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What to charge $$

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by kh5150, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. kh5150

    kh5150 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 15

    I am a rookie lawncare but very much a veteran snow plow contractor. I have been pondering the idea of getting into the lawncare & lanscape Biz. How the heck do I figure what to charge ?? for cutting grass , trimming etc. ?? Gezzz snowplowing is Sooo much easier :cool: Thanks you for any help KH
  2. bob

    bob LawnSite Platinum Member
    from DE
    Posts: 4,254

    The way you feel about lawn care, is the way I'd feel about plowing- lost! My best advice would be to do a search on this forum. There's hundreds of threads that could help you out.
  3. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    Although there are many factors involved you will need to have an idea of how long it’s going to take you to complete each site.

    I try to calculate my mowing figures using 44,000 sf as an acre. I always try to assess how difficult an area is going to be and assign it a “Degree of Difficulty” from 1.5 (flat bagged areas, minimal obstacles) to 3 (steep hillsides, heavy foot traffic, numerous obstacles restricting high productivity while cutting).

    You have to know your equipments productivity in order to bid efficiently whether its by the sf, lf, or hr. Lets say for example:
    **You use a 52” wb and you calculate that your average hourly production time is 40m/sf per hour or 674 sf/minute.
    **Your other mower is a 36” wb that you have averaged out to 28m/sf per hour or 467 sf/minute.
    **You figure that you can line trim 30 tree rings or 4500lf per hour and/or you can stick edge 6000lf of curbs and walks per hour.
    **I estimate that my blower time averages out to be approximately 1/3 our trim+edge time so now I have production rates to bid.

    Now you can measure what has to be done, claculate your job times (x) hourly rate = your estimate for the lawns.

    You should walk the properties and work the estimated times over in your head. While you walk the property you should be making notes to consider which of the larger specimens may require ladder, scaffolding, or bucket work as these should be billed out at a higher rate than those you can walk around to complete.

    Here are some ideas that might help you get an idea of how to price your work. All times given include the clean-up.

    If you have small sized shrubs under 3' in diameter these will probably take a total of 10 minutes each. These could include the barberry, euonymus, birdsnest spruce, goldthread cypress etc.

    Then there are what I like to think of as the medium sized range between 3-5’, which usually are the yews, hollies, yaupons, fuller barberries, and boxwoods. I would recommend that you estimate 15-20 minutes each.

    We often have upright/columnar specimens at corners as well. These would be your arborvitae, lelandi cypress, hemlocks etc. that are kept between 6-8' with minimal ladder work to shape the tops. I would recommend estimating about 20-25 minutes each.

    If you have hedgerows and the like, I will usually try to block them together by counting individual specimens. If I have 30 hemlocks 8' tall along the curbside and 20 running along the back of the lawn to make a corner hedgerow I might figure 20 minutes for every block of 6. So it might be 5x20 for the curbside, and 4x20 for the back lawn totaling 180 minutes or 3 hrs.

    You also are going to have to take into consideration how much growth is going to be removed. Are you cutting a privet hedge way back, or is it a well-maintained evergreen that just needs the new growth taken off.

    Another thing to remember is that when you're cutting evergreens, STOP at the dark green layer and don’t get too thin.
  4. kh5150

    kh5150 LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 15

    Awesome...now I have a base to start thinking with. BUT what kind of $$ money ( hourly rate ) is the so called norm for an hourly rate. $39.00 per hour 50.00 per hour ?? Just curious where to start thinking.
  5. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,662

    The norm would probably be $35-55/hr depending on market. You will need to determine what you need to recoup your expenses and turn a profit and then you have your figs.
  6. TJLC

    TJLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,308

    I'm sure some (maybe most) people will disagree with my method. I just tell customers that anything other than mowing I charge by the hour. I try to base this on what I feel my operating costs are. Some people can walk a property and give exact #'s. I just don't feel comfortable enough to do this with great precision. This could be my own laziness, I don't know, but my method seems to work well so far, I'm making decent money for this area and my customers seem to be comfortable with this. Maybe you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. LOL
  7. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,846

    kh5150 - this may go against everything you have heard, but the way I see it.

    1. In my area the average one lot yard is 60ft. wide by 120 ft. deep, with a house and those yards bring from $20 to $25. -

    If you choose to mow it with a 21" push mower and it takes 1 hr. your hourly rate is going to be $20 to $25 per hr.

    If you choose to mow it with a 78" flex-deck setup and it takes 12 minutes, your hourly rate is $100 to $125 per hr.

    With the push mower you have about $500 - $700 invested in equipment ($20 - $25 per hr)

    With the Flex-Deck setup you have $7000 - $9000 invested - so go figure -

    All depends upon what equipment you run - If someone has a driveway that is normal double wide in a city for example and people with snowplows on pickup trucks charge $20 to clear it in 10 minutes, that is $120 per hr. If you show up with a scoop shovel and expect to make $120 per hr. Good Luck.

    Hope this helps, because I do not believe you can set out and say "I am going to charge $60 per hr" You have to provide $60 worth of service in an hr in order to charge $60 per hr.

    Thanks, Brad - PS> I can make you more efficient with what you have. Thanks again.

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