Mowing vs Landscaping

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Acute Cut, Jan 31, 2001.

  1. Acute Cut

    Acute Cut LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 980

    This question is in NO WAY meant to put anyone down at all. (Speaking of strictly landscapers vs lawn mowers only ppl)

    I mow lawns all week long. I am going to expand. I just posted another thread about cert. After doing so i thought of something else.

    Is Landscaping very profitable. I have talked to some here and they say no. Understand that some of these ppl are my competition/friends. They may be derailing me to keep busy themselves.

    I mow and love it. I want to possible start to expand into landscaping as well. I am sure that some of you out there started with mowing and moved into landscaping. Or, viceversa. Would you recommend i expand into landscaping as well? Is is it worth it? Profitable? $$ made vs mowing? Etc.

    Not sure how to word it politically correct and unoffensive. I hope i made sense.

    Acute Cut
  2. gusbuster

    gusbuster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,928

    Acute Cut,
    The answer is yes as long as you do a nich type of landscaping and not general. Myself, the maintenance side of the business is how I survie. The sod and sprinkler installs I do is paying for the new truck,new van and mini-vacation trips that I take thru out the year.

    What i mean by niche landscaping, all I do is sprinklers and sod installs. I do not do ponds, big tree, pretty much anything that would make me spend money on big equipment. I have a total of around $4,000 invested in various landscaping equipment. I am very happy to clear between $600 to$ 1800 per job.

    If you think you cand do it, go for it.:)
  3. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    Well, I'm goijg to answer your question from a capitalist perspective.

    How difficult was it to get into lawncare? Did you have to have a lot of knowledge and a lot of eqpt to do a good job?

    There aren't very many barriers to entry in that field, and if your area is anything like mine, any guy with a pickup and a mower is potential competition. So your margins are going to be low.

    The barriers are higher in this field (but not insurmountable). You have to have some knowledge of plant material, light/water/zone requirments. If you're doing hardscapes you need to have a bit of engineering knowledge or some training. And to do any volume of work, you need to spend a few bucks on eqpt (I'm small potatoes and have about $100K in eqpt). With that, you can charge more $$, because not everyone can do it. And if you do it well, all the better - you can charge more. Like a benz vs a chevette. So, is there $$ in it? Sure. More than lawn maint? Probably. Is it harder? Definitely. Is it worth it? I think so. But I can't decide for you. But I will say this: Two of the biggest landscape companies in my area dumped their lawncare divisions because for all the time and $$ they put into it, they didn't get as much $$ out of it as they did with landscaping. And one of these companies had 6 lawn maint crews!!
  4. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Big question is there money in landscaping, depends on how you go about it, installation for most is a shovel, rake, pick, wheelbarrow,and a pickup truck. Me it's excavators, skid steers, tractors, trucks, a few shovels, rakes and picks and a couple of good crews. Kinda like moving from a 21" mower to a ZTR you are going to spend a lot more time with that 21" than a ZTR to do the same job. Same with landscaping but money is to be made, plus the satisfaction of being able to go by a job 20 years from now and see your work.
    Learning all aspects of landscaping is tough, unless you grew up with it as I did , or go to school for it, winter classes help with learning plants, design work, intallation methods, indrustry helps in this too with classes on wall building, paver training, and plant classes and design classes. You might even find a few things here too:)

    [Edited by paul on 02-01-2001 at 04:43 AM]
  5. Green Finger

    Green Finger LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 839

    Acute Cut,

    There are so many aspects to this business. You must find your niche.

    I kinda got a feel from where you are coming from.

    Is there money is Landscaping.
    But you must find out what works well for you.
    You can't do everything. Trying to do everything will spread you out too thin and make you ineffective.

    Little advice.
    Let the speciality companies do thier thing. RE:
    - sprinkler systems
    - major construction jobs
    - retaining walls.
    - patios, and pond installation.

    Those fields require bigtime equipment and bigtime loot to fund that equipment. It is very hard, but rewarding.

    To expand you own operation, start in a warm climate.
    Start with the customers you already have. Do light landscaping.

    Re: mulching, flowerbed install, flower planting, shrub installs, fertilizing.

    There is more than enough money in that field.

    What ever you do. Don't try to be a jack of all trades and master nothing. In doing this you loose your foundation.

    Mowing and Light landscape is a good niche.

    Just a little something for you to think about.
  6. powerreel

    powerreel Banned
    Messages: 481

    Acute- you know with the drought yhat it is starting to look like NO irrigation this summer, that means brown lawns. Myself I like to remove lawn and do plantings. It makes sense, less water and maintenance. With the salmon issue, soon NO ferts or chem of any kind, add that to NO more irrigation (drought this year but as our region grows the future doesn't look good for water supplies, Gary Locke' cool, clean, water for salmon') I would suggest to learn about Native plantings and such. I was down by the Puyallup River and it's down about 5 feet! Let's hope this weekends rain will come in steady and strong. Good luck! Going to the garden show?
  7. Groundcover Solutions

    Groundcover Solutions LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,254

    AcuAlthough we primarily just do lawn work we do small and occasionally large landscape jobs on the weekends. You need to know how to bid though the first time we bided on a job we were way under what we should have been and that really hurt us. We had other friends in the landscaping business so we asked them some questions about pricing and biding in our area. You might want to talk to other landscapers in your area I now that most of the guys in our area are really nice because I talked to them and they had some great advice. te, We started out just doing lawns and now we do both.
  8. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    Make sure the competitors you ask are reliable friends.

    It's not unheard of to be purposely misled by a competitor by their information. I may have even thought about it once or twice myself! :D

    BUSHMASTER LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 519

    this is just me but ........i feel for my situation the more i am able to do(within reason) the better off i am.
    I do mowing,lanscaping,sprinklers,and when i get my pestcide certi.i'll begin that.......landscping jobs that are real large i will contract out grading.laying sod etc.etc..depending on what is needed ,i have installed french drains,....what ever is in my relm of what i can do .
    contract out parts or none depend how much time i have me working this way keeps me going year round..after all mybe one day i'll expand and then know a little something aboout all of it ....knowlge is power..
    i also work on ALL my equiptment including truck... good luck.
  10. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

    General averages a few years ago: landscape maintenence earned a Return On Investment in the range of 10%; landscape design/install earned ROI in 20% range. Ergo, installation is more profitable (in a good economy). Downside is that maintenance usually remains fairly stable - plants grow no matter what Wall Street does. But installation, and amount spent on new properties, drops dramatically in an economic slowdown.

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