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lawnalbert
03-15-2008, 10:05 PM
I just moved to northern Maryland from coastal South Carolina a few months ago.
I have pretty decent equipment and have been doing residential yard maintenance (primarily mow, trim, edge, blow) part-time, year round for about three years.
My problem is this: I haven't a clue when the season starts and ends here for this kind of work and have no idea of the going rate. At this point in time I'm really interested in residential lawn maintenance only but I'll do a little bit of incidental stuff to get and keep an account. For any additional significant amount of planting, mulching or trimming, etc. I would normally charge a reasonable rate based on my estimated time to complete the job.
So......can anybody familiar with the northern MD/DE market area give me a clue as to what is the going rate for an hour's worth of lawn maintenance on an average lot. And yeah...I know it would just be ballpark but it would sure be helpful for me as a starting point to get out and start marketing.
Finally, when does the grass need to start getting cut around here and when does it stop growing?
Thanks a lot for any help anyone can give.

Johnson LCO
03-15-2008, 11:18 PM
Depending on the weather we usually start mowing the first or second week of april. As for what an hours is worth around here, $45 is about the average price for one man hour. I know some companies that charge 60$/hr and some that charge 35$/hr and everywhere in between. Analyze your costs and what your time is worth and go from there. Luckily there isnt too much competition for mowing so you can charge a decent price. The prices I mentioned are for general landscaping BTW. Good luck.

desii
03-15-2008, 11:55 PM
Luckily there isnt too much competition for mowing so you can charge a decent price.

I'm moving to Delaware...:walking: Sorry, but there's tons of competition in the mowing biz around here. All you need is a truck w/trailer, mower and a dog and your set...LOL.

RGM
03-16-2008, 12:42 AM
I was out driving around today and saw some green grass that might need to be cut last week of march

lawnalbert
03-16-2008, 04:19 PM
Thanks for the information, guys. So I'm thinking maybe $40-45 for your average residential lot (mow, trim, blow and go)? Also, in this climate, is two cuts a month during the growing season sound about right?

Ravenwood Landscaping
03-16-2008, 04:47 PM
Two cuts? It depends on the season. In the spring, you're looking at doing at least once a week, if not 2 times every couple of weeks. Then you can draw back towards the summer depending on the rain. You have a little bit of comptetion in Cecil county including me (although I won't be up as high as Elkton), but it's a fast growing market with the military base coming into Harford over the next 4-5 years. There will be a large influx of people into the area from all over the country. You might want to focus some of your effort into Fair Hill areas (read: $$) as much of Cecil county is full of "countryfolk". I from Cecil county, so I'm familiar with the residents.

columbiaplower
03-16-2008, 04:49 PM
plan on cutting weekly

lawnalbert
03-17-2008, 01:56 PM
So I'm getting the drift that during the heavy growing season that folks are receptive to weekly visits. I know that would have been a hard sell in South Carolina, at least in my experience. Most folks just didn't want to make that kind of expenditure. But that was there and here is here. Do most local landscapers offer to perform cuts as they are required, subject to a maximum and minimum number?
Again, in SC, kind of the rule of thumb was to keep St. Agustine at three inches and centipede at one and one-half inches. Bi-weekly would pretty much accomplish that during the entire growing season.
Any advice as what to offer would be appreciated and thanks for everybody's help so far.
(By the way, Ravenwood, your website is awesome...both informative and elegant).

davink
03-17-2008, 03:18 PM
Two cuts? It depends on the season. In the spring, you're looking at doing at least once a week, if not 2 times every couple of weeks. Then you can draw back towards the summer depending on the rain. You have a little bit of comptetion in Cecil county including me (although I won't be up as high as Elkton), but it's a fast growing market with the military base coming into Harford over the next 4-5 years. There will be a large influx of people into the area from all over the country. You might want to focus some of your effort into Fair Hill areas (read: $$) as much of Cecil county is full of "countryfolk". I from Cecil county, so I'm familiar with the residents.

Ravenwood, I like the website also, just wanted to let you know of a type O on the services page
Holiday Decorating



"Don't have time to put the holiday lights up this year? Afraid if falling head over heels into your bushes again? Climbing on a 25 foot tall ladder not your most favorite thing to do? Call us!"

Shouldn't it be afraid "of" falling?

Just thought I would let you know. The page looks great though, do you guys get much business with the holiday dec? I have thought about doing that as well, not sure if there is much of ares market here though.... I think the price would have to be pretty high to make it worth the time.

