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Old 04-20-2005, 03:22 PM
lifesaverbuddy lifesaverbuddy is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Western Canada
Posts: 26
Hi Kris,

I know you are busy, and I dont want to bother you, but I dont know anywhere else to go to get information. Please understand you don't have to answer any of the following questions if you dont feel comfortable, however I can assure that you take very little risk, if any at all, if you do answer them, for these reason:

1) I am only in this business for 2-3 years max. I am in my 2nd year of Engineering and when I am done school I HAVE to work in that field full time in order to get my 4 years experience to become a professional member of APEGGA and work on my own.
2) I love landscaping, but after 3 years on the shovel, I am getting lazy. I want to have my free time and I want to have energy for my kids when I get home. My mother does physical labour, and she never did. I dont want to live the rest of my life in bed after 8 like I have the last 3 summers! Thus I refuse to put in more than 45hrs a week on this job. I am tough, but my body just cant take it, and I need my rest. I can't imagine doing this in 10 years!
3) I am very limited in what I can do. I dont have a machine of my own, so that makes planting trees, and moving materials very difficult. Plus I am only one person and will NOT hire employees. So I do not want to spend 3 hours trying to get one large calibre tree planted straight and correctly! I also dont want to spend a week hauling paving stone by myself and be having nightmares about whether my base has washed out while I've been sleeping!
4) I literally have no money. My dad is going to loan me the money for a $2500 truck. And as long as I can get a $2500 credit card, that's what I'll be running off. Of course, $450 will go to eguipment(wheelbarrow, sod roller, hand tools, hoses and sprinklers, etc), $300 to insuring my truck, $75 to storage, $160 for a general contractors licence, $50 to business cards, and after that I'll be lucky if I can afford to finance 1 sod job in the new developments(sod + topsoil + bobcat rental). All money that I make in this business will go to the $5000 I pay in tuition and books every year, the rest will go to part of the $8400 I pay in rent and $1600 I'll pay in insurance every year. My business has to support me, because I can't afford to support it.

I think that's all I need to say about the sorry state I'm in!

So, here are my questions:

Who would you reccomend for:
hauling topsoil?
spreading topsoil?
bobcat rental?
small equipment rental, like packer, tub saw, etc, if I need it?
trees and shrubs?
subcontracting tree planting to?
landscape fabric?
mow edge?
bark, rock products?

I know most aren't willing to give out rates, but I would like to know so that I am not one of the "lowballers". Maybe it would be better if I give out what I have an idea of charging, and you could just say too high or too low?

For sod, about $0.75 per square foot, incuding 6 in(4 in with compaction) of topsoil. (It costs about $0.45 per square foot for sod, topsoil, and machine rental, the other $0.30 is for labour and overhead)

My old boss suggested twice the wholesale price for shrubs, with a minimum for a small order. Not sure how to go about getting wholesale though.

As for trees, I would just charge the customers what the subcontractor charged me.

When it comes to things like, barking, installing mowedge, paving stone, pruning, etc, I have no idea what to charge, but I'll figure that out later.

Anyhow, if you are able to answer some of my questions, that's great, if not, that's okay too. I did take a look at a greenhouse website going by the same name you used in the paper. I'm not sure exactly what services you provide, yourself, but let me know if you provide some of the things I'm looking for. Thanks for your time and any advice you're able to lend. Hope the season's starting well for you.


P.S From your ad in the paper, it sounds like you offer a lot of overtime. One thing I liked about my old job is that we closed up by 6 every night, except on rare occaision, and only worked a saturday every 2nd week. I don't mean to sound like a baby, but after 9-10 hrs, I'm just not that efficient anymore! So, if you are connected with the greenhouse, do you know if they might have a part time job that pays okay?
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Old 04-20-2005, 10:56 PM
kris kris is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: nowhere
Posts: 1,833
Geez... I had a long post and then I hit something and its gone

I'm not going to post it all again right now .... I'll help you out with almost all the suppliers you need.

I won't tell you what we pay for things at any of them because we would get better rates because of the volume we do.

I can tell you of at least ten soil pit locations around the city ... most opened this week...these guys also haul.
I dont know anyone to spread soil unless its large scale.....find a owner operator bobcat service for best rate ...paper is probably full of them.

Rock products are probably better off going to burnco ...also, Alberta rock has a great pit west of the city .

Look in the book for tree shrub suppliers ... Mill creek is great ....
We don't really wholesale although I would give you a discount. ... we are digging about 500 caliper trees this week and next so we will have a bit of a selection ... probably wont bring in our spruce and pine till about another month.

I cant remember the name of our fabric supplier but they are just off argyle near the freeway ... If I remember Ill post the name...they just changed it around last fall. we buy a years supply late winter.

Lisa .. I dont do any hiring for the greenhouse ..they would hire 60-70- 80 people to help out for a very short time ...then they just keep a select few after May, long weekend...they dont pay that much .. It's run completely separate from the Landscaping division.

We are a design /build landscape construction company, interior and exterior maintenance as well as a couple small tree farms. Yes we work a lot of overtime and are one of the very few that pay it. ...not unusual for our foremen to gross 5-6 thousand a month.

I like to stay annoy mus here because i visit this site mainly for entertainment and act unprofessional from time to time lol I'd appreciate if you respected that.

Chances are Lisa that our prices are way out of line compared to yours ... keep in mind we have been around for 40 years. I wish you the best of luck... you never know... I might turn some work your way.... give me a call to say hello and I can give you some numbers of suppliers if you cant find them.
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Old 04-21-2005, 01:51 AM
lifesaverbuddy lifesaverbuddy is offline
LawnSite Member
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Western Canada
Posts: 26
Hi Kris!

Thanks so much for all your advice. It really helps me out a lot. I know I have a lot of research to do as I am new to the city, but I am busy with exams at the moment and I am running out of time, so every tip helps.

I don't want to bother you too much, so if you could just send me a quick email at, then I would know how to get a hold of you. I can then send you my number if you happen to have any work to refer, which would be greatly appreciated(Let me send you picks of one of the first things I do this summer though, so you know what kind of work you're refering). I will try my best to get things figured out on my own, but if I do have questions I will email first to see when a good time to chat is.

I know the place off the freeway that you're talking about. I'll go down there this weekend and see what they have to offer. And will definately check out Mill Creek too

I do respect your privacy, and my own too, so I'll try not to post any area specific info.

Thanks again. Hope you're having a great start. Lisa

P.S. Please send a couple names in the email who deal in topsoil.
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Old 04-21-2005, 10:46 PM
kris kris is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: nowhere
Posts: 1,833
Did you get my email?
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