A curious thing happened this summer; several of the lawn maintenance operators that have been busy in my neighborhood have removed the signage from their trucks. Even so, they regularly drive by my home pulling trailers with zero-turns, trim mowers and handhelds on them.

Uhmmm. What’s going on here?

I know one of these operators well enough to exchange a friendly word with him at the local grocery or Ace Hardware, but not well enough to ask why he removed the identifiers, including phone numbers, from his pickup. I suppose I could lead off with a less intrusive question such as, ‘Are you still in the professional mowing business?’ But it’s really none of my business, is it?

Seeing so many different operators out cutting lawns in my town this summer got me to wondering just how many mow-blow-and-go folks there are in the United States. I’m including the established recognizable outfits, the phantom-pickup-trailer operators and the neighborhood kids that may or may not end up turning these efforts into a green industry career.

One cutter for every 1,000 citizens?

Management consultant Steve Coughran, in a recent webinar, claimed that there are 347,000 “registered” landscapers in the United States. Coughran is a former landscape company owner himself and is now a principal in the Colorado-based Coltivar Group. The large size of the number he shared surprised me, so I decided to do some simple math.

Given that the U.S. population in 2017 is about 340 million, that would make one “registered” landscaper for approximately every 1,000 people in the country – or about six such professionals in my small lakefront community (pop. 6,000) in northwest Ohio.

Obviously, I do not know how representative my tiny market area is compared to national lawn maintenance market. But counting established out-of-town companies that do work in my town along with the locals that seem to be working within a 10-mile radius or so, I estimate there may be twice that many operators being paid to mow and trim properties.

Because the lawn maintenance business is so easy to enter and equally easy to quit (or become a “ghost” cutter/trimmer), the number of folks performing landscape services (mowing, trimming, pruning, simple plant installs, etc.) can be no more than an educated guess.

I don’t see that changing, do you?