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View Full Version : How do I get into landscaping, mostly hardscape


JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 09:24 PM
Ok, I have a thriving lawn care business and I want to get into landscaping mostly because not many in my area don't do a good job. What's a good way to get into it? I have to much business to work for someone else.

White Gardens
05-25-2011, 09:44 PM
Quit Mowing and focus on landscaping.

That or start a separate entity that only offers landscaping.

JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 09:48 PM
Quit Mowing and focus on landscaping.

That or start a separate entity that only offers landscaping.

hum, I don't like that option lol next! No, I plan on hiring someone this next year, I want 2 divisions, but being that I have 0 experience, how do I learn about doing things properly?

JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 09:50 PM
hey, your the guy to ask, I thought about going to MSU for this, a major in hardscaping or whatever they will call it and a minor in turf management. Do you think its worth the debt?

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2011, 09:57 PM
hey, your the guy to ask, i thought about going to msu for this, a major in hardscaping or whatever they will call it and a minor in turf management. Do you think its worth the debt?


no i don't.


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JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 10:00 PM
that is my natural inclination. lol

White Gardens
05-25-2011, 10:08 PM
no i don't.

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Ditto




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JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 10:10 PM
so as far as learning, any books, software to play around with stuff, anything?

DVS Hardscaper
05-25-2011, 11:08 PM
so as far as learning, any books, software to play around with stuff, anything?



I started with LEGOS and Lincoln Logs.



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JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 11:14 PM
I started with LEGOS and Lincoln Logs.



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Been there done that. lol Also built farms with toys.

nepatsfan
05-25-2011, 11:19 PM
You are going to get a lot of smart ass comments but start with this.
http://www.icpi.org/installercourse

Another good way is to go to local suppliers and see if they are having any contractor clinics....You will learn some things at these but they are mostly sales pitches. If nothing else...talk to a rep, they can steer you in a direction. Another way is that if you get busy enough to hire someone, hire someone who has done a lot of hardscaping, anyone can run a mower. Maybe they can help you with hardscape stuff but mow with you and do whatever other maintenance you do when yu aren't busy with the hardscaping.

JCLawn and more
05-25-2011, 11:26 PM
You are going to get a lot of smart ass comments but start with this.
http://www.icpi.org/installercourse

Another good way is to go to local suppliers and see if they are having any contractor clinics....You will learn some things at these but they are mostly sales pitches. If nothing else...talk to a rep, they can steer you in a direction. Another way is that if you get busy enough to hire someone, hire someone who has done a lot of hardscaping, anyone can run a mower. Maybe they can help you with hardscape stuff but mow with you and do whatever other maintenance you do when yu aren't busy with the hardscaping.

never heard of a clinic. My parents have a very un-landscaped house and I thought about fixing that. People with experience are hard to find in this area. Not anyone can run a mower by the way lol That is why I am excelling. I guess its the whole design thing that scares me. That is helpful knowledge though

JCLawn and more
05-26-2011, 09:02 AM
bump..........

DVS Hardscaper
05-26-2011, 11:09 AM
"clinics". "bumps"

I'm not sure I really want to know what you two are discussing.......
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andyslawncare
05-26-2011, 10:06 PM
pave stone and rain bird offer courses to teach you things and to get certified in several areas. Technical college is a good idea. If you don't know much, be prepared to take a loss for a year or two until you know what you are doing. You will need to have good knowledge of plants, as a patio or wall is not complete without plants; otherwise, you will have to become friends with a good landscape designer to suggest plant material to save you time. Do your homework. Pro landscape image editor helps a lot. Make your own property your model and experiment.

nepatsfan
05-26-2011, 10:17 PM
"clinics". "bumps"

I'm not sure I really want to know what you two are discussing.......
Posted via Mobile Device

The gifts that keep on giving:drinkup:

nepatsfan
05-26-2011, 10:24 PM
never heard of a clinic. My parents have a very un-landscaped house and I thought about fixing that. People with experience are hard to find in this area. Not anyone can run a mower by the way lol That is why I am excelling. I guess its the whole design thing that scares me. That is helpful knowledge though

Excelling?!?I would anoint myself Brickman yet if I were you. You are talking about hiring your first guy...... 99% of people can run a mower if they are breathing and walking. Why does everyone on this site think they are awesome because they can run a lawnmower. I have been running lawnmowers for years and I have had a lot of really dumb people work for me that could run a mower. Anyways...I'm not trying to discourage you. Sounds like you have your future planned out pretty well. Do a good job and always return your phone calls promptly and word will spread fast.

