How to Start a Gardening Business in 14 Steps (In-Depth Guide)

Updated: January 25, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The gardening industry continues to grow, having reached $129 billion in 2023. More people are embracing the health and wellness benefits of growing their food, along with the satisfaction of a lush outdoor living space.


Gardening requires patience and persistence to be rewarding. Aspiring garden entrepreneurs have ample business opportunities to capitalize on this demand by offering landscaping, maintenance, hardscaping, or coaching services. With proper planning and execution, 2023 may be the perfect time to dig into the gardening industry.

This guide will walk you through how to start a gardening business. Topics include market research, competitive analysis, registering an EIN, forming a business entity, and other important details for the landscaping services industry.

1. Conduct Gardening Market Research

Market research is integral to starting a successful gardening business. it offers insight into your target market, trends in landscaping services, local market saturation, and other details to help you form a realistic business plan for your own gardening business.


Growth in the gardening market presents a major opportunity for aspiring successful landscaping business owners. Specific services in high demand include:

  • Landscaping design and installation
  • Lawn care and maintenance
  • Hardscaping like patios and retaining walls
  • Garden coaching and education

These niche areas allow for specialization around high-value services versus basic mowing and weeding. Developing expertise through training and certifications can further distinguish a lawn maintenance business.

Backyard and commercial segments both offer possibilities to scale. Residential spending accounts for over 75% of total lawn and garden sales. A key driver across segments is the migration towards organic, sustainable gardening practices.

With strategic preparation and focus, the thriving gardening sector presents a fertile small business opportunity. Specializing in high-demand services, targeting ideal buyer personas, and highlighting sustainability values can all set an aspiring garden entrepreneur up for success.

2. Analyze the Competition

Understanding the competitive landscape is crucial to starting your own landscaping business. The first step should be identifying existing companies offering similar services in your geographic area for an in-depth competitive analysis.


Whether you’re a self employed gardener or offering professional commercial gardening services, knowing the competition is important. Some ways to get to know more about local landscaping businesses include:

  • When starting a gardening business, drive or walk around the neighborhoods you plan to target and make note of any landscapers or garden maintenance providers you see actively working.
  • Search online directories and sites like Yelp to find additional local competitors, big and small.
  • Review their websites and marketing materials to analyze service offerings, pricing, specializations, and clientele. This will help position your services.
  • Search industry forums like Houzz and niche sites to explore discussions referencing local providers. Social media can also yield insights through reviews, before-and-after project photos, and real homeowner endorsements.
  • Examine the digital footprint of 5-10 leading local competitors to identify possible website, blog, social media, and search visibility gaps you can fulfill.
  • You can better attract web traffic through strong foundational on-page optimization, blogging, and social posting from launch.

By thoroughly evaluating the strengths of gardening competitors using both on-the-ground techniques and digital tools, an aspiring green entrepreneur can strategically position their differentiated offerings and go-to-market plan for maximum visibility and conversion.

3. Costs to Start a Gardening Business

When starting a gardening venture, upfront business expenses are required for tools and equipment, transportation, licensing and public liability insurance, and initial marketing efforts. These start-up costs typically range from $10,000-$30,000 or more, depending on the services offered and scope of operations.

Start-up Costs

At the low end, basic lawn mowing or weeding jobs can be launched with less than $10,000 in start-up costs if using your existing truck and equipment. This covers:

  • State registration fees ($50-$100)
  • County licensing ($25-$100 annually)
  • Mowers ($150+)
  • Trimmers ($70+)
  • Pruners ($50)
  • Rakes ($30)
  • Hoses ($40+)
  • Safety gear ($500+ total)
  • Initial website design, logo creation, flyers, and business cards ($1000-$2000)
  • Commercial-grade mowers ($3000+)
  • Ride-on or zero-turn models ($5000+)
  • Heavy-duty trucks/trailers ($25,000+)
  • Excavators for grading and excavation ($15,000+)
  • Liability insurance will also be necessary ($1200+ per year).
  • Trade programs ($5000-$15,000)
  • Specialized software for creating garden plans and visualizing hardscapes ($2500+).

