Cutting a Path to Success:  The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Lawn Mowing Business cover image
18 Jun 2024

Cutting a Path to Success: The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Lawn Mowing Business


In an era where outdoor living and landscape aesthetics are increasingly valued by homeowners and businesses alike, the lawn mowing and outdoor service industry presents a compelling opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs. 


This sector not only offers the satisfaction of transforming and maintaining outdoor spaces but also the promise of steady demand and growth potential.


The appeal of lawn mowing/outdoor businesses lies in their simplicity to start and operate, the recurring revenue from regular clientele, and the scalability potential.


Whether you're passionate about landscaping, seeking a lifestyle change, or looking to invest in a sector with tangible results, the lawn mowing and outdoor industry in Australia offers a fertile ground for financial and personal growth.




Blooming Business: The Gardening Services Industry


The Gardening Services industry encompasses a wide range of activities, including lawn mowing, plant pruning, tree lopping, fertilising, watering plants and lawns, garden refuse disposal, invasive weed removal, and basic landscaping services.


This industry serves a diverse array of downstream markets, with significant demand from both detached and multi-unit housing clients.


Key residential clients include affluent individuals who lack the time or inclination to garden, as well as elderly or disabled individuals who are physically unable to maintain their gardens.


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gardening Services industry has performed relatively well in recent years.


Employment and business numbers spiked during 2020-21 and 2021-22, as gardening work became a popular option for those who lost jobs in other sectors.


The industry offers low barriers to entry, attracting new players and partial-retirees who step into the industry after leaving full-time employment.


Industry revenue has historically been closely tied to annual nationwide rainfall.


Strong rainfall years from 2020 to 2022 boosted revenue, with an annualised growth rate of 1.5% over the five years through 2023-24.


Recent growth has also been driven by rising demand from facility and real estate management services outsourcing their gardening needs.


However, a decline in rainfall in 2023, especially in the latter half of the year, is expected to decrease revenue by 2.5% for 2023-24, bringing total industry revenue to $3.6 billion for the year.


The industry's outlook remains promising.


The ageing population is projected to continue supporting growth by expanding the demographic that frequently requires garden maintenance services.


A projected recovery in household discretionary income will also allow for increased spending on garden services.


While future rainfall patterns remain uncertain and may affect long-term planning, falling fertiliser costs are expected to help maintain strong profit margins.


Industry revenue is forecast to grow at an annualised rate of 2.0% through the end of 2028-29, reaching $3.9 billion.




Exploring the Varieties of Lawn Mowing/Outdoor Businesses


The industry encompasses a wide range of services, ensuring there's something for every entrepreneur. Here’s a snapshot of what you might find:


  • Lawn Care and Maintenance: Core services including mowing, edging, and fertilization, catering to both residential and commercial properties.

  • Landscaping and Design: Beyond basic lawn care, these businesses offer aesthetic improvements through landscape design, planting, and garden maintenance.

  • Pest Control and Treatment: Specialised services focused on keeping lawns healthy and free from pests and diseases.

  • Irrigation Systems: Installation and maintenance of watering systems to ensure efficient and adequate hydration of landscapes.




Cultivating the Future: The Path Ahead for the Gardening Industry


Volatility in Household Discretionary Income


Government income support initiatives, such as JobKeeper, boosted household discretionary incomes during the pandemic, increasing capacity to spend on gardening services.


However, stay-at-home restrictions that limited non-essential gardening activities offset this increased spending capacity.


Many homeowners, with more free time during lockdowns, took on gardening projects themselves, reducing demand in 2020-21.


Recently, rising inflation and interest rates have subdued household spending on non-essential services, including gardening, leading to a drop in disposable income.



Navigating Rising Costs


Gardening service operators have faced increasing purchase costs for tools, equipment, and essentials.


The Russia-Ukraine conflict surged fertiliser costs in 2022, but these have since decreased due to new import sources.


Despite ongoing high costs from inflation and a declining trade-weighted index making imports more expensive, strong demand has helped maintain industry profit margins.


Many owner-operators in the industry draw income directly from their business, potentially boosting recorded profit margins.



