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

Updated: April 9, 2024 is reader-supported. When you buy through links on my site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

The landscaping services industry, which includes yard cleaning, is a thriving market in the United States. In fact, according to IBISWorld, the market size of the landscaping services industry is expected to reach $128.8 billion in 2023, with a growth rate of 2.7% from the previous year.


Starting a yard cleaning business can be a rewarding and lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs who are passionate about providing top-notch services to homeowners and businesses alike. Starting a lawn care business allows you to make a positive impact on your community by helping to maintain and beautify outdoor spaces.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through how to start a yard cleaning business. From understanding your target market and developing a solid business plan to investing in the right equipment and marketing your services effectively, we’ve got you covered.

1. Conduct Yard Cleaning Market Research

Market research is essential to those with lawn care businesses. It offers insight into your target market, trends among lawn care professionals, and other details pertinent to starting your own lawn care business plan.


Some details you might learn through market research include:

  • Eco-friendly and sustainable yard cleaning practices can help you stand out from competitors, as consumers become increasingly environmentally conscious.
  • Offering services such as organic lawn care and water-saving techniques can attract customers who prioritize sustainability.
  • Tailoring your services to meet the unique needs of specific customer groups, such as elderly homeowners, busy professionals, or property managers, can help you capitalize on niche markets.
  • Expanding your service offerings to include seasonal tasks such as leaf removal, snow clearing, or holiday lighting installation can help generate year-round revenue.
  • Collaborating with other local businesses, such as landscaping companies, garden centers, or pest control services, can help you offer bundled services and reach a wider audience.

By thoroughly researching your market and identifying potential opportunities, you can create a solid foundation for your yard cleaning business and position yourself for success in this growing industry. Analyzing the overall market will help you make informed decisions and develop effective strategies for your business.

2. Analyze the Competition

When starting a yard cleaning business, analyzing your competition is essential to understanding the market landscape and identifying opportunities for differentiation. Begin by researching local yard cleaning businesses, both brick-and-mortar and online.


For brick-and-mortar competitors, visit their physical locations to observe their operations, equipment, and customer interactions. Take note of their branding, signage, and any promotional materials they display. If possible, engage with their staff to learn about their services and pricing structure.

To analyze your competitors’ online presence, start by conducting a thorough web search for yard cleaning businesses in your area. Visit their websites to assess the quality of their content, design, and user experience.

Examine your competitors’ social media profiles on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Analyze their content strategy, posting frequency, and engagement levels. Look for customer reviews and feedback to gauge sentiment and identify areas where your business can improve upon its offerings.

In addition to online reviews, explore industry-specific directories and review sites, such as HomeAdvisor and Yelp, to see how your competitors are listed and rated. These platforms can provide valuable insights into customer experiences and help you identify gaps in the market that your business can fill.

3. Costs to Start a Yard Cleaning Business

Starting a yard cleaning business requires careful planning and budgeting to ensure that you have the necessary resources to launch and maintain your venture. In this section, we’ll break down the start-up and ongoing costs associated with establishing a yard cleaning business, including tools and lawn care business software.

Start-up Costs

  • Legal and Administrative Fees: These costs can range from $100 to $1,000, depending on your location and business structure.
  • Lawn care equipment: Investing in high-quality equipment is crucial for providing efficient and professional yard cleaning services such as commercial-grade lawn mowers ($1,000 to $5,000) and trimmers and edgers ($200 to $1,000).
  • Vehicle: A reliable vehicle is necessary to travel to clients’ properties and transport equipment. Depending on your needs, you may choose to purchase a used truck or van, which can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.
  • Insurance: Lawn care business insurance is essential to protect your company from potential liabilities. General liability insurance for a yard cleaning business can cost between $500 and $2,000 annually, depending on your coverage needs and location.
  • Marketing and Advertising: To attract customers, you’ll need to invest in marketing and advertising efforts. This can include creating a website ($500 to $3,000), designing business cards and flyers ($100 to $500), and running online or local advertisements ($500 to $2,000).

