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View Full Version : Average Labor for Sod Install


M & MD Lawn
12-09-2009, 10:00 PM
Ok, so I had a guy stop me at the barbershop the other day and says he is putting an addition on a home and needs to get the yard back straight. So I ask for the address and I go to take an estimate. I took my measurements and ran the numbers but this would be my first sod install and im not sure what GOOD LABOR RATE WOULD BE?? Now i know you are thinking " he's in indiana, whys he doing a sod job". I am going ahead and putting the estimate together and give him the estimate and let him know we cant do it until spring because its too cold to install, and i will stress the word estimate and let him know that prices are subject to change if material price changes. So Im asking what you guys charge for labor on sod or an average rate, I dont want to price myself out. As I mentioned I'm in indiana, indianapolis to be exact.

Thanks in advance guys!!!!:clapping:

kemco
12-09-2009, 10:24 PM
Back when I did more sod jobs I would charge right at $100 above my cost for each pallet - so labor was $100 per pallet, 3 pallet min. (approx 450 sqft per pallet). I dont know if that's even in the rage, low or high, of what anyone else charges. I know that I made pretty good money pricing it that way. I came up with this figure based on what it costs some homeowner to go buy sod from a local nursury, and what I can buy it for from the sod farm. Example: A pallet of palisade zoyzia from nursury is around $330, that's what it would cost a HO just to buy the sod, no install. I get it at $210 a pallet from the sod farm, and free delivery on at least 3 pallets, so 3 pallets was my minimum job size. My selling point was I can install sod cheaper than you, MR/MRS HO can go and buy it. I really think I should be pricing my labor higher.

M & MD Lawn
12-09-2009, 10:31 PM
Thanks kemco, i never thought to charge by the pallet

alf500series
12-09-2009, 10:44 PM
i usually figure what the square footage of the area is, what my cost + delivery is and then double that price for most of my stuff. generally i end up charging around $3.50 a yard installed. if it is a larger yard i get a little better break on the sod. and i think i have got the sod as low as $1.37/yd

Lawn-Scapes
12-09-2009, 10:58 PM
How many square feet is it? I usually charge by the square foot.. the smaller the footage the higher the price... also depends on accessibility.

M & MD Lawn
12-09-2009, 11:11 PM
its rounded off 3500 square feet

kemco
12-09-2009, 11:14 PM
Based on that sq Id charge right around $2500 (if it was palisade), includes ground prep, cost of sod, and labor.

topsites
12-09-2009, 11:18 PM
I don't think sod installs are something to tackle as a learning experience
for a customer who is not aware that you've never done this before.

Lawn-Scapes
12-09-2009, 11:36 PM
I would be in the neighborhood of $2700 or higher... depending on prep and accessibility. Can the sod be strategically placed (when delivered) in the work area or will it need to be humped in a wheelbarrow from front to back...

It's not too difficult.. snug up your seams and stagger/step you rows. Leave the customer watering instructions.. in writing ;)

Good luck...

M & MD Lawn
12-09-2009, 11:59 PM
this is my first time installing but i have watched others put it in and when our house was built i vigorously watched them, i also have a friend that does it and he gives me advice and might stop in. Its not that difficult, i just needed for the labor. And I think I am going to use bluegrass, thats what alot of LCO's use around here. and for instructions i still have the packet they gave us when we moved into our house, fert. plan and all, not tht i follow it for my yard but it does work

topsites
12-10-2009, 02:07 AM
I have a story from a customer who paid well over 20 thousand dollars for a sod installation,
a month later the sod was dead, perhaps it was the customer's fault and maybe it was the
Lco's fault but it really doesn't matter because the Lco is in jail.

How it happened I couldn't say, but if it were my guess I'd say the man couldn't explain himself in court
because that's all it takes when it boils down to inexperience.

So I think you need to be upfront with your customer, otherwise if anything goes wrong it's your arse,
if a customer with this type of a situation ever calls me I would likely not hesitate to recommend legal action,
understand now that businesses without any sort of guarantees or any other sort of plan to fall back on
leave the consumer with little choice, more so when a lot of money is involved.

exmark614
12-10-2009, 02:13 AM
If you know why tell us or don't post anything about it.

M & MD Lawn
12-10-2009, 02:36 PM
If you know why tell us or don't post anything about it.