White Gardens
05-26-2011, 11:26 PM
Excelling?!?I would anoint myself Brickman yet if I were you. You are talking about hiring your first guy...... 99% of people can run a mower if they are breathing and walking. Why does everyone on this site think they are awesome because they can run a lawnmower.

Hey now, I make the best stripes anyone has ever seen. :laugh:

JCLawn and more
05-27-2011, 11:18 AM
Excelling?!?I would anoint myself Brickman yet if I were you. You are talking about hiring your first guy...... 99% of people can run a mower if they are breathing and walking. Why does everyone on this site think they are awesome because they can run a lawnmower. I have been running lawnmowers for years and I have had a lot of really dumb people work for me that could run a mower. Anyways...I'm not trying to discourage you. Sounds like you have your future planned out pretty well. Do a good job and always return your phone calls promptly and word will spread fast.

Anyone can run a shovel and put stuff in the ground/on the ground.
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JCLawn and more
05-27-2011, 11:26 AM
I thought about playing around with software. DV get your mind out of the gutter!
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nepatsfan
05-27-2011, 11:57 PM
Anyone can run a shovel and put stuff in the ground/on the ground.
Posted via Mobile Device

No kidding...what's your point? You don't really think using a shovel is a skill too...do you?

DVS Hardscaper
05-28-2011, 12:13 AM
I got into this industry after getting out of jail the first time.

Well, what happened is after I got out of jail I could not find a job. So I went to work for a carnival operating the bumper cars. Carnival season, soon came to an end as winter was approaching, so I landed shoveling snow. And from there I started testing the waters in the landscape field.





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PatriotLandscape
05-28-2011, 09:59 AM
I got into it because I thought my boss was making a ton of money. Boy was I wrong.

I love it when I tell people I own a landscape construction co. Specializing in walls and patios and they respond "oh cool there's a lot of money in that."

I then ask them where because I have been looking for it for ten years. The way this industry has designed itself it has a low cost of entry, homeowners think they can do it themselves and we constantly put each other down And undercut each other. The cost to grow is not always worth it because the increase in overhead doesn't warrant the low return on investment.
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White Gardens
05-28-2011, 10:15 AM
I got into this industry after getting out of jail the first time.

Well, what happened is after I got out of jail I could not find a job. So I went to work for a carnival operating the bumper cars. Carnival season, soon came to an end as winter was approaching, so I landed shoveling snow. And from there I started testing the waters in the landscape field.



That explains a lot!:laugh:

JCLawn and more
05-28-2011, 10:31 AM
I got into it because I thought my boss was making a ton of money. Boy was I wrong.

I love it when I tell people I own a landscape construction co. Specializing in walls and patios and they respond "oh cool there's a lot of money in that."

I then ask them where because I have been looking for it for ten years. The way this industry has designed itself it has a low cost of entry, homeowners think they can do it themselves and we constantly put each other down And undercut each other. The cost to grow is not always worth it because the increase in overhead doesn't warrant the low return on investment.
Posted via Mobile Device

True. I would not mind getting into excavation too. I got time, I'm only 20
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PatriotLandscape
05-28-2011, 11:30 AM
Honestly being only 20 I would recommend working for someone else for a few more years. Bur your only 20 so I know you won't listen :)
You need to learn how to manage people because that is what owning a business is. You think you are the only one doing quality work but there are many things you don't know about the industry let alone how to manage people and customers. Or stick to being a lawn jockey because mostly we learn from mistakes and they are best learned on someone elses dime.
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PatriotLandscape
05-28-2011, 11:32 AM
Don't worry so much about what you do or what you want to do just worry about making a true profit or you'll be another guy "who used to own a business"
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JCLawn and more
05-28-2011, 11:59 AM
Honestly being only 20 I would recommend working for someone else for a few more years. Bur your only 20 so I know you won't listen :)
You need to learn how to manage people because that is what owning a business is. You think you are the only one doing quality work but there are many things you don't know about the industry let alone how to manage people and customers. Or stick to being a lawn jockey because mostly we learn from mistakes and they are best learned on someone elses dime.
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That's easier said than done now. I have been doing this since I was 14 and it getting big enough to where it almost to big for one person.
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DVS Hardscaper
05-29-2011, 12:39 AM
I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I clearly remember at the age of 4 playing with my Tonkas and I was the boss and had employees. All through my childhood there was never any question that I would be self employed.

