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Starting a small lawncare

Ray Reha
January 6, 2019

Hello, I’m starting a small lawn care company to get out of debt. I don’t want to spend too much money starting out. Would a regular lawn more I could purchase at the Home Depot or Menards work until I get enough money to buy an industrial? I know that sounds like a trivial question but I don’t know if there are any websites that I could buy a better one from. The most I could spend is probably $600

Comments (43)
  • Tom

    Not a problem.......you might even get a couple of years out of a cheap mower!

  • remodeling1840
    One of my former employees ( in an unrelated business) did this. He didn’t know he needed a license in both the towns and the county (total of six, renewable ever year).He needed liability insurance and insurance on his equipment. His neighborhood association where he rented a house wouldn’t allow his trailer and equipment to be parked in the neighborhood, so he needed to rent space. He needed to form an LLC with the help of an attorney and he knew nothing about bookkeeping including withholding taxes, etc. I applaud your wish to get out of debt and owning your own business is one way to do that. However you need a realistic idea of startup costs and recurring expenses. The Small Business Administration has volunteers who will be happy to help. For the short term, you might be better off with a second job and use every penny of that income to pay down your debt while you research starting your own business. You will need a nice name, well designed business cards, and a very professional message on your cell phone. Flyers advertising your business can be done on a home computer but, please, please, check for grammar and punctuation. If you have any employees, you need to pay social security and withholding to the government without fail on their deadline dates. You need to know your market- homeowners or business or a combination. Do your homework— what is the most profitable in your area? I say all this, not to discourage you, but to prepare you to be successful. Ten years from now, your business could lead your market if you plan carefully. Good luck
  • ssewalk1

    Both Tom & 1840 have given very prudent advice !

  • 300ft_anin

    ray, how familiar are you with landscape equipment. do you do your own maintenance? mower is only part of what you're going to need.

  • dchall_san_antonio

    You might consider renting the power equipment you need (mower, blower, and string trimmer) for the days you need it at first. Eventually you will need equipment every day, but until you have established some regular clients, renting might save you some money.

  • ShadyWillowFarm
    Ray, most lawn care customers in my area also expect mulching, trimming, edging, sidewalk/driveway/street blown free of clippings, spring garden prep and fall leaf clean up. Best of luck to you!
  • dchall_san_antonio

    Depending on the neighborhood rules, you may be required to remove all grass clippings and leaves and not leave them on the curb.

  • PRO
    Revolutionary Gardens

    By "regular mower" do you mean a standard 21" push mower? Probably fine, because realistically you'll probably end year one with around 10-15 customers. If the lawns are all under 1/4 acre it'll be slow, but doable. $600 is a tight budget for mower, trimmer, and blower, but it can be done. Spring for a self-propelled mower if you can, because a mower feels way heavier at 4 pm than it is at 8 am. As mentioned above, factor in a trimmer, blower, and hand tools for your startup costs. Hedges are good money, so plan on reinvesting some of your profits into a gas powered hedge trimmer, pruners, loppers, and a silky saw.


    Don't skip liability insurance. If you're on a tight budget, one rock through the windshield of a Mercedes will destroy you.



  • ssewalk1

    If you read carefully the op stated $ 600 was in the budget for a mower only . Yes he can obtain a very reliable unit within that range . Ensure to buy a unit without auto choke function . A primer or choke and purge pump would be optimal. Toro or Honda are the best overall today , check your local dealers for a better idea of what you needs are and what they can provide . A Commercial Grade is over your budget , however used units are quite often traded in at an affordable price .

  • illsstep

    Honestly it sounded like he had a $600 budget to get everything up and running. Best of luck to him..

  • tomplum

    Youtube has a few good folks that built up lawn service companies. Every once inna while I watch one if a subject interests me. Practically a business plan in the making.

  • ssewalk1

    illsstp , No , $600.00 to invest in a mower period , seriously have you priced a new mower lately ! Other forum members advised to purchase other equipment which again would cost several hundred dollars a piece . Although prudent within a start up lawn care business , insurance and additional equipment is not what he asked advice on . No where did he request what equipment or additional policies or procedures to conform to , apparently only Tom & I can read ! lol.

  • dchall_san_antonio

    Also there is a lawn care forum for professionals. Don't remember the name, but they really don't want non professionals butting in. Lots of advice there about getting up and running with a business.

