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How to Buy Used Lawn Care Equipment for a New Business

Getting into the lawn care business may be easier and more affordable if you purchase used equipment in good condition.

But knowing what you need, where to find it and what's a good deal are essential for success. Here's a quick guide on how to go about the process.

What You Need

Many people first learn how to (or how not) to run a lawn care business in their teens when mowing, trimming and helping to clean up neighbor's yards.

So, there is no shame in beginning your business with home equipment you already have on hand, such as walk-behind mowers, string trimmers, edgers and old pickup trucks.

Yet you need to be aware that these tools may wear out quickly.

What do you need to grow a truly professional company? Entrepreneur reports that lawn care and landscaping pros say the first necessity is a heavy-duty vehicle, such as a 1-ton heavy flat-bed truck with a minimum of one locking box.

The magazine notes this may cost in the tens of thousands of dollars when purchased new.

Other essential equipment includes a utility truck, a rider mower, and – if you want to keep your business profitable year-round – some snow removal equipment.

A light-duty utility truck measuring about 5 by 10 feet will save wear and tear on your body as well as your truck, because it's easier for loading and unloading heavy equipment and supplies such as sod.

In 2016, Entrepreneur cited a cost of about $800 for “plain jane” model including a ramp gate.

Where to Find Equipment

Buying used may be a better choice for people who are willing to search online and make careful cost comparisons between new and used purchases.

Checking Craigslist is one way to find great deals on lawn business equipment if you are vigilant. But searching online auction sites – Municbid and GovDeals are two examples -- may provide more heavy-duty equipment inventory to view.

You'll find items such as blowers, commercial mowers of all kinds, trailers and trucks.

What's a Good Deal

Some lawn pros say that spending the same amount of money for used commercial equipment is a much better investment than for new equipment made for home use.

That's because, even when used, commercial equipment may not wear out as quickly.

After all, home mowers are made to withstand two mowing jobs every other week – your front and back lawn – instead of many over a period of years.

Online chat resources, such as forums, are helpful in determining what questions to ask sellers of used equipment.

Although Consumer Reports primarily focuses on home tools in its May 2017 article about whether used lawn equipment is a deal, its advice is applicable to purchasing for business use. Commonsense rules include:

  • Comparing the cost of new versus used equipment before buying used

  • Checking repair rates

  • Examining equipment for wear and tear

  • Determining what abilities you need in a tool, such as a tractor mower that can do a job in one-third the time that a walk-behind mower takes.

Ultimately, making the right purchases – whether new or used – depends on good research and knowing what you need for the level of work you'll be doing.

What's been your experience when buying used tools and equipment? Join our forum to share your tips or ask other pros for advice.