View Full Version : Equipment- what is it, where do I get it?

05-03-2001, 12:30 PM
Hey guys! I have a question about equipment. What kind of equipment does a residential landscaping crew need to function efficiently? They would be doing planting (4" pots up to 14' trees), hauling, tilling, seeding, irrigation installations, laying sod, clearing areas, installing water gardens, etc. etc. Basically everything except large tree removal and hardscapes. It has been suggested to me that I need a trailer and a dingo with several attachments like a bucket, auger, trencher, and other stuff. I am a sales and marketing gal- all I know about equipment is shovels and rakes! Please help, and I also need a ballpark cost and where to find it! Thanks!

05-03-2001, 12:44 PM
If your looking to just 'jump right' in and start a company by buying equipment I would think again.

For what it sounds like you want to do (just planting), start with 1 pointed shovel, one pick axe, one flat shovel, one metal rake, and a wheel barrel. Total price = $200 at your local home depot. If you alread have a truck, then use that. If a car, then maybe a trailer to tow behind it.

After you use those for a while, decide if you really want to do this work and if the answer is yes, you will start to figure out what you need from there and you will get a WEALTH of knowledge from this site.

I have to ask what you mean by saying 'everything except hardscape and large tree' work. Isn't hardscaping about 80% of a landscape business? If you aren't going to hardscape, then you will not need machines to plant flats of annuals.

Also, to give a list of stuff for irrigation work could be a WORLD of its own. Lets see, a 45k trencher, a trailer to pull it in, a truck to pull the trailer, about 5 k in specialized tools, 10 k in stocking pipe fittings/pipe/heads, etc., etc. etc. etc. You have got a HUGE idea here that you may want to think over. Plus, are you licensed to do irrigation work?

Not to rip your head off, but it sounds like you need to first determine EXACTLY what it is you will be doing. If you plan to do work in small areas where access is a problem, then yes, a dingo may be a great idea. However, if you plan to do larger size work, it would be a terrible idea.

Equipment is usually purchased as needed. If you start off, and have jobs where you have to move 100's of yards of materials, then you definitely will consider a machine.

You need to give us specifics on what you want to do for us to help. "planting shrubs but no hardscaping' is a very undetermined phrase here!

If you are thinking about starting a business and really have no idea on your needs, then start getting more work and and eventually you will figure it out.

Get the work first, then get the equipment! As your jobs get bigger, your equipment list gets bigger.


[Edited by steveair on 05-03-2001 at 01:03 PM]

05-03-2001, 03:19 PM
Tiffany, if I recall, you work for a company that is pursuing primarily commercial work. Is that still correct?

The reason I ask is, I would think your boss would either already have a stable of equipment, or at least know what he needs. Especially if your company is chasing commercial work. That's probably not the time to figure out what equipment you need for a project.

I'm going to answer your question very vaguely. Assuming that you have no equipment to start with, and are looking to do large-scale commercial work, you should be ready to write a six figure check. But it sounds like you may have hurdles to overcome before you get to that point.

05-03-2001, 10:54 PM
I'll add a little to those responses. Until you know exactly what you need or want, rent the necessary equipment. This is a good way to try different brands & different types of equipment to learn what features you need. This experience will help you to answer your question. Good luck!

05-04-2001, 01:46 PM
I appreciate the help but there is no reason to assume that I do not know what I am doing. Maybe I should have explained more carefully WHY I need this info. The company that I work for does residential and commercial landscaping. I personally am involved in the estimating, sales, and marketing as opposed to the actual labor. Our company has focused on commercial work more, and as a result, the residential sometimes suffers. I am working on a cost estimate/ business plan to have a crew that focuses on JUST the residential work. While the company does have all of the necessary equipment to do pretty much everything, for this plan to work, the new crew would need to be as seperate as possible and therefore have their own equip. Naturally, there are many people in my company that would know all of this right off, but I am trying to do this on my own time and surprise them. Also, to be clearer on the hardscaping thing- they will do loose stone walkways and retaining walls- anything involving more complex masonry or other things (fences, decks, etc.) will be subbed out. Oh, and I already have included that I need a truck, as well as how much the hand tools will be. I just don't know about bigger equip. Thanks for any help!

