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Do I need a license to run a lawn care business?

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Looking to start a lawn care business?

Good for you! It’s a great business to get into!

But you likely have questions, and if you are here... 

I bet you are wondering “do I need a business license to run a lawn care business?

Well, if so you're in the right place.

Below you will find out what you need to know about getting a license to start your lawn care business. 

When you need a license and when you don't.

Startign a lawn care business greenpal

TLDR: Do I need a license to operate a lawn care company?

Currently, no state has made any additional licensing requirements for a lawn care company that strictly mows lawns. However, lawn care companies are still held to the licensing requirements that any other business in your state is subject to. 

And, there may be limitations on the services you can perform without additional licenses.

Get this, a few companies also register as S-corp.

Getting Licenses for Your Lawn Care Company

Look, if your lawn care company is strictly mowing lawns, weed eating, edging, etc. And isn’t performing landscape installations, or applying pesticides, you don’t have to get any additional licenses. 

Currently, no state has made any additional licensing requirements for a lawn care company that strictly mows lawns. 

Simply put, the only license you will need to start your lawn care business is a business license if required by your state/city

Which will depend on your city and state, as well as your business structure. 

Check with your Municipality! While I have not seen any additional licensing requirements from municipalities, there may be a few cities that have additional licensing requirements for lawn care professionals.

Starting a Lawn Care Company: Business Structure and Licensing Requirments

Generally, to start any business you are subject to some licensing requirements by your state. So you will need to check your local laws. Beyond that, starting a lawn care company is no different than most other businesses.

Laying the foundation for your lawn care company is as simple as getting:

  • An EIN (Employer Identification Number),

  • A DBA (Doing Business As) or registering an LLC,

  • Any business licenses required in your city or state,

  • Insurance,

  • A business bank account. 

One of the biggest decisions you will make about your company is whether to structure it as a sole-proprietorship, or an LLC. 

how lawn care busiensses are structured LLC or Sole Proprietorship

How are lawn care businesses structured?

While many people start out their company as a sole-proprietorship, most lawn care pros tend to structure their companies as an LLC. 

This gives them added liability protection and other benefits. In fact, we found that about 70% of lawn care professionals opt to structure their business as an LLC

Registering your company as an LLC costs about $200 in most states.

When do I need to get additional licenses?

Now, you may need licenses if you opt to do more than cut grass. But this is where things get murky, and you will really have to dive into your state's particular laws.

Look, here are 3 instances when you MAY need to get additional licenses to run your company. 

pesticide applicator licensing requirments

1) License Requirements for Applying Pesticides

According to the Institute for Justice, all states have licensing requirements for pesticide applicators. 

So if you intend to apply pesticides in and around your client's lawn and home, you WILL need to get a specific license

Fortunately, pesticide application licenses are relatively easy to obtain. At least compared to a landscape contractor license.

Tree trimming licensing requirments\

2) License Requirements for Tree Pruning and Removal

Looking to get into tree removal or pruning services?

It’s a great gig, especially during the off-season months

Surprisingly most states do not require you to have a license for tree removal, but 7 of them do.

The states requiring you to have a tree trimming license are:

  1. California,
  2. Louisiana,
  3. Maine,
  4. Maryland,
  5. Hawaii,
  6. Connecticut,
  7. Rhode Island.

Pro Tip! Most lawn care insurance plans DO NOT cover tree removal services. If you intend to do tree removal, check with your insurance company and make sure you are insured!

landcsape contractors need licenses in all states

3) License Requirements for Landscaping

Landscaping is where things get a bit odd. 

Generally, mulching, weeding, etc. do not require additional licenses, unless your projects exceed a certain budget. 

In most states, you need to have a landscape contractor license if the size of your projects exceeds a certain budget. 

For example, a landscaper in North Carolina will need a Landscape Contractor's license if they are bidding on work exceeding $30k in value or greater. 

On the other hand, if you are a landscaper in New York, while there are local exceptions, you don’t need a landscape contractor license no matter the size of the contract, but you do if you want to use the title of “landscape architect”. 

And, if you are a landscaper in California, you need a landscape contractor license to bid on any project that is over $500 requires a landscape contractor license.

Here's the catch, that's not the only exception, some states are weird. 

For example, a landscaper in Connecticut, there is no landscape contractor license, but you need a "home improvement" license if your lawn care business goes too far beyond the scope of mowing lawns. 

Licensing Requirements for Starting a Lawn Care Company 

At the end of the day, all you need to start a basic lawn care company is the same license you would need to start any other business. Which is dependent on the area where your business is located. 

There are no additional licensing requirements for starting a lawn care company as compared to any other. However if during the course of your work the cost for materials exceeds a certain budget, you may need a landscaper contracting license. 

At the end of the day, the lawn care business is a great business to jump into, even if you have little to no business experience. 

If you want to learn more about starting your lawn care company, check out our beginner's guide to starting a lawn care company. Or check out our blog for lawn care professionals. We have a lot of helpful resources.

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