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How to Start a Lawn Care Business

Written by:

Edited by:

Reviewed by: Daniel Javor

Published on November 11, 2021

Updated on August 25, 2022

How to Start a Lawn Care Business

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

$5,655 - $9,910

Revenue potential

$24,000 - $260,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 - 4 months

Profit potential

$14,000 - $52,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

How to Start a Lawn Care Business

Every lawn needs care, which means lawn care services will always be in high demand and offer the smart entrepreneur an opportunity for success. As a lawn care specialist, you’ll work outdoors, getting fresh air and exercise as you make a good living. For some people, few scents are as satisfying as a freshly mowed lawn on a bright summer day.

Though lawn care has become a competitive industry, plenty of opportunities remain, as demand continues to grow. Considerable work will be required in getting your lawn care business off the ground, so be sure to move patiently through the development and launch process, as detailed in this step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

The first step is to determine if starting a lawn care business is viable for you. Think of this as a way to test the idea’s true potential, and you could start by weighing the pros and cons.

Pros and cons

What are the downsides and upsides of launching a lawn care company? As a rule of thumb, a viable business idea should have more advantages than disadvantages.

Pros

  • Flexible – Work on your own schedule, on your own or with a team
  • Consistent work – Lawns grow and thus require periodic care
  • Diverse work potential – Add gardening, tree trimming, weeding, and other services
  • No training required – Working a lawnmower or a rake is a snap!

Cons

  • Seasonal – Depending on location, lawn care may only be needed 5-6 months/year
  • High startup costs – Mowers and lawn tools can be expensive
  • High competition – The industry is competitive, even saturated in some areas
  • Economy-dependent – In tough times, some homeowners do their own lawn care

Lawn care industry trends

Household spending on lawn care and gardening has risen in recent years and new millennial homeowners have increasingly valued the work of experienced lawn specialists. These trends have only increased despite the COVID-19 pandemic and recent recession. As a result of the economic downturn, the industry has experienced a labor shortage, potentially providing new opportunities for entrepreneurs.((https://nipgroup.com/landscaping-companies-labor-shortages/))

Industry size and growth

lawn care industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the lawn care industry include:

  • Millennials are embracing gardening as a hobby
  • Growing awareness about gardening as a means of conserving wildlife

Challenges faced by the industry are:

  • New technologies are reducing need for human lawn care workers
  • Attracting and retaining employees
lawn care industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work in lawn care?

lawn care industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a lawn care business?

Startup costs for a lawn care business range from about $5-$10,000, with the primary costs being your mower and lawn tools. Startups in this sector spend an average of about $7,500 to get their business up and running.

The extent of your primary investments into mowing equipment will depend in part on the size of the lawns you expect to manage. Your marketing costs, both physical (flyers and cards) and digital (social media, website), will vary depending on your strategy.

Eventually, you may need to invest in a truck and trailer to transport your equipment. Here’s a list of items to get you started:

  • Push Mower / Riding Mower
  • Edger and Trimmer
  • Eye and Ear Protection
  • Gloves
  • Hedge Trimmer
  • Lawn Tools
  • Lawn Bags
  • Leaf Blower
  • Blade Sharpener
  • Truck + Equipment Trailer
Startup CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Equipment$5,000 - $8,000$6,500
Fuel$30 - $60$45
Insurance $100 - $200$150
Business license$50 - $100$75
Taxes$25 - $50$38
Website $250 - $500$375
Marketing Cost$200 - $1,000$600
Total$5,655 - $9,910$7,783

How much can you earn from a lawn care business?

Lawn care business owners earn anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in their first couple of years. Profit margins are usually around 50-60%, as ongoing costs tend to be low. However, as a lawn care business expands, adding new machinery, workers, and vehicles, margins can fall below 20%.

Service pricing varies, mainly depending on lawn size. Per-session lawn care services often cost between $30 and $100. The computations below assume an average charge of $65 per session and that each lawn takes about 2 hours on average to complete.

In your first year, you could provide lawn care services to 7 clients a week, bringing in $24,000 in annual revenue. This would mean $14,000 in profit, assuming a 60% margin. As you gain experience, the number of homes you service could climb to 12 a week, bringing in $40,000 in annual revenue and $24,000 in profit.  

As you gain more referrals and repeat customers, your work orders could further climb to 50 a week and you’re able to raise charges to $100 per session. At this stage, you’d hire workers and buy additional equipment, reducing your profit margin to around 20%. With annual revenue of $260,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $52,000.

lawn care business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

Barriers to entry for a lawn care company are relatively moderate and depend on the season and economic reality. Significant challenges for new entrants include:

  • High costs – All that expensive equipment adds up fast
  • High competition – Lawn care is highly competitive; you’ll need to stand out
  • Seasonality – In some regions you’ll struggle to find year-round work
  • Economy-reliant – Some homeowners opt to cut their own lawn in tough times

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If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a lawn care business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Why? Identify an opportunity

The next step involves validating your business idea. At this stage, you’ll want to determine if there’s demand for your services in the market. That way, you can project whether your target customers will buy your service offering. It also enables you to forecast whether your business will be profitable.

A good starting point is to research your local market to identify opportunities.

You should determine what type of service you can provide in relation to what your potential customer base demands, and what has worked for other providers. Your success may depend on your ability to market yourself, as the weeding, trimming, or gardening specialist, for instance. The most successful lawn care businesses might include all these services.

