How to Start a Lawn Care Business: $70k in Profit as a Teenager

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Are you considering starting a lawn care business?

jack fleming

The lawn care industry is booming and shows no signs of slowing down.

Mordor Intelligence estimates the U.S. lawn care services market at $58.69 billion in 2024, with a projected growth to $75.71 billion by 2029.

Lawn care is an excellent business to start due to its low startup costs, minimal upfront investment, and potential for high profitability.

In fact, 13-year-old Jack Fleming started his lawn care journey with just one lawn mower, knocking on his neighbors’ doors.

He grew Yard Boyz to generate tens of thousands in profit, allowing him to pay for college without going into debt (he’s a double major, by the way), before selling the business for a six-figure sum.

In this episode, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start your own lawn care business, including planning and budgeting to marketing and growing your team, so you can start earning money doing what you love.

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Planning and Preparation

Launching a lawn care company starts with proper planning and preparation, like any successful business.

First, honestly assess your skills, experience, and interests. While no formal training is required, you should have basic knowledge of operating lawn equipment and the physical ability to work long hours in any weather.

Jack learned through hands-on practice, starting by borrowing a neighbor’s old mower with no gas cap.

Next, research your local area and competition. Are there opportunities to grab market share or can you offer services or specialties that other lawn care companies are overlooking?

Having a clear unique selling proposition will help you stand out.

Determine exactly what services you plan to offer. Most lawn care businesses start by offering basic mowing and lawn maintenance services.

As you grow, you can expand into landscaping projects, seasonal yard cleanups, irrigation, pest control, and more.

You’ll also need to choose a business structure—options include sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. This decision affects how your business gets registered and has implications for taxes and liability.

Many lawn care businesses begin as sole proprietorships.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Lawn Care Business?

One of the advantages of the lawn care business is relatively low start-up costs compared to many other industries.

Jack started as a teenager with almost no money down.

However, financing those initial investments is still a consideration. Many entrepreneurs use personal savings to start a lawn care business.

Others pursue small business loans, crowdfunding campaigns, investors, or non-traditional financing vehicles like securities-based loans.

Some of the start-up costs you may incur include:

  • Lawn care equipment – a lawnmower, edger, trimmer, leaf blower, etc.
  • Vehicle & trailer – to transport crews and gear
  • Fuel – recurring costs for lawn care businesses
  • Business registration fees – covering costs to register your business name and get licenses and permits
  • Insurance – including liability, commercial auto, equipment coverage
  • Marketing – branded equipment wraps, website, ads
  • Software & tools – customer management, scheduling, invoicing software, and any office tools like computers

In addition to start-up costs, you’ll need working capital to cover operating expenses like labor, office space, and other overhead until you begin generating revenue.

Building Your Lawn Care Team

In the beginning, you may be a solo operation—just you going door-to-door looking for clients. But as your lawn care business grows, you’ll likely need to hire employees or contract workers to keep up with demand.

Jack started out as a two-person operation with a friend, going door-to-door and passing out flyers. As they became popular in their local neighborhood, he began hiring—his friends from his high school soccer team (and even people who were older than him.)

Some key hiring considerations:

  • Competitive compensation to attract reliable team members
  • Writing clear and detailed job descriptions for roles
  • Setting up a system for interviewing, vetting candidates, conducting background checks
  • How to legally classify and pay workers who operate dangerous equipment like mowers

Hiring seasonal workers, even a few, significantly increases your capacity for more clients, but it also brings new responsibilities like taxes, compliance, payroll, and management.

Smart Marketing Tactics

Most lawn care businesses operate in a defined local service area, so you need effective marketing tactics to acquire new clients and build a strong reputation.

In the early days, Jack marketed his lawn care services with flyers around his neighborhood. As word spread about the quality of his work, referrals and repeat clients became his biggest source of new business.

Smart low-cost marketing efforts to try include:

  • Having a professional website – an easy place to direct referrals to learn more
  • Vehicle wraps, yard signs – for brand visibility
  • Localized online marketing on sites like Nextdoor (Jack’s favorite source), Indeed, Craigslist, Facebook community groups
  • Social media marketing on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter
  • Soliciting reviews on Google, Yelp, and other review sites—people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Partnering with neighborhood associations, real estate agents, rental companies to tap into prospective clients

Think about where your customers are and meet them on those platforms—in a helpful, non-pushy way.

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In his later years, Jack started experimenting with paid ads on social media platforms after building up a reputation from organic marketing tactics.

Pricing and Profitability

Price too low, and you won’t be able to cover your costs and make a decent profit margin. Price too high, and you’ll lose opportunities to competitors.

Jack learned this lesson the hard way on his very first $30 lawn mowing job. What he thought would take 45 minutes ended up being an 8-hour ordeal in an overgrown yard. By his own admission, he was making just $2.78 an hour after expenses on that first job.

Many lawn care businesses start by researching the going market rates for services in their area. You can contact competitors for quotes or check prices advertised online.

Next, calculate all your costs related to labor, equipment, transportation/fuel, overheads like insurance and licenses, and materials. Account for travel time between jobs when pricing hourly.

Most residential lawn services are priced either hourly or with flat rates per service. Some businesses use hybrid models – hourly rate for small jobs, but flat rate for routine weekly mowing.

Determine what profit margin you need to pay yourself and earn a decent rate. Many lawn care businesses aim for margins of 30-50%, higher for installation projects.

As you grow larger and add more service offerings, you can create resources like pricing charts and service menus to help standardize quotes.

Customer Service and Retention

No matter how hard you marketing/how competitive your pricing, your reputation and ability to retain customers rest on the quality of service that you deliver.

Show up on time, be responsive, and stand behind your work. Create a process for addressing complaints and making things right if anything goes wrong.

Consider ways to make working with your business as convenient as possible, like using online scheduling and digital payment options.

Jack uses Google Workspace for his team—it has calendar sync, individual emails, and a place to put all of their documents in one place.

Above all, make sure your crews are properly trained and delivering consistent quality work. Soliciting customer feedback regularly can help identify areas to improve.

Jack credited word-of-mouth and consistently exceeding customer expectations as big drivers of his business’s growth. Reputation was everything in his neighborhood markets.

Finally, build in ways to keep in touch with past customers, like email newsletters, special offers, and loyalty or referral reward programs. Repeat clients and word of mouth will be huge growth drivers.

Final Thoughts

It’s not easy to start a lawn care business, but if you’re dedicated and willing to learn continuously, this could be a path to career freedom and lucrative income.

Jack serves as an inspiration to not overlook simple, blue collar business ideas.

Follow these steps—proper planning, securing funding, building a strong team, smart local marketing, competitive pricing, and excellent service—and you’ll equip yourself to build a profitable lawn care business from scratch.

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

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