How to Become a Landscaper

Three Parts:Gaining ExperienceStarting a Landscaping BusinessLandscaping Like a Professional

Are you interested in creating and imagining different scenery? A career in landscaping is well suited for someone who is passionate about planting and maintaining various trees and plants to create visually appealing landscapes. While a landscaping career is physically demanding and requires working with the elements, it is also very rewarding. You may pursue a degree or gain valuable work experience combined with certifications to pursue a professional career.[1]

Part 1
Gaining Experience

  1. Image titled Be a Nurse Step 1
    Get a high school diploma. While you may become a landscaper without official accreditation, a high school diploma may be a minimum requirement based on your location and experience. You may always receive on-the-job training to help you obtain a career as a landscaper.[2]
  2. Image titled Prune a Fruit Tree Step 15
    Understand what the work entails. Landscapers need to utilize the space and land to make an attractive setting. You must work with the conditions to bring about the best arrangements. Your responsibilities will typically include[3]:
    • Meeting with clients to discuss the project
    • Plan and work with garden designers or landscape architects
    • Order the supplies by creating a budget
    • Prepare the interior soil or the outdoor grounds
    • Seed and turf lawns
    • Prune and plant shrubs and trees
    • Plant new plants
    • Install features such as rock gardens, water features, paving, and pathways
    • Construct gardens with water and rock borders
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    Find a focus. The title Landscaper may apply to a number of positions including maintenance worker, groundskeeper, landscape architect, landscape gardener, landscape designer, and landscaper. Research the difference between titles and the requirements for each. You may find that you are passionate about only one area of landscaping and you can focus your time and resources fulfilling the requirements.[4]
    • You may also specialize in interior landscaping such as shopping centers or office buildings.[5]
  4. Image titled Landscape Step 23
    Learn a range of skills. If you are able to find an entry level job, learn as much about landscaping as you can. You may also research online or find landscaping groups via social media. Learn things like trimming, planting, and operating machinery. [6]
    • Remember that there’s no substitute for experience so if you can’t find something paid immediately, try volunteering your time in exchange for a learning opportunity.
  5. Image titled Study Well Step 11
    Get formally educated. Research what schools offer programs related to landscaping. Depending on the school, you may earn a certificate in horticulture, landscape design, or other related fields. You may need a certificate if you want to move up to a management position.[7]
    • Make sure you have the time and money to complete the program. You can also take classes part-time. Most employers and clients will expect some level of knowledge and experience in horticulture. Depending on your location, you may be able to get a diploma in Horticulture at a local college.[8]
    • It’s easier to get formal education to understand design drawings, improve your knowledge of plants, and learn how to manage projects. You must learn these skills as well as hone creative skills if you are pursuing a career in landscaping.[9]
  6. Image titled Get a Teaching Certificate in Texas Step 6
    Get certified. There are various certifications that your are able to get from a number of organizations depending on your location. Research online what is needed in order to obtain a professional accreditation.[10]
    • For example, you may receive a Tree Care Industry Association Certificate if you are focusing on safety, regulations, and professionalism for tree care. The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) also offers a certification for numerous areas of landscaping including managers, interior/ exterior specialists, and technicians.
    • Depending on your location, you may get certified in Practical horticulture or horticulture.[11]
  7. Image titled Install a Synthetic Grass Lawn Step 13
    Improve your employability. You should be able to follow directions and complete projects on your own and as part of a landscaping team. You should also strengthen your body and stamina because you need to be physically able to handle the rigours of landscaping. Be motivated, able to work well with others, organized, dependable, and detail oriented. [12]
  8. Image titled Be a Farmer Step 21
    Find an apprenticeship. There are apprenticeships available in different areas. Research online or ask local nurseries or landscaping companies if they participate in an apprenticeship or mentorship program.[13]