  • remodeling1840
    Ssewalk1– if a man in a burning room asks me for the time, do I have a moral responsibility to tell him the room is on fire or should I just tell him it’s three o’clock? Having been the owner of a small business and watching businesses succeed while others fail, I feel a responsibility to warn and to teach. My former employee lost more money than he made because he, as Sophie would say, didn’t know what he didn’t know. I can read and he wasn’t asking what kind of $600 mower, just if that price point mower would hold up. The statistics on small business startups are not good, so I was trying to increase Ray’s chances. I love small business.
  • ssewalk1

    1840 , " would a regular lawn mower I could purchase at Home Depot or Menards work until I can afford an industrial " was his question ! Additionally he stated he could only afford $600 at this time , not approx $1500.00 with additional equipt. & licencing your Forum members have indicated necessary lol. Further i already stated you and Tom had given prudent advice , so get the knot out of your pantyhose . Apparently your members of lawn care or landscape design can,t read and are thin skinned . Further i believe illsstp can speak for himself without your involvement , my comments were to him , this coming from a lawnmower professional , who can read !

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    ssewalk1, I think it is you that is reading too much into that post :-) I don't see where the $600 was specifically earmarked just for a mower: "I don’t want to spend too much money starting out........The most I could spend is probably $600 ".

    If the OP had stated that $600 was the maximum he could afford for a mower is one thing but he left the remark rather open ended!! And being new to the industry and contemplating a start-up business it is quite possible the OP is/was unaware of what other expenses or tools he would need to have allowed for to make his business both legal and a success.

    And your additional comments are unnecessary and just plain rude! We can all read.....some of us are just more skilled at not reading more into the statement than actually exists. Thin skinned????? No, but maybe just a scosh more helpful and less confrontational.

  • dchall_san_antonio

    ssewalk1, you are poking the wrong people. I'm sure we are all very proud of our reading skills. The OP asked a yes/no question, and so far nobody has provided a yes/no answer. You have replied many times and every time you tossed in extraneous information that was not asked for. Yet you claim to be one of the few who can read. 1840, the person you first complemented for his/her reply, wrote a lot about small business and never got close to the original question, yet you praised him/her.

    Discussions on the lawn forum always drift around. ALWAYS. We try to stay on or about the main topic, but sometimes we drift far and wide. If you want to give a yes/no answer to someone, fine, but we don't need back handed, editorial comments made simply to police the forum for those of us who occasionally run wild.


  • patriceny

    The advice about not skipping liability service is one of the most important things I've read here.

    Liability insurance is one of those things you hope you never need - but will be eternally grateful you have it when you need it.

    If you have home owner's insurance (or even a renter's policy), the company who carries that policy for you should be able to add this pretty easily.

    I have way too many stories of people who never thought about liability and are very much poorer now as a result of the oversight. If you are taking power equipment onto someone else's property please be smart about this.

  • ssewalk1

    Dichall , not poking anyone . Just stating simple facts . No where in his brief 5 sentence paragraph did Ray ask advice of lawn care business ethics , liability insurance , licencing fees , city bylaws for grass clipping or leaf disposal , promotional flyers , additional lawn care trimmers , blowers etc . Talk about drifting off topic , you never did respond to his actual mower topic .Rather you criticize me for being on point and further 1840 for some fantasy back handed comment ? You truly are a piece of work ! What he asked was , if a residential ( home owner ) grade mower would be adequate for his start up company . Specifically he sites Home Depo or Mennards . You are further incorrect in your assumption that no one responded to his yes / no question , Tomplum was the 1st respondent who advised that , "no problem might even get 2 yrs from a cheaper box store unit". Secondly I also advised that his $600 would certainly provide sufficient funds for a quality residential not Industrial (Commercial) Grade mower . I provided addition info on manufacturers and choke designs that are more reliable today , as a simple example . Further i stated that both Tom and 1840 had stated prudent info within their replies . Hopefully Ray will respond back to us with clarification . P.S. Not to say the additional comments provided by other members do not have merrit , on the contrary , however this was not requested . Nothing vague or confusing within Rays singular question , he was just soliciting advice on Residential Style lawnmowers vs much more expensive Commercial Grade lawnmowers . P.S. As far as my previous comments being rude is absurd . It would appear some of your cronies apparently are very thinned skinned , if you disagree with their mind set , must be a great forum . Have a Great Day..Eh !

  • illsstep

    Settle down there, ssewalk1. The original poster's question was sufficiently vaguely worded that it could be interpreted as either "Which mower should I buy for $600 to start my business?" or "Which mower should I buy? I have $600 to start my business."

