Landscapers make outdoor spaces look beautiful. They cut and shape lawns, shrubs and trees, pull weeds and plant flowers and ornamental/decorative plants.
Landscapers may work with private homeowners, large recreational facilities, such as golf courses, as well as the campuses of colleges and universities. Botanical gardens, arboretums and greenhouses also employ landscapers.
A landscaper uses hand tools and power tools to cut grass, trim trees and bushes, and manage plants. These professionals also take care of plants by watering and fertilizing them and pruning them back when necessary. Use of herbicides and pesticides, as necessary, is often part of the job.
Landscapers are also trained in recommending design elements, such as paths, fountains and flowing water systems, as well as specific plants and flowers that will thrive in certain areas or be aesthetically pleasing. Some landscapers develop their shrubbery skills to become topiary artists – individuals who sculpt shrubs and bushes to resemble animals and objects.
As a landscaper you’ll get to work outdoors, often by yourself or with a small crew, transforming living spaces into thriving places of beauty.
If you have a green thumb and enjoy the challenge of creating visually appealing landscapes, this may be the ideal career. Read on to discover what it takes to become a professional landscaper.
In this article you’ll learn:
- How much money you can make as a landscaper
- The required training and certifications
- Professional groups to join
- Employment opportunities for landscapers
- Finding clients
- Plus helpful tips
How much money can you make?
Landscapers on average make $30,890 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on a 40-hour work week, that annual salary breaks down to $14.85 per hour.
Employment of landscapers is projected to grow 9 percent through 2028, the BLS reports. That’s faster than the average for all US occupations. More workers will be needed to keep up with increasing demand for lawn care and landscaping services from large institutions as well as individual homeowners.
Training and Certification
Different states set out varying requirements for a landscaping license. Some require no license. Others mandate that you hold a license if you do any construction as part of your landscaping business. Before choosing a training program, it’s best to determine what requirements apply where you live.
Here’s a handy state-by-state guide to licensing requirements for landscapers.
If you offer any pest or weed control services as part of your landscaping business, such as spray treatments for mosquitos or herbicide treatments to control unwanted vegetation, you may need separate licensing from the state’s division of pesticide regulation. Generally, any handling of toxic chemicals is going to require licensure.
Training programs in landscaping are available at colleges and universities throughout the country, if your goal is to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Highlights of what you’ll learn during training:
- Basic landscape techniques, including lawn health and maintenance
- Greenhouse operations
- Growing fruits and vegetables
- Plant science (basic botany)
- Selecting the right chemicals and fertilizers to use for specific applications
- Safe use of toxic chemicals
- Safe use of landscaping equipment
- Turfgrass culture
- Landscape construction methods
- Pest management
You should also know that if you employ workers in a landscaping business, you’ll need to be aware of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations governing horticultural and landscape services. OSHA lays out specific training requirements for landscape assistants.
Because many landscape workers in the United States are Hispanic, being able to speak conversational Spanish will also be a helpful skill for landscape managers.
Professional Groups to Join
Joining a professional group shows you’re serious about your work, devoted to the highest standards of landscaping. Professional groups offer continuing education, forums for conversation about landscaping tips and techniques, and valuable networking opportunities. Making professional connections through these groups is also a great way to learn about employment opportunities, often before they are advertised.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals is a trade association representing nearly 100,000 landscape industry professionals in the United States, Canada and overseas. Member companies specialize in lawn care, landscape design and installation, landscape maintenance, tree care, irrigation and water management, and interior plant design. Members also include students, consultants, industry suppliers, state associations and affiliate members. A membership comes with networking opportunities, continuing education and training, and increasing professionalism of the field through certification and accreditation.
The Association of Professional Landscape Designers is dedicated to advancing the profession of landscape design and recognizing landscape designers as qualified and dedicated professionals. APLD includes members throughout the United States who support multiple state chapters as well as individual international members. The association’s day-to-day management is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA. There are several membership tiers. A professional membership is $415 per year.
