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Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Thu May 13, 2021 8:40 am
by nnnnnate
Do any of you guys get paid to work in your neighbors yards? That'd be mowing their lawns or helping with flower bed plantings or maintenance?

This is our third summer in our new construction house and I spent the last two putting in a the yard. Its taken a ton of time and labor to get it to where its at and I'm very happy with how its looking. My neighbors have also seemed to notice and a few of them have been asking questions about plants and whatnot which I've always been happy to answer. Well, my next door neighbor whom I'm good friends with asked me to help with his lawn (he wants me to reel mow but its not ready for that) and his wife asked for help redoing their flower beds (from the crap the builder put in.) He does tile and his thing is "staying in his lane." He'd rather do an extra small job and then use that money to pay someone to do work he'd rather not do around the house and yard.

I agreed to do a month of the lawn starting in April as well as help with the flower beds. Now that I'm into this three or so weeks and the flower beds are getting close to being "done" for this year I'm feeling pretty torn about the decision. I find it extremely satisfying to see the space improve but the time its taking has been tricky to justify. Their lawn is about 5500 sqft total and was taking about 90 minutes to double cut, trim, and blow. Despite having most of my yard in place I've still got some smaller hardscape projects that need to be done. I also have an 11 month old, and a nearly 6 year old, that get priority on week nights until they are in bed.

I know my neighbor is going to take care of me compensation wise and it hasn't been a scheme to make buckets of money but I also catch myself thinking about the three other houses in the circle that pay someone to come mow their lawns or do different miscellaneous yard work. I think that I could squeeze them in and that I'd do a better job mowing and it kind of spirals from there.

I'm just wondering if any of you have been caught in this trap or thought process or whatever it is and how its worked out for you. Also, if you do dabble what are you getting paid for the work you do. Do you charge by the hour or by the project? What about when you apply or spray the lawn, how do you charge for that?

Obviously I'm kind of all over the place and I've got a lot to figure out. I appreciate any responses. Thanks.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Thu May 13, 2021 10:18 pm
by nikmasteed
I haven't personally taken on other neighborhood yards but will admit I've thought about it in the very back of my mind. Pretty far back though. For me, lawn care is the type of thing I really love doing for myself, but don't think I'd get alot of satisfaction doing for others even if paid.

Like many things in life, it's gotta be a balance. I can already sense from what you've described that the amount of time you're already investing in the 1 neighbor's lawn is taking at least some from other priorities you have and value. It's a question of what level of priority you would want to give to a hustle like that with a few more yards. You're one person, you've only got X amount of time-- only you can decide whether the dedication of time is worth putting other (non-kid) things to the side. Who knows, if you really love doing the work for others and get satisfaction of your job well done, neighborhood improvement, undercutting the pro service, etc I could see it working for you.

One thing I've let stew in the "closer" back of my mind is a side hustle involving just consulting for others on their lawns. Can't really charge much, but could probably charge some. The ideal customer would be one willing to do their own physical labor and just needs some guidance. Almost like the youtubers and their published guides, but the customer gets some 1 on 1 training. I feel like even a couple simple steps of just coaching someone about pre-emergent and mowing properly is immensely valuable and goes a long long way to a good yard, and something 90% of people don't do.

Keep us updated on where this leads, even if the answer is nowhere!

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Thu May 13, 2021 11:29 pm
by nnnnnate
Thanks for the reply. I think part of the problem I've got right now is the garden work for them in addition to the lawn care. If it was one or the other I think I'd be in a little better position but since they have happened at the same time it does feel like a lot at once.

As far as time available I work a straight 40 in IT and typically work 0600-1430. This leaves a lot of time in the afternoon and evening for other things. I don't get much satisfaction from the day job but working in the yard has been huge for that enjoyment.

I think that one yard extra is enough for this season. I'll keep at it and see how I feel at the end of the year and decide if I want to do something different next year.

I do need to decide how to charge for lawn applications though. Maybe sticking to an hourly rate would be best plan there. He fronted me some money for "supplies" and I bought tnex and everything else I'll apply is super cheap. I think I figured out for the rates I use for pgr, iron, and .25 N per k it was like $7 for both front and back. Crazy cheap.

As far as price goes I'm going more for the quality side rather than under cutting who he paid last year. We agreed on $30 a week for the lawn then I told him what I had spent on it and he said we needed to up it to $45 a week. (I told him that we could negotiate pricing after the 4 weeks were up and I had a better idea on how much time it was taking me.) A double cut with trim and blow took me 90 minutes that first week. Today I did the same thing and it took me 105 minutes cause I was bagging his back yard and it had grown so much that I was constantly stopping the empty it out. I really think his back yard needs to be cut twice a week.

