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The spring cleaning season has inspired a posting in the Landscaping Discussion Forum that begins, "I have recently started a lawn and landscaping business and I'm trying to NOT make the classic mistakes (under or over charging)." This entrepreneur is struggling with a question that anybody starting a landscaping business must eventually answer. Click the link to read his entire message, plus a response posted by one of our experts.

Comments

October 27, 2006 at 8:55 am
(1) Mike says:

Know what your dealing with and work for a landscaping company to show you tips and tricks, as far as pricing you have to know what you can get, generally labor x4

July 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(2) ethan says:

i always charge by the job NOT hour so try to guess

July 21, 2011 at 11:18 am
(3) bob says:

so wait a second…you like to GUESS…that sounds really smart….

UMMMM….I’m gonna guess that I’m gonna charge….UMMMM

if you guess..you’ll put yourself out of business….nice work ethan….

December 23, 2006 at 5:16 pm
(4) steve says:

I am going to start up a landscaping business with a couple of buddies that I just returned back from Iraq with. Pricing is one of the things that we were discussing as of many other things. If you could help me out with any tipps or advice that would be great. If it matters I am in the Milwaukee area and would like to advertise in two or three near by counties. Also we have a combined total of $50k. Is this a realistic figure or should put up more? Thank for any tips and advise your willing to share.

December 29, 2006 at 12:38 pm
(5) David Beaulieu says:

I can’t speak to the issue of whether or not the $50K would be

sufficient in your area, but the following discussion offers some

advice on the matter of pricing: What a Landscaping Business Should

Charge. Money issues, though, are notoriously difficult to discuss

over the Web, because the figures will be quite different depending

upon where we all live, what our goals are, etc. Sorry I can’t be of

more help.

January 17, 2009 at 2:58 am
(6) Tim says:

The best way to determine how much to charge is to do some market research and figure out (1) who is my target market? and (2) what are my competitors charging?

You can easily pick up the phone and call your competitors to find out how much they charge and for what price. Have them break out quotes with AND without the options of doing X or Y.

Target market is important because you can get away with charging more in more affluent areas or with clients who you know are going to be picky.

Hope that helps.

January 31, 2009 at 2:47 am
(7) thaphelo says:

Am also looking forward to starting a landscaping company with a buddy but am a bit clueless on charging. Help! Am in South Africa

January 31, 2009 at 10:27 am
(8) landscaping says:

Hi Thaphelo,

The blog post above links to a forum discussion on what to charge when starting a landscaping business. Please click that link and read the thoughts offered in the discussion (which go beyond anything I could comment on here).

February 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm
(9) Tagg Hamilton says:

An effective way to charge is to estimate how many hours it will take you and times that by the about you feel your time is worth.

February 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm
(10) steve Griggs says:

been doing high end residential landscaping for 25 years in the new york metro area. I’m enjoying a good lifestyle. If you guys just got back from Iraq defending our country, thank you. and would be honored to offer any advice I can.
I would love to answer any questions you have call me on my cell
914-879-5602 check out my site if you need proof
landdesignstudio.net

October 6, 2009 at 12:00 am
(11) Rickey says:

I offer my clients a cut&trim package. With that, I charge $40 a pop! After expences, I clear appx.$900 per week. Can do alot more but I lack the right equipment..

January 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm
(12) john says:

It will be very competitive this season for both workers and getting business. Many of our migrants did not come back this year which means we will have to charge more. I found that I could not afford benefits for myself or my workers. I did find that many of the counties have got into this discount prescription card program, good throughout the USA. I just printed up my and my worker’s cards for free at http://www.nationalprescriptiondiscounts.com I save about 1200.00 per year in prescription costs and it’s free to have and free to use. Good at most pharmacies.

February 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(13) Jonathan V says:

Hello there guys. I am thirty three and want to be my own employer.I have been doing landscaping for nine years now and want to be my own boss.I am in Columbia,South Carolina and have all the equipment I need.Truck,trailer,push mowers,stihl edgers blowers,weedeaters,hand tools ect, but am nervous about what I should charge customers while maximizing my income potential while and retaining repeat customers.I normally charge 50.00$ for cutting, edging beds and hardlines,weedeating and blowing the property.I charge a additional 25 a hour for straw or mulch installation on top of the material cost,all this is how I do it,is it the right way?.However how do I know what to charge when the size of the property changes? And since money is tight now and I am not employed by a company,would driving around neighborhoods be ok in seeking out potential clients in order to save on advertising for now? Please help.I enjoy the outdoors and what I do,I have all that I need I just have never taken the jump and started out on my own because of several questions that I need answered.Thank you for your time.

