View Full Version : Newbie here - need some advice (starting own business)

09-02-2003, 11:20 AM
Thinking of starting a landscaping business with a friend of mine. Need to know 1) what kind of equipment we'll need and also 2) what that equipment costs - to figure out the start up costs.

We figure we'll need some sort of transportation (truck?) - two professional grade mowers (which brand/model should we get???), two blowers, and two edgers to start.

Any advice on what we'll need or things to look out for when starting out in this business would be great!


09-02-2003, 11:49 AM
Walk before you decide to run......

It's easier to start small and build a solid base as opposed to planning to run a huge opperation and find yourself in over your head.

Use the search function on this site to help you along and good luck!


Rick Jones
09-02-2003, 12:02 PM
What type of accounts are you looking to service and what is your budget? Those are two important questions that will help you make sensible equipment purchases.

09-02-2003, 12:15 PM
We are initially looking to start small - 20 small residential accounts (maybe one or two small commerical ones as well) to learn the business. We have up to about $25K to invest - however if we can spend less - we will. We want to get equipment that 1) will last and 2) we can use as we get more/bigger accounts.

09-02-2003, 12:22 PM
Originally posted by Johnson1999
Thinking of starting a landscaping business with a friend of mine.

Thats your FIRST mistake!!!

Go on your own. Partnerships are tough, and will SURELY end your friendship.

Why do you need him? Or does he need you?

Sole Proprietorships are far less of a hassle, and easier to do the bookwork.

Just my thoughts.

Rick Jones
09-02-2003, 12:37 PM
This is JMO, but, I would go with a 36" Hydro walk-behind, or maybe even a Stander, and a 60" ZTR. The 36" will allow you to fit thru gates that others with larger mowers will pass up, plus when coupled with a sulky, it can still mow larger areas fairly efficiently. I have found that many of the LCOs around here run 48" and larger walk-behinds and won't do gated areas. The 36" enables you to get into those backyards and charge a pretty good rate because nobody else wants to do it.

Brand selection is largely dependent on what types of dealers you have nearby. If the only thing around you for 50 miles is Scag dealers, that's probably what you are going to want to use.

I don't know what exactly you are looking for in a truck, but I do know for about $4-5 grand you can get something reliable that looks respectable as well.

You'll also need a trailer to pull your equipment. I'd recommend at least a 6 x 12. That should allow you to put your walkbehind on sideways in the front and pull the ZTR in behind that.

I see you have mentioned 2 edgers in your list. What about the string trimmers? I would only get 1 edger unless you are going to be doing a ton of edging. Trimmers you will probably want to have two, but you can get away with just one to start. Just make sure the trimmers/edgers/blowers are a good name like RedMax or Shindaiwa.

This is just a little bit of info to get you started. Like Battags said, try the search function. There is a wealth of info archived here. Also check the New in the Business Forum and maybe even subscribe to some trade publications. The more you know the better off you'll be.

Rick Jones
09-02-2003, 12:40 PM
Originally posted by TLS
Thats your FIRST mistake!!!

Go on your own. Partnerships are tough, and will SURELY end your friendship.

Why do you need him? Or does he need you?

Sole Proprietorships are far less of a hassle, and easier to do the bookwork.

Just my thoughts.

Agreed, TLS. Although, it seems like most of the time when LCOs begin as partnerships it is due to the lack of startup capital.

09-02-2003, 12:53 PM
I agree with TLS - business and friends don't mix. (You guys may be the rare exception, though). Also complicates the accounting. Might be better for one of you to employ the other. Or just each go into business for yourselves and you can work with each other when you need help. Just make sure you have a good understanding with each other of how things work.

Most guys would say you need a trailer. I don't use one and you can do without it, but probably you should get one.

The first rule of equipment is ALWAYS buy commercial quality.

Most here would probably advise get a big mower. Probably you can do what you need with 21" mowers. I use Honda HRC215's, which are about $800. The more powerful 216's are over $1000. There are different features available with these mowers - I use the ones with BBC (blade brake clutch) and self-propelled. (HRC215SXA, I think). Toros are good too. Tons of discussions here on lawnsite about which 21" mowers are the best.

I don't use edgers, I edge with string trimmers (weedeaters).
Currently using Honda HHT25S trimmer - about $300. Lots of discussion here about trimmers too and also about trimmers vs. edgers.

Lots of guys use super-powerful backpack blowers but you can get adequate blowers for $250 or so.