Ongoing Costs

Ongoing operational expenses must also be built into financial planning and pricing. These include:

  • Fuel ($300 per truck per month)
  • Truck/equipment maintenance ($250+ monthly)
  • Labor (15-25% of revenue towards staff)
  • Software subscriptions ($50+ monthly)
  • Insurance renewals ($1000+ annually)
  • Replacement tools/gear ($3000+ annually)
  • Brand marketing activities ($500+ monthly)
  • Accounting services ($150+ monthly) Office rental if needed ($500+ monthly)

Managing cash flow in a successful business is critical, as many costs will be incurred upfront before large jobs can be invoiced. Slow seasonal periods also need to be planned for.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When starting a gardening venture, the legal structure carrying the most benefit is a limited liability company (LLC). Unlike sole proprietorships and partnerships exposing owners to personal liability, an LLC helps shield personal assets if sued.

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship provides no liability protection outside business assets. All settlement claims or legal judgments can be made against the owner’s savings, investments, or property. Financial risks are too great for most landscaping operations.


Partnerships like LP’s and LLP’s allow multiple owners for capital and skill pooling. However, liability protection is still minimal outside individual investments. For expanding gardening businesses aiming to manage growth flexibly, convert to an LLC.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

LLCs require more paperwork and annual fees than sole proprietorships but facilitate operational scalability. Business finances are separated from personal liability insulation. Multiple member-owners with flexible profit-sharing offer more options for growth capital and manager incentives, unlike S-corp or C-corp structures requiring share divisions.


C-Corporations also imply double taxation whereas LLC income passes directly to member’s returns. An S-Corp election can be made if advantageous down the line while retaining LLC flexibility.

Those planning for immediate fast scaling through private equity or a strategic sale exit may analyze C-Corp formation upfront. But an LLC will suit most garden startups well in the interim thanks to owner protections combined with versatility for organic growth into multiple locations or service lines.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

An employer identification number (EIN) is a unique tax ID number that identifies a business to the IRS for tax administration purposes. All gardening companies should apply for an EIN even if they do not have employees.

Sole proprietors can use their SSN tax ID instead. However, obtaining an EIN adds legitimacy and separates business tax obligations from the owner’s returns. Applying online takes just minutes.

Simply navigate to the IRS EIN Assistant and answer some basic questions about your gardening business structure. On the application, you will need to provide the legal business name matching your formation documents, address, and responsible party.

Submitting online through the streamlined EIN Assistant typically provides the EIN immediately upon completion of the short application. You can then use this tax ID on all federal and state tax registrations going forward rather than a Social Security Number.

Gardening businesses will also need sales tax permits and business licenses registered under the EIN at their Secretary of State office. Requirements vary by state but often include one-time or annual fees under $100.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Proper financial tracking is essential for landscaping companies to maximize tax deductions, manage cash flow around seasonal revenue swings, and ultimately sustain profitability. Using small business accounting software and working with an accountant from the start helps avoid painful IRS issues down the road.

Accounting Software

QuickBooks offers templated charts of accounts, invoices, and financial reports tailored to landscaping operations. Connecting bank accounts allows many transactions to automatically download and code with just a few clicks for efficient categorization. This gives real-time visibility into the true profit drivers and cost centers across the gardening business.

Hire an Accountant

While business owners can execute basic bookkeeping themselves in QuickBooks, partnering with an accountant ensures proper setup, processing, and compliance. Typical monthly accountant fees range from $200-$500 but offer invaluable expertise.

Open a Business Bank Account

Maintaining completely separate finances from personal banking and expenses also minimizes IRS risk and headaches. Opt for a designated gardening business checking account paired with a business credit card.

Apply for a Business Credit Card

Business credit cards often offer bonus rewards points on common landscaping purchases like equipment, diesel, hardware supplies, and uniforms. Approval decisions also factor in company revenue rather than personal credit scores, enabling substantially higher credit limits. Expect to supply past tax returns and financial statements during the application though.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Before actively marketing or signing client contracts, every landscaping company must ensure they obtain all required state and county-level licenses and permits. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

Common permits needed potentially include:

  • Business license – Nearly all jurisdictions require annual business licenses for incorporated operations both place-based and online companies. Fees are typically under $100. The license legally certifies the business under state and county statutes.
  • Pesticide applicator license – Applying weed control chemicals or distributing restricted products requires special pesticide handling permits. Licenses demonstrate competency in safely administering substances through exam completion. Fees vary by state but expect $75-$150 initial costs with continuing education.
  • Trade licensing – Some counties mandate specific gardening specialty licenses for branches like irrigation contractors, tree trimming services that utilize heavy equipment near power lines, or low voltage outdoor lighting designers. These legitimize specialized expertise and compliance for consumer protection. Local license costs range from $50 to a few hundred dollars depending on the category.
  • Stormwater permits – Construction projects disturbing over 1 acre may need stormwater and erosion control permits during development and then ongoing monitoring. County agencies aim to minimize runoff environmental impact through required planning oversight. Expect potential delays for larger hardscaping or re-grading jobs if permits are not obtained early.
  • Waste/dumping licenses – Hauling away excess soil, plant debris, bark chips, or other byproducts from gardening projects often requires special waste transportation permits and facility dumping access. Counties want to govern proper waste stream management for these materials.

