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Old 09-18-2014, 02:57 PM
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Grahamslawncare Grahamslawncare is offline
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Garden maintenance?

Hey there, I've been doing lawn care for a year now. It pays the bills but I enjoy doing garden work. So i figured, why not start offering garden maintenance? I'm sure the market for it isn't as big as the market for cutting yards but I think I can make it work.

My question is, how would you price garden maintenance? What do gardeners make?
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Old 09-18-2014, 05:30 PM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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around here I've seen horticultural maintenance/gardening (depending on how you're spinning it) go from billing out at $70/hr in DC down to the $30/hr range out in the western suburbs. Most of the gardeners I know bill straight hourly and cost plus on materials. They schedule to be out at the property on a certain day, work either till the goal is met or the day is done (depending on the agreement) and then hand the client a bill. The smart ones also give the client a log of everything that was done, because it may look like you did nothing but in reality you weeded 300 feet of beds, divided and transplanted 6 dozen perennials, dead headed, pruned, and touched up the mulch.
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Old 09-19-2014, 12:50 PM
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Grahamslawncare Grahamslawncare is offline
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$70/hr? Shocked people actually pay that price. I'm sure I can probably manage to pull $30 - $40/hr around my area. Just don't know how to market myself though. I mean, I have lawn clients but they're mostly from CL and walking up to me. No HOA communities with people who will pay top dollar for their yards.
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Old 09-19-2014, 03:55 PM
PaperCutter PaperCutter is online now
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Keep in mind, that's right in the heart of DC metro, so you're probably not looking at a ton of hours per property. I have some friends out my way (approx 80 miles SW of DC) and they bill in the mid-30s. Except for pruners, cleanup tools, and an old F150 they're mostly concerned with labor.

Are people currently hiring gardeners as a supplement to the lawn guys in your area? I would think one easy marketing step would involve the name - most people assume that the lawn guy has no clue about the care of ornamentals. Maybe marketing it as something like "Elite Garden Care by Graham's Lawn Care."
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Old 09-19-2014, 05:40 PM
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TPendagast TPendagast is offline
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Garden maintenance (what we refer to as plant bed maintenance) has lower overhead than mowing (little to no fuel for machinery, much cheaper tools/equipment and the truck usually stays parked for longer periods of time per customer, so less fuel/driving)

So if your lawn mowing was $60/hr, then your garden maintenance could be $45-50.00

Generally garden folks know more and are harder to find good ones so demand a higher price.

If your lawn goon is $12/hr, your Garden Guy is $14-$15.
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:46 PM
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Florida Gardener Florida Gardener is offline
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So, your like me. I love Gardening work and could care less about cutting grass.

My rates for "Gardening" type work are $35/MH. This is for straight up pruner, hand saw, hand shears type work in which no power equipment is being used.

I think a lot depends on what the client wants you to do. If you are doing some experienced gardening work, I would try for $40/HR. I will eventually raise my rates as I get bigger, but am happy with those number for now. A lot will depend too on how many hours you will be given, and if you are already there for mowing. I have a big place that is 8/MH/Week. We are there for a half a day each week. If it was a place that was an hour per week, not on my normal route, I would charge a lot more. If I am already doing mowing and hedge trimming, I am already there so my rates are good.
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:49 PM
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Florida Gardener Florida Gardener is offline
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I forgot to answer your other question.

I would go to your local extension office and see if you could advertise your services there. I would also go on Craigslist and advertise Gardening work. You would be surprised, but a lot of people are looking for a Gardener who knows what they are doing, as most guys in this business don't have a clue. You need to know your stuff though. Make sure you have a sound and basic pruning knowledge, and general plant knowledge.
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Old 09-24-2014, 05:58 PM
larryinalabama larryinalabama is offline
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The term "gardener" may get confused with planting a vegetable garden, especially in rural areas.

I would advertise as pruning and bed maintance done by Master Gardener.
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:09 PM
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TPendagast TPendagast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida Gardener View Post
So, your like me. I love Gardening work and could care less about cutting grass.

