. A small, handheld blower isn’t effective if you need to blow off an entire parking lot. You’ll need a backpack blower if you plan on doing commercial properties. Anticipate spending at least $300 for a decent model.
  • Truck/Trailer. If you want to look professional and really grow your side hustle to a full-time gig you will need a truck and trailer (or a box truck.)

Estimated Monthly Costs Based on a 40 Hour Work Week (For One Truck)

Distance traveled/Week140 miles
Vehicle MPG9 MPG
Gas Price$2.50/gallon
Paid wagesnone.
Equipment fuel per hour1.46 gallons

Distance Traveled Per Week: 140 miles

Vehicle MPG: 9MPG

Gas Price: $2.50/gallon

Equipment Fuel Used Per Hour: 1.46 Gallons

Travel Expenses

$0.28 (per mile)

560 miles/month

$156.80/month

Equipment Fuel

$3.65 (per hour)

160 hours/month

$584.00

With the above setup, not including any costs for routine maintenance, this two-employee truck will cost $740.80 per month plus about $2-300 of miscellaneous stuff to run. Obviously if you add a part time employee this will add much more to your monthly expense.

cost of owning a lawn care business

Cost for Starting a Lawn Care Business As a Full-Time Business

If you’re planning on turning your lawn care operation into a full-time business, then you will need to invest in more equipment than someone who’s only doing it part-time. Fortunately, most of these will be one-time expenses.

When starting your company you will need the following:

  • Truck – up to $10,000
  • Trailer (if necessary) – $2,000
  • Trailer accessories (optional) – $1,000
  • Commercial mower – $4,000-8,000
  • Handheld Power Equipment – $2,000
  • Miscellaneous Tools – $500
  • Marketing – Up to $1,000

Although these estimations only come up to $23,500, we recommend securing at least $30,000 to start your full-time lawn care business so you don’t run into funding issues later on.

Estimated Monthly Costs Based on a 40 Hour Work Week (With one Trucks and 2 employees)

Distance traveled/Week350 miles
Vehicle MPG9 MPG
Gas Price$2.50/gallon
Paid wages$12/hour (40 hrs per week)
Equipment fuel per hour1.46 gallons

Wages

$24/hour (2 employees, $12/hour)

160 hours/month

$3,840

$0.28 (per mile)

Travel Expenses

1400

$392.00

Equipment Fuel

$3.65 (per hour)

224 hours/month (28 hrs per week at 70% use of 40 hrs)

$817.60

With the above setup, not including any costs for routine maintenance, these four 4-man trucks will cost $5049.6 per month to run. Every employee will add an additional $2,000 – 2,500 per month to the total operating costs.

This is only a rough estimate but it should give you a good estimate and a template for you to do this exercise on your own.

How to Name Your New Lawn Care Business

An easy-to-remember name is vital to any new business. Of course, there are tons of landscaping companies around, so the challenge is finding the balance between originality, memorability, and simplicity. Your name needs to accurately represent your company, look great in print, and help you stand out from the competition. Here are a few examples of good company names:

  • Luscious Landscapes
  • Mow ‘N Grow Lawn Care
  • EverGreen Lawn Solutions

And here’s what you should avoid:

  • Jack’s Lawn Care
  • Green Landscaping
  • Melvin’s Mowing Company
name your lawn care business
Mowing or cutting the long grass with a green lawn mower

Should You Register Your Business?

Registering your business should be one of the first things on your to-do list. While you can operate as a sole proprietor, you’ll still be responsible for paying taxes on your profits and won’t benefit from any legal protection (meaning you can be personally sued for problems related to your business!). By registering as an LLC or an S-Corp, you’ll turn your business into a separate entity, protecting yourself from being personally sued.

Do You Need Insurance to Begin Your Lawn Care Business?

Getting insurance is a no-brainer. If something goes wrong on the job and you don’t have insurance, then you can be held personally liable for any damages and may even be sued! By having insurance, you can avoid potential legal troubles and large out-of-pocket expenses should any damages occur.

What Legal Documents Are Needed for a Lawn Care Business?

There’s a wide variety of legal documents that you’ll need for your landscaping business. Fortunately, you can get a lot of these when you register your business, but some (like a business plan or an Employees Handbook) you will have to create yourself.

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business License
  • Business Plan
  • Non – Disclosure Agreement
  • Employment Agreement 
  • Operating Agreement
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employees Handbook
  • Contract Document
  • Trademark registration for your company logo 
  • Tax Payer’s ID number (EIN)
start a lawn business

What Kind of Lawn Care Truck Should You Drive?

Two popular setups for lawn care companies are a truck with a trailer or a box truck. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Box trucks are easier to drive (especially when backing up), keep all of your equipment safe from the elements, and are a great way to advertise your business (by labeling the side of the truck). However, this simplicity comes at a price. If your box truck breaks down then you will be forced to transfer all of your equipment over to a temporary vehicle until your truck is fixed. 

