Anyone who decides to start a landscape business has the same burning question. “Just how much will all the lawn care equipment cost me?” The answer is a resounding, “That all depends on your particular situation.”
That is not the most exact answer you could hear, but it is true. Let me explain. When I started out, I got a free John Deere riding mower. My cousin gave it to me. I also had a 36-inch by 48-inch walk behind. I still have yet to buy a zero turn mower. They will run a landscaper around $6000, but most all companies use them.
Buy Commercial Grade Equipment
What I must emphasize is you need to buy commercial equipment. It is much better to spend $500 on some used commercial mower than the same amount on a brand-new machine designed for home use. The biggest reason is that commercial equipment is going to work faster, be more durable and last longer.
You do not want to buy a cheap machine and do a job or two only to have it break down on you. It will cost you in business. In addition, you will have to pay for a new machine.
You must remember that when you run a landscape business, your tools and equipment will take a beating. The equipment made for the average homeowner are made for one or two uses a week. I estimate that I use my equipment 30 hours each week.
Engines on commercial mowers are built to last thousands of hours. Compare these to Home Depot machines that are made for a few mowing a month and you see my point.
Also, commercial machines have thicker steel so that they can withstand heavy use. In fact, it is pretty difficult to damage these machines. I know because, a few years back, I was driving about 25 miles an hour and one fell out of my truck. Still, it kept on working to my surprise.
One of the most important pieces of equipment you will need to invest in is a landscaping truck and trailer. This is where you will store and transport all of your commercial equipment.
Landscape Equipment Trucks
When I started out, I used a Ford F150. It gave me enough power to pull my trailer for years. I say both Ford and Chevy are the most reliable makes of trucks so I always purchase either one.
As my business grew, I upgraded to a F250. It had more room, more power and greater suspension. It is the type of truck made for landscaping and it is ideal for towing trailers. I also had plans of adding a dumperbed which increases the power I would need due to the weight.
Landscape Material Dumper Bed
You may want to add a dumper bed someday, so you need the added power and weight pulling abilities. I bought a dumper bed new for $2500. That is not a lot to invest and it will make any job easier. If you plan to stay in business for a while I say invest in it right from the start. However, if you cannot afford to just know that it is not an absolute necessity.
When I started out I didn’t even have a trailer. I would load my walk behind mower into the truck bed using two boards. After being in business a while, I ended up paying $1400 for a new single-axle 12-foot by 8-foot trailer. Decent trailers can be had for about $1000.
I prefer the length as it gives room for all walk-behind mowers, two trimmers and even a foot compartment where I can store a gas can and supplies.
Trailers are essential. They make loading and unloading quick and easy. They leave the bed of your truck empty for grass clippings and more. They also look more professional so they help with marketing.
Recently, I upgraded to an enclosed 12-foot by 8-foot by6-foot trailer. The enclosed trailers give off a neater appearance. In addition, they offer a safe, dry place to store equipment. It also provides a large surface which is ideal for a lawn care logo. I recommend enclosed trailers because then you do not have to cover them up each night with tarp and your equipment stays locked safely inside.
Commercial Lawn Mowers
Let me go more in-depth about commercial lawn mowers. Expect to pay around $1000 for a reliable, used machine. A hydro machine will cost about $3500 plus new.
Look on Craigslist for used equipment of all brands. I am not particular about brands, but I can say many people like me are happy with John Deere’s or Toro’s. 44-inch machines are my recommendation. This is because they offer greater advantages.
There are some downsides to smaller deck machines and that is they will take longer to do work and the work will take more effort. A large deck, though faster will bottom out on hilly areas. These also give you trouble getting through fence openings.
This is what drove me to stick to hydro powered machines. I used to use belt drives. The hydro can go in reverse which gives you so much more control. They are faster to turn and maneuver, too. The hydros are more expensive, take more effort to service and maintain, but ultimately they can make the day to day work a much easier and more efficient process.
Lawn Mower Sulky
I do recommend getting a lawn mower sulky. This is a stand that goes behind the mower on a platform. It really is one of those pieces of equipment that you do not know you have been missing out on until you buy one.
The clincher is that these only cost about $200. You really cannot afford to do without them. They help you cut faster and turn faster, too. Many walk behinds are able to cut grass at about 7 miles an hour. If you walk your pace is about 3 or four miles an hour. With the sulky, you get to cut at full speed.
Plus, you can turn on a dime. Without one, you have to walk in a big circle to turn just 180 degrees.
I always keep two weed eaters on me. That equals one for each man on my team. I paid $350 for each of these Husqvarna’s. I have to state here again that you must go commercial when buying trimmers. Also, opt for the larger engine models. These will make cutting easier and work go faster. Still, you can get away with smaller engine trimmers. Powered hedge trimmers also save a lot of time. I always have two with me; a smaller one for low shrubs and one with an extension to prune taller hedges without needing a ladder.
Back Pack Blower
Back-pack blowers are a necessity. You need them to blow grass off driveways and sidewalks. I got my start with a hand held model that cost about $300. The one I use now cost around $500. Depending on how much work you are doing and your budget will determine what you need. Small blowers are lightweight and make clean up fast and easy. The backpack is useful for cleaning any thatch build up in the yards where I do not do any bagging, plus if you are doing parking lots you will definitely need one.
Of course you will need socket sets, hand pruners, hedge trimmers (go gas powered if you can afford it), rakes, shovels, loppers, etc. A backpack sprayer is only around $150, so if you are going to spray Round Up it is worth the cost. So, in short:
Lawn Care Business Start Up Cost
- Truck: a used Ford F-150 – $3000.00.
- Trailer: $1500.00.
- Walk Behind Mower (used) : $800.00.
- Trimmer: $350.00.
- Back-pack Blower: $500.00.
- Rounded Up for Hand Tools Equipment Cost: around $8000.00.
These are the basics you should have to get your business up and running successfully!