Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Grass Shark, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. Grass Shark

    Grass Shark LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7
    Messages: 660

    Florida Guys, the curiosity is killing me. How is the landscaping business in florida? The cost of living seems so much lower that it seems like you get so much more bang for your buck in florida. What are your hourly rates like there. I know I will not get a exact answer but to get as close as I can to figuring this out I will give ranges... so what do you charge?

    Do you cut every week?
    How many weeks in your season?

    General labor rate:
    $20-$24 per hour
    $25-$34 per hour
    $35-$44 per hour
    $45 + per hour

    General Mow Trim and Edge of a 10,000 sq ft property
    Less than $20

    Thanks for your input!
  2. Equipguy

    Equipguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    There are THOUSANDS of LCO's in Florida from the huge companies like Valley Crest, Brickman & Trugreen to the solo operators. In Central Florida we did commercial accounts every week April through November and then serviced the property every other week. Comes out to about 42 weeks per year. Some contractors are on the property every week. Residential is about the same. As for rates I've seen adds on Craig's list for $15 per cut and some guys on here claim they won't drop the gate for less than $30. A lot depends on the area of the state and the neighborhood. Unemployment is high and it seems that in the past 2 years everyone with a pickup truck is in the lawn business.

    That being said there is plenty of work if you do a quality job, it just takes longer to build a book of business than it did 5 or 10 years ago.:)
  3. Grass Shark

    Grass Shark LawnSite Senior Member
    from Zone 7
    Messages: 660

    Thanks for the reply, a relative of mine moved to florida and he owns handyman business. Things have been really slow for him. A couple of weeks ago somebody called him to do what was a day and a half worth of work, he said he told the guy $150 because it has been so slow and he could use the cash flow. Keep in mind that my relative is a hard and fast worker so others may have said 2 days work. The guy said "that's to much". He said he gets that a lot. So this guy did not want to pay $12.50 an hour to get this work done? He lives and works in what seems to be a nice area with nice homes. So if it takes me a half hour to cut your grass do you only want to pay $10? I wouldn't drop my gate for less than 3 times that here!
  4. MikeKle

    MikeKle LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,253

    I think about moving there every winter, but I realize the lawn care industry down there is way too congested, while it may be a great place to live due to the nice weather all the time, but so many other people thought the same thing, and now they are all mowing yards for $10 each.
  5. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I lived in Fl for about 15 months full time, and then spent a lot of weekends and winters there for 2 more years. Here's what I noticed.

    1. There are vast differences in Florida from one area to the other. Even within relatively small driving distances, the atmosphere goes from swanky and elite to trashy, junky, or run down. Where I live now the changes are more gradual. Generally the closer to the beaches the nicer things are, with a rapid dropoff.

    2. This means if you move to Palm Beach Co you will find much different conditions than if you move to central florida or parts of the panhandle. You will also find home prices quite different from one spot to another. Generally, any place that looks pleasant will cost a lot. A spread where you can run a lawncare business is going to be inland, and the terrain where I was is scrubby and not all that pleasant in my opinion.

    3. You will find it difficult to run a business out of your home in many areas, as they can be quite zoning conscious. In parts of Boca Raton one could not even park a van or truck in the driveway overnight. But most places I'd want to live were not really going to let one run a business. I wound up buying a home on 2 acres zoned AG. That is not cheap in close-in areas of S. FLA. That house sold for nearly half a million.

    4. The heat and humidity is more than oppressive. It's one thing to chill at the beach and think how nice it'd be to work there. But away from the breezes you will soak your clothing multiple times a day. I'm from GA and it is nothing like FL most of the year. Northern FL has seasons, South/Central is warm to very hot most of the time with a short mild winter.

    5. The longer growth season is offset by lower general prices. You work several more weeks for maybe a little more income, or maybe the same.

    6. The grasses there are "warm season" turf. So while bluegrass would be growing in the winter temps there Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Aug, Bahia really slow down. Again, this varies by area, but don't expect to keep busy in the winter like you'd think.

    7. Shrubs and weeds grow like crazy. A much higher percentage of the workload where I was was shrubs and other non-mowing work. Fine if you like that, I don't.

