View Full Version : Customer wants 70 trees plants, she already bought them.

04-13-2006, 09:41 AM
How much would u guys charge to plant 70 American Arborvitae along a property line. The trees will be 4-5 feet tall and the hole will be hand dug by me and two helpers.

Also, the soil is very sandy, should I bring in any dirt or organic material to put in the holes?

She has all the trees there, just wants a price to dig the holes and plant them.


04-13-2006, 10:24 AM
2100-2800. Rent a backhoe.

04-13-2006, 12:35 PM
Sent you a PM

04-13-2006, 12:45 PM
you looking at about 1.1 hour per tree just for labor. thats 77 hours.

2 guys all week.

That does not include any time for watering, mulching, staking, ect or materials.

watering is going to add a bunch of time especially if you have ro drag a bunch of hose.

a back hoe woul be a bit too big, but a mini track hoe or a skid loader with an auger would help make quick work of the holes.

Your time on job woudl be cut down, but you would incur rental expenses...so it may be a wash....

No warranty on the tree. If I don't buy it. I don't gaurantee it...

04-13-2006, 01:22 PM
Yes Yes add lots of compost to the sandy backfill soil
about 50/50 if it's mostly sand

LawnScapers of Dayton
04-13-2006, 01:39 PM
I would think that you could do more than 1 an hour......I planted 5 - 4' white pines last week in 2 hours digging by hand, composting and watering, customer didn't want stakes.... no warranty - they bought the trees.....I got $180.00.
Labor, material and mileage.

I would at a minimum rent a mini loader with an auger.....for that many trees....

04-13-2006, 02:27 PM
Should i stager them or put them all in 1 straight line?

04-13-2006, 02:35 PM
I vote for the skid steer with the auger...you could probably drill 8-12 holes per hour the I would also suggest at least 2 bags of composted cow manure per hole when you plant...

stagger or straight is up to the client...

04-13-2006, 05:28 PM
if you stagger them it looks liek you have more trees than you actuyally have, as the row looks deeper. but straight line you can strech it out a bit further too.

Five 4 foot trees in 2 hours is good work... andmy hours are based on VA rock/clay soils. Id liek to see you after 70 trees what your time per tree is...

I would imagine, that the trees are not going to be located exactly where they are going to be planted, so you will have to move the trees, plus you also need to count in your travel time to and from the job site each day

Back in my TGLC days, based on their bidding for enhancement projects.

i woudl have 77 hours of planting labor
6 hours of travel time(one hours each day)
6 hours of watering time(one hours each day
3 hours of clean up time(1/2 hour each day)
70 bagsof compost @ 3.00
total is 92 hours, two guys 16 man hours each day -5.75 days

at a 60% GP you have 3900 bucks.

If you rent a skid loader for three days @190 each day you would cut hours down to 47, and Save your clinet seven hundred bucks....But you would also save 3 days of labor. $3200

TGLc was "cheap" for lack of better term on their labor rates. around the $40 mark.....

if you charge 3200 with the skid loader and compost. you will have 780 in materials cost, wich leave you with 2411, divided by 47 man hours, you are "making" $51.30 per hour.

I say "making" in that I am taking the 60% markup on the materials, and 30% markup on the rental, and including it in your labor rate. if you take out the markup on both items, it brings you down to $40 per hour, but for the 70 bags of compost you are charging 550, on a driect cost of 210, and for the skid loader you are charging 814, on a direct cost of 570.

now at 60 per man hour...you price jumps to $4182 with the loader (60 bucks per tree)
with out the loader you price is 6068, $1000 a day (86 bucks per tree)..... I'll still stick to my 1.1 hour per tree, in that after teh first or second day....production is gonna drop...

Mind you this is all based on an 8 hour work day with 1/2 hour of paid travel time morning and nite. so if you work longer days, you'll save travel hours.

