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How to start a Garden/Landscaping buisness?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Csaba-Ferenczi, May 31, 2005.

  1. Csaba-Ferenczi

    Csaba-Ferenczi LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Hi, I just found this site today and I have had this question in my mind for a long time now. Can I start a home based buisness without all new proffessional tools and a new Truck. I just think without all these nice tools people would think im a cheapo and cant afford the stuff (which I cant). It would come to about $20,000+ without the truck which I would desperatley need. I think that experience as well as the end product speak for themselves but I also think you should impress them with your high quality tools. Am I right? I also have a 15 yr old son which is now getting interested in gardening and landscaping and he will be constructing a garden with just blue evergreen shrubs during the summer where he will start from a clean sheet of paper. He will be my boss because his name is more normal in Canada then Csaba which is Hungarian. Do I need a liscense?

  2. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    A license? IOt depends on what exactly you want to do, and what your statutory laws require. If it's landscaping you like, you're choosing a good area of the industry. Yes, there are alot of big, established companies out there, but many of them started small, too. When I started out, I did alot of small landscape jobs (bed installs, bushes, flowers, mulch,...) that sort of stuff. I also did mowing on the side. I enjoyed that, because it was a regular thing. That's the advantage that many seee in it. While it's not all that lucrative, atleast it's steady (for the most part,..unless we get drought conditions and the props aren't irrigated. Anyway, there is great money in installs, you just have to price yourself right. It is a double edged sword. On one side, you don't have the big equipment to make the job faster, and therefore, you're limited on both the amount of work you can tackle, and the size of the work you can tackle. On the other side, you don't have all the overhead; payments, storage, maintenance, etc..
    Anyway, there is ALOT you can do with shovels and wheelbarrows! Also, there are times on certain tasks when yuou can rent a piece of equipment, and costwise, it is completely feasible. Take for instance if you are installing edging. If you have anything over say,..a hundred feet, it may be worth while to rent a bed edger for the day to assist you. One piece of advice, get yourself a ball cart...or better yet, build one if you can. A friend of mine built one out of a Harbor Freight dolly, and some old wide turf wheels like off the front of an old tractor. He just used it to move 3 ton of 24 in. boulders on this guys yard, and didn't leave a MARK! Anyway, good luck to you, and welcome to Lawnsite. There are alot of VERY knowledgable people on here, who are very considerate and helpful. The landscape and hardscape forums are awesome, but don't forget the pond forum, as well. There are guy AND girls who are on here, that are into it BIG time. There is one longtime member who is a designer, and she is nothing but simply awesome. Both as a designer and as a person. Well, anyway, again, good luck, and don't be afraid to ask ANYthing. The only foolish question is the one unasked. But talk to someone who knows, because as most on here can attest to, you won't learn a DOG gone thing from ME!
  3. Csaba-Ferenczi

    Csaba-Ferenczi LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Well the license would be saying that im qualified and I know what im doing. I guess you could call it a certificate. I have all the hand tools I would need for any job its just some things like a lawnmower (I have but its 6-8yrs old), ride-on mower and things like that. I wouldnt be doing this for the money anyways and some things are mandatory such as a trailer and some kind of a pick-up (We got a 75' el camino which we use to haul stones and other things). I wouldnt be doing this really for the money but the enjoyment of doing it for them and me knowing I could get a call back saying "good job" or "thanks". Also, time isnt a big thing for me and I did my fence all by hand with no machines (holes had to be 3ft deep) which did take alot longer then with an auger. Thanks for the help.

    Thanks again
  4. thepondman2

    thepondman2 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 21

    this is my first year at it for myself and all i have is an old 78 gmc 4x4 which can haul roughly a ton and a half of material and and all the basic landscaping hand tools to do a decent size job and i rent anything else i need. so far that has worked out well for me. i may have to make an extra trip or two for material but to me it is worth it to be working for myself
  5. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    Well, I hate to tell you this, but when you say (twice) you aren't really in this for the money, the first thing a lot of us think is, "Oh great another underpriced part-time bozo who will give the public the idea that most of us full-time pros are overpriced con artists."