At 10 yrs old I was mowing my neighbor's lawns for $5 each.

At age 13 I had a company name.

My senior year in high school I was making as much money as my teachers, from mowing grass.

I never worked for anyone else. Everything I know I learned on my own.

Whenever I see someone on here tell young guys to go work for someone else - I laugh. When I was in my 20's I was unstoppable. I live at home, had excellent credit, and had satisified customers. I wasn't't scared of anything. I was bidding mowing 40 acre common areas for H.O.A's. I had a boatload of commercial snow removal contracts. Nothing got in my way, I was a hustler. And I managed to hit the bars with my buddies 3 nights a week and go with 3-4 hrs of sleep afterwords!

Folks - in terms of local competition, it's the guys that are in the 20's that we need to take seriously and NEVER EVER under estimate. I could sit here and type all kinds of stories and experiences about how I was landing sales.

We started mowing grass, specializing in large residential properties, commercial, and H.O.A's. I have pics from age 10 and up. One of these days I just may post them!

In high school I had 3 years of horticulture class. And I really learned alot. Taught by one of the greatest men I have ever known, who ranks right up there with my grandfather. My senior year we installed Belgard pavers. This was before pavers were hardly heard of. This was before Paver Pete ever even heard of a paver. And then, 6 years after that - we ventured into dabbling with paver installs. The success is attributed to the fact that one of my employees (who was also my best friend) had worked for an excavating company and knew all about grading and leveling. I had another employee that was a pretty boy scholar. He was very detail oriented and great with laying out radius's. So between the 3 of us - we adapted to paver installation like peas and carrots.

For quite a while I was making money hand over fist.

As you go through business you learn things. I learned alot about excavating. Growing up in a farming community, running large machinery has always been 2ND nature for me. So I have dabbled in light to mid level residential excavating.

The recession was predicted. I wasn't concerned, as I had survived slow times with flying colors in the past. I didn't have a schlew of managers to pay, so I was ready for the recession.

What I wasn't ready for was the other contractors workin for next to nothing. I wasn't ready for other contractors to make unrealistic promises to prospective clients. The recession has changed the industry in what was our main service area. In 1999 our jobs averaged $8 / SF (and no I do not unit charge, notice I said "averaged"). In 2003 I was averaging no less than $17 / Sf. Small walks were comin in around $30 / SF. Well.......here in 2011 there are guys in may area with million dollar companies installing for $8 to $10 / SF.

I can't work for that. It's not even worth bumping the starter on the trucks. And the only reason I'm still in business is because of the fact that all my equipment is paid for. If I had a desk drawer full of payment books - I'd be long out of business.

You wanna do hardscapes? If you really wanna do well with it - you need to be *Built for Business*. Otherwise forget it.



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JCLawn and more
05-29-2011, 02:36 AM
I don't have a story like that, but my dad was a dairy farmer for 23 years. I learned how to work. I was put on my First mower when I was 8 and was hooked. By 10 a was payed for my first lawn. By 14 I had 3 accounts and worked about 15 hours a week and made better than minimum wage. At 15 I bought an atv to get to my accounts. Ever since then my business has doubled every year. I stuck with this because no one wanted to hire me at 16. I have worked on a farm before. Also a steel fab shop. I worked in a tax prep place last winter and was the second most profitable out of 8 of us. I have seen how not to run a business. I can't say I have a lot of experience, but I have had some great opportunities.
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CheapScapesNC
05-29-2011, 03:39 AM
Best to get ICPI certified. Then work with a good supplier, like Belgard - they do free training seminars all the time and that have field reps you can call when you have questions, they will even come to your job site and give advice on design and installation.

