starting a weed control business: lawn care professional examining lawn

Starting a weed control business or lawn fertilization company gives you the power to decide where you provide services, which clients you work with, and how much you’ll make doing it.

In this article, we show you how to start a weed control business from the ground up, along with some expert tips from lawn care expert Jason Creel (Lawn Care Life).

1. Get financing and make a business plan

When you’re starting a weed control business, you need money and a plan. Here’s how to get both.

How much does it cost to start a weed control business?

Starting a lawn spraying business costs around $2,545–6,445 (USD) for the first year. That number could be lower if you already have the equipment you need, or much higher if you don’t have a truck or trailer.

Here’s how your investment should break down in the first year:

Not every new business owner has that much money on hand. You may be able to get funding from your bank with a business loan or personal loan, or you can apply for a lawn care grant.

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What to include in a weed control business plan

A bank or other investor will want to see a business plan before giving you a loan. A business plan is a document that includes:

  • A description of your business (e.g., ownership, business structure, business strategy)
  • What services you plan to provide and how much you’ll charge for them
  • Research into your local market, including major competitors
  • A strategy for marketing your business and getting lawn care customers
  • The year’s incoming and outgoing costs (e.g., budget, loans, sales forecast)

READ MORE: How to write a lawn care business plan

Consider acquiring or franchising a weed control business

You can acquire an existing weed control or lawn fertilization business, or buy a franchise if you want to skip some of the start-up steps in this article.

There are upsides and downsides to both options:

Upsides Downsides
Acquiring
  • Business is already up and running
  • Employees and clients come with it
  • No need to build a brand and reputation from scratch
  • Employees and clients may leave after purchase
  • Might have to fix a negative reputation
  • Systems and processes might need an overhaul
Franchising
  • Access to a company’s systems, processes, and supplier network
  • Recognized brand
  • Training and support
  • Franchise fee of $10,000–35,000
  • Need $50,000–100,000 in liquid capital
  • Less control over branding and marketing

2. Get registration, licensing, and business insurance

Starting a weed control and lawn fertilizer business can take time and effort on the legal side, but the payoff will be worth it.

Just ask Jason Creel, who started his lawn care business in 2007 in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, he sold the business, kept a small portion, and switched to weed control and fertilization.

“On the weed control side, it takes longer to get going,” Jason said. “There’s a bigger learning curve, continuing education, and more hoops to jump through, but in the long run it can be more profitable.”

Be prepared to jump through these legal hoops when you’re starting a weed control business:

Choose a weed control business structure

Start the business registration process by choosing a business structure. These are your options:

  • As a sole proprietor (U.S., CA) or sole trader (UK, AU), you have complete control over your business. This is the most common option for business owners working alone.
  • Starting a weed control business with two or more partners? Register your business as a partnership (U.S., CA, UK), or as a joint venture or co-operative (AU).
  • If you’re worried about liability, incorporate your business as a limited liability company or LLC (U.S.), corporation (CA), limited company or limited partnership (UK), or company (AU). This protects your personal assets if you run into legal issues.

Learn more about your country’s business structures and registration process by googling “COUNTRY + business registration.”

Register your business and get a business license

Pick a unique and memorable business name, then go to your local registry to register your business with your regional government. You can also use a registration tool like Ownr.

The process for registering your business looks a little different in certain countries:

READ MORE: 315 lawn care names to help you start your business

Once you’re registered, apply for a business license so you can legally operate in your area. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or the Small Business Administration (SBA) to see what kind of license you need.

You may also need an employer identification number (U.S.) or business number (CA) if your business is a partnership or has employees. This is a unique ID that’s used for reporting taxes.

Pro Tip: Get a business bank account to keep your personal and professional finances apart. Tracking income and expenses separately will make bookkeeping and taxes much easier.

Get fertilizer and pesticide licenses

Some commercial fertilizers and pesticides are restricted substances. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires you to have a state license before you can buy and use these harmful chemicals.

You might need to have previous experience working with fertilizers and pesticides, which means working for another licensed weed control company before starting your own.

Getting a license may also involve writing an exam or taking a pesticide safety education program, depending on the restrictions from your state Department of Agriculture. This type of program teaches you to:

  • Maintain material safety data sheets (MSDS)
  • Follow directions on chemical packaging and labels
  • Reduce exposure and wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safely handle, transport, and dispose chemical products
  • Respond to spills and chemical injuries

READ MORE: Professional development resources for home service entrepreneurs

Buy weed control business insurance

You can choose from several types of insurance to protect your weed control business from different types of loss, including:

  • General liability insurance
  • Commercial property insurance
  • Business income insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Employment practices liability insurance
  • Commercial umbrella insurance

If you hire employees in the future, you can also add workers’ compensation and key person insurance policies to your coverage.