    And it is of course not your fault at all, that I got out of the full-time lawn business this spring, in large part because: There are so many underpriced idiots here, I was constantly told my bids were "Too high!"

    Keep in mind the plain fact that a great number of currently successful Green Industry businesses did in fact start out as underpriced part-timers. But they learned and grew. (and raised the prices they charge, as they learned what the real expenses of the business can amount to) Also keep in mind that a much larger number of people in the western world have at some time operated a Green Industry "business" that never really made them any money, and they finally quit in disgust. All because they had no clue at all how to operate ANY kind of business, but thought the Green Industry isn't REAL business, and anyone can make money at it.

    So whatever you decide to do, good luck.
  6. Csaba-Ferenczi

    Csaba-Ferenczi LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    The el camino can hold half a yard of crushed rock but thats about as far as we have ever gone with it because of the idea of the suspension breaking in the back. Im just starting this because im a Ford mechanic and I have really been bored lately doing what iv been doing for the last 10-15yrs of my life. The big bonus I guess about having your own buisness is you can work when you want to, but not so much to slack off and do no work. Is working from 8:00 am - 10:00 pm half time (minus lunch)? Im outside I work for long periods of time and do the highest quality work possible. If you cant dont do quality work, dont work in the buisness! Also is there a rate book that you follow so you go by the job, hours you work and by how big? (If applicable)

    Thanks for all the replies
  7. mbricker

    mbricker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    OK, here's a thought for you--keep it or reject it as you choose:

    You want to be outside, you like doing landscaping, but you aren't sure of some of the basics, such as what to charge. etc. How about going to some of the landscapers in your area, and see if one will hire you for part-time for the season? You will learn a lot, and better yet learn more about whether you really want to get into this on your own, BEFORE investing in a bunch of equipment, etc. But I would recommend you NOT tell them you are considering going into it on your own.

    My thinking is you will get a greater variety of work and responsibilities with a small-medium landscape co. than a large outfit. On a large outfit you might just get stuck on a crew as a nameless grunt doing the most repetitive menial tasks all summer.

    Also, you could even find yourself in a situation with an owner who is getting tired and is considering turning over his op to a new owner or manager. That could be you, the energetic eager new guy.

    Good luck.
  8. Csaba-Ferenczi

    Csaba-Ferenczi LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    mbricker - I dont know if you know that I have been gardening on my own since I was 20 and an extra 4 years since I was in a horticulturist school. Thats 23yrs going on 24. All I wanted to know was:

    Do I need to go to a course to get a certificate to work on other people's lawns?

    Is there a rate book that you guys go by if not do you charge them by hours x What it is x how big (if applicable)

    Do I have to go big?

    Also, the buisness will be home based and my son will be my boss when old enough. I wouldnt trust anyone else because of the nature of younger kids in construction leaving the cement or concrete to dry in the wheel barrow and wrecking it. Another thing is that im not so energetic since im 48 and thats why my son would be the boss.

    Thanks for the help
  9. tbcaregreen

    tbcaregreen LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

  10. Csaba-Ferenczi

    Csaba-Ferenczi LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I guess its just common sense. If people say your underpriced say "You get what your paying for" meaning that they get good quality for the price. Dont worry, they may switch to you in the end. If I was the owner of the buisness I would say you get a 50% off 3 hours work and before you leave get them to sign a contract that says if you call its either for questions or for a contract for you to work on their property for 6 months. If you go to their place if they called with a cell phone keep working for an extra 3-5 hours and then at the end say "you didnt call me for questions so I assumed you wanted work so pay up". I know, its tricking them but you will trick the biggest dummies into paying for 6months of work. Im not sure if this is illegal or not. They will soon realize that doing this will be the best thing they have ever invested in and will keep paying.


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