Many homeowners will rely on your primary service, lawn mowing, because such work is hard, particularly on hot summer days. But if your services are too one-dimensional, customers with diverse needs are likely to look elsewhere. In general, you should always take into account your target customer’s desires when developing your business plan.

What? Determine your products or services

Lawn care specialists can provide a variety of services. The extent of your work will depend on your preference, skill, and equipment, as well as the needs of your target demographic. Below is a list of services a lawn care specialist may be expected to provide:

  • Mowing, edging, mulching, trimming, weeding and fertilizing
  • Planting and caring for flower beds
  • Tree planting and removal
  • Leaf and debris removal; gutter and property cleaning

As a prospective lawn care specialist service, you should consider the necessary equipment and expected profit margins you can reasonably expect to earn for each of these services. Remember, as a service professional, your time is as valuable as your money. You should choose your service offerings wisely and, after some experimentation, add or subtract services as needed.

How much should you charge for your lawn care services?

For each lawn cut, US prices range from about $30 to $100 depending on lawn size, with the average around $65. For other services, such as weeding, fertilizing, mulching, and gutter cleaning, you should consider a per-project fee or hourly rate, depending on which works better for you. You may even adjust your prices to consider not just the time required but also the level of physical difficulty of each service.

Another option is to charge a flat fee for a package of services, such as mowing, plus weeding, fertilizing, leaf removal, and gutter cleaning all in one go. This could boost revenue and encourage customer interest in services they had not previously considered.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

As a lawn care service provider, your main target market is residential homeowners with lawns. Commercial properties such as office buildings and private schools may also be interested in your services. You may choose to focus on homes or businesses, or target both.

You could purchase larger equipment and specialize in bigger lawns, with higher expected earnings as a result. Keep in mind that a new push mower often costs less than $400, while a riding mower, which most larger lawns would require, will run you a cool $2,500 or more.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
lawn care business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
  • The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “lawn care” or “mowing services”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for example: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your services in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.

what to include in a business plan

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to lawn care services. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your lawn care business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.

types of business structures

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a lawn care business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a lawn care business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.

Some of the lawn care-specific licenses and permits you may need to obtain include an occupational license or a Fertilizer/Pesticide Applicator Certification. The National Association for Landscape Professionals (NALP) offers optional certifications, for horticulture, lawn care management and more, which could enhance your marketability.

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you will need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your lawn care business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts specifically for businesses, just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to consider your options to choose the best plan that works for you. Once you choose your bank, you’ll need to bring your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and any other legal documentation that proves your business is registered.

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet is vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
types of business insurance

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. 

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as FreshDesk, WorkWave, and LawnPro, to manage work orders, communicate with customers, track billable hours, collect payments, and more. 

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Marketing

Some of your business will come from online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase work orders.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:

  • Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your office and website. 
  • Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events. 
  • In-Person Sales – Offer your services in your neighborhood and at trade shows. 
  • Post a video – Post a video about your lawn care services. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients. 
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Payper-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your services helped them.
  • Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your lawn care services meet their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your lawn care business could be:

  • Free estimates and fully transparent, consistent prices
  • Specialize in small residential or large office properties
  • Build an appealing website with easy booking
  • Top-notch equipment that’s always in optimal condition
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a lawn care business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in landscaping for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in lawn care. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

You may not need to hire any employees if you are starting out small and using your home as your office. But as your business grows, you will need to add employees for various roles, including:

  • Lawn Care Workers – provide lawn care and landscaping services
  • Equipment Supervisor – repair and maintenance of equipment
  • Administrator – schedule appointments, communicate with customers
  • Accountant – keep track of finances
  • Marketing Lead – SEO and social media marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook.  You can also use free classified sites like Jobs and AngelList. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.

Step 13: Start Making Money!

You’re now ready to start your entrepreneurial journey as a lawn care services provider. Keep in mind, you’re entering a highly competitive market so it’s important that you can offer value-added services aside from basic lawn moving and maintenance. You’ll also be competing with other providers that may use robots to cut grass, so it’s a good idea to keep yourself updated with the latest technologies in order to compete.

As long as there are homeowners who want to beautify their patios and yards, you should be able to grow your business and enjoy a steady stream of income. Good luck!

Lawn Care Business FAQs

What if I damage something while working?

Help the client repair the damage, if you’re able. But more importantly, you should include a disclaimer or warning on your website that addresses such contingencies and discuss with your clients. Also, liability insurance may be a good idea.

How much should I charge as an hourly rate for lawn care services?

The average per hour rate for most lawn care services is about $40-$60. For riding lawn mowers, that jumps to $100-$120.

How should I get lawn mowing clients?

Physical and digital marketing is necessary to get your business name out there. Tap into as many local channels (signage, storefronts, flyers, cards, etc.) and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as you can to contact as many prospective clients as possible. You could also go door-to-door in your target area, introduce yourself and your services and turn on the charm, like in the old days.

How long does it take to mow an acre?

Mowing times hinge on the type of mower. Here’s a handy table breaking down common mowers and their coverage speed:

Size of mower:Time to mow 1 acre:
22-inch push mower1 hour 39 minutes
30-inch push mower1 hour 13 minutes
38-inch lawn tractor34-57 minutes
42-inch lawn tractor31-52 minutes