HBLandscaping
03-17-2008, 04:36 PM
I have 4 lawns that need cutting early next week , So looks like the season maybe starting alittle early this year. Most of my residential lawns are getting cut for $40 or $45 per weekly cut, I do have some for $50 and one for $75. Most people like it once a week but you won't hear them (atleast mine don't) complain about it if you show up every 5-6 days. My clients understand that it may not be every 7 days it maybe 5-8 days depending on the days of the week (No sat or Sun, unless its a make up day do to weather) or the weather on or around that seventh day changes the mowing schedule.

Ravenwood Landscaping
03-18-2008, 09:19 AM
Most of the grass here is of a fescue type. When the spring is wet, like it has been, it grows quick. You could mow at 3" on a Monday and be back over 4"-5" by Friday in some cases. I think most people expect a weekly cut and I couldn't imagine people giving you a hard time about it. Like I said earlier, in the summer you'll probably be drawing back to biweekly late July, but if it stays wet. You could looking at weekly until Oct-Nov.

Thanks for the compliments on the website. We took all over our money last year (our first year) and put it into our advertising for this year and equipment. I still have to figure out how to effectively market my website because the number of hits I'm getting is a little lower than I expected. It's listed fairly high on Google in a number of search methods and I've got it plastered on my post cards. Hopefully the yard signs we just bought will bring a bunch more traffic in once we get them out.

And thanks for the typo heads up. I typed it all in myself and sometimes I get a little too quick for my own fingers.

Ravenwood Landscaping
03-18-2008, 09:25 AM
do you guys get much business with the holiday dec? I have thought about doing that as well, not sure if there is much of ares market here though.... I think the price would have to be pretty high to make it worth the time.[/QUOTE]

Well we listed that service to offer for this year. I've heard of the Christmas Decor franchises in the area doing fairly well for themselves, but where I'm at there really isn't any other company offering it or at least that I've seen ads for. The one company in my area is run by someone I know and they get an avg. of $3K/house and she said they have around 30 houses and some commercial properties. So I'm planning to market this very heavily in the late summer in my area and see what the response is. I'm hoping that the thought of year round landscaping will appeal to some of the upscale neighborhoods near me and help pull in regular season clients. I'm thinking/hoping the low competition means that this service just hasn't been explored here.

tknoel
03-18-2008, 10:02 AM
Just north of you in PA. My contracts run from April 1 until Nov. 1. I did cut a few regulars into late Nov this past season. March I focus on Spring cleanups especially because of the ice and heavy snow of late winter. In the next couple of months I have two or three clients with very healthy lawns that I mow, by request, at 3 1/2 twice a week. As far as Holiday season I did a couple this year and will be looking to do and advertise it more this year. Good luck on a successful year.

HOOLIE
03-18-2008, 11:33 AM
The grass up around here is mainly fescue, different from coastal SC. Once it starts growing it'll grow balls to the freaking wall up until around Memorial Day or into June depending on the weather. A lot of lawns really could stand to be cut every 4-5 days in the spring.

I'm seeing some lawns down here right now that could stand a cut.

smcunningham
03-18-2008, 12:27 PM
I'm about 45 mins north east from you and looking @ last years logs I started mowing first/ second week of april. But I've noticed a couple of my customers might need a to be cut end of next week. Yeah from april to mid june early july you'll find that most lawns need to be cut every week....if we don't get hit w/ a drought you could very well mow weekly from april to oct/nov

topsites
03-18-2008, 03:52 PM
I'm in Virginia, having been stationed in Charleston many years ago I can tell what you know by now there is a definite change in the weather... Overall probably a 5-10 degree difference. I say plan on the 1st of April starting, and as for cutting SOME lawns grow UP until Xmas here in Richmond but definitely into October and most likely November.

As for starting I just got my ad out today and it runs for some time, so I'd get that much out there asap if I were in your shoes...
Might be a week or two early but things are starting to warm up, you're maybe 200 miles north of me not sure but NYC is 350 miles, if we're more than two weeks out from the start of the season I would be mildly surprised, three weeks at the absolute most.

Really one more week and anytime now, even tomorrow things could start warming up, but usually April 1st.

lawnalbert
03-18-2008, 04:24 PM
Thanks to all you folks who have been so informative. I really would have never imagined that fescue could grow so fast. I was figuring that most customers would balk at weekly visits, but in all but the hottest times that is apparently the norm in these parts.
I guess on the positive side that's great.....4 cuts a month; on the other hand, that's about $160/month for your average lot which ain't chicken feed to most folks. But I suppose if that's what people are accustomed to paying, then its all good.

