Landscaping and snow removal start-up checklist

Do you love working outdoors and want to turn your hobby or horticultural skills into a business? Are you experienced in landscaping and snow removal or just starting out? Find out how the Landscaping and snow removal start-up checklist can help you decide on how to proceed.

For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.

  • Business start-up checklist
    When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.

Another option is buying an existing business — find out more.

  • Buying a business
    Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.
  • Franchising
    Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.

Knowing the landscaping and snow removal industry

As a landscaper, you will need to know your industry thoroughly. Are you concentrating on lawn maintenance or branching out to commercial landscaping and snow removal contracts? Use this information to help develop your knowledge base and become an expert.

Potential customers

There are many types of customers who may be interested in hiring you to provide landscaping or snow removal services. Some examples are: seniors who can no longer maintain their property, people who travel or are away for long periods of time, and businesses that do not have the equipment or staff available. Consider selling your services to as many customers as possible in the same area in order to save on fuel and time. Federal, provincial/territorial and municipal governments may also be potential customers as some may require grounds maintenance.

  • Selling to governments
    Learn how your business can take advantage of contracting opportunities from the federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and foreign governments.
  • Demographics
    Get data that sheds light on population characteristics such as location, age, income, education level, and more.

Setting up your landscaping business

You will need to plan every element of your landscaping or snow removal business from the tools you use to the trailers you require to transport your equipment. You will need to make decisions concerning the purchase or lease of equipment. Will you purchase new equipment, which could be more expensive initially, or used equipment, which may potentially require repairs and may cause unexpected down time?

You may need to protect your business as well as your customers' property in case of accidental damage. Investigate what the best type of insurance would be for your circumstances.

Estimating the cost of a job requires that you take into account time, salaries, fuel and equipment and size of the property. Your price must be competitive, but must also cover your expenses and include a margin for profit. Check your competitors' prices to make sure you are in the acceptable range. Having a contract in place with your customer ensures that they know what services to expect, the price for these services and any additional costs that may be charged in case of unexpected occurrences.

  • Pricing
    Know the factors that will help you determine the payment you will receive in exchange for your goods or services.

Advertising is important to help you attract customers. Referrals may be the best way to increase your customer base. Providing excellent and personal customer service will certainly help with word of mouth advertising. Other ideas you may want to try to promote your business are: newspaper ads, signs, going door to door and leaving flyers or business cards and tapping into social media sites.

Complying with landscaping regulations

Find out what regulations may be required of your horticultural or snow removal business. Regulations vary in the landscape industry from the importing of plants to the safe handling of chemicals. Some municipalities require that snow plow contractors have a license — search our permits and licences database or contact your local municipality. You may also require specific permits for access to sidewalks and roadways.

  • Permits and licences
    Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.
  • Plant and plant product imports
    Get information on plants, seeds and plant products that may be imported into Canada.

Hiring and training your employees

Depending on the requirements of your landscaping or snow removal business, your employees may need a degree in horticulture or commercial heavy equipment certification. Learn how to develop your hiring and training plan.

  • Red Seal trades
    Find out more about trades that are designated under the Red Seal Program. This program is recognized as an interprovincial standard of excellence.
  • Landscape training programs
    Explore the various certification and training programs in the horticultural and landscaping industry.
  • Criminal record checks and security screening
    Find out how to obtain a criminal record check to protect your business and your employees, and to increase client confidence.

Additional resources

Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

  • Starting a business
    Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.
  • Business support organizations
    Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
  • Contact the Canada Business Network
    The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
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