A landscaping business in Canada can be a lucrative venture during all seasons. Spring and summer bring high demand for mowing, trimming, pruning, and gardening. During the fall, homeowners and businesses need their lawns winterized and leaves raked. And then the winter months, though often viewed as a slow period for landscapers, offer the chance to earn additional cash plowing snow and clearing driveways. Best of all, landscaping is a low-barrier-to-entry business.
If you have a good business plan, a little money for basic equipment, and no aversion to physical labour, landscaping might be your ticket to a successful career. Learn how to start a landscaping business, including what you’ll need to get your Canadian lawn care business underway this season.
What Does a Landscaper Do?
A landscaper creates and cares for outdoor green spaces, such as parks, corporate and personal lawns, golf courses, and other landscaped areas. A landscaper can work independently or can be employed by designers, contractors, golf courses, nurseries, property managers, and provincial and federal government bodies to build and maintain national parks and other public and private spaces.
Within these green spaces, landscapers can be responsible for any of the following jobs:
- Lawn maintenance such as mowing, fertilizing, aerating, and edging lawns
- Weeding and removing any unwanted plants or dead trees
- Pruning plants, trees, and hedges
- Watering and fertilizing plants, flowers, and gardens
- Mulching landscape beds
- Building and maintaining landscape architecture
The gardening and lawn care industry is huge in North America, from homeowners to corporate entities and government bodies, natural and manmade spaces are always in demand. Private and public spaces all need to be landscaped, groomed, and well cared for, allowing landscapers to choose what type of work they want to focus on within the industry.
How Much Do Landscapers Make?
Depending on the type of landscaping jobs you secure and where you work within the landscape industry- whether a skilled labourer, supervisor or business owner- you can make a range of salaries with commercial landscaping businesses. According to Payscale, in 2021, the average hourly landscaping pay in Canada is $17.61 for landscapers or general labourers. However, for a landscaping supervisor, this wage rises as you become more specialized.
For a landscaping business owner, the average take-home amount is generally 10% of the total sales made by their landscape business in a year. This means that for a Canadian landscape company that generates $400,000 in annual sales, the owner would net approximately $40,000.
In terms of what landscapers can charge on a job, this amount is measured by landscaping costs per square foot. Homeowners and those enlisting the services of a landscaper, on average, spend between $4 to $12 per square foot.
Starting a Landscaping Business in 7 Steps
Although there are some challenges to owning a landscaping business, like struggling with seasonality and securing contracts, following these steps will help you get your landscaping and gardening business up and running this season. So whether you choose to focus on residential or commercial properties for your new business, here is what you need to do to become a green industry professional.
1. Create a business plan
Before starting your business, you need a plan. A successful business plan accomplishes a few things. Perhaps most important, it defines your niche. This means deciding what services to offer customers, and also what clientele to target with your marketing. Maybe you want to go after homeowners in local neighbourhoods, or perhaps you’d rather focus on apartment communities and businesses.
New business owners need to decide on the business structure of their small businesses. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of structuring your small business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.
This document should also layout your marketing strategy. For example, you could be the best landscaper in the world, but you’ll still go broke if you don’t have customers. The final component of a good business plan is projecting initial and ongoing expenses and mapping out a plan to meet, and hopefully exceed, those costs with revenues.
2. Acquire funding for your new lawn care business
The good news about a landscaping business is it can be started on a shoestring budget. With a quality lawnmower, pruning shears, a weed eater, and gardening tools, you can be in business providing basic landscaping services. Then, as your business grows, you can purchase more equipment and expand your offerings.
Besides paying for work equipment, you also have marketing and administrative costs, and chances are, you’ll want to pay yourself a salary. It is therefore important to develop an extensive budget as part of your business plan and determine how you’ll meet expenses until you have regular revenue.
Most new landscaping business owners rely on loans or investors, or a combination of both. Lending options include credit cards, small business loans, and personal loans. Investors fund some or all of your startup costs in exchange for an ownership share in your business. A good business plan helps you appeal to both lenders and investors.
3. Secure licencing and registration
Licencing requirements for landscape businesses in Canada depend on the specific services you’ll be offering. If, for example, you’re importing plants or handling chemicals, then, depending on your province, you may have to acquire special licences to perform these tasks.
Certain localities require a licence for snow plowing, while others mandate a permit for access to sidewalks and roadways. Because a business license requires you to navigate through several layers of federal, provincial, and local rules, you want to do your due diligence and determine the exact licences and permits you need to stay in compliance with the law. Also, consider what you need if you are registering as a self-employed business owner.
4. Buy the necessary equipment
The equipment-buying process starts with developing your budget. A big part of budgeting involves determining the start-up costs available for buying your capital assets, like needed equipment and machinery, and how you want to allocate this money. The next step is to actually purchase the equipment.
Particularly if you’re on a shoestring budget, you don’t have to buy new equipment, and you certainly don’t need the latest and greatest technology. There’s nothing wrong with starting small and then scaling up as your customer base grows. Many successful landscaping companies have started this way. Look for dealers that specialize in used equipment, and try searching online marketplaces such as eBay and even Craigslist.
As long as your equipment is capable of performing the jobs you’re hired to do, your customers won’t know or care where you bought it, or whether it’s new or used.
5. Hire employees
If you’re starting small, you might be the only landscape professional your business needs. Plenty of landscapers make a great living as one-person shops working from their home office and vehicle. Starting your business this way removes the need for staff and office space, and makes it easier to meet expenses.
But as your business grows, the work may eventually become too much for one person to handle. Hiring help can take a load off your shoulders. However, it can also produce headaches if you make a bad hire, so take your time and conduct the interview process thoroughly.
Run background checks on prospective employees, particularly those who’ll be handling money or working in clients’ homes or businesses. You want to determine an appropriate level of pay by conducting market research based on the position. Pay too much, and you’ll probably wreck your budget; pay too little, and you’ll miss out on the best applicants.
6. Market your landscaping services
How will your potential customers know to choose your services with so many landscaping and lawn care companies to choose from? A marketing plan will help you map out how you can take advantage of the various social media platforms and other marketing channels to reach your target market.
Whether offering private or commercial lawn care services, local SEO marketing can do wonders for your business. Thousands of people search for local companies near them when securing gardening and landscape services. Therefore, optimizing your online business presence should be one of your biggest focuses for starting your own landscaping business once you’ve got your equipment sourced and you’re ready to go.
You might also consider expanding your business through word of mouth, or referral marketing to take advantage of your prospective clients’ networks. Try asking your new clients or repeat business customers to review your business online, or keep you in mind should they hear of any friends or family members looking to update their backyard, or clear away unwanted plants.
7. Manage your own landscaping business finances
Finally, you will need to consider how best to get paid by your customers and track revenue generation and business expenses. Using invoices, like a landscaping invoice template, can make it easy to tailor the billing process to each landscaping job you secure.
On the same note, you will need to track your cash flow, calculate sales taxes, and keep tabs on revenue and business expenses for tax purposes. Many businesses look to software to help them with these essential accounting responsibilities. Streamline your accounting responsibilities. automate the billing process, scan receipts to track business expenses, and more when you use QuickBooks Self-Employed.
Landscape professionals can lead to a rewarding career. Success starts with choosing the right niche for your own landscaping company, developing a winning business strategy, and then executing it. Get your successful landscaping business off to a great start when you try QuickBooks for free today!