05-04-2001, 05:37 PM

I'll take it easy on you, but...................you say the crew won't be doing 'Complex stuff' but then say they will be doing 'loose' walkways and retaining walls.

First, what are loose walkways. Second, retaining walls are pretty complex things to install. Paul installs a lot of retaining walls and his equipment list is just awesome.

You still haven't really given us a good idea of what you need. Are you looking to mow? If so, then the lawn forum would be a much better bet for this question.

As for a simple idea, try this for a 'landscape maintenance' crew set-up(no mowing)
1. truck - probably a crew cab mason dump to start so you can get at least a crew of 3-4 to a job without another vehicle-45k

2. trailer - I'd say a enclosed, maybe 8x18, to put all the hand tools in, wheel barrels, power equipment(trimmers, edgers, saws, compactor, generator, etc. etc.) - 5-7k

3. a machine? -- still don't know what you want to do exactly so don't know what you need, but you can bet on spending around 30k at minimum for a small skidsteer or tractor. If you are doing things like walkways and walls, I would think this would be a requirement then, and you may end up in needing something bigger. Also, attachments such as augers, harley rakes, rock hounds, backhoes, etc. could add up to another 10-20k

If you get a machine, then the enclosed trailer will no longer work, so you will also need a trailer for that purpose. 5k

Also, If you are running bigger walls/walks or large seeding jobs with a lot of soil, you may not be able to do it with just a 45k mason dump. Now you may need to think about a larger, single axle truck, which could easily hit 50k and then you will still need another vehicle because your crew may not be able to all travel to the job in it.

4. tools - here is a question that could add up signifigantly to what you need. Add a compactor, tub saw, cut-off saw, transit, etc. etc., and you are in the 5-10k range right off the bat.

So, for a division that is going to do things like edge, mulch, prune, install annuals, install trees/shrubs, install "loose walkways"????, etc. etc., you should be thinking 70k at bare mininum, but that could go up drastically.


[Edited by steveair on 05-04-2001 at 05:49 PM]

05-04-2001, 06:01 PM

First off, thanks for clarifying where you're coming from. When you ask - 'what equipment do I need to do landscaping?', it's assumed that you don't know what you need (otherwise you wouldn't be asking), and if you don't know what eqpt you need, then you likely don't know how to use that eqpt either, etc. That's what precipitated those responses.

The question you pose is not an easy one to answer. There are companies that do the work you describe with a pickup truck, wheelbarrow and hand tools (I did when I first started). There are others that have every toy imaginable to make the job go very quickly, with nary a sweat broken (BTW, that doesn't mean they're the most efficient). And some toys can be shared among 2 or 3 crews. There are thousands of variables. The truck you mention - there are many ways to approach even that purchase - do you want an enclosed one to transport shrubs easily, one with drop-down bed sides to load pallets of materials, one with dumping capabilities, one with really tall sides to carry lots of mulch?

So I don't know if I can answer your question with the information you've given.

What are your sales goals for this part of the business? How many crews will be running, and how many people per crew? What's going to be the average contract size?

And to tell the truth, even once you give this info, you'll likely get a thousand different opinions of what is needed and what isn't.

At the bare minimum, you'll need spoon, flat and edging shovels for everyone, rakes for everyone, brooms for everyone, wheelbarrows for everyone, some picks, sledgehammers, and a toolkit for each crew with levels, pruners, pliers, a ratchet set, levels, strings, marking paint, chisels, 2lb sledges, stone hammers, hammers, and I'm sure lots of other little things that I'm forgetting. All that and a truck to put it in. Figure $1K on all the aforementioned tools, and the truck price will depend on the questions above.

