How Many Landscape Companies Are There. . .Really?

by Ron Hall
8/4/2014

How many landscape companies are there in the United States? What's your best guess? Is it important to even know this?

Yes, I think it's important that, somehow, we provide the public an accurate and more compelling story of who we are and the importance of what we do.

Ultimately, does the answer rest upon how we define the term landscape company? Maybe we should start by better defining who we are.

Ed is a nice guy, one of those short, hard-working, wiry types that works hard, minds his own business and he expects you to do the same. Although we live just around the corner from each other our only contact consists of friendly waves and an occasional brief sidewalk chat.

Several years ago Ed started Ed's Lawn Care with Dodge 4X4 pickup, a beavertail trailer loaded a Husqvarna zero-turn, a Toro recycler trim mower and a small assortment of trimmers, edgers and pruners. As far as I can tell (at least judging by the time his truck is parked in his driveway) Ed's Lawn Care seems to be a part-time deal.

In any kind of survey of the industry would you consider Ed's Lawn Care a landscape company?

Matt, a longtime acquaintance, works at the local Kroger store. I like Matt who is about 45, slender, always in a good mood and talkative. He starts almost every conversation with "We need the rain," or "It's too wet to mow today." That's even when he's working at the store. Management and co-workers like him because Matt is dependable, polite and helpful to customers.

On his days off and his other free time Matt operates Matt's Fast Lawn Service. He drives an older but solid Chevy S-10 that he loads, using a homemade ramp, with small mowers, a trimmer, an edger and some hand tools. He displays his company name on his work shirts, but his small pickup truck offers no identifiers.

Should Matt's Fast Lawn Service be classiifed as a landscape company?

How about the many other one-person operations, some without any identifiers, that you see in your neighborhoods?

Ed, Matt and some of the other neighborhood lawn service folks that I know came to my mind after a short discussion with Jason DeSarle, publisher of Turf magazine. He recently shared data with me that claimed that there were approximately 70,000 landscape companies in the United States just prior to the 2008-2009 Recession and more than 240,000 landscape companies in 2013. . . .What?

Even factoring the severity of the Recession and the widespread unemployment it spawned, is that big of a jump likely? Could there now, in fact, be 240,000 identifiable companies in the United States performing landscape services of one kind or another for payment? Or is the 70,000 pre-recession figure too low? (In my opinion that seems more believable.)

Share a thought or two on the subject (including just how someone might go about coming up with an accurate number). I've love to know what you think. Email me at rhall@mooserivermedia.com.