Ongoing Costs

  • Labor: As your business grows, you may need to hire employees to help with yard cleaning tasks. The average hourly rate for a landscaper in the United States is $14.18, with a range of $10.36 to $19.84.
  • Equipment Maintenance and Replacement: Regular maintenance and occasional replacement of your equipment are necessary to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Budget for monthly maintenance costs, which can range from $100 to $500.
  • Fuel and Transportation: Fuel costs for your vehicle and equipment will vary depending on the size of your business and the distances you travel. Estimate monthly fuel expenses based on your local gas prices and anticipated mileage. As a rough estimate, budget $200 to $500 per month for fuel costs.
  • Insurance: In addition to your initial business insurance investment, you’ll need to maintain coverage throughout the life of your business. Expect to pay between $500 and $2,000 annually.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Ongoing marketing and advertising efforts are crucial for attracting new customers and maintaining a strong brand presence. Budget for monthly expenses such as website maintenance ($50 to $200).
  • Administrative Expenses: Don’t forget to account for ongoing administrative costs, such as office supplies, phone and internet services, and accounting software. These expenses can range from $100 to $500 per month, depending on your business size and needs.

By understanding and planning for these start-up and ongoing costs, you can create a solid financial foundation for successful lawn care business owners.

4. Form a Legal Business Entity

When starting your own business, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right legal entity for your venture. Forming a business entity allows you to operate your lawn care business legally. The entity options for lawn care companies include:

Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common business structure for small businesses, including yard cleaning services. As a sole proprietor, you have complete control over your business and can make decisions quickly.


A partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship but involves two or more owners. In a yard cleaning business, a partnership can be advantageous if you have a trusted partner who brings complementary skills or resources to the venture.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a popular choice for small businesses, including yard cleaning services, as it offers personal liability protection and flexibility in management and taxation. As an LLC owner, your assets are generally protected from the business’s debts and liabilities, providing a layer of security that sole proprietorships and partnerships lack.


A corporation is a more complex business structure that offers personal liability protection and the ability to raise capital through the sale of stock. Corporations are subject to more extensive record-keeping and reporting requirements, which can be time-consuming and costly for a small yard cleaning business.

5. Register Your Business For Taxes

When starting a yard cleaning business, one crucial step is registering your business for taxes. This process involves obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and setting up your business with your state’s tax authorities.

An EIN, also known as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the IRS to business entities operating in the United States. It serves as a business’s identification number for tax purposes, similar to how a Social Security number identifies an individual.

To obtain an EIN for your yard cleaning business, you can apply online through the IRS website. The process is simple, free, and can be completed in just a few steps:

  1. Determine your eligibility: Make sure your business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories and that you have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (SSN, ITIN, or EIN).
  2. Prepare required information: Gather the necessary information, such as your business name, address, and the names and Social Security numbers of the business owners.
  3. Apply online: Access the IRS’s EIN application website and complete the online form. The application process typically takes less than 15 minutes.
  4. Receive your EIN: Upon successful completion of the application, you’ll receive your EIN immediately. Print or save the confirmation notice for your records.

In addition to obtaining an EIN, you’ll need to register your yard cleaning business with your state’s tax authorities. This process varies by state but generally involves registering for state income tax, sales tax, and any other applicable taxes.

When registering for state taxes, be aware of any fees associated with the process. These fees vary by state and may include registration fees, license fees, or other charges. Some states may also require you to obtain a seller’s permit or sales tax license if you plan to purchase supplies or equipment for your yard cleaning business.

6. Setup Your Accounting

Setting up proper accounting practices is crucial for the success and longevity of your yard cleaning business. Accurate financial records help you make informed decisions, track your business’s performance, and ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations.

Accounting Software

One of the first steps in establishing your business’s accounting system is to invest in reliable accounting software. QuickBooks is a popular choice among small business owners, offering a user-friendly interface and a wide range of features designed to streamline your financial management.

Hire an Accountant

It’s essential to consider working with a professional accountant. An accountant can provide expert guidance and support, ensuring that your business stays on top of its financial obligations. They can offer services such as bookkeeping, financial statement preparation, tax planning, and tax return filing.

Open a Business Bank Account and Credit Card

It’s essential to separate your personal and business finances. Opening a dedicated business bank account and obtaining a business credit card can help you keep track of your company’s financial transactions and prevent any confusion between personal and business expenses.

7. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Obtaining the proper licenses and permits is a critical step in launching your yard cleaning business. Find federal license information through the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA also offers a local search tool for state and city requirements.

The specific licenses and permits required for your yard cleaning business may vary depending on your location and the services you offer. However, some common licenses and permits that you may need to obtain include:

  • Business License: A general business license is often required by local governments to legally operate a business within their jurisdiction. This license ensures that your business complies with local zoning regulations and other requirements.
  • Occupational License: Some states or local governments may require yard cleaning professionals to hold an occupational license. This license demonstrates that you have the necessary skills, training, and experience to provide lawn care services.
  • Pesticide Applicator License: If your yard cleaning business involves the use of pesticides or herbicides, you may need to obtain a pesticide applicator license.
  • Vehicle and Equipment Permits: If your yard cleaning business involves the use of commercial cleaning vehicles or specialized equipment, you may need to obtain permits or registrations for these assets.
  • Home Occupation Permit: If you plan to operate your yard cleaning business from your home, you may need to obtain a home occupation permit from your local zoning board.

By obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for your yard cleaning business, you can demonstrate your commitment to legal compliance and establish trust with your customers. Take the time to research the specific requirements for your location and services.

8. Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is a crucial aspect of running a yard cleaning business, as it provides financial protection against various risks and liabilities that could potentially damage or destroy your company. Without adequate insurance coverage, your business could face significant financial losses.

Several types of business insurance are particularly important for a yard cleaning business:

  • General Liability Insurance covers claims related to bodily injury, property damage, and advertising injury caused by your business operations.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required in most states if you have employees. This coverage provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job duties. If one of your employees is injured while operating a lawn mower, workers’ compensation insurance would help.
  • Commercial Auto Insurance is essential if your yard cleaning business owns or uses vehicles for work purposes. This coverage protects your business from financial losses related to accidents, theft, or damage involving your work vehicles.

To illustrate the importance of business insurance, consider a scenario where a client’s property is damaged during a yard cleaning job, and they sue your business for the cost of repairs. Without general liability insurance, you would be responsible for paying the legal fees out of pocket.

Request quotes from multiple insurance providers, and compare the coverage options, premiums, and deductibles to find the best policy for your business needs and budget. Provide the necessary information about your business, such as your business structure and number of employees.

By investing in business insurance, you can protect your yard cleaning business from financial losses, legal liabilities, and other risks that could threaten your success and longevity. While the cost of insurance premiums may seem like an added expense, it is a small price to pay for the peace of mind.

9. Create an Office Space

Having a dedicated office space can be incredibly beneficial for a yard cleaning business, even if much of the work takes place outdoors at clients’ properties. An office provides a professional environment to handle administrative tasks, store important documents, and meet with potential clients or employees.

Home Office

For many small yard cleaning businesses, a home office can be a practical and cost-effective solution. Setting aside a dedicated room or area in your home for office work allows you to keep your business and personal life separate while minimizing overhead costs. A home office is particularly suitable for solo entrepreneurs.

Coworking Office

If you prefer a more professional setting or need a place to meet with clients occasionally, a coworking office can be a great option. Coworking spaces like WeWork offer flexible membership plans that allow you to rent a desk or private office on an as-needed basis. This can be especially useful if you have a small team.

Retail Office

While less common for a yard cleaning business, a retail office space can be a good fit if you plan to sell products like fertilizers, seeds, or gardening tools in addition to your services. A storefront can provide visibility for your business and make it easier for customers to find you.

10. Source Your Equipment

Sourcing the right materials and equipment is crucial for the success of your yard cleaning business. Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand your operations, understanding your options for acquiring the necessary tools can help you make informed decisions.

Buying New

Purchasing brand-new equipment can be a significant investment, but it often comes with warranties, reliable performance, and the latest features. To purchase lawn care equipment directly from manufacturers look to local dealerships or online retailers like Amazon or Home Depot for your lawn mowing business.

Buying Used

Purchasing used equipment offers more affordable prices as you start a lawn care business looking to increase profit margins. Online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, Craigslist, and LetGo are great resources for finding gently used yard cleaning equipment at a fraction of the cost of buying new.


Renting equipment can be a smart choice for yard cleaning businesses that only need certain tools occasionally or want to try out new equipment before committing to a purchase. Rental companies offer a wide range of yard cleaning equipment for daily, weekly, or monthly rentals.


Leasing equipment is another option that can provide access to new or gently used tools without the upfront cost of purchasing. Leasing agreements typically involve a monthly payment over a set term, after which you may have the option to purchase the equipment at a reduced price.

11. Establish Your Brand Assets

Establishing a strong brand is crucial for any yard cleaning business looking to stand out in a competitive industry. A well-defined brand helps create a recognizable identity, builds trust with potential customers, and communicates the unique value your business offers.

Getting a Business Phone Number

Having a dedicated business phone number is essential for establishing a professional presence and making it easy for customers to contact you. Ring Central is a reliable and feature-rich option for business phone services, offering virtual phone numbers, call forwarding, and voicemail-to-email functionality.

