View Full Version : part time to full time lawn care

07-12-2009, 05:53 PM
Kicking around the idea to start a lawn care business as a second income to start. 1st child is 3 mo old and would like for the wife to stay at home with him if possible.

I have 13 years experience as a golf course superintendent. I have a spray/fert application license as well as the knowledge to maintain turfgrass at 0.100" so 3" homeowner should be no problem.

I am thinking of getting used equipment to start.

Already have a truck, fert spreader, walk sprayer (small)

Thinking of purchasing, used if possible (w/ cash):

12x6 trailer (dump maybe?)

zero turn mower (50"?)

string trimmer

backpack blower

Advice on how to proceed as well as most reliable equipment that you would recommend.

Pricing for cutting is always a question, the area here has homes in the $300k+ range. Thinking minimum $30 for the smallest lawns.

Will be putting together an expense sheet to determine costs.

07-12-2009, 06:00 PM
Sounds like a good plan to me. Dump trailers are expensive around here. You would have to have alot of use for one to justify the $6,000 to $8,000.

07-12-2009, 06:09 PM
Agreed more expensive than a regular trailer, was thinking down the line because my truck is not a dump. I can get 3x ground mulch through the golf course at $16/yd. Delivered around here is getting $35/yd plus delivery fees.

I guess I could start with a regular trailer and go from there.

07-12-2009, 06:12 PM
That's what I would do, or rent a dump trailer on the bigger jobs.

07-12-2009, 07:36 PM
pricing out around $5k for the basic equipment I need to get started.

$30 per cut minimum I would need 15 yards or so per week to suppliment my wifes income.

How much to charge for fert application (fall) and herbicide application (anytime)? Also considering lawn aeration for how much?

07-12-2009, 07:53 PM
$30 minimum isn't bad on residentials. Don't plug into the classic "you're an underbidder" accusations. Charge what you're comfortable with and don't listen to that crap. As far as the price on applications, that varies depending on where you're located. Alot of people charge a $35 to $40 minimum just to show up, then $3.00 to $4.00 per 1,000 square feet after that. I've got an account that's about 26,000 sq.ft. that I charge $110.00 per application. I net about $80.00 per application on it by the time I buy my fertilizer and fuel to drive to it. I hit it with an app every 5 to 6 weeks.

07-12-2009, 08:06 PM
In March or April I put down an application of Pendulum (pre-emergent) and Triplet (selective post-emergent). They're compatible, so I mix them together and put it down as one application. I throw in a little Surf King surfactant and blue die as well. After that, about 5 weeks later I fertilize with granular. 3 times, 5 to 6 weeks apart. Then, in the Fall I winterize. Throughout the growing season I spot spray with my backpack sprayer, using Triplet and surfactant on the stubborn weeds. I also use a backpack sprayer with glyphospate, surfactant, and dye to hit areas where you want nothing. Cracks in the sidewalks, gravel parking areas, chainlink fence lines on big industrial accounts, warehouses, etc. It saves so much time on the trimming. I do this every 5 to 6 weeks too, just to keep the unwanted crap gone.

07-15-2009, 08:26 PM
determine costs and figure time by doing your lawn and friends before pricing.

07-15-2009, 11:34 PM
Price a jug of chemical, find out how many sq. ft. of turf that jug will treat, divide the price and you'll disover your chemical cost per 1000 sq ft. It's not much at all (you'll find that out quick).

07-16-2009, 09:06 PM
Agreed more expensive than a regular trailer, was thinking down the line because my truck is not a dump. I can get 3x ground mulch through the golf course at $16/yd. Delivered around here is getting $35/yd plus delivery fees.

I guess I could start with a regular trailer and go from there.

If you have the cash to get the dump trailer outright, why not go ahead and do it ... then keep the profit from the big jobs instead of paying for rental !!

07-16-2009, 09:38 PM
True. I guess if you would still have plenty of operating capital left over after paying that amount of cash for the trailer, that would be the thing to do. That is, if you're absolutely positive you will land jobs that require one. I think if it was me, I would test the waters a little. I didn't run out and buy a bobcat, even though I planned on doing snow removal. Come to find out, i've needed one maybe once a year, twice if I was real lucky. It makes more sense to just rent one on the rare occasion that I need one, rather than have all that money tied up in a piece of equipment that just sits.

07-16-2009, 11:09 PM
I don't understand the need for a dump trailer when you are just starting out. You can always rent a trailer for $30 to haul stuff. You need to keep the overhead low and do basic stuff until you get established.

07-17-2009, 12:33 AM
i wouldnt buy a dump trailor right from the beginning if i were you

07-17-2009, 11:00 PM
good idea, bad time of year. go for it. let your wife stay home. thats why i stuck with this. it pays the bills faster

07-20-2009, 06:16 PM
yeah probably no dump trailer for now. Basic used 12x6 trailer, used 60" zero turn, used blower, already have the push mower and weed eater.

Scouring the classfieds for each piece to get going.

If I get a few accounts this summer/fall that would be fine, next year I'll push harder since it is the middle of the season around here.

07-20-2009, 11:13 PM
I've picked up 6 residentials in the past 2 weeks here. It's been so hot out, the older people who thought they would do it themselves have given up, due to the heat. There's also been alot of "the guy I had doing it never showed up on time". Try a good, classy newspaper ad right now. Spend some money on a good one for a month. You might pull in more than you think. Then again, I don't know how hot it is where you're at.

07-25-2009, 10:03 AM
Another question. How about a walk mower for smaller areas/lawns. A 60" probably won't be able to go everywhere. Saw a 32" bradley walker for $800.

Going to look at a 52" toro zero turn today, asking $1900.