Although generally cheaper, truck and trailer setups are harder to drive, and depending on the type of trailer, may not protect your equipment from the elements. On the other hand, if your truck breaks down, you can simply hook the trailer up to a different truck and continue to work while your truck is in the shop. 

lawn care truck and trailer

What Kind of Mower and Other Equipment Should You Get?

When purchasing new equipment stick to reputable brands like Stihl, Exmark, Ferris, and Hustler. Avoid cheaper brands like Husqvarna, Troy-Bilt, or Ryobi.

  • Mower – There are tons of different types of mowers, such as push mowers, walk behind mowers, stand ons, and zero turn mowers. Which one(s) you should purchase will depend on the type of properties you plan on maintaining.
  • String trimmer – You’ll need one of these to cut down grass the mower can’t quite reach. You can get trimmer/edger combo tools, but a dedicated string trimmer will generally be a higher quality machine.
  • Edger – For refined edges on sidewalks and other hard surfaces, you’ll need to purchase an edger. Like the string trimmers, dedicated edgers will work better than combo tools.
  • Blower – If you only need to blow off small areas then you may be able to get by with a handheld blower. However, if you spend a lot of the day blowing off then you will want to invest in a high-quality backpack blower.
  • Assorted Hand Tools – This covers anything from screwdrivers and wrenches for working on equipment to rakes and shovels for projects on-the-job.

As your business grows you may want to expand the services you offer. Some good additional equipment to acquire includes:

  • Hedge Trimmers – Many customers have hedges that need to be trimmed, so you can easily raise your prices for only a couple extra minutes of work by offering hedge trimming services.
  • Chainsaws – You will need one of these if you plan on doing any tree work, but they’re good to have anyway for branches that are too thick for the hedge trimmers to cut through.
  • Stump Grinders – Along with a chainsaw, these are a necessity for tree work.
  • Other Specialized Equipment – As you expand your services you will need more specialized tools, so make sure to purchase the right equipment for the job.
start a lawn care business with no money

How to Get Your First Lawn Care Clients?

  • Never underestimate “word-of-mouth” advertising. This free form of advertising will be essential to the growth of your business. By providing excellent services, your current customers will automatically recommend you to their family and friends. Of course, you can partake in the fun yourself, so don’t forget to tell everyone about your new business!
  • Pass out paper! Flyers, business cards, and ads in the local paper are all great ways to establish your business presence without breaking the bank. You can even advertise on the properties you currently maintain by placing company signs in your nicest yards!
  • Establish an online presence. Besides making a website, Facebook is a great way to market your business. Start for free by making a company page, uploading your information, and posting regularly. As your page gains followers, make sure to respond to all questions/comments you receive to establish a reputation for good customer service. 

Do I Need a Website for My Lawn Care Business?

A proper website should be at the top of your to-do list. These days an online presence is crucial to the overall success of your business, so you’ll want to make sure your website looks professional and is easy to use.

If you’re not able to do this yourself, consider hiring a website designer to do it for you! All of your other marketing leads (such as your Facebook page, business cards, and other advertising avenues) should lead back to your website.

We have an entire article on website builders but if you are short on money I would highly recommend using one of these to create your website. Squarespace is a quick and easy way to have a lawn care website up and running quickly and inexpensively. If you have a lot of time I would probably go the WordPress route if you are technical at all.

These website builders are easy to use and will create a huge return on investment each month.

Is a Lawn Care Business Plan Needed?

Even if you know how to start a lawn care company with no money, it’s still worth taking out the time to write a proper business plan. This will help you focus on the goals of your company, define a budget, and project your business expenses. A business plan will also be helpful if you are seeking funding from an outside investor, as it proves to them you are serious about your business.

lawn care business plan

Will I Need Lawn Care Software?

Initially, you won’t need lawn care software, but as your business grows it will become a necessity. This software will allow you to manage clients, provide estimates, send invoices, track time, and more on one single platform.

If you're interested in starting your lawn care business out on the right foot I would check out our article on the best lawn care softwares. If you want to start with a free option you can always look at Yardbook as well.

How Do I Attract Quality Employees?

To get high-quality employees you will need to provide better job opportunities than other companies in the area. This can include competitive pay, flexible hours, healthcare benefits, growth opportunities, and paid vacations. Initially, you may not be able to provide these benefits, so here’s an often-overlooked factor for acquiring excellent employees that won’t cost you any money: opportunity.

Creating an environment where employees feel empowered to make decisions, to grow, and to achieve goals is a great place to be. The best way to build a quality team is to provide opportunity. Your team should be like family. At the end of the day if you treat your team well they will treat you well (most times.)

Conclusion

Now you know how to start a lawn care company with no money, but knowledge is one thing; action is another. If you’re serious about starting a landscaping company, remember: plan ahead, create a budget, secure funding, and establish a strong business presence. With proper planning and the right amount of entrepreneurial ingenuity, your business will be up and running in no time!

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