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How To Start A Lawn Mowing Business

Updated on June 13, 2013
Lawn mowing is a booming business in the United States.
Lawn mowing is a booming business in the United States.

I was first introduced to the lawn mowing business back in 1995. At the time I was managing a pest control franchise that serviced some very affluent neighborhoods. One evening I was finishing up a service call when my customer’s husband pulled up in a lawn service vehicle. He could tell that I was a bit perplexed as I knew that he was employed in the upper management of a retail store chain. He explained that while his “day job” paid well he made his real money through his lawn mowing business. I thought he was kidding until he presented me with some facts about the magnitude of the lawn care industry.

He informed me that his crews maintained over 100 lawns weekly with an average fee of $75/lawn. That did not include pesticide and fertilizer application or landscaping. This was the base fee for just cutting the grass. He went further to explain that there were a wide variety of other services related to lawn and landscape maintenance that allowed him to keep his crews working virtually year round. Lawn mowing is big business!

How Large Is The Lawn Care Industry

The lawn maintenance industry is massive!

26 million U.S. homes utilize lawn care services.

Lawns cover 40.5 million acres in the United States.

800 million gallons of gasoline are consumed mowing grass each year.

3 million tons of fertilizer is used to fertilize lawns.

30,000 tons of pesticides are used yearly.

$30,000,000,000 spent on lawn care annually..

Lawn Care Equipment

Choosing the right equipment for the job is very important. Years ago I started a lawn mowing business with a push mower and a trimmer, but if you plan on making money you need to go bigger.

Push Mower

Yes you will need a push mower. There are going to be areas that you can’t get to with a rider. You may be able to get away with a cheap push mower when you start up your business, but you will want to replace it with a commercial model as moneys become available.

Riding Mower

There is a big debate about riding mowers. Should you by a lawn tractor or a zero-turn mower? Zero-turn mowers are expensive, but they leave a lot less work when it’s time for trimming. The decision comes down to money. If you can’t afford a zero-turn mower, then buy a good lawn tractor. It will pay for itself and a new zero-turn long before you wear it out.

Trimmer

You’ll need a good trimmer (weed eater). Buy commercial as this piece of equipment takes a beating. You can buy attachments for many models, but I suggest that you buy the right tool for each job.

Edger

An edger is used to detail driveways and concrete. A lot of pros just turn their trimmer on edge and accomplish the same thing, but I’d buy a good edger.

Backpack Blower

You’ll want to clean up drives and walkways when you get done mowing. This is the quickest way of doing it. The other alternative is a broom and dustpan, but this gets old quick and slows you down.

Trailer

You’ll need a good mower trailer, preferably one set up to hold all your tools. You can get away with a utility trailer for a while, but hanging your tools on your trailer is much easier the loading them in and out of your truck.

The Truck

It doesn’t take much of a truck to haul a utility trailer. A ½ ton truck is fine. I prefer 4 wheel drive trucks as you can use them to plow snow with in the winter months. Two wheel drive will work fine if you’re not.

Lawn Mowing Business Plan

Lawn Mowing Business Plan

It’s hard to believe that anyone would start a business without a business plan. Your business plan not only provides the groundwork needed to start your business it also helps you track your business. If you don’t know how to write a business plan, call your local Small Business Development Center. Most counties have them or they will direct you to someone who can direct you to the resources you need. The Small Business Administration also has some great information and example business plans. Whatever you do don’t start your lawn mowing business blind!

Marketing Your Lawn Moving Business

Marketing your lawn business can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. You can use newspaper ads, fliers, mailers, postings on bulletin boards, but word of mouth is what will build your business. One trick I used was to find a small yard that needed mowing in a nice neighborhood. I’d ask the owner if they would like me to mow their yard. If they sounded disinterested, I’d offer to mow their lawn for free if I could use them as a reference. When I got done I would head to the neighbors and point out the work I’d done for their neighbor. They’d often have me cut their yard too. I picked up entire neighborhoods doing this. Do good work and the jobs will come.

Adding value to your lawn care service increases profits.
Adding value to your lawn care service increases profits.

Add On Services

This is where the fun begins. You’re mowing a yard and the customer approaches you about trimming their hedges or doing some landscaping. Maybe they need their gutters cleaned or leave raked. These are all add on services that can increase your profit margins. In fact, these additional jobs can carry you through the off season. Treat your customer well and they’ll think of you first when they need yard maintenance of any kind.

Licensing and Taxes

Just a word about licensing and taxes. Keep it legal! You're running a business so you need to find out what licensing or permits your state and local governments require. While we're discussing this you also need to think about liability insurance. You need to be covered should anything happen.

Pay your taxes! You don't want the IRS knocking on your door.

Conclusion

Lawn mowing is big business and can be very profitable even on a small scale. I’ve given you just a small glimpse into what this business is about. Do your research and start small if need be. If you do fail, you’ll the best lawn mower on the block!

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