View Full Version : Need expert advice on cemetery bidding

01-12-2011, 06:40 PM
Been mowing city parks forever and got that covered, but there comes up a city historic cemetery about 27 ac and 5000 headstones. Looks very unkept and tough to get done in a day's time with a four-man crew. I want to talk to guys who brave those spooky cemeteries and wake up the dead with their noisy zero turns. How do you get a good solid bid on 5000 headstone trimming? The 27 ac part i can handle, but the trimming on steroids workload has me puzzled. Thanks for any help because I don't want my paycheck to cause me to shreik!

Tyner Lawn Service
01-12-2011, 06:45 PM
BOO!!! Better hope nobody grabs your pant leg while your mowing. If you have the trimmer in hand you can keep the ghosts at bay.:)

01-12-2011, 11:14 PM
It probably looks unkept because the city won't pay much. They have salaries you know! That is alot of trimming. Also mowing those are tough because of the depth of the headstones are very uneven. Where my Dad is buried they have a worker borderline slow, that day end and day out trims the stones. That particular cemetery hired a company just to mow and no trimming. They had to mow it high because of the stones and it really looked bad, but hit a headstone with your mower and your up a creek. Just imagine trimming 5000 headstones, no wonder that slow guy knew every name on every stone!

01-13-2011, 12:46 AM
Get permission to use Round Up. It will cut your timing time a lot. But be prepared to replace head stones at the tune of 2 or 3 grand and up to replace. After about the second or third broken headstone be prepared for you liability insurance to go up. If you super careful you may not knock over headstones but you will beat the deck all to heck. Cemeteries are hard on equipment.

One would think its a easy job and it is a long and lonely job. Remember it only takes one missed trimmed headstone and someone complains it turns into an pain in the butt job. You think trimming a average lawn is a hassle, just think of 5000 things to trim around.

G. Ramey
01-13-2011, 11:06 AM
Bidding a cemetary is not easy. I have two cemetaries and they are opposite as night and day. One is modern and has all the graves in rows with enough room between them to run a zero turn. The cemetary association allows me to use round up, so there is almost no trimming to do. The other one is 200 years old and the graves are placed where ever the families wanted them. some are so close together that I can't get a mower in there so there is a lot of trimming to do. Both cemetaries are similar in acreage, but the old one takes three times as long to do. I charge three times as much to do the older one.

01-14-2011, 01:14 PM
That's the thing, this is an old 200+ years historic cemetery which has headstones all which way, sunken, tipped over, uneven, etc. Civil war soldiers are buried there. Looks like a nightmare job. Give me a number you'd be a player at. Here's the specs: 5000 headstones, uneven, 27 acres of land, 35% of land mowable, 65% consumed with graves and what that entails. Every other week mowing. Let's hear some bids out there if you were the one bidding this monstrosity.

01-14-2011, 01:59 PM
I would be Leary if it looks unkept, because it's likely a "lowball" type deal. The cemetery we do has around 1500-2000 headstones and all open mowing. We spray around the stones very tight (2-3") and trim very little. I would not want to weedeat around 200 yr old stones, Very brittle and will show very easily if you hit it with trimmer. We did a small cemetery in '07 with around 1000 stones and the trimming was ridiculous. Also had to blow all grass clippings off of stones.
Ask about the spraying and if they say no, run! Not worth the trouble and a broken 200 year old stone would break the bank.
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01-14-2011, 02:20 PM
We do one large private cemetery about 20 acres and its a pain. Make sure you have your mowers set up to mulch since you don't want to throw grass all over the headstones. Trimming is done with walkbehind trimmers which are more of a pain than regular straight shaft string trimmers are but carrying trimmers for several hours a day is worse. Money mowing cemeteries is good but the liability is high and they are very demanding. Good luck with your bid.

SouthSide Cutter
01-14-2011, 06:09 PM
Google a picture of this place. And every other week makes it harder to mow.

Mowing Freak
01-14-2011, 11:29 PM
One thing you may try, take your trimmer to the cemetery and time yourself "trimming" around an average size stone then of course take that times 5000. Really spend some time in it, get out of your tk and walk around. My experience in my area is, the cemetery don't want to pay what it is really worth. They are used to people mowing cheap. Hopefully it is different in your area. If you don't need the cemetery, bid to where you will make a little money. If you don't get it, oh well. I bid on one last year and bid according to their specs, no spraying around stones, using my equipment, etc. I was going to add a 36 or 42" mid-mount to my fleet for mowing between the stones if I got it. They ended up giving it to somebody else and allowed him to spray and use the cemetery's equipment, so be ready for things like that to happen. Good luck!

01-15-2011, 12:02 AM
you wont be able to finish it in a day with 4 people. from what I charge on the cemetaries, if it is a half way easy cut and the headstones are all in a line id be in the 54k to 60k a year for just the mowing based on 28 cuts.. I have not seen it so take that with a grain of salt.

01-16-2011, 09:39 PM
I have been mowing cemeteries for 6 years. We bid all our jobs based on what they want to pay. We count all the stones and anything that would require hand trimming. Then we look at liquid edging with round up extend or something similar.
Since Memorial day is huge in the business we won't mow a cemetery on less than 3 cuts in May. If they want 2 mows a month the cost per mow goes up about 35% over the 3 cut price. We bid based on acreage along with counting all stones and other thing that need hand trimming. I figure trimming at $60.00 per man hour trimming. A good operator can trim 180 to 200 stones a hour. Plan on buying a high end trimmer since you will be using it a lot.Get to know your insurance agent tell him exactly what your doing factor that into the price. We use walk behind mowers and some zero turns. I have a city that wanted me to bid but they wanted mulch only and i don't have that much power and would have to re power some of the mowers to do it. Around here grass is wet till after June 15 or so, that would really slow a crew down. So I never have sent them a official bid even though they send me a bid kit each spring. This is definitely like a demolition derby on your equipment Good luck

01-18-2011, 07:00 PM
Bidding is tomorrow and it's going to be some circus in that bidding board room, I can feel it. I bet there's some sucker out there that will bid $1200/per mow (total)...that's what I'm feeling. I can't compete with that number. $1200 won't even get me out of bed on that 27 ac/5000 headstone cemetery. I'd be the one pushing up daisies after that job!