How to Start a Landscaping Business

If you’re researching how to start a landscaping business, you’ll find quickly that it’s often a relatively straightforward process. Landscaping businesses in the United States create over $60 billion in annual revenue, largely by small businesses. With thousands of landscaping businesses across the country, many of them individually run or independent from a franchise, the landscaping industry is a thriving way of life for many.

Given the amount of people who may be doing landscaping work through cash or without business formalities, landscaping may be even bigger than described.

Nonetheless, statistics from the United States Department of Labor show almost 25 percent of landscapers are working for and work with customers themselves.

Offering hundreds of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars worth of economic activity in other industries, landscaping is a booming and thriving sector that may be right for you.

Setting Up Your Business

In order to set up your landscaping business, the first step is to formally create your business. You will need to create a business plan, determine your financial projections and raise capital, and figure out taxes.

  • If you own the business, you also take some personal risk too. Landscaping companies are often organized as LLCs or as an S corp in order to prevent the company's owners from facing personal liability for the company's work.
  • In order to get your landscaping business running, you will also need initial cash financing to acquire equipment and operate while seeking clients. Consider getting a bank loan, and make sure you carefully determine your projected costs and revenues.
  • Usually, it is a good idea to start with at least around $50,000 to keep your business functional while starting off.

The second major step is to determine what you will charge. Many customers will want a quote in advance for what your price for the job will be. Determine how fast you might complete the job, how much careful attention it will require, and whatever costs for materials there may be.

You may also require licenses for the job. Due to it varying by state, check with your local business office. Usually, the following categories will require a license:

  • Fertilizing/pesticide use: Due to the poisonous nature of many chemicals, their usage will often be subject to certain rules. These may require further licenses too.
  • Irrigation: Depending on region, this may be more of a licensing concern. You will often need water for your clients' landscapes and, therefore, a way to get the water there.
  • Garbage disposal: After a landscaping job, you will usually find there is a lot of waste and excess ranging from dirt to tree parts to other organic materials. You will need to figure out a way to properly and legally dispose of these materials.
  • Contracting: As a landscaper, you will be a contractor and, therefore, need a license, depending on state.

In many states, you will also require a formal landscapers license that is offered by the ASLA.

  • To get the ASLA license, you will need to pass a registration exam called the "LARE" that will evaluate if you understand how to perform landscaping in a safe and sustainable manner. The ASLA offers preparation and logistical materials for the exam.
  • The test itself will cost you a fee of $150 and is scheduled by the CLARB.
  • In order to keep this license, you will also need to perform continuing education and pay a renewal fee of either $150 or $195.

You will also need to create and maintain your business's tax status. As a business, you will owe taxes and, therefore, need an identification code for both your state and federal taxes.

You can get an EIN from the federal government's International Revenue Service through either an online application or a physical SS-4 document. It is free to get an EIN, and if you apply online, you will get an EIN right away. If submitted by mail, you will get it in a few business days.

When you register your business with your state, they will provide you a state tax ID.

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