How do YOU Measure for Mulch?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Loosestrife, Apr 8, 2002.

  1. Loosestrife

    Loosestrife LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Posts: 80

    I know how I do it, but am curious how others handle this situation. Measuring a square bed without any lpants is just simple math, but what about beds with irregular shapes and curves? Also, the density of the plants will have an effect. As plants grow (some) will cover more ground, and thus the bed will require less mulch.

    I know that we could spend a lot of time measuring each and every area, but it just seems to be much too time consuming.

    The way I do it, is to "visualize" how far a yard of mulch will cover, and "count" the number of yards. I've done this for so many years, I usually get pretty close. I am trying to train another person to do some mesurements, and am having a difficult time with the irregularly shaped beds with different quantities of plants.
  2. jkelton

    jkelton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 243

    I try to visualize irregular beds through simple geometric shapes (rectangle, circle, triangle, etc.) and make my measurements that way. Some measurements you will be over, some under - most likely, you will come as close as you need. Thickness variations will probably be the biggest variable that will affect your calculations (i.e, if you put on 2" +/- 1/2" on 10K sqft, you could possible vary the yardage calculation by 31 yards between the upper and lower limits (1.5" - 2.5"). If your area calculations on the same job vary +/-1000 sqft, you would vary only 11 cubic yards (based on average 2" depth)).
  3. LawnLad

    LawnLad LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 738

    I visualize how far the mulch will go on the job. Most of our jobs are less than 20 yards of mulch. Many don't require quotes up front, just mulch until you're done.

    When we're spreading it, we'll dump piles in the beds (assuming it's open) before we spread. This way we know that we're getting approximate coverage. Then we'll go back through and spread the piles out with a stiff rake, and smooth it out with the back side of a metal tined leaf rake. If we have to pull or push any mulch here or there, we do it at this time. So if we estimate 10 yards, we'll make 10 yards work.
  4. mxrdrvr3

    mxrdrvr3 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    lawn lad I wish it was that easy with concrete could you imagine leaving a dip in driveway to make it go all the way to the end of the forms?

    Thus working with concrete I have a tendency to order to much of anything by about a half yard or a yard in some cases. I always measure in a simple shape such as rectangle or square wether there is a curve or not that way I know I will have more than enough to do the job if my grade isnt perfect. I do the same thing with mulch too, if there is left over mulch I just spread it out in the bed. If there is left over concrete Just send it back with the truck(myself cuz I drive the
  5. mdb landscaping

    mdb landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,205

    i too can pretty much tell by looking at it. i just make sure i never overguess, cause i dont want to have to haul mulch away. usually im right on, and if you do enough jobs, you develop a knack for estimating. i only haul 5 yds at a time with my dump trailer, so i just guess how much more or less i will need.
  6. Harvestman

    Harvestman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    We measure all bed areas squaring them up the best we can. Then divide the square ft by 243 (for 1 1/2 in of mulch). Then I round up to the next yard. This way I always have a little left over. It easier to get rid of a little then to go and get a wheelbarrel full.
  7. Ssouth

    Ssouth LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 437

    Do it the same way. Two weeks ago my father and I were working on a job together. He had already estimated mulch and wanted me to do it just to be sure. He didn't tell me his estimate and we came with the same number; 37 yds. We then took a wheel and measured it exactly and it came out to 38 yds. I guess if you do it enough, you can just look and tell. So far this spring we have put out over 200yds and have another 50 or so yds. lined up to install.
  8. landscaper3

    landscaper3 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,354

    We use a measuring wheel and go lenght by width at largest section and bring home to put on a mulch calculator and rounds off to the nearest yard. No more over or under bidding!!
  9. George777

    George777 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Alabama
    Posts: 305

    You have been doing it for some time and so that is why you know. I would teach a new man the "Full Take Off" method and run the math. Once he has been in the field he to will be able to eyeball it.
    If he does the full take off you will get close every time. teach him the math first then have him go at it. It does take some time but we must learn to crawl before we run.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    we measure in squares and round up. I always have some to haul off, but I would rather put out a little more and haul it back to shop and dump than have to go back. Dave g

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