March 6, 2010 at 11:42 pm
(14) Anthony says:

Who cares what anyone else is charging, What are you worth or what do you perceive your worth to be. It all reflects in your caliber of service and marketing. If you are cheap you will only make money off of volume but you better have the equipment to do it fast, which means a bit of capital. If you are educated in the landscape industry and know how to sell crap to a farmer your well on your way. The best piece of advice for all is know your overhead cost ( gas, insurance, truck, equipment, anything thats an expense) and add a huge profit. If you do not know your overhead cost and I mean down to paper and ink you will loose money and a lot of it. Find your cost of doing business plus profit and is it worth it. I’m speaking from experience.

August 30, 2010 at 7:12 am
(15) landscape architect sydney says:

Do some market reserch it ‘ll help you.

November 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm
(16) Portland Oregon Landscaping says:

Knowing what to charge is very complex. Most new companies try to figure out what their competitors charge and then base their rates on those prices (usually trying to be a little less, since they are new to the market and trying to grab market share). But this is NOT the right way to figure out your pricing. I do encourage new landscape company owners to CHECK the pricing of their competitors. Just to have a benchmark or get an idea what the going rates are. But YOUR pricepoint should be determined on several things.

First, you want to know what your operating costs are for a given year. Not for a job. Not for a month. But your yearly operating costs. Then you want to know how many hours were spent, TOTAL, in that year. You divide your total operating costs (include every single business expense for the year) by the number of hours worked and that gives you a very basic number that you can use as your break even point. It’s actually even more complex than this. But this is a good place to start, since it’s 10x better than what most owners do.

So now that you have your break even point, you want to determine how much profit you want/need to make. Typically, that would be anywhere from 10%-30%, depending on your market. So mark your break-even hourly rate up by whatever % profit and that’s your hourly rate. Bid all your jobs at this rate.

Now, if you find that this number is WAY under what other companies charge in your area, you have a little room to go up a little! And you should! Because one day you’re going to want a nicer shop, nicer trucks, a storage yard, maybe a holding area for plants, etc., right? So how are you ever going to be able to afford those things if you aren’t accounting for them now?

Take all this stuff into account and I guarantee you you’ll be WAY ahead of most of your competition.

-Jim Lewis, Lewis Landscape Services – A Portland Oregon Landscaping Company

November 25, 2010 at 9:47 am
(17) landscaping says:

Wow, terrific comment! I don’t get many this thoughtful. Come back and post any time, Jim.

December 6, 2010 at 12:27 am
(18) M. D. Vaden Portland Landscape & Tree says:

The “complex” aspect mentioned in reply #17 is the most sensible way to look at it.

If folks are considering a set price per square foot, then we should know that experience and common sense are being thrown out the window.

When calculated properly, this requires different factors and numbers for every single place if the project is to be done right and maintain quality.

Complex rules !!

M. D. Vaden Portland Landscape & Tree

December 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm
(19) garden design sydney says:

Thank you for showing some different aspects which I will now put into practice.

December 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm
(20) dimitri says:

My only true concern with someone who wants to start a landscaping company is that they will fall short of their dreams.
To start a landscaping company if you decided to get involved in the maintenance aspect such as mowing lawns, edging, etc you will have to spend a lot of money for that equipment. After you have spent a little fortune to get started you will get bids for homes and business then will realize that people are more concerned in saving money for their services than getting a quality job. This is why cheap labor from central and south America have taken over. I can tell you that there is a lot more money to be made in creating a garden than there is in maintenance.

December 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm
(21) Scott says:

Hey its a cut throat business in southern California. when I started my gardening service I just got some free estimates to my house and a couple of buddy’s with different size lots and went with average.

January 20, 2011 at 3:11 am
(22) makomelo says:

i am thinking of entering into the landscape business and seem to have a little shortfalls in terms of finances… would you have any tips on how i could be able to convince clients on the extents i could be able to do my work without those finances to get me started. any ideas?

June 29, 2011 at 6:09 am
(23) frilix says:

I intend a start a landscaping business in tenessee. I have lots of experience as a worker.
but not enough cash to start a company.
please let me know if 100,00…. is enough.

can anyone advice

July 16, 2011 at 3:11 am
(24) HUH? says:

100.00; 1,000; 10,000 or 100,000???

good luck, buddy.