    8. My observations of mowing rigs did not support the idea that most of them are making a lot of dough. I saw many many more low-price trucks and mowers on trailers. To me that indicated they were maybe not doing all that great. I see more nice clean rigs in a day here than I did in a year there. The bigger companies hire immigrants and may be able to make it work better than smaller companies, as there is so much hand-work to be done. A $10/hour guy makes sense hand pruning for 4 hours.

    9. Housing is affordable IF you don't mind neighbors close by. Because of land prices and water supply and sewage issues most homes are on small lots. You will see vast areas where nothing is, then suddenly clusters of homes on 1/5-1/10 acre lots. For this reason don't expect to run a business out of it as homeowners are wary of property values being damaged by it. This of course varies widely by area and there can be exceptions.

    10. Where living is cheap incomes are usually lower, so the client base is smaller. Don't expect Disney workers in suburban Orlando making $25-$40K a year to be big consumers of lawncare. So you'd have to locate on the periphery of a nicer area to combine low home costs with good prospects for business.

    11. The demographics are different. Much higher "good ole' boy" to yuppie ratio in PBC or Jacksonville than in Atlanta, for example. So expect stiff competition. Good ole' boys rarely want some other man mowing their lawn, either. So don't expect to pick up a bunch of wide open lots.

    12. Small ornately landscaped lots are more trim/edge/blow intensive, which means more time on your feet. Standers can work there, but I didn't see many ZTR's except in the countryside.

    13. The good news is the St. Aug in many areas I found very easy to cut, even when growing fast, compared to some of the turf here. Bahia, on the other hand, is a PITA. Sand in some areas will be a problem with rapid blade wear.

    14. Weather pattern is lots of afternoon showers, so you have to work around those. The good thing is the sandy soil drains well.

    15. Florida makes it hard for outside businesses. They have hoops to jump through for Chemical applicator certification, etc. I hear building construction is even worse. So check on that first.

    11. Again, all this varies based on your standards of living and safety (location wise) and I'm sure many would be quite happy there. I personally do not like living stacked up on top of other people.

    The Jacksonville area was more pleasant IMO than S. Florida.
  6. MikeKle

    MikeKle LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,253

    Where are the rural parts of FL? like the small farms and such? If they exist in FL at all? I was in St. Augustine and loved it there, but it is true about the areas being so different, we stayed in a nice home that was rented out all year, but just a mile or so down the A1A was a junky trailer park with junk cars and trucks all over, it looked like southern KY! But I guess the good ole boys call that a vacation, since they are close to the ocean.
  7. GravelyNut

    GravelyNut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,594

    Down here at the bottom end of the mainland, you can travel 4 miles and go from apartment slums to million dollar homes on 5 acres. It is nothing like it was when we got here in 1962.The slums don't need cutting while the 5 acre sites cut their own. We have an excess of mexican labor so prices for LCOs are low.
  8. billslawn89

    billslawn89 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,365

    ya good post brucec32..just about summed it up! things around here has been REAL slow!
  9. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    Bruce....FWIW I think the Jax area is the armpit of florida...:)

    I have always been a fan of the central band of the state tampa across to the space coast.

    years ago it was very easy to build a company and keep your routes really really tight. I had three rigs and did not stray more than 5 miles from the shop...and i was able to pick choose the areas i wanted to work in. but that was back in the mid 90's

    As others have states if drive across the state you will see million dollar homes, trailers, nice hoods, horse farms, ghetto's, ect. you see all walks of life.

    the west coast of Florida seems ot be heavy with folks from the midwest, , Illinois, indiana, ohio, were as the east coast seem to be predominant folks for New york, jersey, Penn, mass. ect. and that diversification is just a result of I 75 and I 95 coming in from two different areas of the country...

    It really depend on what you are looking for. I also like the area south of orlando. Lake wales...
  10. freshprince94

    freshprince94 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,449

    Florida is all monthly billing. No per cut stuff here. You pay the same amount every month regardless of how many times your lawn gets cut. You make less in the growing season but make up for it in the winter. It's not hard to build a lawn business here, but turnover is high and your main competition ranges from the unemployed Joe with his Troy Bilt tractor to a huge operation with a F350 3 Dixie Choppers and 5 mexicans to run it all.

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