Green Business Ideas: Organic Lawn Care and Residential Landscape Maintenance

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organic lawn care

Starting an organic lawn care and eco-friendly residential landscape maintenance business can be one green business idea that keeps you outside in the sun and fresh air, while making a difference in local water quality and the health of homeowners that value a sustainable yard. Today’s lawn care and landscaping businesses are a far cry from the traditional “hire a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn” model, and bringing an organic and eco-friendly angle to lawn care and landscape maintenance can help differentiate your business from all of the other yard care companies.

1. What is an organic lawn care and eco-friendly landscape maintenance business?

The U.S. has 58 million residential lawns, and Americans spend $25 billion annually with professional lawn care service providers.  An organic lawn care company can help offset the tendency for residential landscapes to use large amounts of artificial fertilizers and herbicides, by relying instead on compost, compost tea, and natural turf techniques. This kind of company maintains residential landscapes (lawns, shrubs, gardens, patios, and hardscapes) using eco-friendly and green landscape maintenance equipment such as rechargeable electric lawn mowers and battery powered hard-surface sweepers, effectively doing the same job as conventional landscape maintenance companies but with more environmentally friendly equipment.  It also helps clients reevaluate their landscapes in order to reduce the need for chemicals and water, or to assist them in managing their landscapes for a variety of other eco-friendly uses, including planting permaculture-based food forests.

2. What required knowledge or skills are necessary?

You must be able to lift up to 50 pounds, conduct physically demanding work in varying climatic conditions, including heat, rain, cold, and lack of shade, in order to run your own organic lawn care and residential landscape maintenance company.  On the administrative side, must be able to maintain a client spreadsheet using Excel or similar software or at least be adept with paper record keeping.  Unless using a bicycle tote, you must be able to drive a vehicle capable of towing a utility trailer.  Alternatively, you may be able to hire employees with these attributes.

3. How much money is required to start?

$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$) At the minimum, you’ll need basic lawn care equipment, including a lawnmower and raking and bagging equipment, and if you wish to also care for other elements in residential landscapes, an investment in a small tiller, pruning and lopping shears, as well as a trimmer (weed-eater), plus a small utility trailer for hauling equipment and materials to and from the job, will be necessary.

4. What is the income potential?

$$$   (on a scale of $ to $$$$$) The type of clients you have in your organic lawn care and residential landscaping business will determine the income potential of this business, as larger properties and more affluent neighborhoods can demand a much larger fee. Landing accounts with property management companies can be a key element in a lucrative landscaping business, as can making contacts with home builders and developers.

5. What is the best location for an eco-friendly and organic landscape maintenance business?

It doesn’t matter where you start this business, since you’ll be traveling to job sites.  Most of your clientele for this kind of business will be in urban or semi-urban environments, however, and therefore to maximize your efficiency and penetration of this market, you might benefit if you currently live in one of these areas. Getting multiple clients in the same neighborhood or housing development can also cut down on travel time and costs.

6.  Three best questions to ask yourself to find out if this business is right for you (if you can answer yes to all three, this business might be for you):

  • Do you enjoy physical labor, working outside, and getting your hands dirty?
  • Can you conduct work outside without worrying about severe, debilitating allergies to pollen, fresh cut grass, or other plant-based allergens?
  • Do you enjoy the feeling of seeing the fruits of your labor every day, despite knowing that the next time you go to a particular job site, it will need almost exactly the same kind of service as you just performed?

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