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How to Pick the Right Landscaper Salary for Your Crews

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Business Advice

Updated January 30, 2024

If you need to hire new landscapers to join your crews, you need to know what to pay them. The landscaper salary you set can make or break whether a crew member is happy and sticks around.

In the post, we cover average landscaper salaries, the key factors to determine salary and effective strategies to increase your landscaper crews’ salaries. We even go into detail on how to work smarter, not harder with landscaping management software to take control of your payroll and create consistent salary bands.

The Average Landscaper Salary

Salaries for landscapers in the U.S. range from $28,000 to over $50,000 a year. That’s a big range and knowing what to consider when you set a salary helps ensure you offer a competitive rate.

Industry Salary Averages

The average salary for landscapers varies by location and experience. Landscapers make more in states with higher costs of living. The type of project a landscaper works on also impacts salary. And residential landscape crews usually make less than commercial crews.

As of May 2023, Glassdoor shows the average entry-level U.S. landscaper’s salary of $37,650. Salary.com puts the average at $32,045, but shows salaries up to $40,000 and more for landscapers in California.

Salary Statistics

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for landscaping and groundskeeping workers was $37,270 in May 2022. The middle 50% earned around $35,890. The top-paid landscapers and groundskeepers earned more than $48,530.

Landscape business owners and self-employed landscapers’ salaries vary even more depending on the size of the business and number of employees and clients. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for a self-employed landscaper is $77,960 a year as of May 2023.

The Impact of Experience

Besides location, experience plays a big role in determining how much to pay a landscaper. Glassdoor gives an average annual salary of $35,898 for an entry-level landscaper.  It estimates an additional $1,992 per year in salary for each year of added experience.

Niche knowledge, certifications and special accreditation also affect what a landscaper can earn.

Specializations, certifications, and industry training all add up to higher earning potential. Landscapers with a certification from an accredited university or program typically earn 10 to 20% more than the average landscaper salary. Be sure to reward employees for what they bring to your business.

Factors that Affect Landscapers’ Salaries

Ever wonder why landscaper salaries vary so much? Why Joe makes $28,000 and Jane makes $35,000? Here are the major factors that affect how much a landscaper earns.

Key Factors that Impact Salary

There are three main components that impact a landscape worker’s earning potential:

  • Education:  A college or university degree isn’t required to become a landscaper, but having one increases earning potential. A two-year degree in Landscape Architecture or Horticulture, or a four-year degree in Plant Science or Environmental Design can give your candidates an edge when entering the job market and increase their salary potential from day 1. If you want more knowledge coming in, consider paying more for it.
  • Certifications: A formal degree isn’t the only way to show professional qualifications. Certifications from national or state organizations offer valuable skills and knowledge in the industry. Holding current, relevant and in-demand certifications should equal a salary bump.
  • Job duties: Landscapers who do more skilled and complex tasks can earn higher salaries than those who do basic groundskeeping duties. Doing a better job of outlining the responsibilities during the hiring process can help you ensure you offer the right salary.

Why Job Duties Matter

With so many different types of  tasks in the landscaping and groundskeeping industry, it pays to know which responsibilities have higher earning potential, so that you can ensure you don’t lose your new crew member to a better pay scale.

Landscaping job skills that can bring a higher salary:

  • Planting trees, shrubs, and flowers
  • Installing patios, decks, water features, and other hardscape structures
  • Pruning and trimming trees and plants
  • Operating specialized equipment
  • Applying pesticides or herbicides
  • Diagnosing plant health problems

Self-Employed Landscaper Salary

For many landscapers, working for themselves is the ultimate goal. But how does a self-employed landscaper’s salary compare to that of a full-time landscaper employee?

Self-employed landscapers have the potential to earn significantly more than their employed counterparts.

Pros and Cons of Self-Employment

Being self-employed has its benefits and drawbacks. The perks of being your own boss or solopreneur include:

  • As your business grows and expands, so should your income.
  • You have complete control over your working hours and job duties (although this can turn into a con as well).

On the downside, self-employment comes with certain risks and responsibilities:

  • No employee benefits, unless you pay for them yourself.
  • More paperwork and higher tax burden.
  • Managing jobs and employees and dealing with customer complaints.