I must agree with you exmark, but I guarantee all my work, i have no need to tell them this is my first time, this is my first mass sod job, laying sod is not very difficult, definetly not rocket science. When i do large jobs, which i have done landscaping, I always go back and check up. I will leave a customers with specific directions on care of the new installed sod and will offer to fertilize it for them so they don't have to worry about "messing" up the sod after the initial starter fert. If there is a reasonable explanation it is my fault I will fix it. Thats how I have stayed in business this long and don't plan to change that, along with great customer service and reliablilty.

exmark614
12-10-2009, 02:38 PM
I must agree with you exmark, but I guarantee all my work, i have no need to tell them this is my first time, this is my first mass sod job, laying sod is not very difficult, definetly not rocket science. When i do large jobs, which i have done landscaping, I always go back and check up. I will leave a customers with specific directions on care of the new installed sod and will offer to fertilize it for them so they don't have to worry about "messing" up the sod after the initial starter fert. If there is a reasonable explanation it is my fault I will fix it. Thats how I have stayed in business this long and don't plan to change that, along with great customer service and reliablilty.

Couldn't have said it better. It's not rocket science at all. I love doing it and it makes more than mowing that's for sure!

After reading some of that guy's posts, he seems like an idiot, and how do you post over 15,000 times?? And that story is probly some made up BS.

M & MD Lawn
12-10-2009, 03:55 PM
Couldn't have said it better. It's not rocket science at all. I love doing it and it makes more than mowing that's for sure!

After reading some of that guy's posts, he seems like an idiot, and how do you post over 15,000 times?? And that story is probly some made up BS.

lmao, I hadn't even seen the 15,000, that is a lot, I'm thankful for his concern but it wasn't valid for this time and I would say that LCO in his story was stupid, Im trying to figure how he messed up that bad :dizzy:;)

JB1
12-10-2009, 04:04 PM
Yep, famous last words "Its Not Rocket Science".

NEWGUYRI
12-10-2009, 04:59 PM
Couldn't have said it better. It's not rocket science at all. I love doing it and it makes more than mowing that's for sure!

After reading some of that guy's posts, he seems like an idiot, and how do you post over 15,000 times?? And that story is probly some made up BS.

Couldn't agree more, that and he's a jackass to a lot of people. He probably spends more time on lawnsite than actually making money. When you have 15k posts on a forum you know there must be business issues.

M & MD Lawn
12-10-2009, 05:04 PM
Yep, famous last words "Its Not Rocket Science".

lol, you know its not though, not to mention if a person is really that stupid they have this thing they call the internet and it tells ya how to do it lmao:cool2:

ed2hess
12-10-2009, 05:59 PM
If it works like in our area the sod company would deliver and place the sod for the guy. Then he would go to Home Depot and get 4 guys and pay them about $15 per hour-good price for labor.

exmark614
12-10-2009, 06:08 PM
lmao, I hadn't even seen the 15,000, that is a lot, I'm thankful for his concern but it wasn't valid for this time and I would say that LCO in his story was stupid, Im trying to figure how he messed up that bad :dizzy:;)

I'm trying to think of that as well. It must've been one huge ass account if that were the case. But I'm thinking it's all BS.

And yeah, 15,000...you've gotta be kidding me haha, how can you post that much? Like the other guy said, he probly spends more time on here than in the field or office.

M & MD Lawn
12-10-2009, 11:03 PM
I'm trying to think of that as well. It must've been one huge ass account if that were the case. But I'm thinking it's all BS.

And yeah, 15,000...you've gotta be kidding me haha, how can you post that much? Like the other guy said, he probly spends more time on here than in the field or office.

LMAO maybe he should *trucewhiteflag* the biz and work for lawnsite, lol idk

exmark614
12-11-2009, 12:44 AM
LMAO maybe he should *trucewhiteflag* the biz and work for lawnsite, lol idk

I don't think that posting on this site several thousand times constitutes a job for the site. :laugh::laugh:

M & MD Lawn
12-11-2009, 03:23 AM
I don't think that posting on this site several thousand times constitutes a job for the site. :laugh::laugh:

LMAO, well you gotta point there lol

exmark614
12-11-2009, 03:44 AM
I'm surprised he hasn't replied back with an attempt at a witty remark. :laugh:

Edit: Why the hell am I still up? And on this site...:dizzy:

Buddy Buds
12-11-2009, 07:40 AM
Here in Ga. I can buy bermuda for about 60-65. If I don't have do site work I charge$180. If I do the dirt work it's $225 a pallet depending on the amount. That would be for 18 pallets. For less than the trailer load I would have to figure in the bobcat cost extra above the $180.

M & MD Lawn
12-11-2009, 11:20 AM
well I just talked to him and he's going to do the grading work so all i have to do is do a lite prep and lay the sod and water-fert.

M & MD Lawn
12-11-2009, 11:34 AM
Going to pickup hay today ad put down when I get home, fun fun and its freezing outside.