#*Make sure that you learn skills in garden design, how to understand garden design drawings, gain knowledge about the environment, deep knowledge of plants, how to meet deadlines, how to keep organized, how to work with tools, how to work with others and on your own, and how to work as part of a business or become self-employed.[14]

Part 2
Starting a Landscaping Business

  1. Image titled Lay a New Lawn Step 14
    Create a schedule. You will need to work enough hours to cover the cost of doing business. You need to be able to maintain your equipment and spend a lot of money upfront to purchase the essentials like a lawnmower. The beginning of your business will be filled with long hours as you try to cover the initial expenditures so be prepared to balance the rest of your schedule around your work.[15]
    • The advantage of building your own business is that, as it grows, you can create your own schedule and work as little or as much as you want as long as you continue to make a profit.
  2. Image titled Install an Artificial Lawn Step 4
    Plan for winter. Depending on your location, there may be cold seasons of several months that you will be unable to work. Make sure you have done enough work during the rest of the year to cover these lean months.[16]
    • For example, if you live somewhere with cold climates, you may only want to rent your more costly equipment so they don’t collect dust during the winter. You may also want to adapt to year round service by offering driveway shoveling or Christmas tree delivery and disposal.
    • Two thirds of of the U.S. has downtime during the winter so you must market aggressively to maintain a healthy April through October. The winter will shift to services including raking leaves, winterizing lawns, and establishing new clients and revenue streams.
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    Purchase your tools. Purchase your tools depending on the scale of your business. For example, if you will be landscaping yourself, you may only want to purchase a single lawnmower. You may also want to apply for a bank loan or use your credit card to make these initial expenditures as you will only have to pay a very small amount to maintain them throughout the years.[17]
    • Make sure to do your research to purchase quality tools and equipment. You don’t have to purchase top of the line equipment unless you have the capital and know that you will be able to cover the cost within a reasonable amount of time. Find equipment and tools that are durable and capable of accomplishing what you need. You don’t want to waste money on extra functions that will never be used. For example, you won’t need to purchase a riding mower if your clients don’t have large properties. A walking mower is significantly cheaper, easier to transport, and cost less to maintain.[18]
    • Don’t purchase expensive office equipment. Instead, direct your funds to things you’ll use everyday. You may use your home printer or commit to working out of a shared office space once a week. Landscapers are expected to be constantly on location so don’t worry about leasing an office space or setting up an elaborate home office. You’ll basically need a computer, printer, and a filing system to organize invoices and other administrative collateral.
  4. Image titled Mow a Lawn Professionally Step 4
    Sharpen your landscaping skills. If you want to command market value or above, you must be more adept at landscaping than your potential clients or competitors. Investing in classes for gardening basics and landscaping techniques can pay dividends later. Learn basics like pruning, trimming, and mowing.[19]
    • There are certifications and even degrees that you can achieve. Depending on your location, you may need certifications to handle things like heavy machinery.
  5. Image titled Level and Seed a Lawn Step 6
    Have self-discipline. Landscaping is usually done outdoors which means you will enjoy the sunshine. Don’t be tempted to get in a round of golf or take your family to the lake unless you have budgeted for that time off. You must be diligent when you attend to your clients’ needs to ensure their loyalty. You don’t want to unexpectedly lose a client especially if your margins are thin.[20]
    • Like any service industry, your landscaping business will be built on your reputation. If you work hard and put your clients’ needs first, you can reap the rewards of referrals and sustained business.
  6. Image titled Do Plyometric Exercises Step 8
    Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Landscaping can be hard on your body especially if you’re lifting heavy equipment and moving awkwardly shaped rocks and trees all day. Take care of you health by tending to any aches and pains. A nagging injury can develop into something much worse. [21]
    • While you think you can work through the pain to make money in the short term, you may lose everything in the end if it develops into chronic pain that’s debilitating. There are official workplace protocols that may need to be followed when operating heavy machinery or hazardous chemicals. Make sure you completely understand the proper procedures and follow them exactly as stated. Especially when dealing with something for the first time, you not only want to avoid injury to yourself but you also want to avoid damage to your client's property.
