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How Much to Pay Lawn Care Employees

Published on April 18, 2023

Wondering how much to pay lawn care employees?

There are a lot of factors to consider, and when you know how much to pay lawn care employees, you can maximize profits whilst hiring (and keeping) top talent.

Use this complete guide and calculator to help you properly determine how much to pay lawn care employees based on:

  • Bonuses, benefits, perks, and more 
  • Average competitive salaries in your local industry
  • The primary pay structures used in the lawn care industry and which one is right for you

Remember, lawn care employee wages not only affect the bottom line, but they also influence the quality of work and attention to detail. 

By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly how much to pay lawn care employees.

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Research Average Wages

Check local lawn care job listings in your area to determine what similar positions are paying.

For example, a quick search on Indeed for “lawn care specialist” in Dallas, Texas pays anywhere from $13 to $28 an hour.

Here’s how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the average salary for these positions:

Though, how much you pay depends on the benefits you're offering as the total compensation package.

Compensation packages typically include other things like:

  • Paid time off (i.e. PTO)
  • Bonuses and other benefits/perks
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance

In a moment, we’ll cover how to pay lawn care employees while also guaranteeing profitability.

Remember, payment varies by geographical area. Take a look at the landscaper wages from a few major regions across the US:

Check local lawn care job listings in your area to determine what similar positions are paying.

For example, a quick search on Indeed for “lawn care specialist” in Dallas, Texas pays anywhere from $13 to $28 an hour.

Here’s how the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the average salary for these positions:

Though, how much you pay depends on the benefits you're offering as the total compensation package.

Compensation packages typically include other things like:

  • Paid time off (i.e. PTO)
  • Bonuses and other benefits/perks
  • Health, dental, and vision insurance

In a moment, we’ll cover how to pay lawn care employees while also guaranteeing profitability.

Remember, payment varies by geographical area. Take a look at the landscaper wages from a few major regions across the US:

  • California
    • $19.36 per hour
    • $40,260 per year
  • Florida
    • $15.24 per hour
    • $31,710 per year
  • Hawaii
    • $18.63 per hour
    • $38,750 per year
  • Texas
    • $15.43 per hour
    • $32,090 per year
  • Washington
    • $20.20 per hour
    • $42,020 per year

Want to know how to find, train, AND keep great employees?

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The Top 4 Ways to Pay Your Employees 

1. Hourly

In the past, hourly compensation was considered the standard for how to pay lawn care employees.

Using this method, employees are paid a certain dollar amount per hour, as well as time and a half for anything over 40 hours per week.

Advantages:

  • Simple and familiar for most employees
  • Works for a variety of different positions within your business

Disadvantages:

  • Doesn’t promote quick or efficient work
  • You may have to pay overtime after 40 hours

2. Salary

Sometimes, it makes sense to offer a flat yearly salary for spray techs or anyone in leadership or management.

Salary compensation is a great way to keep things simple and streamlined for those upper-level positions.

Advantages:

  • Simple pay structure
  • Great for budgeting and forecasting expenses

Disadvantages

  • Doesn’t scale well for entry-level employees
  • Salaried crew members aren’t typically eligible for overtime

3. Pay by Day

The pay-by-day structure pays an employee for each day (e.g. $130 per day).

A quick word of caution: employees still must be paid at least minimum wage for 40 hours.

Advantages:

  • Simple to understand
  • Can encourage team members to move efficiently

Disadvantages:

  • Could complicate things if the business is audited
  • Those working 40+ hours may require overtime

4. Pay for Performance

The performance-based compensation model pays an employee a certain amount for each job.

It is legal, but you still need to track your employees’ hours to ensure you’re not running into overtime problems.

Advantages:

  • Allows employees who work harder to make more money
  • Employees take better care of equipment (e.g. breakdowns mean lost money)

Disadvantages:

  • Overtime law concerns
  • Can lead to poor quality work if employees hurry and get sloppy

Regardless of which pay structure you choose, there are ways to keep morale high while also making employees feel like a valued part of the business.

The #1 Step to Setting Lawn Employee Wages

No matter which forms of compensation you choose for your lawn care business, there are a wide variety of factors to consider when determining pay structure.

Let’s look at a few of the main factors that determine how much to pay lawn care employees:

  • Experience or certifications
  • Performance and amount of callbacks
  • Attitude, work ethic, morals, and loyalty
  • The employee's ability to work well as a part of the team

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Does Higher Pay Equal Less Turnover?

In a nutshell, higher pay can help lower turnover, but it’s not guaranteed.

Here's the thing, you don’t want to be the low payer among competitors because if you are, you’ll likely get:

  • Lower quality candidates
  • Decreased employee retention
  • Less work completed and at a lower quality

However, remember that paying employees is so much more than their take-home pay.

Incentives (e.g. bonuses, benefits, lunches, etc.) also play an important role when trying to attract the best employees. Remember, every employee wants to feel appreciated. 

If you treat your employees like family, then chances are they'll work hard for you and put their best foot forward. 

If they get nickel-and-dimed and micromanaged, then they'll likely look elsewhere (e.g. the competition).

It’s Not Always About the Money

Senior Landscape Designer Karl Naegler from Rochester, NY has seen it all in his 20+ years of experience.

"If you take care of your employees, listen to them, treat them fair and as equals to one another, give them at least two reviews, have a clear set of goals you would like them to perform, and have an open-door policy on any topic, then you will retain them. Higher pay is just one item."

- KARL NAEGLER, CNLPVP NEW YORK STATE NURSERY AND LANDSCAPE ASSOCIATE BOARD

The Best Incentives to Keeping Local Top Talent

So far, we've discussed the various ways regarding how to pay lawn care employees as well as various compensation models.

Now, let's talk about the best incentives for keeping local top talent.

Here are some of the best perks lawn care businesses can offer to remain competitive:

  • Flexibility
  • Gift cards (for holidays, performance, etc.)
  • PTO (i.e. paid time off) and sick time
  • Company events (e.g. cookouts, parties, etc.)
  • Incentive program (make it simple and public)

"I have done all sorts of things [for incentives]. My favorite was handing out scratch-off tickets if the crews hit their quota for the week. If all met it by noon on Friday, then a lunch party was provided at 1:00 PM, and they got paid for it. It helped keep overtime down, yet they were being rewarded. They also got the big scratch-off $10 ticket, and we had fun hanging out, talking shop at the end of the week. I had a ton of respect for my employees, and I tried to keep it on a professional level."

- Karl Naegler CNLPVP New York State Nursery and Landscape Association Board

As you determine how much to pay lawn care employees, keep these numbers in mind:

  • 90% of millennials prefer benefits over a pay raise
  • 80% of employees prefer new or additional benefits over a pay increase

Keep Top Talent by Knowing How Much to Pay Lawn Care Employees

Since great employees are the lifeblood of any successful business, it's important to know how much to pay lawn care employees.

However, before finalizing any competitive wages, don't forget to ensure you're still meeting profit goals.

Also, keep in mind, it's absolutely essential to meet with a CPA (i.e. certified public accountant) before finalizing any new changes.

Now, how much to pay lawn care employees and keep the top talent in your area today!


Related: 5 Simple Fixes to Your Main Lawn Care Hiring Problems


Originally published June 18, 2020 7:00 AM, updated April 18, 2023 8:00 AM

Alyssa Sanders

Alyssa is the Team Lead of Creative Marketing at Xplor Field Services. When she's not writing or creating content, you can find her watching a new sci-fi series or shoving her nose into a book.
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