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View Full Version : Mulch Jobs- Need advice, tired of working for free


RonWin
05-21-2012, 06:24 PM
I have been getting passed around by a lot of people lately for mulch jobs. I started out doing jobs for cheap and sometimes hourly due to just starting out and trying to build up a customer base/reputation. I have been charging hourly for a few places and charging flat rates per yard of mulch else where. Clients pay for the mulch themselves and have it delivered ( i know im missing out on making money by delivering it myself but get orders of 10-15 yards + which multiple trips on gas wont pan out for) and then i charge $30 per yard to spread. PROBLEMS I'VE RAN INTO:
1. The beds are NEVER mulch ready and i have to weed
2. The edges are gone, grass has merged into the beds
3. Should i be charging more for beds that have extensive plants/bushes/trees i have to craw thru?

I generally do these jobs with another guy whom i pay $10 an hour. Instead of just spreading mulch (as the customer assumes) i find myself spending way more time there due to "bed preping". I could probably spread 1.5 yards an hour with my guy helping me if im filling and dumping the wheel barrel.

Is it worth more than $30 per yard spread?
How should i be charging for bed preping? hourly/flat rate?
Should i be charging more when beds have lots of plants/bushes/trees to work around?

It costs me $25 round trip to get to this place and back, they say that 15 yards is what the usually order. I have 1 worker working for $10 an hour with me. Is making $50/hour what I should be ending up with at the end of the day for myself?

STIHL GUY
05-21-2012, 06:39 PM
instead of weeding everything and wasting a lot of time i just spray weedkiller or use the weedwacker to knock down the tall weeds then spray

LandFakers
05-21-2012, 06:57 PM
instead of weeding everything and wasting a lot of time i just spray weedkiller or use the weedwacker to knock down the tall weeds then spray

Im with him. Its a blow, roundup, spread rotation.

RedSox4Life
05-21-2012, 06:58 PM
I read your post, thought there was definitly some things you could do differently.... then I got to the last sentence.

If youre CLEARING $50 an hour, i.e. $50 an hour going into your pocket, not being used to pay operating costs, Id say you're doing just fine.

Glenn Lawn Care
05-21-2012, 07:08 PM
Wow $30 to spread a yard of mulch!? Then you pay a guy $10 an hour to help you. I charge $65 for a yard of mulch installed plus bed prep. For bed prep, if there is weeds I will spray them with round-up and redefine the edge if it needs to be done or if its a new bed start with a new edge.

orangemower
05-21-2012, 08:54 PM
I read your post, thought there was definitly some things you could do differently.... then I got to the last sentence.

If youre CLEARING $50 an hour, i.e. $50 an hour going into your pocket, not being used to pay operating costs, Id say you're doing just fine.

There's no way he's clearing $50hr after expenses. He's not charging enough and working for peanuts.

Doing bed work is good money if you know how to charge for it. The last mulch job I did (2 weeks ago) needed 4 yards of mulch but the bill was over $1500. I did a 6 yard mulch job before that one and it came out at $100 a yard installed. It all depends on the conditions. When I estimate a mulch job I factor in everything.

If a potential customer calls and wants me to install 10 yards of mulch that they had delivered, I will go out and see what the property looks like and price it according to the conditions. You can't price it per yard of mulch. It has to be priced by the conditions and add materials. If you look at the property and it's nice and clean, no weeds and easy to get the mulch to the beds, then you can price it by the yard installed. I can spread a yard of mulch in less then an hour by myself and charge $60 a yard to install with no other work. MOST jobs need edged, weeded/sprayed, hedges trimmed/pruned and mulch installed. I've done maybe 2 jobs that didn't need more then just mulch installed.

sgrenier24
05-21-2012, 09:19 PM
I am with orange on this one. We average around $100 a yard for mulch. We weed, spray Round up where needed, spread the mulch and cleanup after. Any less than that I don't bother. A lot of customers balk at the price at first but keeping a portfolio of before and after pictures of previous jobs usually clarifies what type of work we do.
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KrayzKajun
05-21-2012, 09:28 PM
Wow $30yd!! I'm between $65-85yd (labor only) so close to $100-125yd (labor/material)
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SSmith
05-21-2012, 09:41 PM
Did a mulch job today where I was on my hands and knees the entire time. This is HARD work. Charge accordingly.

PerfectEarth
05-21-2012, 09:47 PM
...Doing bed work is good money if you know how to charge for it.... It all depends on the conditions. When I estimate a mulch job I factor in everything.

....I will go out and see what the property looks like and price it according to the conditions. You can't price it per yard of mulch. It has to be priced by the conditions and add materials.

Bingo. Do not use blanket "per yard installed" prices with everything included (edging, trimming, clean-out, weeding, etc...) All properties are different. We keep ALL mulch materials separate in the estimate/invoice from labor. "Labor" includes the bed prep, trimming, weeding, edging, delivery and install of mulch and THEN the material is line-itemed totally alone. Gotta make money on mulch, per yard, per bale, per bag, whatever...

The majority of our Spring jobs like this- the mulch is the EASY part... you have to account/estimate the other stuff differently. We make most of the money on this part, not the mulch mark-up and spreading. but then you'll get those easy spreading jobs where your labor is low or in-line with the mulch costs.

And be careful how much you weed eat down weeds and spray, then mulch... that's amateur hour if it gets to be ALL you do when you prep beds. Some situations, OK, some not.

LawnScapers of Dayton
05-21-2012, 11:14 PM
in general...I start at $80 a yard installed.....but edging and weeding are all more based on how bad the beds are........

