Lawn care and landscaping services is currently a $78 billion a year industry, and more than a third of that comes from residential customers. Entrepreneurs who want to get a cut of that revenue stream have an extremely solid short-list to consider with the top six lawn care and landscaping franchises of 2018.
Having a good-looking lawn can have a surprisingly large impact on the resale value of a home, increasing it by as much as 15% in some cases. The desire to have a great lawn without putting a lot of do-it-yourself time and effort into it keeps the industry growing, albeit at a slower rate than the heydays of the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to the lack of interest among many Millennials in owning homes with lawns. The saving grace is high customer retention rates among the successful franchise companies, which means the vast majority of customers renew from year to year.
In spite of the changing demographics of the customer base, all six of the lawn care and landscaping franchises on our list have achieved rankings on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list, which means they have staying power. Here are our picks for the best lawn care and landscaping franchises of 2018:
1. Lawn Doctor
Lawn Doctor got its start back in the mid-1960s when founders Bob Magda and Tony Giordano noticed that homeowners in a new housing development had lots of questions about establishing and caring for their lawns. The company was first called Auto Lawn, but everyone was always referring to them as the lawn doctors, so they changed the name to Lawn Doctor and developed specialized lawn care equipment that eventually became the patented Turf Tamer equipment still used today.
Customers can pick and choose from among many different lawn care and related services, including fertilization, power seeding, natural lawn care, pH balancing/lime, lawn maintenance, weed control, core aeration, lawn pest control, mole and fire ant, commercial lawn care, lawn mower maintenance, mosquito and tick control, tree and shrub care, grub control, disease control, and soil enrichment.
Lawn Doctor claims to have the highest customer retention rate and the highest TrustPilot online review score in the industry. The company guarantees that if customers are not 100% satisfied, they will make it right.
This company currently ranks #91 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1967 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations has grown slowly in recent years to reach the current total of 537, none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
2. Weed Man
Weed Man got its start back in 1970 when Des Rice founded the company in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Services offered include Bermuda grass control, crabgrass control, Dallisgrass control, elimination and prevention of white grubs, fire ant management, flea and tick control, lawn disease control, lawn fertilization, lawn seeding, mechanical core aeration, mole control services, moss control, Nutsedge control, organic lawn dressing service, soil pH control, soil revitalization, surface insect control, vegetation control, and weed control service.
The approach is one of proactive prevention to keep a lawn healthy and is similar to the kinds of integrated pest management procedures recommended by government agencies today. Franchisees have the option of starting a brand-new location or converting an existing company into the Weed Man
This company currently ranks #59 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1970 and franchising since 1976, the number of locations has been steadily expanding in recent years to the current total of 335, none of which are company-owned and 138 of which are located outside the U.S.
3. U.S. Lawns
U.S. Lawns is entirely focused on commercial landscaping and lawn care services for businesses rather than residential customers. It started back in 1986 in Orlando, Florida, which remains the location of the company’s headquarters today. In 1998, the company rolled out a new corporate strategy focused on building a solid customer base of “branded” multiple-location commercial property owners.
U.S. Lawns offers six main categories of services, including landscape maintenance (mowing, edging, trimming, pruning, debris removal, weeding, spring cleanup, fall cleanup, and bed detail), landscape improvements (improving soil health, topographical changes to reroute water flow, native plants, water drainage and storage solutions for reuse, rain garden design, and installation), lawn care (mowing, fertilization, irrigation, over-seeding, aeration, dethatching, pest and disease control), irrigation (regular inspections, adjustments, service and repairs, spring startup, and winterization), tree care (trimming, pruning, fertilization, and other special treatments), snow and ice management, and hardscape (elements of landscaping built from stone, concrete, or wood).
This company currently ranks #454 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1986 and franchising since 1987, the number of locations currently stands at 252, none of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
4. The Grounds Guys
The Grounds Guys was the brainchild of Tim van Stralen, who enlisted his nine brothers to help him start Sunshine Grounds Care in 1987. It wasn’t until 2010 when they launched a new franchise company with The Dwyer Group called The Grounds Guys, which provides landscaping and lawn care services to both residential and commercial customers.
The company’s values are described by its CARE acronym, which stands for “Customers first, Attitude, Respect, and Enjoy life in the process!” The range of services offered includes lawn and bed maintenance, landscape/hardscape, pest/weed control and fertilization, outdoor lighting, snow and ice management, irrigation, artificial turf, and gutters (for residential customers only).
The company is included in the Neighborly community of home service experts, a branding effort of the Dwyer group to unite all its different franchise brands as one consumer-facing collective ready to meet virtually every need related to owning a home.
This company currently ranks #478 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 2010 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations has reached a current total of 209, none of which are company-owned and 37 of which are located outside the U.S.
5. Spring-Green Lawn Care
Spring-Green Lawn Care provides personalized residential and commercial lawn care services tailored to meet the needs of each customer based on an assessment of their turf. The Spring-Green Guarantee means that for any customer who is not satisfied with how their lawn looks, their last application will be free of charge.
Spring-Green doesn’t do the usual mowing and so forth. Its services are centered on treating a lawn to improve it through fertilization, aeration, insect control, and disease control. A mid-season check-up will reveal if adjustments are needed to the applications.
The company presents clear and transparent price quotes for a season of treatments based on the size of the lawn and what it needs to be healthy. Treatments can be either traditional or organic according to customer preference.
One unique franchising strategy here is encouraging existing lawn care and landscaping companies to diversify by adding the Spring-Green brand as a distinct service offering of their company.
This company currently ranks #169 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1977 and franchising since that same year, the number of locations has grown slightly in recent years to the current total of 135, 26 of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
6. NaturaLawn of America
NaturaLawn of America got its start in 1987 when it was founded by Beecher Smith and Philip Catron who helped pioneer eco-friendly lawncare and continued to help consumers understand that “the picture-perfect, weed-free, insect-free lawn is a myth that endorses unnecessary and irresponsible pesticide use.”
The company made a deliberate choice to commit to environmental stewardship over traditional lawn care practices. It uses a proprietary line of products made to its specifications and packaged exclusively for it. The approach taken is organic fertilization and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that can reduce weed and insect control usage on lawns by more than 85%.
The key program components include preserving the natural enemies of turf pests, introducing new turf varieties with natural pest resistance, and educating consumers on proper mowing and water practices to keep lawns healthy.
This company currently ranks #172 on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list. Founded in 1987 and franchising since 1989, the number of locations has grown slowly in recent years to the current total of 85, seven of which are company-owned and all of which are located in the U.S.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.