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3. Create a weed control and fertilizing services list

Decide which services to offer, like weed control, lawn fertilization, or both. Many weed control businesses also focus on specific lawn sizes—for example, 5,000–15,000 square feet.

Below are some examples of services you can offer:

  • Weed control: Keep weeds from taking over a yard by applying Roundup or similar weed control chemicals. You may only need to serve each client once per season, or for a few back-to-back visits each year.
  • Lawn fertilization: Add natural or chemical fertilizer to your clients’ soil to encourage plant growth. You’ll likely do most of your fertilizing in spring, but you may have visits throughout the warm weather as well.
  • Lawn aeration: Aeration pokes small holes in the soil to loosen it up, allowing your chemicals to seep in. This is typically part of the weed control and fertilization process, so you should probably include it in all of your lawn care estimates.
  • Pest control: Pest control services can be a good fit for weed control and fertilizing businesses, especially if you plan to spray those pests. This service will help your clients keep ants and other pests away.
  • Hourly labor: Your time should be bundled into all your services, but you can always add more if you know a task will take longer or require extra hands.

Consider offering other types of lawn care and landscaping services, too. This is an easy way to stay busy and keep your lawn care schedule full, even during the slow season.

READ MORE: 10 winter landscaping services to keep a steady income all year

4. Buy commercial weed control and fertilization equipment

Expect to spend $1,470–5,370 (USD) buying this equipment for weed control and fertilizer application:

  • Backpack sprayer
  • Skid sprayer
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Soil rod set
  • Lawn aerator
  • Safety glasses
  • Full-face respirator
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Long pants
  • Branded long-sleeved shirt

If you don’t already have a truck and trailer, add an extra $30,000 to that amount.

Jason Creel recommends buying all new handheld equipment when you’re starting out. You might save a few dollars up front on a used item, but you’ll have to replace it much sooner.

You can make an exception for large commercial-grade items like Jason’s $11,000 sprayer, which he needed to help him transition from lawn care into weed control.

Pro Tip: Hold off on buying any fertilizer or weed control chemicals until you’ve landed your first client. You can bundle the cost of chemicals into your job costs.

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5. Learn how to price weed control services

Fair service pricing attracts customers and keeps them coming back. These are some of the most common pricing strategies for weed control services:

  • Square footage rate is common for many types of lawn care services—for example, $0.01–0.05 per sq. ft. This keeps you flexible and covers lots of different lawn sizes.
  • Hourly rate is the amount you charge per hour, factoring in labor, overhead, and profit margin. It’s most profitable for extra-large yards, or when you don’t know how long the job will take.
  • Flat rate pricing gives clients one predictable cost for the entire weed control job. It works best when you know exactly how much time the job will take to complete.

When you’re pricing lawn care services, make sure to factor in:

  • Labor hours and hourly rate
  • Material costs for your services
  • Overhead costs (e.g., rent, utilities)
  • Markup percentage

Pro Tip: Check competitor rates for weed control and fertilization services. You don’t have to be the cheapest business in your area, but this gives you an idea of what clients are willing to pay.

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6. Advertise your weed control business

Your weed control and fertilization business is set up and ready to go. Now all you need is a client list—and you can start building it with well-planned marketing.

Try these weed control and lawn care marketing ideas:

  • Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan describing your ideal clients, your budget, and where and how you want to advertise your services.
  • Clear branding: Create a service brand with a unique, easy-to-recognize logo and colors. Order business cards, uniforms, and vehicle decals that match your brand.
  • Door knocking: Go around the neighborhoods where you’d like to work, hand out your lawn care flyers, or leave door hanger ads behind.
  • Online presence: Make it easy for potential clients to find you online by building a website and setting up profiles on social media, Google Business, and online directories.

READ MORE: How to get your first 100 lawn care customers

Jason Creel used his experience to start the Lawn Care Life YouTube channel, where he answers subscriber questions like how to start a lawn care business.

“Because of my YouTube channel, my website ranks very well on Google locally,” said Jason. “It has tremendously helped my local business that I have a strong internet presence.”

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7. Hire employees and grow your business

Unless you plan to run your business alone, you’ll eventually get busy enough that you need to hire more weed control technicians.

Follow this process to find and hire new employees:

  • Write a lawn care job description that describes the role and responsibilities
  • Share your job posting on social media and job search websites
  • Prepare questions to ask a new employee before you hire them
  • Shortlist and interview the best candidates
  • Check references and ask for police background checks
  • Offer the position to your top candidate
  • Prepare to onboard and train your new hire

READ MORE: How to hire lawn care employees and landscapers

Growing your business might feel like a challenge, especially when you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur. But when you do, you’ll have more time to work on your business, not just in it.

Now that you know how to start a lawn fertilizing business or weed control company, you’re ready to begin winning work and wowing clients.

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