If you’re not ready to start your own mobile detailing business, print out your resume and take it to area auto shops and detailers. This can be useful on-the-job training for your own business while you’re getting paid. Learn everything you can about the business side of mobile detailing as you hone your skills in the craft itself. That way, you’ll be better prepared to launch a company of your own when you’re ready. Be sure to include references and their contact information. If you can show an established track record of customer satisfaction combined with decent experience, you’re in.
When you’re a self-employed landscaper, you’ll need to cultivate customers as much as the flowers you plant for them. This means marketing your landscaping company. You’ve got to get your company name out there and build a reputation.
A website is essential. A basic two-page website is perfect in the beginning. One page highlights your services and contact information, and the other page displays great “before” and “after” photos of your landscaping work to show potential clients what you can accomplish for them.
Hire a printing company to make a custom magnet sign you can attach to the side of your van or truck. The sign should include your business name, the fact that you offer landscaping services, and a phone number to call. You can include your website address at the bottom. Now you’ll have a mobile billboard, advertising your business everywhere you go.
As the business grows and you become more successful, you can always have your company name professionally painted on the side of your vehicles. But in the beginning, a magnetized sign is affordable and gets the job done.
While you’re at the printing company, order some business cards with your company name, phone number and website address. If there’s room for a logo as well as a slogan or catchy motto, add that as well.
Satisfied customers will refer you to their friends if you do a good job and keep your promises. People almost always stick with companies they trust. Earn that trust consistently, and customers will be lining up for your landscaping services.
As an incentive, offer your regular customers a discount for referring new customers, then give new clients a discount for trying out your landscaping business.
Set up business pages on Facebook, Google My Business and Instagram. You can set up a decent-looking social media page in less than an hour with the name and logo of your company, all contact information and services you provide, plus a few sharp-looking pictures of your landscaping. These are free services, too, so you’ll have promotional material working for you around the clock on the sites millions of people visit every day.
Good to know
Tools and equipment are a significant up-front cost for the landscaper launching a new business. Some of the big-ticket items, like mower decks, tractors and seed hoppers can sometimes be leased until you’re financially comfortable buying the equipment outright.
One of the biggest challenges facing a small-business owner in the beginning is maintaining cash flow. Make a priority list of the equipment you need, then buy gear as you are able to afford it, one or two pieces at a time.
In terms of pricing your service, call other landscapers around your state and casually ask about the prices they charge for different services, as though you’re shopping around for a quote. Make sure you know what work the quote includes. After you have price ranges and a good idea of the market rate for landscaping, you’ll be able to set your own competitive prices. Resist the temptation to offer the lowest price, even if you’ve just started the landscaping company, because you may be stuck with those prices for a long time. Think in terms of repeat business. If you attract a customer with a rock-bottom price, then charge significantly more six months later, there’s a good chance you’ll just alienate the customer. It’s basic psychology.
A good approach for a new business is to offer pricing somewhere in the middle of what competitors are charging. Then you can promote your landscaping business as “not the cheapest, simply the best.” Studies repeatedly show that consumers are drawn to the middle price range when shopping around for any service. Some people will always choose the most expensive, because they can afford it and because they believe a high cost must mean value (it doesn’t always). Other individuals will consistently choose the cheapest service they can find. You’ll find most of your customers in the middle.
You’ll also want to carry business liability insurance. This protects you and your business should any of your employees damage private property in the course of doing landscaping work. Some states may require proof of liability insurance or a surety bond before you can legally perform landscaping work.
If you enjoyed this article, check out some more great PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a landscaper. Here’s a great place to start.
PocketSuite has thousands of business owners who all started where you are right now. Our community is always happy to help you ramp up, grow your client base, and achieve your income goals, both within the PocketSuite app and as part of our exclusive Facebook Community Group. PocketSuite’s vision is for any professional to be able to work for themselves and make a great living. It starts here. It starts with you. It starts today. Let’s get started, download PocketSuite now! Feel free to reach out with any questions (we’d love to hear from you)! Text us @ (415) 841-2300.