My rates for "Gardening" type work are $35/MH. This is for straight up pruner, hand saw, hand shears type work in which no power equipment is being used.

I think a lot depends on what the client wants you to do. If you are doing some experienced gardening work, I would try for $40/HR. I will eventually raise my rates as I get bigger, but am happy with those number for now. A lot will depend too on how many hours you will be given, and if you are already there for mowing. I have a big place that is 8/MH/Week. We are there for a half a day each week. If it was a place that was an hour per week, not on my normal route, I would charge a lot more. If I am already doing mowing and hedge trimming, I am already there so my rates are good.
Our PBM (gardening) crew is separate from lawn crews, so if we are there mowing it doesn't make any difference for us.
Once your gardening gets in demand, ironically you can charge more per hour in many cases than mowing, there's a lot less competition for people who are competent at it.

Next year I will make a a few changes, mainly due to expansion.

PBM #1 will continue to do the straight up gardening.
Mow crews on commercial routes will pick up a third guy who will do the PBM for those sites (specifically hedge trimming and heavy weeding) and will only get as much done weekly as time the mowing guys (the other two) spend there.
This gives me some flexibility as well
In case one guy is out, sick or quits, I can still keep my mowing moving on schedule.
And it allows me to sell more PBM for the PBM specific crew (who had a hard time getting around to the commercial hedge trimming in a timely manner this year.

I will also be starting PBM #2 who will be chemically focused (something PBM #1 did exclusively this year)

PBM #2 will do pre emergents, ,most fert, post emergents, etc.
aerating, seeding and small plant jobs, and when available, help PBM keep with with gardening requests.

My hope is to keep PBM #1 full of weekly customers, so she has the same route ever week just like the mow dudes do.

My pricing for PBM #2 will be lower on the gardening than PBM #1, but higher on the fert n squirt, since that's their focus.

This way, I hope to snag new gardening clients, with a tighter pricing, and the ones who are specific/persnikety , get funneled to the higher detail (and higher cost) A-Team.

So Ill be adding a flat bed Isuzu for PBM #2 next year and 2 mow teams (in Isuzus)

pretty stoked to fill those routes.

Ill need to get my cigar for when I can say "I love it when a plan comes together"
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:43 PM
coultman859 coultman859 is offline
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Well, Florida Gardner has shown all over this site what a good gardener can do to a property, and TPendagast has taken some time to share what that looks like a a larger scale, but I'll still throw in some information as my situation is different than both.

Quick background. Small company. Mostly >75 yr old homes in urban neighborhoods(read: established gardens). We don't do lawn apps, or large design/build. About a third of our billing is for mulch/mow/leaf. The rest is "gardening hours", billed at $30-$80. There are a few things around here that there is literally no competition due to lack of knowledge(the $80 services), but 90% of our work falls in the $35-$40 range.

I would give you two quick tips, each of which drastically revolutionized my business.
1) Learn everything you can about pruning. I always recommend The American Horticultural Society's Guide to Pruning & Training as perhaps the only book on pruning you will ever need. Like everything else though, you will really only learn from doing. I would start in your yard. I am continually learning. This season I have been playing a lot with hydrangea, crepe myrtle, and coleus standards(trees). Next season I believe I'm going to buy a bunch of fruit trees and start toying with espalier.

2) Grab yourself a few(or dozens) catalogs from a perennial/bulb supplier. Study it front to back. Learn Latin names. Calling plants by their Latin names, as well as knowing the newest, greatest varieties is a dead giveaway of someone who knows what they are doing. Sedum Angelina, Coreopsis "Full Moon", and Dianthus "Fire Witch" are some of my favorites from the last few years, and unbelievably are unknown to a lot of landscapers who don't keep up with plant releases. Looking for plants that have won a Royal Horticultural Society award is an easy way to pick winners.

Last edited by coultman859; 09-24-2014 at 06:47 PM.
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