Orrdc
05-21-2012, 11:36 PM
I am with everyone else, if I am only doing the mulch just scoop drop and spread its 75 a yard, if I have to weed it I'll charge much more. Just did 2 yards for 250 that was light weeding and it took 2 hours

charmill26
05-21-2012, 11:53 PM
I'm at 70-90 a yard install including the cost of the mulch and delivery. This involves me dumping and spreading the mulch. Bed prep in any way is extra. If they don't want it cleaned up I dump and spread and ignore the weeds, lack of edges, etc. I'm not going to worry about how it looks after if they don't want the necessary prep work done

RonWin
05-22-2012, 08:20 AM
I want to make $50 an hour for myself with this job. I know that the people CAN pay it. Its a multi-million dollar neighborhood that i have only a few accounts within. If they are paying for 15 yards of mulch at delivery cost of $450 I should charge instead of $30 per yard, $50 a yard? That way I figure I spread 1.5-2 yards of mulch every hour and pay $10 an hour to my guy. As far as the weeds go, what round-up am i using for beds that have plants and trees in them? I dont want to kill anything that they want. Do i weed wack the beds, remove the debris and spray then go right into mulching? Or is there a time frame needed to wait?

Lastly how do i get the superb edging. That professional'esk edge that you big guys do. I want it to look as good as the best of them. Is it just a shovel or a gas powered edger? p.s. the echo edger with the single blade thing sucks, atleast it does NOT make it look professional as the big guys.

All in all this is going to cost a total of $1200 for 15 yards of mulch (450 material delivery + 750 labor (50 a yard installed) Is this reasonable/high/justright?

lawnworker
05-22-2012, 08:51 AM
Ron, 50.00 per yard labor has you where you want to be, and is probably inline with most others. The exception is gonna be those outfits with a finn mulch blower. Add some extra charges for the other work. You need to be able to estimate your time to do each task and charge accordingly. This is the basic concept of all business.

It sounds like you were low, initially, and are now trying to raise rates. Sometimes, your clients are hiring you cause you are the lowball price. Let us no if they all stay with you, when you raise your rates.

Florida Gardener
05-22-2012, 09:09 AM
We use bagged mulch as it easier here...the factors I look at are how far do I have to drag the mulch from where it's dropped off, do I need to carry it up somewhere. Beds are pretty much maintained as that is part of our routine maintenance work so it is usually just dropping the mulch. I have been doubling the bag or pallet cost, but from now on it will be 2.5x the cost plus delivery. If it by the yard, it will be $80/hr for 2 guys plus delivery.
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RonWin
05-22-2012, 09:33 AM
After thinking it over i might just charge em $500 for 15 yards installed. This doesn't include weeding or edging. I figure that it will take me anywhere from 7n1/2 hours to 9 hours. If it even took me 10 hours i would be making 40 an hour ($10 an hour to my worker). I would be happy with that. If they do ask for edging and clearing(weeding and roundup) of the beds i will have to add more obviously. they are friends with my parents and i would think that $500 dollars for labor alone on 15 yards is a good deal for them. Total they pay is $950 (450 for 15 yards delivered 500 for me and my worker to install it). how much do you charge to edge ? by the foot? hourly? How much would u charge for the weeding/roundup/weedwacking (i know that you would have to see how many weeds and junk there is but if you can give me an idea that'd be good; remember its 15 yards worth of bedding.

Kelly's Landscaping
05-22-2012, 01:49 PM
30 a yard only works because your not paying real wages and all the wonderful things that go with having someone on the books.

As far as mulch goes I don't care what I am using the labor is 50 a yard so crap like dyed wood chips will cost 75 where hemlock like I put down Saturday will run 98. If the beds are super dense and you see this is going to effect the speed then you may need to increase the price for labor even more. We did a 45 yard cedar job once where the old growth shrubs and the 15 to 35 foot deep beds with plants 8 to 40 feet tall growing into each other blew the estimate to hell. Instead of a yard an hour per man we saw less then .5 yards an hour per man.

The rest of this is quite easy we charge 60 and hour for labor so we look at the weeding and calculate how many hours then the edging then pruning if required. you then times your hours by your price per hour and you got your estimate its that's simple.

Other must to add if you had a pest license is snap shot or preen too keep the weeds from coming back. That's typically 25-50 dollars for a normal amounts.

So tell me this doesn't sound better we did a mulch job on Saturday we did 5 yards on hemlock we weeded pruned even did some hand pruning of weeping cherry trees. We edged and we put down our pre-emergent. Grand total 1060 dollars plus tax.

One other trap is having the client buy the mulch I hate that so much. Not because I get screwed out of a mark up because we do not mark up mulch. It's because your now stuck using one location as your pile and as you get further away the times go to hell. But if you use the truck you can more often then not just drive along the curb to a new spot that's closer. Or you can back deep into the drive way to reach the back where you couldn't dump because it would be in the way or what ever other reason you can think up. And it's a dream on commercial parking lot jobs since you can often work right out of the truck at each bed.

crichardson
05-22-2012, 06:32 PM
shewww thats like cheaper than someones son or grandson would do it for i feel....30 pays for a yard of the best mulch here.

Get Some...
05-22-2012, 07:05 PM
Mulch- 58.77 inc tax.
Approx 2.5 yards on my trailer.

$160.00 installed.

One helper and myself........finished in an hour or less.

Weeding/bed cleanup/spraying...........extra.