Impact of Rainfall Trends


National rainfall trends significantly affect the industry's performance.


The 2022 calendar year was the ninth wettest on record, boosting industry revenue in 2022-23.


However, a 19.6% drop in average rainfall in 2023, particularly in the latter half of the year, is expected to reduce revenue by 2.5% in 2023-24, totaling $3.6 billion.



Low Barriers to Entry


The industry has seen significant employment growth due to strong demand and an increase in enterprise numbers, particularly from individuals transitioning from other industries during the pandemic.


Retirees and semi-retirees are also entering the industry to supplement their income. 


Despite market saturation, new entrants have found success due to low entry costs and sustained demand.




Future Outlook


  • Fluctuating Rainfall Trends

    The industry's future performance will continue to be influenced by national rainfall, which drives demand for garden maintenance.

    Predicting rainfall beyond a few months is challenging, making long-term planning difficult.

    Adapting to changing weather patterns and implementing water-wise gardening practices will be crucial for sustainability and growth.

  • Ageing Population

    Australia's ageing population is expected to drive demand for gardening services, as individuals aged 50 and above often require assistance with garden maintenance.

    Despite the Home Care Packages Program (HCPP) prohibiting spending on many garden services, demand from older demographics is forecast to rise with the increasing median age.


  • Recovery in Discretionary Incomes

    Household discretionary incomes are projected to recover gradually, benefiting gardening services firms.

    As inflation rates ease towards the RBA's target of 2.0% to 3.0%, spending on garden maintenance is expected to increase.

    Affluent consumers will continue to drive demand for specialised services like tree lopping and landscaping.

  • Growing Business Numbers and Outsourcing Trends

    A consistent rise in business numbers and a trend towards outsourcing non-essential services will support industry growth.

    Increased demand from facility management businesses is expected to boost the hiring of gardeners for property maintenance. 

    Gardeners affiliated with facilities maintenance providers servicing businesses, government departments, and institutions are set to benefit from more sizable and profitable contracts.




The Advantages of Entering the Lawn Mowing/Outdoor Industry

Purchasing a business in the lawn mowing/outdoor sector is not just an investment in a high-demand industry; it's a step towards owning a flexible, rewarding venture that can grow with you.


The benefits of this sector are manifold, offering entrepreneurs both financial and personal satisfaction.


Here's why stepping into this green industry can be a lucrative and fulfilling journey:


  • Consistent Demand: A fundamental advantage of the lawn care and outdoor business is the regular need for maintenance and beautification services.

    Regardless of economic fluctuations, homeowners and commercial properties strive to maintain their outdoor aesthetics, ensuring a steady workflow for businesses in this sector.


  • Scalability: The lawn mowing/outdoor business model offers excellent scalability.

    Entrepreneurs can start small, focusing on basic lawn care services, and expand their offerings over time to include landscaping, pest control, and irrigation systems as they build their clientele and financial resources.


  • Low Entry Barrier: One of the sector's most enticing features is its accessibility.
    Opportunities exist for varying levels of investment, allowing those new to the industry or with limited capital to enter at an entry-level and gradually scale their operations.

    This flexibility opens the door for many aspiring business owners to embark on an entrepreneurial journey with less financial strain.

  • Outdoor Lifestyle: Beyond the financial aspects, this industry offers the intrinsic reward of working outdoors, promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.
    It's a perfect fit for individuals who prefer the fresh air and hands-on work over a desk-bound job, providing both physical and mental health benefits.





Market Valuation Insights

A quick review of current listings on Business For Sale shows the financial diversity within the lawn mowing/outdoor sector.

Investments can range significantly, from as low as $10,000 for a small, local lawn care operation to upwards of $200,000 for a well-established landscaping business with a broad client base.

This range highlights opportunities for investors at various financial entry points, whether you're looking for a hands-on small business or a larger operation with a team.





Franchise vs. Independent: Making the Right Choice


Franchise Lawn Mowing/Outdoor Business



  • Instant brand recognition.

  • Access to established operational systems and supplier networks.

  • Training and ongoing support from the franchisor.



  • Ongoing franchise fees and royalties.