  7. Image titled Become a Marketing Consultant Step 11
    Develop your business acumen. If you’re working on your own, you may need to learn marketing strategies, targeted advertising, cash flow administration, and budgeting software. You may be able to hire a staff immediately or outsource things like accounting if you have the initial capital to cover these costs. Don’t be afraid to take classes or hire a consultant as the initial expenditure will be worth the investment.[22]
    • While trial and error can work, you don’t want to waste valuable time and resources especially when working in a competitive market.
  8. Image titled Make Money by Mowing Lawns Step 6
    Know your market. There are many different clients who seek landscapers and lawn care professionals. A startup landscaping business can typically have between 20 to 30 residential clients a week. These clients may receive anything from fertilizing, chemical application, and landscape installation, to mowing and lawn maintenance.[23]
    • Potential landscaping clients will include: homeowners who want you to design their landscaping because they don’t have the tools or creativity that you possess, new homeowners who want to update their landscape, homeowners who are looking to sell and want to enhance their home’s curb appeal, both residential and commercial builders without an in-house landscaping team.
    • Potential lawn care clients include: homeowners who travel frequently, retirees who don’t have the capacity to care for their lawn themselves, “snowbirds” who leave for warmer climates during the cold months, golf course managers, rental property or condominium association managers who need property upkeep, and facilities managers of public green spaces. Public green spaces include cemeteries, universities, government entities, and universities.
  9. Image titled Take Care of Your Lawn Step 18
    Devise your service plan. You may offer a variety of services but be sure that you have enough resources to cover everything you offer. For example, if you offer pest control, you may need special certification for animal handling. This certification will require additional training and you may not have the money and time to cover it.[24]
    • Services may include: lawn maintenance/mowing, hydroseeding, sod installation, landscape care, weeding, fertilizing, landscape maintenance, pest control, landscape design, landscape architecture, or contracting services. Most begin with mowing and begin to add other services as they gain more experience.
  10. Image titled Make Money by Mowing Lawns Step 13
    Set your prices. Come up with an hourly rate for both you and your employees to establish a baseline for your services. This will not be shared to your clients but will help you give your estimates for any requested service.[25]
    • You may ask friends and family to contact competitors to see how much they offer their services for and then set your prices to compete. You may also figure out how much it would cost you to complete a project and then divide the price of the materials with the amount of hours it would take you to complete the project.
    • You may also figure out your rates based on how much you want to make in a year. For example, if you want to make $40,000 to start, this will roughly be $3,334 a month. Next, divide that by the number of hours you want to work in a month. So if your want to work 35 hours a week in a four week month you would be working 140 hours with a rate of $23.81/hour. You can add a profit margin. The cost of doing business, including tools, administrations, and materials, is billed to your clients on top of your hourly rate.
    • Your rate must, at the very least, cover the bills of your business and personal expenses including food, mortgage, medication, etc. This will allow you to survive but will not give you any profit for savings or investing back into your business.
  11. Image titled Estimate Painting Jobs Step 6
    Estimate your jobs. Clients will want to know the upfront cost of your service. There are software packages including CLIP and LandPro that can help you with this tricky proposition. You don’t want to give an estimate that’s too high that it seems unreasonable, or too low that it makes the project seem like a waste of your time and resources.[26]
    • You must determine what your costs will be including material and labour. Then you can add your profit margin after you have covered the resources. Materials may include topsoil, mulch, and plants. You may be able to find these at wholesalers that will give you greater value. You can then mark up the price to gain a profit. You may also work with subcontractors and rent equipment if it allows you to work with more clients and offer different services. Keep in mind business overhead as well. For example, take into account the cost of gas as you must drive from location to location.
    • Your estimate includes the exact services that you will be providing, the materials needed, and any other details specific to the project. It is the landscaping industry standard to provide an estimate as a free service.

