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Why Bagged Mulch is a Better Investment

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by PlantscapeSolutions, Sep 18, 2010.

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  1. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,734

    Yea, the ValleyCrest statement about bagged mulch is off. I have worked along side a ValleyCrest crew for 5 years now. In the spring, I hear plenty of stories about the prior day, when they had 30 guys at a massive apartment complex spreading bulk semi-trucks of hardwood mulch. They do plenty of bulk, and plenty of bagged.

    Anyway, this is a silly argument. No one has even mentioned or discussed mulch TYPE and the needs and wants of specific customers. I do plenty of bulk, plenty of grade A cyprus and cedar in bags, and plenty of baled opine straw. Customers are different. Mulches come packaged in different forms. Sometimes there is no choice.

    Do I love taking two pallets of cypress bags to a job? Heck yea- but if I need 10 yards of natural brown bark hardwood, it's getting loaded into my dump truck or dump trailer in bulk. Just makes more sense for me and my labor.

    Besides, i'm not sure if I can even get good, bagged natural hardwood at my suppliers. NO one around here does hardwood in bags, it's all bulk.
  2. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    That's the only reason I haven't invested in a blower yet. All I've heard is bad things about how mulch blowers are hard and expensive to maintain, along with them breaking down constantly.
  3. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,370


    Pulling isn't the problem, stopping is the issue.

    You hit and kill someone with that load behind your 350, someone's lawyer is going to be in contact with you. And then they'll own a landscape company.

    Just because you can, doesn't make it right.

    I see further down that you used a mulch blowing company.

    The ONLY way to go.

    What's best is, I can give my list to the sub, and wait for their invoice and send an invoice to my customer who sends me a check. I never have to touch a shovel, pitchfork, wheelbarrow, truck, trailer, pallet, dolly, rake, other than a phone.

    You really don't know much about trucks, do you?

    That F450 has 19.5 tires on it, so with 4.10 gearing it would be equivalent to maybe 3.55 or so on a 350. That'll destroy a tranny in no time.

    450's on up all have 4.88's because of the bigger wheels. They can also carry more weight, LEGALLY.

    See the part about stopping your load, has nothing to do with being able to get it moving.

    Would also be interested to hear how much weight you have on the rear axle of your 3500.

    Yup, local contractor has 6 of them and I've been using them for over 10 years. Diesel prices up\down whatever he keeps right on going, price has changed very little and he provides the material, truck, labor, cleanup for me.


    There is no more efficient way than a blower truck. Before we started using them, we had 100+ yd loads delivered and we would use a compact tractor and a Workman with sides to haul 2 1/2 yds around. Then fork it and rake it. We were doing 3-4 yds per hour, easy. Blower trucks can do 10+ yds per man hour. In any condition, wide open\heavy cover\under trees\slopes\close to the truck\far from the truck\wet\dry\anything in between.
  4. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,464

    and that little bit of information some how makes blower trucks bad?

    they might have there con's but they still know how to get the job done if you can afford one.

    if i did enough volume in mulch jobs to justify buying one and had the money i wouldn't think twice about making that purchase.

    but for me those are if's that will never happen. i'm not interested in becoming that large. not to mention i hate doing mulch in the first place. give me shrubs to prune or turf to mow any day of the week.
  5. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,979

    We are fortunate to be in a metro are with a million people. We have Austin Wood Recycling's headquarters in town. I can be at the mulch yard in about thirty minutes. They actually have a north and south mulch plant. Bags or bulk you can pick your poison. For only $26.86 a yard bagged I'll always take the bags. Plus many of our properties are hilly here. It's much easier to control my dolley (1500 lb capacity) with huge tires than a wheel barrow with skinny tires. For easier to get to spots we use commercial grade wheel barrows with two front tires.

    Here in town all the big companies you see running around have bags on their rigs. Landscape construction is where you might see a skid steer your mulch is where you see bulk some times. I understand if your in a small market you may be stuck using bulk because it's cheaper. Many of the smaller mulch operations here do not have the money to start a bagging operation. Many subcontract out the grinding as well. The rate was $6,000 a day for an equipped grinding crew.

    Another benefit of bags not mentioned yet is the fact you can fit a lot more volume on a trailer. More volume means less trips to get mulch which means more money. I get almost 29 yards on my trailer in bags. In bulk it would only hold about 21 yards (6.83' x 4 x 21). My trailer has 4' sides but the guys that don't have monster trailers really benefit from bags. You can't fit much on you average trailer (tandem 7K) 16' with a 12" tall pipe rail around it. Take that same trailer and put four pallets on it and you've got 19.25 yards. In bulk you'd be lucky to get 6-7 yards.

    If you live close to New Waverly outside Houston you can get good bagged product from Landscapers Pride for as little as $22.27 a yard bagged. Texas is a great place to be a landscaper.
  6. yardguy28

    yardguy28 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,464

    i wouldn't use bags even it were cheaper........

    so just because everyone else is doing it, your doing it too?

    if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you?
  7. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

    People go to jail for stuff like this. If you sold me 100 bags of mulch and only installed 90 then you'd better leave 10 behind. It's also highly unethical.
  8. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,370

    You wouldn't by any chance be, perhaps, a sales rep for Austin's Wood Recycling now, would you?

    This is really starting to sound like a Billie Mays infomercial.
  9. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,979

    What TX DOT here looks at is your tire capacity. With my triple axle trailer and dually my max legal capacity is slightly over 35,000 combined (GCVWR). This actually gives me a cushion still of about 3500 more pounds I can legally tow. I have an exhaust brake and brakes on all three trailer axles. Stopping is not a problem.

    I'm not a Ford guy and was merely speculating about the F450. If you want to be a stickler for details the Ford has 19.5 wheels not tires. The 225\70SR19.5 tires have a height of 32.3". Regular 3500 dually trucks like my own come with 17" wheels. My tires are 235/80R17 with a height of 31.8". That a a difference of only 1/2". That makes a very minimal gearing change. The tires mounted on 19.5's look taller than they are because you see more wheel and less tire.

    A lot of heavy haulers will put Alcoa, Rickson, or American Force 19.5's or even 22.5's on their 3500's to legally increase their towing capacity to the same level as a 4500 or 5500. The only problem with 19.5's or 22.5's is the ride quality sucks because of the stiff tires.
  10. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,979

    Here the info from a prior post you must have missed-

    "My maintenance clients pay for exactly the amount of mulch we use. On landscape jobs we bid in a fudge factor. If I come up short the mulch comes out of my pocket. If I have a few bags or more leftover it's jobsite booty I get to take back to the holding yard. I don't care who you are nobody can look at a job and say with 100% certainty how many bags it will take. Any good estimator will always leave a little room for error.

    Having bags left over is part of my bidding science!"

    I realize this post goes on and on and it's easy to miss something. It sounds like your probably a grass guy and not a full service landscaper as well. We do it all from AutoCad design to the install of $100K jobs. Sometimes you come up a little short and other times you end up ahead of the game. That's just the way it is.
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