Business OverviewEverybody's ideal lawn is a swath of emerald green, each blade as precision-cut as a Marine drill sergeant's hair, and not a weed, bare patch or dog doodle in sight. But in today's two-income family and single-parent/breadwinner world, who has time to mind the lawn? It could be you. As a lawn care professional, you can save the day by feeding, weeding, aerating and mowing the yards of not only residences, but businesses and institutions as well. And you can add to your income by rounding out your services from strictly lawn care to routine landscape maintenance. If you like working outdoors, making the world a greener and more beautiful place, and helping things grow, then this could be the business for you. According to the Professional Lawn Care Association, more than 22 million households spend $14.6 billion on professional landscape and lawn care services, so there's lots of room for growth. The advantages to this business are that you can start on a shoestring, you're out in the fresh air every day with no ringing phones or clattering keyboards to interfere with the birdsong, and if you enjoy physical labor and the accomplishment of putting in a good day's work, then this can be a rewarding field. You'll need a good basic understanding of lawn care and of fertilizing and weed control products and techniques. A sense of logistics will also be a plus--the better route you map out of customer sites, the less time you'll spend on the road and the more efficient and cost-effective you'll be.
The MarketYour customers can be residential property owners or a wide variety of commercial properties--apartment and condominium complexes, hotels and motels, hospitals, large and small businesses and office parks. Government institutions make good sources of income as well. Nab residential customers by going door-to-door with fliers or door hangers. (Don't place them in mailboxes--the U.S. Postal Service gets very upset about this.) Place ads in your local newspaper and in your neighborhood Yellow Pages. For small-business commercial customers, hand-deliver fliers or brochures and explain your services. You may not get any takers the first time you visit, but don't get discouraged. A repeat visit or two can often seal a deal. A direct-mail campaign of a brochure will work better for large corporations; follow up with a phone call.
Needed EquipmentYou'll need field tools, including an aerator, a power mower, an edger, a trimmer, a selection of rakes, a spreader for fertilizer and seed, a sprayer, and a small gasoline container for on-the-job refills. (Be sure to use an approved container and follow safe storage and usage practices.) You'll also need a vehicle to carry them in, a pickup truck or other medium-duty vehicle and possibly a small trailer.