J.Z.Smith Landscaping
07-07-2011, 09:45 AM
Ok I had to reply to this one. I normally don't say much here but I had to put my 2 cents in. It sounds like your going to bite off more then you can chew. You should really work for some one for a while if your going to go off and try to do things your really not capable of. Sure any one can use a shovel but when your patio sinks into the ground, your wall falls over, and your trees die because you didn't plant them right whats going to be your excuse to your customer? "I didn't know what I was doing". That doesn't fly. You say you want two crews? That's normally 3 other people. Chances are there not going to know much either. So your going to try to manage them and train them? You add employees into the mix your opening a whole new can of worms. The last time I checked there wasn't really a course you can take for what your really need to know. You can take all the paver courses in the world but its not going to help your people skills. I'm not trying to be hard on you but you better know how to work more then a shovel. If your looking to do this for the rest of your life you should listen to people who really know how to "work a shovel". I'll be honest with you... I'm 21 I learned early on why people where given one mouth and two ears. My company grosses roughly $400 K a year. It wasn't handed to me and I didn't go to college for it ( I did graduate from a technical high school.) I stared this when I was 11 with a 21' mower. Along the way I learned my limits, spent a combined time of 4 years with two other company's, dished out a lot of respect and listen to the guys who had been in business longer (and I still do). I made quite a few mistakes along the way and learned from them all. Your going to end up managing people and that's the most difficult but if you want to grow like your talking about then you better be good at the people end like a lot of the guys who have posted on this thread. I think if your good at something you should focus on it and keep improving. Its better to be great at one thing then bad at every thing. I would spend some time with other company's to learn the tricks of the trade for a while. You learn something new every day and if you didn't then you weren't listening.

JCLawn and more
07-07-2011, 10:13 AM
Ok I had to reply to this one. I normally don't say much here but I had to put my 2 cents in. It sounds like your going to bite off more then you can chew. You should really work for some one for a while if your going to go off and try to do things your really not capable of. Sure any one can use a shovel but when your patio sinks into the ground, your wall falls over, and your trees die because you didn't plant them right whats going to be your excuse to your customer? "I didn't know what I was doing". That doesn't fly. You say you want two crews? That's normally 3 other people. Chances are there not going to know much either. So your going to try to manage them and train them? You add employees into the mix your opening a whole new can of worms. The last time I checked there wasn't really a course you can take for what your really need to know. You can take all the paver courses in the world but its not going to help your people skills. I'm not trying to be hard on you but you better know how to work more then a shovel. If your looking to do this for the rest of your life you should listen to people who really know how to "work a shovel". I'll be honest with you... I'm 21 I learned early on why people where given one mouth and two ears. My company grosses roughly $400 K a year. It wasn't handed to me and I didn't go to college for it ( I did graduate from a technical high school.) I stared this when I was 11 with a 21' mower. Along the way I learned my limits, spent a combined time of 4 years with two other company's, dished out a lot of respect and listen to the guys who had been in business longer (and I still do). I made quite a few mistakes along the way and learned from them all. Your going to end up managing people and that's the most difficult but if you want to grow like your talking about then you better be good at the people end like a lot of the guys who have posted on this thread. I think if your good at something you should focus on it and keep improving. Its better to be great at one thing then bad at every thing. I would spend some time with other company's to learn the tricks of the trade for a while. You learn something new every day and if you didn't then you weren't listening.

working for someone is not a option at this point. I am to far in. I have some experience with managing, and lots with people. I could always make good money at lawn care, but I will get board with it. My advertising has not even hit the market yet and I get one to 2 calls a week from just referrals. People seem to like what I offer and I think 70% of it is the customer relationship. So it sounds like there is no easy answer and I think it would be a year or more before I revisit this. I don't have time to get a chemical license let alone mess around in this end right now or take some of your advise and get a job. The only way that would work to not snow plow for a winter and work for someone in Florida or something. Just to give you an idea who you are giving advise to, I am 20, I have in this business for 6 years, and I will gross 35-40 thousand this summer and 5000-10000 this winter. Plus I go to college. So its not like I have leisure time, I am a one man show.

J.Z.Smith Landscaping
07-08-2011, 08:09 AM
working for someone is not a option at this point. I am to far in. I have some experience with managing, and lots with people. I could always make good money at lawn care, but I will get board with it. My advertising has not even hit the market yet and I get one to 2 calls a week from just referrals. People seem to like what I offer and I think 70% of it is the customer relationship. So it sounds like there is no easy answer and I think it would be a year or more before I revisit this. I don't have time to get a chemical license let alone mess around in this end right now or take some of your advise and get a job. The only way that would work to not snow plow for a winter and work for someone in Florida or something. Just to give you an idea who you are giving advise to, I am 20, I have in this business for 6 years, and I will gross 35-40 thousand this summer and 5000-10000 this winter. Plus I go to college. So its not like I have leisure time, I am a one man show.



It sounds like you answered your own question

JCLawn and more
07-08-2011, 09:01 AM
It sounds like you answered your own question

think I did, but I don't like my answer.