By my math, if you use the skid loader, you will profit 2265 (754 per day) after paying your employees(including yoruself if you work), materials , and rental. assuming you can plant 1 tree every 30 minutes. If you can increas that productivity to 15 minutes per tree, you will be on ther job for two days, making a profit of 1475, or 700 per day

by not using the skid loader you will profit 3641 (606 per day)
so the skid loader would net the least of money in your pocket, but would ties you up for 1/2 the time...

If you think the client can handle paying 80 bucks to install a 40 dollar tree. Jump at it, and then rent your loader and be out of there in 3 days, give your worker a c-note on top of his pay for the great job, and start sipping your margarita's a few days early.

Also remember that you will need to get Miss Utility to mark the site(cover your azz), and you will need to repair any damage your skid loader does (tracks, ect.)

I would use one day to auger my hole, and while I am augering with the machine (8 minutes per hole), my laborer will be dropping the bag of compost at each hole and possibly beging to mix some of the soil and compost. The second day I would utilize the loader to move the trees and drop them in each hole and while I am moving and droping trees, my laborer is back filling. and watering on the third day you finish up any last trees and call the machine off rent and water everything real good collect check and go home.

Remember, try to upsell on mulching the trees. better water rentention, ect...mulch would add about ten more hours and 600 bucks profit....

04-13-2006, 05:48 PM
I dont think it would take that long, Id say 2-3 days tops. Rent yourself a Kubota B-21, depending on the size of the ball of the arb. you can get 3 to 5 in the front bucket and then have the hoe on the back to dig the holes. One guy on the machine and 2 guys planting the arbs. Get yourself 2 poles and a long string line. Id get $60-80/hr. Id say about $1500-1800.00 for the job.


04-13-2006, 06:25 PM

3 guys at 60 per hour for three days is 4300 bucks and 72 hours....same amount of time more or less by doing it by hand....

how do you arrive at 1800? if you have 3 guys for three days for 1800 bucks minus rental of 570, your hourly rate is 17 bucks....

dude you not making any money....

04-13-2006, 10:42 PM
Gmgbo...you should hire Marc....he knows his Sh$t

Gilla Gorilla
04-13-2006, 11:19 PM

Marc does know his sh!t. He worked for one of the biggest green companies in the country for years.

I would say to rent a Toro Dingo tracked machine for two days tops. Get the 24" auger bit and the pallet forks or large bucket. You will spend about $600 for the two days on this but it will be well worth it.

Last fall with my Dingo and one employee we were drilling the holes, amending the soil, transporting the trees and planting 9-10' Arborvitaes. We averaged 15 minutes per tree but then we still had to guy the trees and mulch them. So realistically it took probably around 30 to 35 minutes per tree.

Renting equipment can really help the time and productivity on certain jobs.

04-13-2006, 11:22 PM

I appreciate the props....but this site is all about discussion and Q&A and what works for me may not work for you, but by being able to bounce ideas around it at least gives people a place to start. Obivously I'm not running my "own" show any more, but the principles still apply. The fact that I cant make money to offset problems or overtime or other stuff makes my job even more difficult.

I still need "practice the old ways" just to keep the grey matter from turning to mush...

04-13-2006, 11:44 PM
gilla, good I dea on the dingo....I think the Home Depot in Ashburn rents em even. Plus teh dingo shoudl be able to eat up the sandy soil with ease.

I have been able to see the Horticulture industry from a lot of different angles, and so far no two have been all that similar, I mean yeah you cut grass, plant flowers, squirt and fert...the nuts and bolts are the same, but the threads and sizes are totaly different

my folks biz was around a million, hen I saw the college side of it(yawn), Then disney (outreageous) ECI/Valley crest (privately owned behemoth), Carol King Landscape (5-7 million private operation), My own Show (quite a bit smaller, but still mine), TGLC (public traded behemonth) and now GU. All havebeen unique in theirown way. and if I can learn even one tidbit from each of them, then it has been a valuable experience.

TGLC and Carol King were proably my lowest points IMO...I stayed at Carol kind for about 3 months as a manager before I had enough contracts to be on my own. and atTGLC i was neglecting my family and hitting the bottle a little too hard...