That's a starting point. I hope that helps. Answer the questions I pose here and I'll be able to help more.

05-04-2001, 07:15 PM
Everything stonehenge said is 100% correct. I buy all my hand tools and, for the most part, rent large equiptment. I sometimes buy equptment for a specific job I have coming up, if I know the puchase cost will outweigh the rental cost. I found I was renting a bobcat enough to pay for one so I bought a bobcat. I don't buy any equiptment for a job untill I have a signed contract and a deposit check in my hand.

I don't know if this helps, but good luck.

Jim L

05-04-2001, 09:57 PM
For a "ONE CREW" landscaping residental installation tool list. This is bare miniumn, I would like more but.......
1.Skid Steer mid-size with
Low profile bucket/ with bolt on teeth
A ground preperation attachment

2. Truck F650 or F750 Crew Cab dump

3. A 15,000 lb equipment trailer

4. Hand tools,
shovels, rakes, spades, broom, pick-axe, pruners, loppers, hand shears.

5. Wheelbarrows (2) heavy duty type

6. Tool kit for repairs

Hardscape Equipment

1. Hand saw gas 12"
2. Tub saw gas 14" (9 hp)
3. Plate compactor
4. Hammer 2 lb.
5. Hand tamper
6. Chisle
7. Level
8. Line level and string

"Wish list"
Tractor with loader (4 WD) 35 to 50 hp
Laser level
Rake for tractor
Seeder for tractor
Bigger trailer 20,000 lbs ( you can get 2 peices of equipment on it.)
Pipe puller for irrigation
Tiller for tractor
Wall and brick splitter

Ok now for the reasons behind this short list.
the hardest part of doing Residental work is getting all the material to the site, most times it's a mixed bag of material so that is the reason for the larger truck. you have to remove your waste or spoils so I would pick a 14' dump, with a crew cab this gives you three men to do the installs and one driver to deliver material. I know this goes againts what I have said before here but I am talking about a one crew job with no company support.
My list of tools would grow as you do more or it would change if your lot sizes that you landscaped increased or decreased. Your landscape mix (softscape/hardscape) really detremens your needs, as does job size and dollar amounts.

More information would help but this is a start.

05-06-2001, 08:20 PM
Tiffany!Try this.Call a rep on the Dingo and tell him or her about what you are going to do on a regular basis with the equipment and see if they can help.They are very knowledgeable and the ones I know are straight shooters.If they can help you they will if not they will recommend someone who can.At least you will get a price to start.Expect 30k to 40k for a system.Mine has been great and I am glad I got it.

05-06-2001, 10:42 PM

As you can see, even 'bare minimum' is open for interpretation. The greater the depth of information you can provide, the better answer you'll get here.

05-07-2001, 09:23 AM
thanks for all of the help- these replies are giving me a great place to start. And to clarify the kind of work that they will be doing...it will be primarily landscape plan installation. The majority of the work will be in planting 1 to 7 gallon shrubs, with some larger things occasionally, (we generally do 2-3" cal. trees for plan installations). They will also be doing bed preparation, laying down pine straw, occasionally mulching, clearing out wooded areas (meaning taking out brush),laying sod, seeding lawns, and that kind of thing. We generally phase in this kind of work. They would also be doing plant replacements that are under our warantee. They would not be doing any mowing or regular maintenance. As to loose stone walkways, what I meant was stepping stone walks. And as to retaining walls, I did not mean to imply that retaining walls were not complex. I just meant that we know how to do them, and this crew would be doing a small number of them, enough that they could borrow the equip. from our commercial people for that. When I said more complex masonry, (to clarify), I meant that we would sub out things like brick steps and patios (which I know are not necessarily more complex, sorry!) As to the irrigation, they would be installing small residential systems, mainly Toro, with 4, 6, or 9 zone clocks. We do have someone that specializes in irrigation that would be overseeing all of that. I hope that helps, and sorry for not clarifying earlier! And thank you to everyone again!