Knowing the specific business licenses required within the city, county, and state is imperative when initiating a gardening venture to avoid disruptive red tape, unexpected delays, or legal fines after launching.

8. Get Business Insurance

Operating a gardening business carries substantial risk exposure from onsite injuries, environmental incidents, property damage, and legal claims. Obtaining comprehensive business insurance coverage protects the company and personal assets if sued or facing major liability events.

Without adequate policies, a single serious accident on a client’s property could permanently destroy the landscaping business through massive settlement payments. Common concerning scenarios include:

  • An employee injures their back lifting stones requiring $250,000 in medical treatment
  • An incorrectly wired low-voltage lighting system causes an overnight fire that destroys a client’s $1.2M home
  • A misapplied herbicide kills rare mature trees and flowering plants valued at $30,000+

In each of these situations, the gardening business without insurance would be directly responsible for covering these extensive costs out-of-pocket. Most companies cannot afford a single major event, much less multiple claims in a year. The owner would likely owe large personal judgments also unless an LLC or corporation.

However, with tailored small business policies in place fitting the services provided, the insurance company covers your legal liability and payouts. This business continuity protection facilitates focusing on daily operations rather than worrying about bankruptcy risks.

Typically needed policies include general liability, commercial auto insurance, professional errors & omissions, tool/equipment coverage, and workers’ compensation for employees. Expect to pay $5000 or more annually for a properly structured insurance program.

9. Create an Office Space

While gardening operations are primarily field-based, securing some type of centralized office space provides room for administrative tasks, meetings, equipment storage, and team rallies. The optimal solutions balance affordability with functionality.

Home Office

Many initial home-based landscaping businesses rely on spare bedrooms or garages for makeshift offices. Costs only amount to $100-$200 monthly for utilities and internet. However limited space often cannot support more than 1-2 employees or a proper organization. Still, this allows bootstrapping during early customer acquisition phases.

Commercial Office

As staff and equipment expand, moving into small commercial office spaces becomes preferable for around $1,000 – $1,500 monthly. More room facilitates holding team meetings or training for up to 10 employees while also providing secure indoor storage for tools, materials, and company vehicles. Having a professional dedicated workplace also elevates credibility with clients.

Coworking Office

Some large landscapers operate standalone yards with warehouses for machinery and fleet parking. But smaller operators may find coworking spaces like WeWork offer convenient flexibility between pure office and industrial environments.

10. Source Your Equipment

Successfully launching a gardening venture relies on securing essential tools, vehicles, and gear cost-effectively. Beyond buying new, alternatives like used purchases, rentals, and leasing certain asset types should be explored.

Buy New

New equipment purchases offer warranty protections and often financing programs from brands like John Deere for mowers, trimmers, blowers plus attachments. Dealers also provide service and maintenance packages. However, costs run 15-30% higher than comparable used models.

Buy Used

Buying quality used equipment saves substantially on mowers, trucks, belts, chainsaws, plows, and more via private sellers. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist feature local construction tools and fleet vehicles from $50 to over $25k. Have a mechanic inspect before transacting.


For rare large-scale investments like excavators, backhoes, and graders, short-term rentals prove most practical. Companies like United Rentals offer flexible rates from $500-$1500 weekly with damage waivers and delivery included. Avoid buying these heavy assets that mostly sit idle.

: ease

Leasing trucks long-term combines reliability with lower costs from $150 monthly plus fuel expenses. Evaluate lease options from Isuzu, Fuso, and local dealers against used financing to determine the most budget-friendly commercial fleet. Look also at pre-owned lease takeovers.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Establishing a strong visual brand identity makes a new gardening business stand out locally while conveying professionalism and scale from launch. Ensuring brand touchpoints like logos, websites, domain names, and communication channels match elevates trust and memorability for faster traction.