  • Limited autonomy in business decisions.

  • Restricted service offerings based on the franchise model.



Independent Lawn Mowing/Outdoor Business



  • Complete control over your business model and services.

  • Freedom to innovate and tailor services to local market demands.

  • Retention of all profits without the need to pay franchise fees.



  • More effort required for brand building and client acquisition.

  • Greater initial challenges in establishing operational systems.

  • Potential for higher upfront costs without the purchasing power of a franchise.


Top Franchise Titans in the Gardening Industry


  1. Jim's Group

    Jim's Group, which includes sub-brands like Jim's Antennas, Jim's Building Inspections, Jim's Fencing, Jim's Handyman, Jim's Mowing, and Jim's Plumbing, holds a 6.2% market share.

    The company sources clients for its franchisees to ensure a minimum weekly earning. The average lawn-mowing franchise under Jim's generates nearly $2,000 in weekly revenue.

    Jim's Group earns income primarily from franchise fees, which account for about 4% of any franchise's yearly earnings, as well as referral fees and charges for administration and marketing.

    As of February 2024, Jim's Mowing reported over 3,300 franchises globally, a decrease from 3,800 in 2022-23, though the number of Australian franchises has remained stable at over 1,500.

    Despite a slight decrease in market share due to rapid industry growth, Jim's Mowing continues to benefit from its established brand reputation, consistently recording annual rises in earnings.

  2. Programmed

    Programmed, which includes sub-brands like Programmed and Programmed Maintenance Services, holds a 4% market share.

    The company primarily focuses on commercial clients, including body corporates and businesses, rather than individual households.

    Programmed offers a wide range of services, such as property and building maintenance, facility management, and staffing services, with gardening being a small portion of its overall revenue.

    Despite this, Programmed's extensive service range enhances its ability to cross-sell to commercial clients, boosting overall profitability.

  3. Active

    Active holds a 3.8% market share in the gardening services industry.

    The company provides comprehensive gardening services and maintains a notable market presence, consistently catering to a wide range of clients.

  4. VIP Home Services

    VIP Home Services, with a 2.7% market share, offers various gardening and home maintenance services.

    The company has built a strong reputation for reliability and quality, attracting a loyal customer base.

  5. Downer

    Downer, which includes sub-brands like AE Smith, Downer EC&M, Downer Infrastructure, Downer Rail, Downer Rail & Transit Systems, Downer Transport, Keolis Downer, Spotless, Spotless Group, Spotless Group Holdings Ltd, and UrbanGrid, holds a 1.9% market share.

    Founded as Spotless Group Holdings in 1946, originally a dry-cleaning business, Downer has significantly expanded its operations to include a wide range of facilities management services.

    Downer acquired a majority stake in Spotless Group in August 2017 and completed the acquisition in July 2020 for $134.5 million, further solidifying its market position.





Digging Into Costs: What to Expect in the Gardening Industry



Wages: Solid Growth in Employment Numbers Drives Costs


Wage costs are the largest expense for gardening service providers, a common feature in many service-based industries. All gardening services require manual labour.


Even with the use of lawnmowers, whipper-snippers, trimmers, and other gardening machinery that enhance efficiency, labour is still essential to operate these devices.


Over the past five years, wage costs have increased as a share of revenue, reflecting the expanding number of businesses and employment opportunities within the industry.



Purchases: Sticky Fertiliser Prices Keep Costs High


Gardening companies have faced rising costs for operational resources since 2018-19, leading to an increase in purchases as a portion of industry revenue.


These purchases typically include tools, equipment, and gardening essentials such as fertilisers, pesticides, and plants.


The Russia-Ukraine conflict sparked a surge in fertiliser costs due to a diminished supply from the region.


Although fertiliser prices have declined after peaking in 2021-22, thanks to new import sources, purchase costs remain high. 


Persistent inflation in Australia continues to maintain elevated prices.



Profit: Stable Demand Supports Industry Profit Margins


A significant number of gardening businesses are operated solely by their owners without any employment structure.


These owner-operators derive their income directly from the business rather than receiving a standard wage, which can potentially exaggerate profitability figures due to lower reported wages.