  • ssewalk1
    1. Nothing to settle down about , the question was , is a cheap $ 600 mower practical investment for his start up company , black and white , Nothing vague or having to do with having $600 to start a business , answer is yes , end of discussion ...sheesh !
  • ssewalk1

    Garden gal , Tomplum , 300# , I and numerous other Garden web members participate in various forum threads , lawnmower , Toolshed , tractors are mutual sites we share interest in . We have yrs of experience operating and maintaining small engine operated equipment . During our Forum discussions we have helped thousands of individuals troubleshooting various problems with their chainsaws , blowers , trimmers , Tractors and lawnmowers. Let me assure you , having concise understanding of the originators concern or question is paramount in giving a accurate and efficient resolution to his complaint . So rest assured i know with great experience Rays Reha,s concern in this matter . There have been numerous homeowner complaints over the decade within the decline in quality of lawnmowers along with their elevated costs discussed in our lawnmower forum . Therefore I fully understand his reservations of purchase a homeowner grade mower for a commercial business . I agree that there are various other concerns that your group have indicated however , as a member of the lawnmower site they are secondary to Rays original question , which was not unclear to a trained eye . No confrontation intended or avoided . Adu !

  • rdaystrom

    I think I would just by some used equipment on Craigslist, fix it up and mow some yards in neighborhoods where they don't have all those rules. Keep it simple and do a great job. Save your money, keep your equipment in top shape, and you can work your way up to a more profitable business

  • 300ft_anin

    hi all, i wonder where Ray is? i'd like to ask Ray about his expectations, "Hello, I’m starting a small lawn care company to get out of debt. I don’t want to spend too much money starting out".

  • tomplum

    The used equipment suggestion is a good one. Working on the equipment is great experience for one who needs to have things working quick and in a hurry. To keep the positive cash flow, you can't really afford to have much shop time or downtime.

  • ssewalk1

    Excellent suggestion RD , in this manner he could save some money and gain some valuable experience , within the operation and mtce of the equipment he has . 300# yeah $600 does not go far with the price of new mowers these days , box store or not , as you and I know all too well lol. Tom , any downtime would sink Ray pretty quick , especially without any back up spare mowers ! As 300# has indicated other than " one like " I have not seen a single response from Ray , very disappointing with all the time given by so many people trying to assist him in this matter . Oh well ?

  • Ray Reha

    Hey thanks for all the great advice! Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I liked craigslist suggestion. The reason I’m doing this is to get out of debt. I am a mailman so I cannot have very many accounts I think I will start off with four.. as I continue to learn and I will grow my business.

  • 300ft_anin

    hey ray, glad to hear from you. that kinda answers my question. if you're keeping things small getting away with a residential mower is doable, but as RD mentioned above there might be some better, used units available. the better, more specialized brands will do a better, more efficient job. i wouldn't purchase equipment from the box store if there are shops in your area that sell landscape equipment, they may have used stuff also? they'll also help with service if you're going to need help in that area. feel free to ask if you need any advise on other machines such as string trimmers, ect.

  • ssewalk1

    Ray as we from the lawnmower site have all advised previously a Residential model mowers from a Box Store will provide sufficient quality for a Start up lawn Care Service . However what you will require later is a Commercial Grade mowers , which as you most likely realize is much more stout , however costly . An alternative as I previously mentioned is to deal with a recognized Dealer who often sell slightly used Commercial units at significant price reductions . Otherwise a additional back up residential mower(s) shall be req,s to reduce downtime for routine repairs that always occur in your primary unit . (4 units) should be more than adequate. In closing numerous other lawn care equipment ( trimmers , blowers etc ) will enhance your lawn care ability as will proper business ethics including liability insurance and local bylaw compliance for you business reputation , as has been recommended by many other forum members ! All The Best within your new Busness endeavours and Be Safe and Wear your Safety Protection Bud !

  • rdaystrom

    When you mow a yard do the best job ever. My idea of needed equipment is: A good self propelled mower that will side discharge, bag, and mulch. (Snapper, Toro, Lawnboy, etc) You will need a string trimmer and an edger. The click link types are ok. A good powerful blower is need as well. I like the backpack type. Edge and trim first. Blow the clippings up on the lawn. Then mow with the mulcher on. Blow again to make it perfect. Never side discharge in the street, flower beds , or driveway. If needed go back over areas that didn't look good on the first pass. (Cross cutting helps)

  • ssewalk1

    Good points RD , especially the attention to detail !