Matlock Lawncare
12-11-2009, 07:02 PM
Just to chime in a little, I am glad others said something about you know who, A $20,000 sod job and now he is in jail, REALLY!!!! Sounds made up. First of all I do a lot of sod A LOT! A lot of guys say green side up. ha ha well thats half the job, But I wont get into that. First start with charging (depending on area) approximately $4 per yard with a $100 delivery fee. That will cover any minor hand grading and prep plus the laying of the sod. Delivery should include spotting of the pallets on the property by sod company, if it is in the back yard and they cant get the pallets placed inthe back yard then go to $4.50 per yard for wheel barrowing (sorry for spelling). Plus the best way to lay it if you have a few guys is to go from both sides and meet in the center and then cut in the center pieces. Some guys will tell you different but I have tried over the years to do it every different way and this gives you the least waste. Always use length X Width Divided by 9 plus add in a little for cut pieces. Not being a know it all and I rarely post but this hit right in my wheel house. Hope everyone had a great year! Dont slam me too hard for my comments it 6 pm on friday and I started earlywith the drinky drink. LOL

exmark614
12-11-2009, 07:31 PM
I honestly think that this topsites guy may be jealous that some one is getting work and he is not? Lmfao.

M & MD Lawn
12-11-2009, 07:35 PM
Just to chime in a little, I am glad others said something about you know who, A $20,000 sod job and now he is in jail, REALLY!!!! Sounds made up. First of all I do a lot of sod A LOT! A lot of guys say green side up. ha ha well thats half the job, But I wont get into that. First start with charging (depending on area) approximately $4 per yard with a $100 delivery fee. That will cover any minor hand grading and prep plus the laying of the sod. Delivery should include spotting of the pallets on the property by sod company, if it is in the back yard and they cant get the pallets placed inthe back yard then go to $4.50 per yard for wheel barrowing (sorry for spelling). Plus the best way to lay it if you have a few guys is to go from both sides and meet in the center and then cut in the center pieces. Some guys will tell you different but I have tried over the years to do it every different way and this gives you the least waste. Always use length X Width Divided by 9 plus add in a little for cut pieces. Not being a know it all and I rarely post but this hit right in my wheel house. Hope everyone had a great year! Dont slam me too hard for my comments it 6 pm on friday and I started earlywith the drinky drink. LOL

ok, thanks, this was really helpful, i never have heard of people laying from the outside in but now that i think about it, its a great idea and seems like it would work better (wouldn't see seems as much if uneven). Thanks alot

snlmllc
12-11-2009, 09:05 PM
I've done quite a few sod installs and i normally charge around 100.00-150.00 over the cost of the sod my price.but then there is the ground prep and soil additives if the soil is in bad shape.that is all figured in at a different price, plus most of the sod jobs i've done i also try to include an irrigation system ( since most people don't like to water properly ) which is a good point of sale to add to the yard. I also give breaks to the elderly and of course military or retired military. most of the grass i install is St. Augustine, simply for the look and the feel of it, but then again i'm in south GA

M & MD Lawn
12-11-2009, 09:43 PM
I've done quite a few sod installs and i normally charge around 100.00-150.00 over the cost of the sod my price.but then there is the ground prep and soil additives if the soil is in bad shape.that is all figured in at a different price, plus most of the sod jobs i've done i also try to include an irrigation system ( since most people don't like to water properly ) which is a good point of sale to add to the yard. I also give breaks to the elderly and of course military or retired military. most of the grass i install is St. Augustine, simply for the look and the feel of it, but then again i'm in south GA

so does that mean you charge 100-150 a pallet or total? hope this doesnt sound stupid

snlmllc
12-12-2009, 07:53 AM
100-150 per pallet,but it depends on how many pallets i'm installing

jvanvliet
12-12-2009, 09:24 AM
I just bid to install one pallet... one Floritam pallet delivered $170.00 (expensive but only this guy is local, I usually pay $85 per pallet & $35 delivery no matter how many pallets). Labor charge is $300.00, I'll usually charge $150 per pallet, minimum 2 pallets. If a lot of ground prep is required, clearing existing ground cover, adding dirt, leveling, grading, etc. The price goes up. I hold the homeowner or property manager responsible for watering & include this clause in my contract;

"P&C shall not be responsible for soil or airborne diseases, nematodes, fungi, mold, insect infestation, drought, irrigation failure, or any other condition not specifically addressed in this agreement."

polerpoker
12-15-2009, 12:42 AM
I till with a dingo and soil cultivator to a depth of 4"-5" hand rake and roll sod with starter fert. for $1 a square foot. I did a 15,000 sqft job for $15,000. Myself and one other guy tilled and raked it on a thursday from noon till 5. The sod was delivered on friday at 8am I had 3 guys four including me and we were done at noon, right before it started raining.