You might want to get a chainsaw - I like the Echo CS300 - about $200.

And you will want to get a bunch of smaller tools - loppers, shears, pruners, shovels, rakes, etc. A.M Leonard is a good source for quality tools - http://www.amleo.com

Maybe some good ladders - I use 6'and 10' fiberglass stepladders - for tree trimming, gutter cleaning, trimming larger shrubs, etc.

You need to find out what to do with yard waste. In my city we get to take it to the compost facility at no charge. Some LCOs actually buy land to dump stuff on.

Keep all your receipts, record all your transactions and try to find an accountant you like.

And get all the books you can, and keep reading lawnsite!

Good luck.....

09-02-2003, 12:57 PM
If you can go new, then do it. But if you want to save the dough until you get some accounts, there is nothing wrong with buying some used stuff. When I started out this was my setup:

used 1- 60" Ferris 3 wheel rider - $1000
used 1- 36" Snapper WB - $500
1- Crapsman blower- $100
1-Echo trimmer - $200
1-Echo hedge trimmer-$250
Miscellaneous rakes/shovels - $150
used 6X12 Trailer - $500
Ad in local paper - $200
I already had a truck

$2900 total and thats all I had for my first summer. I picked up about 15 lawns that summer and made about $9000 after working my regular job. This was about 6 years ago. Good luck starting out! :blob3:

09-02-2003, 01:23 PM
Thanks for the input - its greatly appreciated!

09-02-2003, 03:02 PM
I started with:
'85 GMC Sierra Pickup - $2100 + $800 in repairs
Used 48" Bobcat w/b - $1000
21" Craftsman mower - I already had
Echo Trimmer - $249
Echo Backpack Blower - $299
Wheelbarrow - $50
Shovels, etc - $75 + had some already
Hedge trimmers - already had
Ladder - already had
Printed flyers myself and went door to door- $10

I do this part-time - teacher full-time - and have 6 weekly lawns plus about 1 landscape job per week. Also have a few lawns who call occasionally when they are on vacation or having a party and want it extra nice. I know most guys won't do those one timers but I have the time and money is money so I do them. Plus, one of my weekly lawns started out that way and then decided I did a much better job than they did and signed on for weekly mowing.

09-02-2003, 03:17 PM
start out very small and build you customer base with quality work. I wouldn't worry that much about buying all the tools that you need right out of the gates. Really step back and look at what you are REALLY going use, and need. Don't buy things just for show. Sit down and figure out the number of times for example that you might use an aerator doing the year. Figure out whether or not you will make a profit from it, and how big is the market for it.

All I can say is research, research, research.

Also I would have to agree with the offers, go on your own

Team Gopher
09-02-2003, 05:01 PM
Hi Johnson,

Here are some interesting threads to read that will help you gain more insight.

How do I prepare? (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=51399)

just starting out (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=51935)

TIPS, Do's and Don'ts tips for the new guy (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=13339)

Green in Idaho
09-04-2003, 02:41 AM
Your first question says a lot!

I would rec. working for someone else in the field of lawn care for at least a year. Then consider jumping in on your own.

Meanwhile your buddy can work for a landscape biz. In a year the two of you will be able to answer those questions.

09-13-2003, 09:33 PM
buy used if u can good equipment is available for reasonable prices save some of that money because the 1 and 2 months u will be fronting most of the money by the time bills go out and come back 2 you

09-14-2003, 08:14 PM
Go to a couple equipment shops. You and your friend do this together.

Talk to the guys behind the counter. You might not get to talk with the mechanics, but that is OK for now.

Talk to them about the equipment. Talk about the kinds of accounts you will be doing. Refer to size, guess at the amount of lawn area. Measure your own lawn and use that as reference. Discuss the option of used equipment, see what they have there.
Now while you are doing this, look around. Is it a shop that deals mostly with commercial clients? or mostly homeowner?

If they deal with commercial GREAT, your in the right place.

Get a feel for the guys there your talking with. Do you feel comfortable with what they say and their recommendations.

Go to another shop that deals with mostly commercial clients. Go through the same process.

Now the 2 of you decide what shop will get your business. Remember one thing. Who ever you chose, they will ultimately become your best resource.

Also many of the shops have a board where other LCO's post equipment they want to sell. Ask the guys at the shop about those as well. They should know the person selling them and might know of the equipment they are selling.

Anything else you need to know regarding the business. Just have a look through the threads in the forums that you are interested in.