These days, landscaping jobs involve a lot more than simply mowing the lawn or pulling a few weeds. In fact, while landscaping businesses don’t require any official training, the industry offers a lot of opportunity for growth. With that in mind, we’ve assembled this in-depth guide on starting your own landscaping business so that you will be set up for success on your journey to entrepreneurship.
An overview of the landscaping industry
As the owner of your own gardening and landscaping business, you’ll likely be working as a freelancer, especially when you are first starting out. Before you devote your time, effort and money to starting a small business in landscaping, it’s a good idea to understand the size of the Canada landscape market and your potential for earning so that you can determine whether the venture is financially viable.
According to the Canadian Industry Statistics for Landscaping Services, as of 2019, there were over 22,000 landscaping businesses in operation. The annual revenues across all Canada landscape businesses ranged from $30,000-$5,000,000, with the average annual earnings coming in at just over $380,000. A study by Statista found that the overall landscaping business market revenue in Canada is $8.44 billion USD. Plus, depending on the type of lawn care services you offer and the amount of time you’re willing to devote to your new small business, as a freelancer, you have control over how many hours you work and how much you get paid.
Pros and cons of starting a landscaping company
- Complete control over which jobs (and clients) you choose to take on
- You set your own hours
- Spend time outside
- Good exercise
- Choose what services and/or products to offer
- No formal training or education required
- Physically demanding
- Initial investment in equipment may be expensive
- Landscaping is generally a seasonal industry
- Competition from other landscaping businesses
How to start a gardening and landscaping business
Are you ready to start your own landscaping business but still not quite sure where to get started? This step-by-step guide will break down everything you need to do in order to start your small business.
Decide what services to offer
In order to be successful as a landscaping business, you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of the types of lawn care services that are available. While lawn maintenance is an important part, landscaping can also involve using your creative vision to design a space that works for your clients. You get to decide what type of a landscaping business you want to have, so you can choose to offer full-scale high-level design and contracting services, or you can stick to the basics like lawn mowing, weeding and general maintenance.
Get familiar with your equipment
Once you’ve figured out the type of lawn care services you plan to offer, you’ll probably have a better idea of the types of equipment you will need to invest in for your landscaping business. If you’re completely new to landscaping and have no idea what you’ll need, Eden U offers a two-week masterclass where you’ll be taught to use equipment safely and efficiently, to identify plants, trim hedges, plant gardens and work efficiently. Plus, there’s a guaranteed job placement when you complete the masterclass.
Figure out your target audience
To effectively find clients for your landscaping business, it’s a good idea to define your target audience, or the type of people that you will be marketing to. Your lawn care services business could be employed for residential or commercial properties, with clients including homeowners, building property managers, corporations or individual contractors. As you design your landscaping business, every single business decision that you make, from branding to ad campaigns to website copy, should be specifically directed at the type of client that you want to attract.
What to charge for gardening and landscaping
While most landscapers charge based on lawn size, there is also the option to charge a total project fee or a monthly maintenance fee. In general, you should have an hourly rate decided on, and then you need to determine the size of the property and make an educated guess as to how many hours the project will take you to complete.
Make sure that you research what other landscaping businesses in your area are charging for the same services so you have an appropriate range to choose your hourly rate from. While it can be tempting for a new entrepreneur to undercut the more established local landscaping businesses, you don’t want to end up getting burnt out and resenting your new business. Stick to the middle of the range when you’re first starting out, and don’t forget to take into consideration all of your expenses when determining your rate.
Register your small business
Before you jump into working on your new landscaping business, make sure to register your business to make things official. First, determine what type of organization you’ll have: are you going to be a one-person business operating under your legal name, or are you planning on buying a franchise or an existing business? This information will be necessary in order to know which type of business structure will work for you.
Market your lawn care services
Now that your landscaping business is all ready to go, it’s time to put your lawn care services out there for the world to see. It may seem simple, but these days there’s a lot more to marketing your business than handing out flyers or listing your company in the phone book. Your best bet is to create a comprehensive marketing plan designed specifically based on the types of clients you want to attract and what type of landscaping work you want to focus on.
If you want your business to look professional to your potential clients, you need to have a website with strong, recognizable company branding that immediately communicates to viewers exactly what your landscaping business is all about. At the very least, you should have a business email account and some sort of online presence for your landscaping business, even if you have to start small with a simple Facebook or Instagram page and build a more comprehensive website as your company grows. Use what you learned about your target audience to determine which social media channels are best for reaching your ideal clients.
Write your business description using words that a client would search for, and make sure that the way you describe your services will appeal to the type of customers you are trying to attract. Never underestimate the value of letting your network know about your new business venture: your friends, family and peers might need your lawn care services or at least know someone who does.
It’s also a good idea to make the most of the clients you already have with an ongoing referral program. You can incentivize current customers to refer people in their network by providing a credit to their account when one of their referrals books your lawn care services. If you’re really struggling to find customers, you can try a technique called a loss leader, where you give away one session of landscaping to a new client, taking an initial loss in the hopes that they will hire you in the long term.
Offer your lawn care services through third party companies
While it’s a great idea to have a clear, descriptive website for your landscaping business, it may still be a challenge for your small business to show up among the larger businesses when people search online for lawn care services. With that in mind, you may want to join a marketplace or association for landscapers, where those who are in need of landscaping can browse their local businesses. In addition to getting your name seen by more potential clients, being included in a list can also add credibility to your landscaping business.
Some people pursue entrepreneurship out of a desire to be their own boss, start a small business from scratch, and have complete control over every aspect of their career. If you want to run your own landscaping business but you don’t want to have to build it from the ground up, you can always look into opening a franchise of an established landscaping business.
If you find that you would prefer to focus on the landscaping services that they offer rather than the business side of things, or just want the option to take on additional work, you can make use of a sharing economy app. For example, you can set your own pace by choosing to complete one-off jobs or connect with weekly or biweekly customers when you work with Eden. The Eden app allows you to see available snow plowing and landscaping jobs on a map and will even route you to your destination. The client will have already input the approximate size of their lot and the lawn care services they are in need of, and all communication can be done through the app.
However you choose to go about creating your own landscaping business, this in-depth guide should have given you what you need to get started on the right foot.
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.