Ravenwood Landscaping
03-18-2008, 09:13 PM
Like I was saying before hit up the Fair Hill area. Those people have some cash and are paying probably $50-$60 a mow per week plus other landscaping services. Also hit up the Patriots Glen golf course community. The yards are a small size and you could possibly get enough in the one community to make it worth your time. Don't waste your time with Chesapeake Golf Course in North East, all of the houses are done as a part of the HOA. That contract was given out a while back (I tried to get it through friends who live there but apparently missed it by a week or two). There are also a bunch of communities just over the line that are decent enough that you might have some good luck. Just thought I'd give you some help on the way in.

One suggestion would be to look at getting your Maryland Home Improvement License. If you're doing more than mowing, this is required. They don't enforce it very strongly, but I keep hearing they're going to come down on businesses very soon. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.

lawnalbert
03-20-2008, 07:16 PM
Again, thanks Ravenwood (if you're still out there) for the very useful information. I drove through Patriots Glen this morning and I'll probably scope out Fair Hill this weekend.
I've recently left a county that is very flat (max. elevation 18' a.s.l.) so the hilly properties in Patriot's Glen kind of threw me as I tried to mentally price some lots. There's no way my tractor is going to make some of those slopes and humping my self-propelled 21" up and down those hills is going to be really time consuming even though the lots are not for the most part very large.
Guess I'll just make my best guess and see what happens.

RGM
03-22-2008, 02:08 AM
I have had 2 call for cuts next week

ALBsun1
03-22-2008, 03:20 AM
Ravenswood,

3k per house? What would that service include in december? You telling me someone is gonna spend that coin to get their place in order for the holidays? elaborate please.

ALBsun1
03-22-2008, 03:28 AM
Thanks to all you folks who have been so informative. I really would have never imagined that fescue could grow so fast. I was figuring that most customers would balk at weekly visits, but in all but the hottest times that is apparently the norm in these parts.
I guess on the positive side that's great.....4 cuts a month; on the other hand, that's about $160/month for your average lot which ain't chicken feed to most folks. But I suppose if that's what people are accustomed to paying, then its all good.

it really isn't that much weekly cutting here. in april and may, perhaps, but, we get plenty of dry spells, too many sometimes. if i tried to mow every week at my clients, they wouldn't be my customers any longer. there is simply no need for a weekly mow from late june thru mid august around here. unless of course, you can get people to sign a contract for 30 or whatever mows. but, i don't understand why a customer would agree to that. i wouldn't throw money away to watch someone mow my brown lawn in july.

Ravenwood Landscaping
03-22-2008, 09:51 AM
Ravenswood,

3k per house? What would that service include in december? You telling me someone is gonna spend that coin to get their place in order for the holidays? elaborate please.

You're just as surprised as I was when I found out. There is section further down the main page called "Christmas Trees and...". Just read through the threads and you'll find out a lot and see some of the same $ numbers.

There is an art to it and yes people will pay for it. But it's not just buying Home Depot lights and stringing them together. It's the use of commercial decorations, storage of the lights and decorations, and the design. To some degree you are almost a decorator rather than a landscaper (Please keep all jokes to a minimum, I have a wife), and that's why it becomes a higher $ market. You also have to have some knowledge of electrical circuits so that you're not overloading circuits or random strings.

It's also a specialty market. When I called to start getting the brochures the catalogs, the first thing the guy asked me at one company was "What type of area do you live in?". He said that this type of business can only exist where the per capita income is very high. Fortunately for me, I live in/near such an area. Neighborhoods upon neighborhoods of $1M homes of people with income they don't know what to do with. A big selling point for this type of business is that the cost is mainly in the first year to buy all of the decorations, after that each year is cheaper to just maintain the lights, put them up, and take them down. Take a gander at that section and you'll get a good feel for what I'm talking about.

TNT LawnCare Inc.
03-22-2008, 04:02 PM
We'll be mowing next week on half our accounts, the season is going to start about 2 weeks earlier this year . We really didnt have a severe winter, matter of fact i dont think it really got colder then the upper 20's to low 30's this winterfor long periods of time. You can cut grass at least once a week all the way till mid June. The grass grows like crazy in the spring time here.