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I'm trying to start my own mowing service, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to charge people.


Richard Moore Marlinton, WV

I need to figure out an estimate on how much I might make per job because I need to make a estimate on how much I will make for the year. I need this for the application for a business licence. I am disabled and I am just trying to work for myself. I am limited to how much I can do so I don't really have a problem figuring out how many jobs a week I will probably have. I'm not trying to get rich or anything but I'm just trying to find a way to make a living. I've never mowed anyone's grass for money before so I'm honestly clueless on what to charge. I thought I could check around pretending to be a customer , but that didn't work out as well as I thought. Most seem to be based on square ft. estimates. When I do the math it seems to be ridiculously high. Others I checked wanted to visit first before they gave a price. I do not live in the area I want to work in because I do know the money is significantly higher there. They want this estimate for the licence for tax purposes what if I estimate too high, or too low? What will that mean for me?

15 April 2015 4 replies Small Business



Catherine Haning Wheeling, WV

First off, I respect and applaud your taking the initiative to do something to make your situation a bit better for yourself. It is a hard thing to try to start something for yourself, but it sounds like you have an aim for what you want to do.

Things to consider: Are you going to do just solely cutting grass, or do landscaping (mulching, edging, etc.) too? This could dictate a higher price per hour for you as well. Also, would you need to purchase any equipment, or is that already handled?

Depending on the intensity of the job, I would suggest a reasonable price to be between $15-20/hour. It is manual labor so the cost should be definitely more than minimum wage. If I were in your position, I would not worry necessarily about the square footage, but instead do by the hour and set yourself a range for size (so maybe $15/hour for average-sized, then $20-25 for larger/commercial jobs?) to tell your customers. If you are curious, I did find this cost generator that does take yard size into consideration but just general ideas:

I would recommend averaging about 1.5-2 hours per job (think about preparation, cutting, clean-up), at $15-20 per hour (average, more for larger areas- but up to you), then figure out how many jobs you may do each week. Then from here, what months will you be working (i.e. will you be only doing this from April-October or so, or could you look to expand into grass cutting during warmer weather then snow, etc. for winter months? Something to consider).

If you estimate too high or too low, you may find this website helpful:
-you need to take into consideration your personal cost versus what you would make from the average above- so personal cost vs. average (projected) profit.

I hope this helps!

15 April 2015 Helpful answer


Jeff Pascoe Mount Pleasant, SC

Some good answers above. Y

ou may want to contact a few local providers in your area and have them do an estimate on your lawn. And also have a friend or relative do the same thing. This way you know where your competition is at, and if you want to get business fast, you can start out by slightly underpricing. Will give you a good perspective at least.


Jai Chotalia Hermosa Beach, CA

Richard - great work in taking the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. I echo the statements from Catherine and Steve!

To build a bit further on to their commentary, what you may want to consider is really understand what your local competitors landscape is. Simply do some google searches. Benchmark what other are charging for the same services might help you position yourself and price higher or lower based on any additional services you can offer - can generally - ask for a premium price.

Next, initially to win some business you may have to price you self lower to get a few customer under your belt. As you start to grow your business increase your pricing based on yards, time, # of time you service the yard per week, watering, manicuring the plants, etc.

Always keep in mind you have to make sure you cover the costs that you are putting in, make a list and costs: fuel, mower, car, car insurance, gas.

Good luck and remember, we're always here to help! Thank you for your service at Sea!


Steve Enck Clinton, IA

Hi Richard,

Estimating can be tricky at first. Depending on the equipment that you have and the obstacles can vary job to job. I would suggest getting a measuring wheel so that you can get the size of each customer. Next time yourself to see how fast you can mow on a riding lawn mower. Riders speed, and cutting decks vary.

I would practice measuring out lawns, and time yourself mowing areas to see how long it takes.

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