Getting a Business Phone Number

Purchasing a dedicated business phone and fax line instead of relying solely on personal mobiles adds legitimacy. Cloud-based systems like RingCentral provide local/toll-free numbers, call routing, voicemail transcripts, and analytics for $30 per month.

Creating a Logo and Brand Assets

An outdoor-oriented gardening logo could embrace classic or modern styling. Local designers charge a few hundred dollars, while AI sites like Looka generate custom options for $20. Ensure logo use across websites, business cards, uniforms, truck branding, and job site signs.

Business Cards and Signage

Professionally designed business cards should be carried at all times when meeting prospective clients. Highlight services, web addresses, and mobile numbers. Investing in yard signs and truck magnets helps reinforce consistent branding while working. Order from convenient online print shops like Vistaprint.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Secure a domain name that matches the gardening business name and branding. Domain registrars like Namecheap enable buying domains affordably. Choose short, simple names conveying landscaping services for best memorability.

Building a Professional Website

An informational website is expected by clients today with 83% of shoppers researching online first. Build using Wix affordably or hire a developer on Fiverr to convey the brand personality.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Tapping into gardening associations, trade events, and online communities accelerates learning and relationship-building for fledgling landscaping entrepreneurs entering the industry. Surrounding yourself with seasoned veterans provides insider knowledge plus lead sharing and subcontracting opportunities.

Local Associations

In most states, accredited trade organizations like the Texas Landscape and Nursery Association and California Landscape Contractors Association advocate for and connect green industry providers statewide through directories, conferences, and working groups. Annual dues offer discounted insurance, compliance insights, and lead-generation platforms.

Networking Events

Area home shows, garden tours, industry trade events, and association chapter meetups grease the wheels for cultivating connections. Poll members for must-attend functions or browse regional calendars on Meetup. Talk to other owners about current opportunities and challenges in these live settings.

Facebook Communities

Thousands of landscapers network daily and find job leads within niche social groups like Landscape and Backyard Design Ideas and Landscapers of Facebook. Search for both hyperlocal and national communities relevant to your services.

13. How to Market a Gardening Business

Establishing an integrated marketing strategy combining digital and traditional tactics will accelerate finding ideal gardening clients while reinforcing market leadership. As referrals compound from delighted customers, dedicate 15-25% of revenues to continually attracting qualified prospects through select channels with the highest ROI potential.


Personal Networking

Early on, tap into existing personal and professional networks by offering free landscape evaluations or discounted pilot projects to showcase expertise. Satisfied clients then enthusiastically introduce landscaping services to their contacts. Consider thank-you gift cards or contribution-based referral programs to incentivize ongoing endorsements.

Digital Options

  • Launch Google Ads campaigns geo-targeting high-value neighborhoods using service, design style, and sustainability messaging
  • Foster social proof with Before-After Facebook photo ads of stunning transformations
  • Create YouTube DIY tutorial videos to build authority ranking for local search
  • Write blogs on topics like native plant care or hardscape design trends to attract visitors

Traditional Approaches

  • Print full-color postcard mailers showcasing portfolio images to farms, estates, and commercial property managers
  • Provide exclusive gardening tips through a weekly radio segment on local NPR affiliate stations
  • Sponsor school garden builds or Little League teams to support the community
  • Canvas door-to-door in target subdivisions offering free garden tune-ups

Evaluate the assay of both digital and traditional marketing pilots through lead quality, conversion rates, and customer lifetime value before committing full budgets.

14. Focus on the Customer

Providing an incredible client experience is the most powerful acquisition and retention tool for a gardening business. With nearly 8 in 10 consumers prizing quality service over low prices, strategically nurturing each customer relationship must take priority over all other operating concerns.

The intrinsic high-touch nature of landscaping services offers built-in opportunities to wow patrons. Thoughtful gestures like leaving behind modest flower bouquets for them to enjoy or conducting unsolicited periodic garden tune-ups generate immense goodwill.

Following up on custom planting jobs with quick phone calls checking in on plant health signals proactive care. Offering to walk properties after extreme weather to flag any damage or needs further reinforces reliable partnership beyond just order fulfillment.

Over 80% of consumers actively relay poor or excellent service interactions to friends, family, and online communities. This creates exponential downstream effects for gardening referrals.

Obsessively optimizing for customer satisfaction, not just project execution, earns advocates for your landscaping business that actively spark organic growth more effectively than any traditional advertising or digital marketing investments.

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