04-14-2006, 12:00 AM
i recently planted 7 in about an hour all manually with 2 people behind a shed in a very very tight space ( he wanted to stop his dogs from going behind his shed) and we where working very very slow and under the influence since it was a friends house

i dont see how anyone is saying this would take 72 hours... Maybe one full day sunrise to sunset you can have this done manually with rented equipment it should definetly be done in one day the balls are not very large on a 4-5 foot

South Florida Lawns
04-14-2006, 12:06 AM
I just made 100 bucks for putting in two 15 gallon Crape Myrtle's at a Library.

They were already delivered, all I did was dig the holes and drop them in.

Took less than an hour for both, digging in all sand.

04-14-2006, 07:12 AM
thanks for the advice. Im going to check rental prices and then i will get back to you guys.

04-14-2006, 07:57 AM
I've planted 54 6-7' Arbs with one employee in 5 hours taking our time. This included unloading them from the truck and the soil was loose. The balls are not big on 4-7 footers.

04-14-2006, 10:19 AM
I am still standy by the 70+ hour by hand, based on Virginia finest soil wher e you have to dig with a digging bar and pick axe more often than not. will a sandy soil be a lot easier...yup...

11 minutes a tree is getting some work done...just don't get you toes in the way of the shovels...

I think with a dingo or a skid loader with good operator and a good laborer you might be able to squeeze it out in a couple of 8 hour days days...The ultimate key is to bid it to your hourly rate that you are comfortable with and that you think you could handle. Taking into account if you work sun-up to sundown and pound these trees into the ground in one day and you are planted, watered, and site cleaned up, coudl you do it again and again and again 3 or four days in a row...IE if you work your azz off for one day, could you maintain that pace day in and day out and not be dragging and tired thus affecting your production on other jobs the following days.

Don't get me wrong I know we have all pushed our selves to get a job done that was a contract price so we coudl "make more money" In some cases you can do it and it works and you ok the follwoing days. But it's not like that all time time, Any money you save by pushing hard you might loose by being tired and lethargic the following day.

And if you do try to push hard and work sun up to sun down...keep an eye on your hours to make sure you don't get into overtime rates for you and your employee on some other job....

I'd scedule the job for a wed, thus giving me 24 man hours per person set aside (48 total paid hours, but only 42 working hours once you take your travel time out of the pix) Work the job for two days hard, hit your hours in two days and take friday off for a long weekend.

After 1/2 a day you'lbe in your groove and you'll know what kind of pace you can keep and you can make the desicion at lunch time to push on for 2 twelve hour days or 3 eight hour days. But if you work 2 12's then you need to take friday off or you are working on over time rates with that days work, which kills your profit, unless you are charging accordingly.

and don't forget, under most fair labor standards, 30 minutes unpaid lunch break per 8 hour shift and one 15 minute paid break for every 4 hours of work....Of course those fifteen minute paid breaks "could" be considered you drive to and from...

04-14-2006, 10:31 AM
I don't know how slow some of you guys work but if my guys took an hour to plant a shrub i would kill them. Myself and one other guy planted 55 5-6 footers and it took 4.5 hours. 2100 is a good price and plan it taking a full day providing nothing goes wrong. Thats just my two cents.


04-14-2006, 11:52 AM
I love the horticulture industry, the only place wer the hourly rate can go from $40 an hour per person on up to $210 and beyond...And the greatest thing is that as long as your client is happy and the check doesn't bounce, Its all good.

Anbody still want to be regulated....