The industry's profit margins have risen recently due to robust pricing growth and increased rainfall over the past few years.


Despite the pandemic, demand for gardening services remained largely unaffected, contributing to widening profit margins.





Common Potential Problems Encountered by Buyers of Lawn Mower/Outdoor Businesses


Venturing into the lawn mower and outdoor business landscape is exciting, but like any business, it comes with its set of challenges.


Being aware of potential pitfalls can equip entrepreneurs to navigate these issues successfully. Here are some common problems buyers might face:


  1. Seasonal Demand Fluctuations

    One of the most significant challenges is the seasonal nature of lawn care and outdoor services, leading to variable demand and income throughout the year.

    Winter months can be particularly slow in regions with colder climates.


  1. Intense Competition

    The relatively low barrier to entry means many local and national companies might offer similar services, making it challenging to stand out and secure a loyal client base.


  1. Labour Shortages and Turnover

    Finding and retaining reliable, skilled workers can be difficult, especially in peak seasons.
    High turnover rates can disrupt business operations and quality of service.


  1. Equipment Maintenance and Costs

    High-quality lawn care requires well-maintained equipment, which can be costly to purchase and repair.

    Unexpected breakdowns can lead to downtime and lost revenue.


  1. Regulatory Compliance and Licensing

    Staying compliant with local regulations, including business licensing, pesticide application permits, and environmental laws, can be complex and time-consuming.


  1. Client Acquisition and Retention

    Building a stable client base requires effective marketing and consistent service quality.
    Satisfied clients are crucial for repeat business and referrals, which are vital for growth.


  1. Cash Flow Management

    Due to the seasonal nature of the business and potential payment delays from clients, managing cash flow efficiently is crucial to covering operational costs and ensuring business stability.


  1. Environmental Impact and Sustainability Concerns

    Increasing consumer awareness of environmental issues means businesses must consider sustainable practices, potentially impacting service methods and costs.


  1. Insurance and Liability Issues

    Adequate insurance coverage is essential to protect against accidents, damages, and lawsuits.
    Navigating these requirements and ensuring sufficient coverage can be complex.


  1. Adapting to Technological Changes

    Staying competitive may require adopting new technologies, from advanced lawn care equipment to business management software, which involves additional costs and training.



Addressing these challenges head-on with thorough planning, market research, and strategic investments in staff training and equipment can help new owners mitigate risks and set a solid foundation for their lawn mower/outdoor business.


Understanding these potential problems is the first step in preparing to overcome them, ensuring the long-term success and growth of your venture.





Essential Considerations for Prospective Buyers


Venturing into the lawn mowing/outdoor business sector is an exciting prospect, yet it necessitates thorough due diligence.


Understanding the nuances of the business you're considering is crucial for a successful acquisition. Here's why the listed questions are essential and how you can efficiently procure this information:

  1. What are the financial records for the past three years?

    Why Ask: This provides insight into the business's profitability, revenue trends, and financial health.

    Analysing these records helps assess the business's sustainability and potential return on investment.

    How to Procure:
    Request these documents directly from the seller.
    You may need to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) first.

    It's also wise to have a financial analyst or accountant review these records for any red flags or points of concern.

  1. Why is the business being sold?

    Why Ask: Understanding the seller's motivation can highlight potential issues with the business or reveal if the sale is due to personal reasons unrelated to business performance.

    How to Procure:
    Directly ask the seller.

    While they may not disclose all details, any information provided can be insightful.

    Cross-reference their reasons with information from employees or industry peers, if possible.

  1. Can details of the lease (if applicable) be provided?

    Why Ask:
    The terms of the lease can impact future business operations, including costs and the ability to make modifications to the premises.

    How to Procure:
    Request a copy of the lease agreement from the seller and review it carefully.
    Consider consulting a real estate attorney to understand its implications fully.


  1. What existing client and supplier relationships are in place?

    Why Ask:
    These relationships are crucial for the smooth operation and reputation of the business.

    Strong, positive relationships can provide a competitive advantage.

    How to Procure:
    Ask for a list of key clients and suppliers, and inquire about the nature of these relationships.

