Getting Started

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by marcusvh, Sep 18, 2001.

  1. marcusvh

    marcusvh LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I'm currently working in a high tech company and am tired of the constant threat of layoffs and "divestures". I've started a very small effort with my son to mow yards in our area, and enjoy it so much I'm looking to turn it into a REAL business. The area around us has yards that are typically 2/3 of an acre, but we also have a lot of smaller fenced yards as well. My question is, do any of you have suggestions on where to look for information on starting-up a lawn maintenance business? The business part is easy for me, but the particulars of mowing lawns presents a lot of questions:

    1. What is a minimum set of equipment?
    2. How do you keep from leaving tire tracks?
    3. What is meant by clean-up (cleaning-up fall leaves)?
    4. Tricks to leaving the perfect stripes (straight, angle and X's)
    5. What are the regulations for lawn fertilizing?

    Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

  2. sheppard

    sheppard LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 542

    Dear Marcusvh, great to hear of another man coming to his senses. I was behind a desk for the past 10 years selling software and the like. Every month I looked in the mirror and saw myself getting bigger. This season I burned off 35 pounds! This is my first season so getting started is still fresh on my mind.

    I would recommend a 36 inch belt drive to begin with. This will get you into any gated backyard (the exceptions you don't want anyway!). Belt drives are less expensive and less prone to mechanical problewms. As a minimum you will need a trimmer (ideally 2); an edger, at least 1 blower (backpack); Truck (FORD!) & a good trailer. There are assorted related tools and helpfull things but those particulars will come. In my neck of the woods many customers care more for their bushes looking good rather than their grass so a commercial hedger is a good safe bet.

    Tire tracks will always be there- unless you have a Proslide on your walkbehind ! It also stripes very well.

    Yep, cleanup is generally about leaves and clippings.

    No dumb regulations on putting out fert. in the Tallahassee region.

    Recommend you do a search on this topic- you will find tons of info on guys staring up.


    XOFMOT LawnSite Member
    Messages: 161


    Well, before someone else says it USE THE SEARCH FEATURE AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE. . You will spend hours upon hours looking up past posts and replys (at least I did). I started my lawn care business this past July, most of my targeted properties were 10,000 square feet, I used my 21" mower for my first couple of customers........after about my 3rd week in business, larger accounts started calling, As you can guess, the ol' 21" wasn't going to cut it (no pun intended). You will soon find yourself buying this and that as you go along. My two best forms of advice that I can offer to you is to GET A LAWYER and do SEARCHES here on LAWNSITE.COM. Please feel free to E-mail me and I will be glad to pass along the "SMALL" amount of knowledge I have at this time, But the one thing I can say for sure is you WILL LEARN a bunch from all the members here on this site. Also do a search of all the posts that I left....MANY great answers! GOOD LUCK and WELCOME!
  4. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    Give me an "S"
    Give me an "E"
    Give me an "A"
    Give me an "R"
    Give me a "C"
    Give me an "H"

    what does it spell? SEARCH!
  5. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Lawnboy goes cheerleader. Interesting thought, 'nuff said! Anyway, I'll agree, use the search. It'll take you forever to read everything. I'll post my info:

    Equipment-36" belt drive W/B. Probably Toro or Exmark, there are other good brands as well, but these seem to be the most popular. Various trimmers and such. Probably Stihl, Echo, Shindaiwa, or Redmax. Again, there are other brands there as well. Trailers and trucks are also a big issue. If you have a truck, you're in good shape. Trailers will run your about $1,000-$1,500 for a new one. Mind you that these are open body trailers, not enclosed.

    Tire tracks-Well, if you have a mower that actually has some rubber tires that are INFLATABLE you won't have any problem. My 21" leaves them behind and they are a pain but you just have to deal with them. If you're talking about ruts, DON'T MOW IN THE RAIN unless it's absolutely necessary.

    Clean-ups-A real money maker if you get enough work. A blower is essential. Good mulching mower or bagging mower works well too. JRCO leaf blade has gotten some good comments. I've still yet to see one in action....

    STRIPES!-The trick is to go one way, the come right back down on the other side, it's that easy. Keep 'em straight and you'll do fine.

    Fert-State's regulations vary. I can't really tell you where to check because I don't even know! You have to take the applicators license test and pass it in my state and you have to be 16 to take the test here. That's for spraying anyway, I'm not completely sure on fert. Check into this. This isn't anything to screw up on.

    I hope this helps at all. Lawnsite is the best source of information for this business. Check here OFTEN and read everything you can. And search, search, search!
  6. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    You answered your own questions. You are here!:)

    Everything you asked about is here in huge amounts of info. Start by the search function and read and read and read. Be prepared for late nights and red eyes. There is an unbelievable amount of info here.

    Reliability is the key in this business. You can be good at everything else, but if your not reliable your gone. With that said:

    1.Get a good truck
    2.Decide what size properties you will try to deal with.
    3.After 2, then decide what type and size of mower you need. 2/3 acre I would get an eXmark Lazer.
    4.If gated areas, need a 36" w/b (exmark of course)
    5.At least 1 commercial trimmer
    6.1 commercial backpack blower
    7.Trailer 14 ft min.
    8.Stick edgers are great
    9.General Liability Insurance
    10.Equipment insurance
    11.Gas hedge trimmers(you don't want other people working on your properties)

    I'll probably think of other things later.
  7. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,051

    if you can afford it buy two mower one 36" and a 52 or 61" rider you won't regreat it, buy a couple of good commercial trimmer and blower, if you have an old truck try to shape it a little and put a nice sign on it, don't put those magnetic sign, you said you want to get a real business so act like one, make sure you put a nice and big telephone number on it, but most important make sure you do a better job than anybody else and charge accordingly.

    If you can find a open space where you can try your equipment do so, don't be worry about straight lines just yet, worry more about trimming, you don't want to kill that grass around the beds or curbs, use more time practicing with you trimmer than your mower not all lawns are the same, some require to raise up the deck more than other.

    Every state has it's own regulations about fertilizer, but EPA has regulations for all of the USA and one of those is that you have to be a licensed pesticide applicator to treat a property.
    sure you can apply fertilizer in your own house that you bought from home depot or any other store but you can not apply that into anybody else's property without a license.
  8. marcusvh

    marcusvh LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I really appreciate all the helpful responses, and yes, I have been using the search feature quite a lot. With all you folks here to help, how can anyone go wrong?


  9. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Messages: 4,830

    Welcome to LawnSite. I have some striping tips on my website that might be useful to you, pictures included. ;)
  10. a1 lawncare

    a1 lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    agree with all, wish i had started years ago with a good commercial mower, i started with a conventional lawn tractor (jd)mainly because i was intimadated by the walk behinds/w sulky. but you'll be miles ahead to go ahead and buy a decent w/b and a z 52" or bigger if you can, there is a short learning curve, or there was for me anyway, but you can't go wrong buying decent equipment.

    best of luck, keith

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