How to Start a Lawn Business With No Equipment or Cash

by Bill on December 19, 2013


How to Start a Lawn Business with No Equipment or Cash

Yes, the title says it all. With no lawn mower, and no money you too can actually start a basic lawn care business. Here’s how I did it.

It’s pretty simple actually; all you need is a pair of good shoes, a willingness to go get customers, and a willingness to work and reinvest what you earn.

No, it’s not THAT simple – it does take some work. Along the same lines as I wrote in this post about how to start a winter maintenance business, you need to figure out a way to get your first customers. If you do start the winter biz first, you already have a potential base for the lawn business; that’s how I started mine. If not, then go read that post and you can figure out the details for starting this one.

But the short version here is that you post flyers, knock on doors and literally sell yourself. Seriously, sell yourself as an extra set of hands willing to work on the lawn. This was the best selling point for me. I started out with the basic notion that there were people who had the mower, gas and so forth – but just didn’t have the time or energy to do the work. That’s your potential client base. That’s who you want to aim for.  

When I started the previous winter I found some people willing to let me mow their grass using their lawn mowers. You simply make an agreement with them that they provide the mower, fuel, and oil; while you provide the time, footwork and some minor maintenance to keep the mower running. You charge only for your labor because you’re not providing anything else. I charged $10 per hour back in 2001; and I’m pretty sure the price has gone up since then. But basically figure out how long it takes you to do the customers lawn and charge an hourly rate times the amount of hours. Most of the places I had were in town so they only took about an hour or less. Don’t charge below the hourly cost even if it doesn’t take an hour; that becomes pure extra. I had a library whose green space took me around twenty minutes and I made $10 per week; find a couple of those types of lawns and you’re running at $20 an hour!

Anyhow, after a few short weeks of lawn mowing, I was getting asked about trimming, cutting shrubs and other work around the yard. Honestly, if they have the equipment, go for it. Keep the hourly cost thing in mind. Remember, figure out how long it would take to do that job and multiply by your price.

And in most cases – poof, instant cash! DO NOT TAKE CHECKS. You want to make this a cash business. There are times when you will be paid monthly, like with my library customer and a couple of businesses I worked for. That’s okay as long as they understand to pay in cash. You can hand out receipts for those guys; they write it off on their taxes and such.

If you want to grow bigger, reinvest the money in a used mower. Keep the client base close to home if possible if you are using your own equipment. I used to push my mower to the customer’s house to do lawn work. Oh, and add some money to the cost because you are using your equipment now; add like half the hourly cost if you go this route.

But that’s it. That’s how you start a lawn business with no equipment or cash.

William Swan, writer

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Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter December 20, 2013 at 2:14 pm

It would take about an hour to mow my lawn – I would definitely pay somebody a small hourly rate (nothing more than $15) to mow my lawn with my mower! Not that I mind mowing it, but it would free up some of our time in the summer to do other things.

Good tips!
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David December 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

I completely concur.
Nice article!!!
I tried doing this in the winter after some snow storms, but the injuries I got from my back wasn’t worth the $20 for each driveway.
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Bill December 24, 2013 at 1:27 am

Believe it or not, over the long term of about three years I ended up getting out of the snow shoveling because of back problems. I slipped on ice once too often. But it’s still a good way to start if you’re willing to put the effort into it.

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