December 11, 2011 at 7:17 am
(25) Thomas J says:

My company’s been in business for 8 months now, and starting next year, I’m raising my prices for services offered. We started with 1 client who wanted routine maintenance done, others followed wanting one time service or for a month. I’m very “in touch” with my overhead, but when it comes to new equipment I ALWAYS purchase used, even if it means I have to make repairs myself. NO NEW MACHINERY, not yet. The human resource issue wieghs heavy, though, because I want more employees but people flake out after a day, even for 10.00 hourly. I offer a choice to customers: an hourly rate or a flat rate; however, I only offer them this choice if they give me repeat business, otherwise they pay by the hour. I let them know BEFORE I do the work. So far I haven’t made bags of $, but the company is starting to branch out into soil testing and fertilization carving a nitch in the industry where I live in the northwest. At first I offered the services the other landscapers don’t like – moss removal, thatching, and raking leaves insuring my company some business in the beginning. You know what, I still do all that, and even enjoy it – now I WANT to be in landscaping. It’s not just for the money anymore.

January 5, 2012 at 9:11 am
(26) Rochester NY Landscaping Company says:

For the first year your in business your going to want to try and calculate your business expense and what you need to be payed to get by. Once you have your expense projection you should divide that by how many of hours you expect to work. This number is going to be a big guess sense you don’t have any data yet to compare. Each year when your financial reporting is complete you should recalculate everything and factor in how much growth you realistically expect. Ask yourself about what new expense you expect as well, will your marketing campaign increase in size or will you be purchasing new equipment. Doing market research about your competitors pricing is a factor to take into account as you want to be competitive but their price can’t dictate yours and your costs and theirs are probably very different. Any good contractor costs job by material and time. There are great books out there on how to estimate landscape jobs, the one we used at school was Landscape Estimating and Contract Administration. After I got out of school and began to open my own company I spent a lot of time at libraries reading books about this topic and I suggest the same for you.

Greg Curcio – Rochester NY Landscaper

March 16, 2012 at 7:38 pm
(27) Cory says:

When bidding a job, look at the area, size and amount of work it will take, and with how many men. For example a 2700 square ft house with an average yard front and back would be 35 weekly, 50 bi weekly, and 70 monthly. That’s with two employees helping you. The way l always figure my bids is that I need to average 65 an hour to make a worthwhile profit. #2, everyone wants to start a landscaping business with a
friend. Don’t do it. It almost always ends bad. Start your own separate companies. Help each other with referrals and problems, but don’t go into business with each other.

April 6, 2012 at 2:29 am
(28) Mr.perry says:

I want to start my own lawn service down here in florida and as everybody should know its ALOT OF LAWN SERVICES DOWN HERE..i just wanna know whats the best way to keep my business going once started, and is lowering my price a good thing to do or just charge the same as everybody else because they starting at 20-50 weekly depending on the yard size..

May 27, 2012 at 5:51 pm
(29) audel mejia says:

We started a landscaping business. How do you get people to know about your company? Is throwing cards out there good?

June 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm
(30) landscaping says:

Audel,

Business cards can’t hurt. If the convenience stores in your area have bulletin boards, that’s a good place to post cards. If you wanted to bump it up a notch, you could place an ad in the local newspaper and in the Yellow Pages.

June 3, 2012 at 12:15 am
(31) John says:

Charge by size of lawn and not many people go for being charged by the hour if I call one company and they charge by the hour and the other by size of lawn I’m going with the flat rate and to everybody asking about start up money START SMALL let your skills pay for new equipment never drain your savings just starting out start out as a lawn service then if it goes good by better tools do more never go broke trying to start a business trust me if you do enough lawns at 15 to 40$ you will be doing good in no time

September 9, 2012 at 10:17 pm
(32) david says:

Im intently looking into starting a landscaping, hardscape, and tree trim service. Not saying it will all happen at one property not saying it wont but, i was wondering on what licensing i need. Its just me and my brother so no employee issues. I just need a legit name and any kinda legal issues that could happen. i live in jersey. please help me

September 10, 2012 at 7:46 am
(33) landscaping says:

David,

I’ll get you started. Please see this FAQ from the New Jersey Board of Tree Experts regarding the necessity of having a license to do tree trimming work.