This whole side hustle thing came to mind when I found out how many people in my circle were paying for lawn care. I had pushed the idea off and figured I'd consider it in a few more years when the littlest one was a little older and didn't need as much constant attention. When the neighbor brought it up I was kind of caught off guard and dismissed it because of the time it'd need.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Sat May 22, 2021 4:43 pm
by Utk03analyst
My only worry is what happens when and if you break something? I’ve thought about going legit bonded insured etc. Drove for Uber & Lyft had an accident and Lyft has a $1,500 deductible needless to say I hung it up. It was just to have extra money for the new house. That’s my only fear with a side hustle huge risk for a little gain unless you find a good way to cya.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2021 6:37 pm
by nnnnnate
I'm really not worried about CYA since these would be my neighbors with which I have good relationships with. While working in my one neighbors flower beds I got some funny pipe with the shovel, I just fixed it. I'd do the same with irrigation or whatever else could get messed up.

I'm the end I decided I liked doing the flower bed work because it was a few week project then was done. I talked to my neighbor about the lawn and said I didn't feel like I was wanting to commit the time it was taking me to do it right this summer.

He paid me $50 an hour for the garden work. It evens out because some of it was easy and some was hard manual labor. He paid $40 for the lawn and it was taking about 75 minutes for the front and back. I'm guessing the price was low for the lawn and I've no idea on the garden work.

I'm not against revisiting it in coming years but with the limited time at night I have right now it didn't make sense.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Tue May 25, 2021 8:02 pm
by Lawndress
I offer designs for neighbors for free because it's fun but I don't do any of the work. Lol.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Wed May 26, 2021 1:12 pm
by nnnnnate
When you say designs do you do like a paper layout or do you just say buy these and put them there, these ones for here, etc. I'd think doing the paper copies would take a lot of time but maybe thats because I don't have the experience. (If you do paper copies that actually opens up a lot of additional questions though about software, measuring, etc...)

I paid a landscape architect when we were early in our home building phase to come help us lay out the yard. We paid $800, which we were told was the friends and family deal, and feel like it was TOTALLY worth it. He did draw in some anchor plants and whatnot but I've filled in with a bunch of others.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Wed May 26, 2021 7:21 pm
by Lawndress
Paper copies are too complicated and hard for people. It intimidates them. I usually get an overview of what they want and go one step at a time in laying out detail. The ability to see a completed garden in your mind is something 99 percent of people just don't have. So basically we talk through it and figure out what feel they want and then describe in general terms what I am thinking and make sure they want that.

What I do is get the anchors in first, sometimes with a very basic sketch. That's usually enough for a season or two. Then I fill it in for them. Give different suggestions so they can express themselves. I most often recommend stuff I know is pretty easy here.

Most people don't really want a real garden even if they think they do. And that's fine. Progressive planting makes them realize when they are at their done point.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2021 9:21 am
by Harts
nnnnnate wrote:
Tue May 25, 2021 6:37 pm
I'm really not worried about CYA since these would be my neighbors with which I have good relationships with.
My advice is to never take this for granted and never assume you'll always have a good relationship. Things can and have happened with neighbours who ultimately became best friends. I have experienced it first hand over something as simple as a gate we had installed in between our backyards so we could hang out - his idea, not mine. Several years later, there was a massive argument and I never spoke to him again. All because of that stupid gate. This was in 2016. Now that I've moved, I am very careful with my new neighbours.

Point being, just because they're neighbours with which you have a good relationship, doesn't mean something can't happen.

With regards to how much to charge: you need to figure what your time is worth. Is $45 for 90 to 100 minutes worth of work worth it to you? If it is, then that's your price. Ii may value my time more than you do yours, but it's somewhat subjective.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Thu May 27, 2021 9:42 am
by learningeveryday
If you get all of the proper licenses, permits, insurance, training, and registrations, then go for it. Otherwise, you are stealing from people that follow the proper protocols and use it to feed their family.

Re: Side hustling with neighborhood landscape work.

Posted: Fri May 28, 2021 11:29 am
by Harts
learningeveryday wrote:
Thu May 27, 2021 9:42 am
If you get all of the proper licenses, permits, insurance, training, and registrations, then go for it. Otherwise, you are stealing from people that follow the proper protocols and use it to feed their family.
I can't say I 100% disagree with your statement, but I don't see any issue with it. If his neighbors are willing to pay him instead of a business, that's their right.

And this is coming from a small business owner myself.