Self-Employed Salary Fast Facts

Self-employed landscapers typically earn 2–3 times the salary of an employee, with some earning up to $80,000 or more. Of course, your earnings are only limited by how much you put into your business and how successful you are in bringing in jobs and in ensuring you maximize profits.

How and Why to Increase the Salary You Pay Landscapers

You’re a business owner who needs to be profitable to stay in business. It may seem backwards to pay more to make more. But, it can work. And LMN’s 2023 HIring Trends Survey found that 93% of landscape pros struggle to hire enough crew members.

Turnover can add to the challenge. When you have happy employees who stick around, your company delivers better service. You spend less time managing employee problems and replacing churned employees. You have happier customers who are likely willing to pay a bit more for your superior service and work.

And then, there’s the indirect cost of replacing and retraining crew. Estimates vary, but some put the cost of replacing an employee at 1 to 2 times their annual salary. So, if you’re paying  the average landscaper salary of $37,270, the cost to replace that employee can be as high as $75,400.

Tips on How to Manage Salaries While Managing Your Business

Here are some simple ways to master the salary challenge.

Know the Market

Know what other companies in your area are paying and meet or beat it. Also keep an eye on local pay ranges so you can bump salaries up if needed and before your best workers start leaving for greener pastures.

You can use glassdoor.com, indeed.com, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other websites to find salary ranges countrywide and in your local area.

Offer an Extra or Two

If you can’t bump salaries, consider extras. Offer paid time off, a hiring bonus, quarterly bonuses, profit sharing, random gift cards, basic health coverage or reimbursement, free training, such as through the Greenius platform – the leading training platform for landscapers.

Greenius not only helps your company, it helps your employees feel good and offers them a career path with certifications. And it includes build in employee surveys to help you keep tabs on employee satisfaction and head off issues  before they turn into turnover.

Sell a Career, Not a Job

Using descriptive language about your company, future job opportunities, growth-oriented titles and an enticing salary range turns your job ad into a career ad.

Be Up Front When Hiring

Include a wage range that appeals to applicants in any stage of their career. Instead of saying $15 per hour, include $15-$45/hour. The higher end of the range is appealing. It shows the potential for growth and the promise of a long-term career.

And let your potential hires know you are looking for people in it for the long term. Ask them what they want and need and make sure you can offer it.

Use a Management Tool

A good landscape business management software can help you create a budget and estimates. You can also see all  your projects in one place and what your profit was.

You then have the data you need to anticipate your hiring needs and see where you can afford to pay competitive salaries (or not). You save you time and money so you can focus on talent acquisition and retention.

Take Control of Your Landscapers’ Salaries with LMN

The factors to consider when deciding what to pay your landscapers include location, experience, job duties, and keeping them around while staying profitable.

By knowing the local market and using the tips outlined here, you can pick a pay rate that brings new, quality crew on board and keeps them around.

Paying the right salaries is a key part of attracting and retaining the right employees to maximize the success of your business.

For more ways to find and retain good crews, check out LMN’s Essential Landscape Hiring Guide. And try a free LMN account for access to a single tool to manage estimates, timesheets and more.

Questions? We have Answers.

What is the highest salary for a landscaper?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for landscaping and groundskeeping workers was $37,270 in May 2022. The middle 50% earned between $35,890. The highest paid landscapers and groundskeepers earned more than $48,530. Self-employed landscapers can make even more with expected annual income up to $80,000 or more depending on the size of the company and annual revenue.

What is the starting salary of an average landscaper in Rhode Island?

The average starting salary of a landscaper in Rhode Island is around $41,012 per year according to Indeed. However, the exact salary varies from $31,002 to $54,253 and depends on factors such as experience, work performed and location.

What is a landscaper salary?

A landscaper’s salary is the amount of money they are paid for their job duties. Salary is a fixed amount paid on a regular basis regardless of hours worked. This amount doesn’t include overtime, bonuses or other compensation.

What is the starting salary for a landscaper?

The starting salary for a landscaper varies depending on region where the work is performed, how much education the worker has, and what kind of job duties are performed. However, the average starting salary is around $35,890 per year. (Source)

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