  • Ray Reha

    I am wondering about trimmers. What models do you recommend For long-term use and what models do you recommend for short term use until I can afford a better one. I Watched a few YouTube videos Edging with your trimmer. What do you think about that?


  • Ray Reha

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_6BgsZCjVg&feature=share this guy is a genius. He has a lot of great advice. The string trimmer edging fascinated Me.

  • 300ft_anin

    trimmer in my opinion are as important as the mower. if it doesn't work well it's worthless. i have 3 trimmers that i use, all older models, pre 2005. cutting an edge like in the video above, is standard practice, but your edge would have to have already been cut, you are just maintaining the edge with your weed eater. if your trimmer is to small it will be hard. i use echo, redmax and a older stihl split boom. all around 25cc.

  • ssewalk1
    1. Ray , so to ensure no confusion , how much can you afford for trimmer(s) ? I envision requiring 2 trimmers . A cheaper curve shaft and a more expensive long shaft with attachment capabilities . I personally prefer Echo products , however Redmax and Shindawa are very strong as 300# has indicated . I shy away from Stihl due to their propriety parts policies and inflated pricing . Husky just does not produce quality product for a reasonable price . The edging is more easily accomplished with the lighter curved shaft units or a long shaft with a wheel attachment . The attachments often used on long shaft trimmers are power brooms for dethaching or tillers and hedge trimmer heads .The final decision shall be yours due to preference and Dealer convenience , avoid Box stores ! Pay the xtra on Premium Quality trimmer line . P.S. Also ensure quality Oil mixed at 50:1 Amsoil Sabre , Opti-2 or Husky Ulta are among the established Best Synthetics . Ensure your fuel is fresh (30) day max in storage . If you choose regular mineral grade 2-stroke oil i would recommend Startron fuel conditioner that I have used for yrs which Rdaystrom put me onto due to complaints with stabil fouling issues. . Getting back to the mowers , please clarify the (4) ? Also if possible look for models with hand operated chokes or purge / primer buttons as previously i advised . The new generation residential mowers are troublesome with their auto choke systems which our Efuel gas sabotages quickly , causing troublesome starting . Please get back to us on further questions .
  • Ray Reha

    SSewalk i’m hoping to spend around $400 for a good trimmer. I’m going to be a one man show but my wife will help me when she has time . I am going to immediately re-invest my money into the business for at least a few months so I can get better equipment and be more efficient.

  • 300ft_anin

    ray, 400 will buy a NICE weed whacker, you don't need to spend that much. i recently acquired a newer echo "SRM225 that i sold to my brother, he loves it and at just over 200 will suite your needs. have you been checking the used product sites? craigslist, FB marketplace.... in my area, when the sun comes out there's going to be a whole crap load of used equipment. do you like working on things?

  • ssewalk1

    Hi Ray , I really believe you will require 2 trimmers , especially as a back up unit or to be used for both you and your wife . A small lightweight curved shaft could be used for edging or for light weeding in tight areas . Also a pro grade straight shaft for heavier weeding or grass cutting or light brushing . The straight shaft would enable attachment usage as advised previously . If you were to go with 2 units i would recommend a Echo GT225 -SF a 21.2 cc curved shaft @ $159.00 and a SRM-266 a 25 cc straight shaft @ $299.00 . Alternately if only one trimmer req,d a Pro grade Redmax EXZ260S is a 25 cc lite weight straight shaft unit @ $310.00 with an overall weight of only 8 lbs . I have ommitted the Shindawa models since you can review in detail their models @ any Echo Dealer also feature to feature .Having owned and repaired various trimmer manufacturer and chainsaws for over 30 yrs these units out perform all other units at a reasonable price point . Echo has biannual sales where a 15-25 % saving can be recognized easily on these everyday prices . Hope this is of some assistance Bud !

  • Ray Reha

    Thanks ssewalk! I will definitely look into that. I really appreciate everybody’s advice.

  • ssewalk1

    No problem Bud , let us know how it goes !

  • 300ft_anin

    hi all, i just picked this up via craigslist. really didn't need it, but it replaces 1 that let loose last year. @ 125.00 was imo to good to pass.

  • ssewalk1

    Half price , Sweet Deal Bud !

  • 300ft_anin

    thanks walk, i posted it on this tread as an example of what can be had in the used market. i had 1 of these i got in poor running condition that had a plugged up exhaust, did a good job for 4+ yrs.

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