Creating a Logo and Brand Assets

A logo is the visual cornerstone of your brand, serving as a recognizable symbol that sets you apart from competitors. When designing your logo, consider the different types available, such as wordmarks, letter marks, pictorial marks, or abstract marks. Looka is an AI-powered logo design platform that can help you create a professional logo.

Creating Business Cards and Signage

Business cards are a tangible way to share your contact information and leave a lasting impression on potential clients. Vistaprint offers a wide range of customizable business card and signage options, making it easy to create professional-looking marketing materials that align with your brand.

Purchasing a Domain Name

Securing a domain name is a critical step in establishing your online presence. Namecheap is a reputable domain registrar that offers competitive pricing and a user-friendly interface for managing your domain portfolio.

Building a Website

Having a professional website is non-negotiable in today’s digital age. Platforms like Wix offer user-friendly drag-and-drop interfaces. Engaging a freelance website designer from a platform like Fiverr allows you to create a fully customized website tailored to your specific needs and brand identity.

12. Join Associations and Groups

Joining associations and groups can be a game-changer for entrepreneurs starting a yard cleaning business. These communities provide invaluable opportunities to network with industry professionals, learn from experienced business owners, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the field.

Local Associations

Local business associations are a great place to start when looking to connect with other professionals in your area. For example, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) has local chapters across the United States that offer educational resources, certification programs, and networking events specific to the landscaping industry.

Local Meetups

Attending local meetups and tradeshows is another excellent way to expand your network and stay current on industry developments. Meetup is a fantastic resource for finding local events related to your industry, with groups ranging from general small business meetups to specific landscaping and lawn care communities.

Facebook Groups

In addition to local associations and meetups, Facebook groups can be a powerful tool for networking and learning from others in the yard cleaning industry. Try starting with Facebook groups like Lawn Care For Beginners and Landscaping and Handyman Services.

13. How to Market a Yard Cleaning Business

Marketing is the lifeblood of any successful business, and a yard cleaning venture is no exception. Without a solid marketing strategy, even the most skilled and dedicated entrepreneur will struggle to attract customers and grow their business.

Personal Networking

When starting a yard cleaning business, your network is often your most valuable asset. Reach out to friends, family, and acquaintances to let them know about your services and ask for their support in spreading the word. As you begin to serve customers, focus on providing exceptional service and building strong relationships.

Digital Marketing

  • Launch a targeted Google Ads campaign focusing on specific neighborhoods or service offerings
  • Create engaging Facebook and Instagram ads showcasing your work and special promotions
  • Start a YouTube channel featuring lawn care tips, equipment reviews, and before-and-after videos of your projects
  • Begin an email marketing campaign to keep customers informed about new services, seasonal specials, and maintenance reminders
  • Partner with local bloggers or influencers to promote your business to their audiences

Traditional Marketing

  • Send targeted direct mail campaigns to neighborhoods with a high concentration of potential customers
  • Distribute flyers and door hangers in areas where you want to expand your business
  • Sponsor local events, sports teams, or community organizations to increase brand visibility
  • Consider billboard advertising in high-traffic areas if your budget allows
  • While often less cost-effective than digital marketing, radio ads can be a good option if you’re targeting a specific local audience

It’s important to note that traditional marketing methods, such as mailers, flyers, and billboards, can be more expensive and less targeted than digital marketing efforts. While these tactics can still be effective for certain businesses, it’s crucial to carefully consider your budget and target audience when deciding which marketing channels to pursue.

14. Focus on the Customer

In the yard cleaning industry, customer service is paramount to building a successful and sustainable business. Exceptional customer service not only ensures client satisfaction but also serves as a powerful marketing tool, driving referrals and helping you stand out in a competitive market.


When you prioritize customer service, you create a positive experience that leaves a lasting impression on your clients. This impression can lead to valuable word-of-mouth marketing, as satisfied customers are more likely to recommend your services to friends, family, and neighbors.

To excel in customer service, focus on clear communication, reliability, and attention to detail. For example, when a client reaches out for a quote, respond promptly and provide a detailed breakdown of your services and prices. On the day of the job, arrive on time and fully prepared, demonstrating your professionalism and commitment to quality.

By consistently delivering exceptional service, you’ll build a loyal customer base that not only continues to use your services but also actively promotes your business to others. This can lead to a steady stream of referrals, reducing your reliance on costly advertising efforts and helping your business grow organically.

Remember, in the yard cleaning business, your reputation is your most valuable asset. By prioritizing customer service and treating each client with care and respect, you’ll cultivate a positive reputation that sets you apart from the competition and drives long-term success for your business.

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