My numbers are based on a hired crew leader and a hired crew being on the job. There is no business owner and direct management on site. In my experience, you can have the best darn crew on a site, but they will always figure out a way to kill time. whether it be the stop at a 7-11 on the way to the job, or that extra 5 minutes at lunch, forgettigto top off the fuel tanks the night before. Is one hour per tree by hand installed excessive, maybe, but we were only charging around 40 bucks per hour, which if you go by whats on this site TG was lowballing. I would never send a crew out to plant that many trees by hand, they would have an auger. I needed that crew to be fresh every day I needed to count on that crew to be able to bill 3/4 a million dollars each year just installing landscapes. and if they got over worked, then production slowed. I'd much rather have the guys working steady at a comfortable productive pace, than having them bust azz on one job only to loose the hours on the next job...

Yes it is quite amazing what can get done when the boss is on the site, But if the boss was on the site everyday, then jobs would not be proposed/sold, plants/materials would not be ordered, schedules would not be made...

But this discussion is not about what happens to a company when it grows beyond the stage of a one man band, and I apologize for heading in that direction. I just wanted to explain my numbers and "inificenies"

if I was bidding on this job in northern VA this is how it would wash out...
I would charge $3500. it would include adding compost @ 25 per yard(7 yards), mulching the tree rings @ 13 per yard(yes thats what we were payingfor double shredded hardwood and we wer getting our debris hauled for free) (23 yards), auger rental(this is a freebee, as we had an auger, but if you send it out to a job you still must bill for it) and watering. total hours is 41, wich means my standard 3 man installation crew should finish this job in two days with a few hours to spare to do equipment clean up, tool repair ect. 3500-all direct costs(labor materials ect)=2000 so my profit on this job is $50 per hour. But it doesn't stop their...I need to recoup my indirect costs(my salary, equipment repair, plant losses in the yard, commissinon sales...ect)

You really want to know the kicker...this job is not something I'd want to send my crews out to do, unless business was slow....we would bill on average 3000 per crew per day...so if I can't get this job done in a day, I'm losing money.

One step further. If i had to buy the plants and install them..the price jumps up to around $9500 for the exact same amount of time, my profit on this is jumps $3000 to $5000. just for buying and transporting trees Markup is your freind. Yes I know i have taken on a possible liability of a warrantee.

Then comes the chance for an upsell yet again...10 gallon gator bags and a watering contract...which we rent the gator bags for 10 bucks and charge $70 per hour to fill them from a water truck.....at the end of the season, we take the gator bags back and then rent them to someone else the following year....

Any body want to buy some undercoating....:)

04-15-2006, 08:30 AM
the dingo with the forks and auger is the way to go....
week before last we used our dingo with our forks and auger (36"bit) to plant 25 6-14 foot sable palm trees in 1/2 a day. took 3 guys 4 hours to drill the holes (did all of them first), transport the palms, stand them up and fill the holes. It took an additional 2 hrs to water them in after lunch.....

all ferris
04-16-2006, 01:35 PM
20 4-5' white pines planted in 3 hours with 3 guys. 2 hours of actual work and the other hour spent drinking a few cold ones:drinkup:

This is my personal house so we were not drinking on the job.

Please keep in mind that I'm in the corn belt so we have very good dirt around here.

04-16-2006, 05:26 PM
you looking at about 1.1 hour per tree just for labor. thats 77 hours.

2 guys all week.

That does not include any time for watering, mulching, staking, ect or materials.

watering is going to add a bunch of time especially if you have ro drag a bunch of hose.

a back hoe woul be a bit too big, but a mini track hoe or a skid loader with an auger would help make quick work of the holes.

Your time on job woudl be cut down, but you would incur rental expenses...so it may be a wash....

No warranty on the tree. If I don't buy it. I don't gaurantee it...
are you on crack? 4-5" arbs can be lifted with one hand, and dug/planted in less than 10 min each. :dizzy: have you ever done this before, mr smith?

04-16-2006, 10:30 PM
Thats 4-5 feet.. not inches...

04-16-2006, 11:47 PM
yes indeed, that's the way i understood it. sorry. i meant 4-5'

Grass Man
04-17-2006, 12:38 AM
.... My neighbor with his BOBCAT and AUGER drilled about 17 holes in 15 minutes. About 2 ½ feet deep, just the holes :).