1st Landscape Design.....

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Poncho25, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Poncho25

    Poncho25 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 369

    Ok, so I had a client that wanted me to design her a new landscape for her front area...never done this before but its not that big of an area, figured why the hell not, might as well start somewhere :)

    So she has 2 bedded areas in the front of her house, one is 6x11, the other
    6x21. She already has some Holy bushes in the backs of them and she planted some annuals that she got tired of replacing..anyway long story short. I am designed (see attached) this in MS Visio, not that great at it, but it gave her a general idea of how its going to look.

    I am making about 730 profit on this job :weightlifter: she has already seen the proposal and loved it! I charged about 60% over what my costs were for the plants, so that included delievery, install/labor. I priced out 12 bags of mulch, at 3 cu.ft per bag she only wants it about 2 inches deep. @ 45.00 per bag installed, so I am making the bulk of my profit from the mulch, is this normal? I mean, I am getting the bags of mulch @ 2.75 per bag...

    so...I feel pretty good about this! :) my 1st design and acceptance, she already paid me 50% of the funds, and get the last 50% when completed, I will take pictures...

  2. martinfan06

    martinfan06 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 631

    Looks really good PONCHO 1st time not bad. Just some pointers, youll make out good on this job but your mulch is way over(see quote question thread) 12 bags should have been about 60$ total. Then you would have doubled cost of the plant material, then added the labor cost. Either way you probably come out about the same, if I knew plant list could probably tell better. If you took that mulch price to someone who had mulch done before it would look like you were trying to rip them off just my opinion. 1 more ques. are you getting plant material from nursery (whole sale) or like home depot. Only reason I ask this will also save your client $$$ price is about 40% cheaper,so when you add your cost to it its not that much more than what they see in H/D. Show you care about saving them a little $$$ and more jobs will come more $$$ for you.:weightlifter: :weightlifter:

    about the plant list just relized you have it listed only thing is I dont know the prices for anything but the I/H which last time I bought them was 4.50$ for 3 gallon. 8 total for me would be 75$ installed.
  3. Poncho25

    Poncho25 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 369

    Not sure I understand your comment about the mulch... The plant list is in the attached Image, 8 Indian hawthorns, 24 Dwarf mexican petunia's and 12 Society Garlic. Yes I am getting them all at a Wholesale nursery, had to show my ocu. license and Fed EIN to get on their records and to get the wholesale prices. I will have no problem going over the costs with you if you know more about this then I do, which it seems you do, just send me a PM so it doesn't have to be fully public :) I appreciate any help and tips as it seems this part of the business really brings in the payup payup
  4. 04TurfT

    04TurfT LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    yeah the mulch price sounds high, I know boys around here can get a yard of mulch for 18 bucks and lay it for 45 bucks.... BUT different regions have different pricing... hell if u can get it I would charge that too. Ur layout looks nice, post some pics once u get done with the job......
  5. lawn

    lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 344

    Poncho, what software do you use to design the garden?
  6. 29 Palms Property Management

    29 Palms Property Management LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 347

    Not to answer for him, but the anser is right there. :)
  7. GardnerLandscaping

    GardnerLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 310

    I'd tried design software and pencil and paper. I find them more time than they are worth. I find it best to walk around the yard with pen, paper, ruler, and camera. Measure areas, write down how many plants and what plants you estimate for each area. Discuss with client. Show pictures from camera to someone else. Readjust your plan according to client and peer response.

    Buy the plants for the first section. Place on the ground, measure out the spacing. You may find what you had in mind doesn't work and will need to adjust. Don't be hesitant to return plants or buy more plants. Install. Repeat for each section.

    Last yard I did, I found the junipers didn't fill the space according to how I thought. The customer also commented that they didn't want anything planted in one area because they sometimes turn around in the area. Even though the juniper are resistant to cars, I had to completely readjust my plan. The readjusted plan looked and functioned even better.

    Unless you are a master landscape architect and planning landscapes is as natural as riding a bike, I've found I'm better off using an agile approach for architecting landscapes.

    Consider the use of tiller. Tiller helps improve soil condition and gives your plants plenty of room to grow without them sitting in a container of water and potting soil enclosed by compacted clay. Using a tiller also gives you the ability to regrade and reshape the landscape bed.

    Mix native soil with soil additive. Also mound your root ball and pack it above ground level because dirt will settle, and your plant will die.

    Important things to remember:

    1. landscapes are both form and function.

    2. accent doors and sides with height.

    3. break things up.

    4. try for double rows where possible.

    5. notice surrounding textures, colors, and plants that already exist. try to make the textures and colors blend and contrast. if things are really dark and nice plants are washed out, try bringing them out with highly saturated colors. holly bushes against dark red brick or browns will look dark and dreary. a $60 oak leaf hydrangea tree will look like weeds against a back-drop of woods without something like a bright silver liriope in front of it.

    6. notice drainage, grading, soil, light, and wildlife issues. know your plants, what does well under different conditions. often times you can fix drainage problems with plants that tend to soak up the water. hostas and i/h are a treat to deer unless they are placed against a house.
  8. GardnerLandscaping

    GardnerLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 310

    hide eye-sores. if you can't hide them, wash them out or soften them by your choice of plant and arrangement.
  9. jake65

    jake65 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    can you recommend a Landscaping book with much detail to all the variables you mentioned

    Thanks Jake
  10. GardnerLandscaping

    GardnerLandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 310

    My sister recommended the Sunset series to me. I borrowed a few of her books. Better Homes & Garden has virtually copied the style and content of the aging Sunset books and those are good too. Better Homes and Garden and some of the Scott's books tend to be a little on ecentric side, so use with a critical eye. They do provide many different inspirations and different circumstances. Look for local favorites. I have a local book that goes into depth of when to do what in Georgia and what to grow where.

    Also, there is a landscape design document floating the Internet in PDF and HTML format, which I read, and found very useful in regards to basic landscape design principles.

    My biggest recommendation is to use your own critical eye. We're all not born artistic genius, but if you look carefully at what other people do as inspirations, work with the situation you're faced, and apply your own critical eye, you'll be better off than everyone who wasn't born an artistic genius.

    The rest is browsing your local nurseries and looking up online the specific plants you like to see what conditions they function. Just be aware, how they are labeled in the store is not how they'll function in the landscape. For example, most junipers and liriope are labeled as full sun plants. The gray owl juniper and silver liriope varieties have a more saturated color when they receive partial full sun and are more resistant to shade. Liriope in general will perform poorly under a hot, dry sun. That tulip tree sounds really cool and looks really cute in the store, but really, have you read about the mess they make. And after they grow 200 ft, they're not so cute anymore.

    I've had a lot of luck with Home Depot and even Wal-Mart plants over Monrovia and commercial nurseries though Monrovia has delivered some winner gardenias and tea olives. Native plants from local nurseries do reasonably well also. The nice thing about Home Depot is that they have a 1-year warranty on all their plants and offer contractors discounts. But always shop around. The deals and plant health are drastic from store to store.

    When purchasing plants, look for new growth. You want the plants actively growly. Avoid plants with full blossoms, they've spent their energy developing the blossoms.

    Hope this helps.

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