October 8, 2012 at 12:19 pm
(34) Dusty says:

I currently work as a landscaper and have thoughts of starting a small mowing and/or landscaping business in NY eventually. A question I have that I don’t see much discussion on is landscaping is usually a 3 season business. what do most business owners do in the winter to keep there business afloat? I know there’s plowing and some tree work and land clearing projects that can be done in the winter but what else?

December 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm
(35) adam says:

Ha ha, I agree with Ethan, it’s called an estimate… when you go to the job at the beginning of the season and give the home owner an estimate and agree on a price.

January 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm
(36) Jay says:

This is to Bob…. Im 20 years old and I Started my Landscaping Business when I was 18. When I started out I always did it by the hour and not job. I was not good at all with estimates. But believe me, when I found out how to do bids sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you hit the jack pot. There was one Job I bid that it would take 3 hrs and gave them a bid for $70 it took me 30 min I honestly thought it would take longer. And when you start to get in with the commercial clients they are going to want bids, they dont want to pay you hourly (plus you have a better chance of making more by bid). Its all about maturing and learning tricks on how to do things. This is my trick. I do how much I charge a hour + how long it would take me to do in sections. I use to bid the whole job at once and thats how I got into trouble. Now what I do is I look at sections of the job. So say there is an acre of landscaping, ask yourself how long it would take to do one corner then another and another then add it all up. I hope this helps and remember everyone has their own ways of doing business and you can tell who are the successful business owners by how they r doing things. Im in my second year of business and im 20 years old I mow over 75 yards and have 25+ clients plus 5 commercial accounts. Good Luck and God Bless

January 22, 2013 at 8:06 pm
(37) Jay says:

In my town the average hourly charge for landscaping is $35.00. some people do $20-$50. Its all about how you work and how well you do determines how much your worth.

Great work + Great Attitude = Better Pay. I have earned 90% of my clients from word to mouth. Trust me, be honest, work hard, be smart and jobs will come to you.

March 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm
(38) Richard says:

My cousin and I are starting a landscaping company. We’re only 19 years old and looking for some money for college. We already have all the equipment needed, which include: 2 zero turns, 2 leaf blowers, and 3 weedwackers. We already have experience in this job; all we need is advice from a company that already had theirs’ going. We don’t know the estimates or legal process we need to go through to make it official. any help would be great. An email would be much appreciated.Links or advice. THANKS!

Contact: rrprimocuts@gmail.com

June 2, 2013 at 12:30 am
(39) Chad says:

Agree with Tim just pick up your phone and call your competitors. Then undercut their bids on properties by a little to get clients. But I would suggests if you want to survive spend the money and buy a franchise that way you have a well know company and they’ll help you through everything. 90% of people doing it on the side that have no certifications or licenses fail. Here in the south they’re making it harder for these guys to exist thankfully! for your first business I’d suggest buying a franchise spend the extra 25k to 70k to make 50k to 100k a month in revenue rather than wasting 10k to have a part time job and never go anywhere.

Reference 27 y.o owner of 3 business’s and one franchise. Nothing passed down just roughnecked after college in the Bakken oil fields to make cash

September 16, 2013 at 1:31 am
(40) Roger says:

I have been self employed for 24 yrs. in landscape maintenance specializing in all phases of pruning, shearing, irrigation, weeding, general clean-up, bark & rock install, walls, pavers, planting & removal, & design. Becoming rich should never be the goal in business. Take time to get to know every customer & let them know that you care about what their needs are. I have many customers who chose me over several other contractors because of trust. I have been the higher bidder in many cases. Treat every job, no matter how small or large the same, not based on what you can profit. Remember, they might be the one’s writing your next pay check. It’s quality, not quantity! Many of my customers have my services because big companies don’t offer what smaller companies have to offer. Being small has its advantages, less overhead, fewer problems with employees; etc. Don’t work yourself to death! Be informed on what you do the most in business & do it WELL! Your customers are the greatest advertisers you can get. One more thing, don’t spend beyond your means I have seen good businesses go broke due to over spending & not complying with the government requirements. Do it right & legal!

November 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm
(41) Aaron Zold says:

Hello, My name is Aaron. I live in Massachusetts. I had a few questions about landscaping, I’m 22 dedicated and ready to start my own Landscaping business. I’m confused on what to charge for mowing, Leaf removal, basic landscaping. and how much would everything cost for start up cost.

November 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm
(42) landscaping says:

Aaron (and others coming to the discussion late),

The information you seek will be found if you click the link provided above in the original blog post here (it’s a link to a thread in my landscaping forum).

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