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Best Starter Residential Mowing Rig Under $16k: Tips from Seasoned Landscaping Contractors | GreenPal

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Starting Your Lawn Mowing Side Gig:
Expert Tips on Equipment Choices Within a $15-16k Budget

Do you want to break into the lawn care industry but don't know where to start when it comes to equipment? You're in luck! We've asked our community of landscaping professionals for their recommendations on creating the perfect starter residential mowing rig within a $15-16k budget.

Walk Behind vs Zero Turn: The Mower Debate

Think about it. The type of mower you choose could make or break your lawn care business. In our community, most professionals are leaning towards a 36" walk behind with a mulch kit. 

However, others suggest considering a 60” zero-turn for speed and efficiency. Then again, if you are just starting, you might want to consider financing a new mower or purchasing a quality used one. Simply put, your choice will depend on the type of yards you'll be working on.

Lawn Mowers: Types and BrandsA red banner with the word "CONS" in white text

 Walk-Behinds 

  • Specific Models: Scag and Toro offer some of the most reliable walk-behind mowers.
  • Price Range: Good quality used ones can cost you less than $8k.

 Stand-Ons 

  • Specific Models: Ferris Z1 comes highly recommended for those who prefer stand-on mowers.
  • Price Range: These can be pricier, so keep an eye on 0% financing deals.

 Zero-Turns 

  • Specific Models: Exmark and Hustler are commonly mentioned as top zero-turn brands.
  • Price Range: Expect to invest a bit more here, but they're efficient for larger properties.

Actionable Tip: Once you have around 20+ lawns, think about financing a second mower tailored to the specific needs of your market, like bagging grass or leaves.

Trailer Talk: Enclosed or Open?An image that seems to encourage lawn care clients to engage on social media by posting selfies with their well-maintained lawns.

Let's dig a little deeper into trailers. 

An enclosed 7x12 trailer offers protection for your equipment but may limit your ability to carry debris or mulch. On the other hand, an open landscape trailer, preferably with dual axles, provides versatility for different types of jobs. Based on the results from our community, many professionals start with a used trailer to save on costs. I suggest you can find good deals on used trailers, and there’s no need to pay high-interest rates on a financed trailer.

 Open Trailers 

  • Pros: Open trailers are often recommended for their versatility. They're good for hauling mulch, debris, and mowers. Think about it: an open trailer can serve multiple functions, making them a good starting point.
  • Cons: The downside? Lack of secure storage for tools and equipment.

 Enclosed Trailers 

  • Pros: Provides secure storage and can be organized more efficiently.
  • Cons: Less versatile for carrying various kinds of debris or doing clean-up jobs.

Actionable Tip: If you're just starting, consider getting a used trailer to save money. Most people don't know this, but interest rates on new trailers can be high.

Don't Overlook Handheld Equipment

Now for the other part of the story: handhelds. Do you hate constantly switching out tools? 

A multi-tool weed whacker with various attachments could be your solution. From the weed-eater head, edger, to hedge trimmers with extensions, this all-in-one tool saves time and space. And the good news? Brands like Echo and Stihl offer reliable models.Screenshot of Instagram analytics interface showcasing follower trends, top locations, and best posting times for likes with a graphical representation.

Handheld Equipment: Choices and Considerations

 Multi-Tool Systems 

  • Recommended Brands: Echo PAS and Stihl Kombi systems are often cited for their versatility.
  • Price: These can be budget-friendly and start at around a couple of hundred dollars.

 Backpack Blowers 

  • Recommended Brands: Stihl and Echo again top the list.
  • Price: Generally range from $200 to $600 depending on the model.

Actionable Tip: Let me explain why you should start with multi-tool systems; they offer attachments like edgers, trimmers, and pole saws which can save you money in the long run.

Additional Items: Blowers, Rakes, and More

Have you ever found yourself in need of a rake or shovel in the middle of a job? Don't forget to include these essentials in your budget. For blowers, a backpack blower is often recommended for its versatility and ability to reduce your production time.

 Backpack Blowers 

  • Recommended BrandsStihl and Echo again top the list.
  • Price: Generally range from $200 to $600 depending on the model.

Actionable Tip: Let me explain why you should start with multi-tool systems; they offer attachments like edgers, trimmers, and pole saws which can save you money in the long run.

Additional Tools and Accessories

You'll need rakes, shovels, big brooms, and a couple of tarps. If you have the skill, also consider hedge trimmers. And don't forget locking racks for all your handheld equipment.

Financing vs Paying OutrightAn informational tag recommending cherry wood for firewood with pros listed such as "burns at medium heat" and "sweet burning aroma."

Do you want to know how to maximize your budget? Let me show you how. Financing options are available for mowers with 0% interest rate deals, but it's not recommended for trailers due to high-interest rates. Paying outright for smaller equipment could be a smart move.

The Versatility Factor

What does this mean for you? If you’re starting with a limited budget, look for equipment that serves multiple purposes. For instance, an open trailer can be modified with sides for hauling leaves, grass, debris, or mulch, making it more versatile than an enclosed one.

Safety First

Let's not forget about safety. Make sure to invest in locking racks for all your handheld equipment to prevent theft.

What Not to Do

Let's dive into what not to do. Over-capitalizing is a common mistake. You don't need the best of everything when you're just starting out. Find a balance between quality and cost. For instance, you can start with a good used mower and upgrade as your business grows. 

As Dave Ramsey says "Debt is dumb, cash is king and the paid off lawnmower is the status symbol of choice" 

Final Thoughts

In my experience, starting a lawn mowing side gig requires a well-thought-out investment in equipment. It's a never-ending battle between quality, cost, and versatility. However, by listening to professionals who've been in your shoes, you can make informed decisions that help you provide a quality, quick product without breaking the bank.

Can I be totally honest with you? With the right equipment, you're not just cutting grass; you're building a landscaping business.

So, invest wisely!

Quick Summary:
Essential Tips for Starting Your Lawn Care Business

Equipment
Recommendations
Tip
Mowers
36" Walk Behind or 60” Zero-Turn 
Finance second mower after 20 lawns
Trailers
Open 7x12 or Enclosed
Opt for used trailers, beware of high-interest rates
Handhelds
Multi-Tool Systems
Start with multi-tool systems for versatility
Blowers
Backpack Blowers
Consider for reduced production time
Safety
Locking racks for handheld equipment
Invest in racks to prevent theft 



P.S. if you need help getting over that 20 lawn per week threshold like we talked about earlier, check out GreenPal and sign up as a pro and it will help you scale quickly without taking out a bunch of debt.

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