    You might also request permission to contact some directly to gauge their satisfaction and intentions of continuing the relationship post-sale.


  1. What does the team structure look like?

    Why Ask:
    The team's skill set, structure, and morale are vital to the business's continued success.

    Understanding this helps in assessing the business's operational efficiency and potential staff retention issues.

    How to Procure:
    Request an organisational chart and employee profiles.

    If possible, meet with key team members to understand their roles, experience, and commitment to the business.

  2. Who makes up the customer base, and how loyal are they?

    Why Ask:
    A loyal and diverse customer base reduces risks and enhances growth prospects.

    It's crucial to understand the market penetration and customer satisfaction.

    How to Procure:
    Review customer contracts, service history, and feedback.

    Analyzing sales data can also reveal patterns in customer loyalty and preferences.


  1. What is a typical operational day like?

    Why Ask: This gives insight into the business operations, workload, and potential inefficiencies or challenges.

    How to Procure:
    Spend a day or more shadowing the current owner or a key manager.
    Observing the daily operations firsthand is the most effective way to understand the business's functioning.

  1. What growth potential does the business have?

    Why Ask:
    Identifying areas for potential growth can help in planning future expansions or diversifications.

    It's essential to understand the market and competitive landscape.

    How to Procure:
    Conduct market research and analyze industry trends.

    Consult with the seller, industry experts, and possibly a business advisor to identify untapped opportunities.

  1. What is the condition of the equipment and inventory?

    Why Ask:
    The state of the equipment and inventory affects the immediate operational capacity and potential additional investments needed.

    How to Procure:
    Request a detailed list of all equipment and inventory, including their age, condition, and maintenance history.

    Conduct a physical inspection where possible.


  1. How profitable is your business compared with the wider industry?

    Why Ask: Understanding relative profitability can help benchmark the business against industry standards, revealing its competitive position.

    How to Procure:
    Compare the business’s financial statements with industry reports and averages.

    Consulting an industry analyst or financial advisor can provide valuable insights.

  2. How extensively does your gardening company service commercial markets?

    Why Ask: Serving commercial markets can diversify revenue streams and stabilise income.

    How to Procure:
    Ask for a breakdown of commercial versus residential clients, including the types of contracts and their durations.

    Review sales reports and client lists to gauge market penetration.

  3. How can your garden services company increase its profit margins? 

    Why Ask: Identifying ways to boost profitability can enhance the business’s value and sustainability.

    How to Procure:
    Discuss potential strategies with the current owner and analyse financial data to identify cost-saving opportunities.

    Consult with industry experts to explore best practices and innovative approaches.





Venturing into the lawn mowing and outdoor business is not merely an investment in a flourishing industry; it represents a profound commitment to enhancing the beauty and functionality of outdoor spaces.


This sector, rooted in principles of growth, sustainability, and community, offers more than just financial rewards—it provides a canvas for creativity and a pathway to contribute positively to the environment.



As homeowners and businesses increasingly recognize the value of well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing outdoor areas, the demand for skilled professionals in this field continues to rise.


This growing trend underscores not only the economic potential of the lawn mowing and outdoor business but also its role in promoting healthier, more vibrant communities.



Embracing this opportunity requires vision, dedication, and a deep understanding of the needs and desires of the market.


It calls for entrepreneurs who are passionate about the outdoors and eager to make a difference—one lawn, one garden, one community at a time. 


By stepping into this sector, you're not just launching a business; you're becoming a steward of the environment and an architect of outdoor living.



With the right approach, grounded in strategic planning, customer-centric service, and a commitment to quality, your lawn mowing and outdoor business can bloom into a source of lasting value and personal fulfillment.


Let your entrepreneurial journey be guided by the promise of enriching lives, beautifying landscapes, and building a legacy in the green industry.



This is more than a career—it's a calling to transform and uplift, offering a unique opportunity to weave your passion for the outdoors into a successful and impactful enterprise.


Ready to explore the verdant opportunities that await in the lawn mowing and outdoor business?


Embark on Your Lawn Mowing and Outdoor Business Venture Here.