I always charge $1 a square foot, if that is to much for the customer than they cant afford me.

Also, we have job contracts that explain that there is no warranty on sod installed. on the other hand I have only had one lawn die, and it was because the lady went on vacation and didnt water.... reseeded it this fall and it looks great again, I could have sold her another sod job but felt bad, it was a honest mistake.

the only thing we guarantee is that if you dont water it it will die.

leave topsites alone man, hes off a bit on this one but he is trying to help you out, if you listen to what hes saying, it that you need to let the customer know exactly what to expect you dont have to tell em its your first but explain what your going to do and draw up a contract to cover your ass!

castle555
12-20-2009, 05:19 PM
You are getting a lot of great advice here, and one respondent advised you to be careful about it being your first sod job -we all start somewhere, and I know what he means -it not that simple and depending on weather -turf can go wrong on you -or the customer -so contract it. Remember- alittle knowledge can be dangerous!:hammerhead:

A commercial sod company in the central valley in California has install crews available that I have used on my bigger jobs.
They charge a min. $200.00 for 1000sf, $300.00 min. above that number, and $ .10/sf over 1000sf, and use $.15/sf for back yard install. This seems to be a pretty competitive formula. They use a 5 man crew usually. Their delivery cost is free over 1000sf and they go about 50 miles.
A pallet is about 600sf and rolls can be 72" or 48" in length -guess which one is a 'mother' to labor with.
You can cost the sod job this way also for 3500sf x .36/sf plus tax, then add the labor cost by square foot(or whatever the sf cost for the sod is, or your total prep for labor and soil amend, etc.)
or
multiply your total material costs by .65 as this type of work is generally worth about 65% the cost of your materials. ($2079 + tax 103.00 = $2182)
ref; RL Means Landscape Estimating

Other pertinent information:
location of sod install -back yard or front yard -delivery and transport point -could make a difference in price and labor. easy access or long walk back?
What kind of Turf -Cool Season? Warn Season?
What supplier and blend of sod are you going to use? 90/10, 95/5, etc. all bluegrass?
Ground prep with good 50/50 planting soil and compost is needed -roll and rake it right! then wet it and roll and rake it again.
Excellent irrigation system needed with 4" pop-up sprays minimum and good MPR nozzles.

sunray
12-20-2009, 09:19 PM
We double the price of the sod and add to that if other difficulties are involved.
Such as difficult access,difficult customer,no sprinkler system.
putting the sod down is straight forward, but what happens when you leave is anyone's guess but you can bet if it goes south it will be blamed on you.
have enough built in to your price to cover whatever comes up, doing the job right is just not enough to cover yourself.
Don't worry about getting every job the ones you miss are looking out for their own self interest and could careless about you and your company.
Don't get me wrong everyone wants a deal but good customers understand you get what you pay for most of the time.

RodneyK
12-20-2009, 10:48 PM
You should look at Town and Country as a supplier for this job. It is a bit of a drive but their bluegrass sod (XL2000) is just awesome. Do a soil test and amend as required! Prep like you are seeding. Be aware of soil layering.

http://www.tclandscapesupply.com/shoptc/282-930/XL-2000-Bluegrass-Blend-Sod.php

WGLandscapeMaintenance
12-21-2009, 07:12 AM
I till with a dingo and soil cultivator to a depth of 4"-5" hand rake and roll sod with starter fert. for $1 a square foot. I did a 15,000 sqft job for $15,000. Myself and one other guy tilled and raked it on a thursday from noon till 5. The sod was delivered on friday at 8am I had 3 guys four including me and we were done at noon, right before it started raining.

I always charge $1 a square foot, if that is to much for the customer than they cant afford me.




I like that rate!!!!

M & MD Lawn
02-23-2010, 03:45 PM
Ok guys, the guy has changed his mind he wants me to do seed now, says the sod is too expensive. So for the seed, I've never planted seed on a mass scale like this meaning i've only fixed you know patches in yards or multiple patches and seeded too make the lawn more full. I haven't done it from scratch with a whole lawn so my question is do I seed this job the same way I would do a large patch or is their another appropriate way. I know some of the basics are roughing up the surface (tilling), applying seed, maybe rake over it and then apply more seed, WATER!!, then about 2 weeks later or so a starter fertilizer. Thats about all i know.

Thanks in advance guys!!!!!!, Help is really appreciated