Part 3
Landscaping Like a Professional

  1. Image titled Take Care of Your Lawn Step 20
    Avoid using a lawn mower bag. Instead of collecting the grass clippings in a regular bag, you can leave it on the lawn for microbes and earthworms to eat. This can help keep your lawn healthy and green. You can also collect the clippings and place them into compost.[27]
    • Rake up a light layer of leaves and go over them with your lawn mower. Leave the discards on your lawn to limit popping up weeds as the leaves break down.
  2. Image titled Landscape Step 13
    View your landscape from inside the house. Take different perspectives to view your landscape. After you view your landscape from the street you should also view it from inside the home to make sure it looks well groomed from multiple angles. You should also view it from rooms with large windows that look out to it.[28]
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    Don’t overstock your space. Allow your plants and flowers to have adequate space to grow and flourish. Don’t try to cram every inch of your landscape because you will find it extremely difficult to prune and weed next spring.[29]
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    Choose the right mulch. Red mulch has been found to have harsh chemicals, including arsenic that is harmful to pets and children. Don’t let harsh chemicals contaminate your soil. Read labels and choose organic or natural fertilizers.[30]
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    Find the right nutrients. Local agricultural agencies are able to test your soil to see what nutrients it needs if you send a sample to them. Collect two cups of soil in a sample bag by digging about six to seven inches deep into the soil. Research your closest agricultural agency and send your sample.[31]
    • There will be a charge to send the sample. Be sure to contact them before hand to ensure you know the proper procedures and wait time.
  6. Image titled Make a Wrist Corsage Step 2
    Buy multiple types of your favourite flower. If there is a particular flower that you like you should buy several and plant them in groupings. You may plant them in clumps of five or seven in one area, or create a unified look by planting these odd numbered clumps throughout your landscape.[32]
  7. Image titled Create a Green Desert Landscape Step 8
    Space your planting beds correctly. Don’t make your planting beds too narrow. Make sure not to place them too close to the house by placing them around a third to two thirds the height of the house.[33]
  8. Image titled Get and Maintain a Healthy Lawn Step 3
    Avoid laying weed fabric. Weed fabric can be a waste of time and money because weeds will continue to grow on top of it in the long term. No matter how many layers of weed fabric you lay down you will still have weeds grow in the long term, so don’t waste your resources.[34]
  9. Image titled Get Rid of Moss in Your Lawn Step 13
    Use the right lawn fertilizer correctly. Avoid using lawn fertilizers that have 30 percent nitrogen. Use time-releasing water-insoluble nitrogen only twice a year. Your lawn will need less fertilizer if it is older and well-irrigated.[35]
    • For example, only use fertilizer on Memorial Day and after Labor Day.
  10. Image titled Take Care of Your Lawn Step 6
    Avoid invasive species. Do your research and make sure not to include any invasive species in your garden. Talk to nurseries and research online to be sure that you don’t include any species that will spread and kill other plants.[36]
    • For example, nurseries still sell purple loosestrife. It is inexpensive and produces a lovely flower but will spread and choke out your other plants.
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    Water your lawn correctly. Water your lawn with one inch of water every week. Depending on your soil and the heat, you may need to water your lawn once every five days. Create a stronger plant with infrequent watering that forces the roots to grow deeper to find ground water.[37]
    • Remember to check water restrictions during extreme heat.
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    Choose garden flowers based on a colour wheel. Use a colour wheel to determine opposite colours. Choose what colours work best together and find the flowers that match.[38]
    • For example, purple and yellow work well together.


  • Contact your local extension service for more horticultural information. Federal grant monies typically help fund these programs so most services are free or low cost.
  • Search for online communities that discuss landscaping.


  • Be careful when working outdoors and lifting heavy objects. Landscaping can be very physically demanding so be sure to always take the proper safety precautions.

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Categories: Landscaping and Outdoor Building