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A few questions from a solo new guy on mulch beds.

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by greenhorn01, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. greenhorn01

    greenhorn01 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Last year was my first year in lawn care. I got started late. This will be my first full year. There is SOOO much competition around here for Mow, Blow & Go that I'm beginning to think about broadening my services.

    At first I was thinking about adding bush and hedge trimming, but I figured if I did just that, a customer is probably going to ask about their bed maintenance along with it. Therefore, in my mind, I need to offer the whole nine.

    I'm still learning the mulch trade, along with the other stuff i.e. fertilization, seeding etc. I have mulched before but it was very shade tree (my own yard and my moms).

    I love working outdoors and really enjoy what I do. Again I am solo with just a truck, trailer & and 48inch exmark.

    So to my questions:
    1. Am I too small to be worrying about mulching etc just yet?
    2. How do you get your mulch? Luck up and find a wholesaler? Or go to Lowes like a normal customer and buy it, including that in the price to the client?
    3. Kind point to question 1 but what equipment and tools are a must have to do this for actual clients? Example: they want a bed but haven't had one before, grass is still there around the bushes. Rent equipment or just use elbow grease and a shovel?
    4. As a solo op, I got the basic business license, do you have to get anything added to begin extra services like this like a retail license in which you are putting a bought product on their yard and charging them for it?
    5. This one is kinda goofy. But I get a lot of people who are afraid of mulch because they believe it draws termites. What do you say to those people?
    6. When is the appropriate time of the year to do mulch apps?

    I'm beginning this research so that at the very least, if I'm late to that game this year, I might be more prepared next season.

    Sorry to sound completely clueless but all of the mulch threads I looked through were all about pricing. My needs go a little more beginner than that lol.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  2. bradtf

    bradtf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Do you have room on your trailer for hauling mulch 1-3 yards at a time? I'm small too, and only have one trailer running. So I only do mulch on days I'm not mowing since there isnt' room for both. You should find a couple of bulk soil providers, its not luck, they are in the yellow pages, ask for their contractor price and get it by the scoop/yard.

    Another tip that I've figured out when just getting started and trying to improve my quoting. Keep notes and pictures of the jobs you do about how long and how difficult the job was. I refer to my notes/log next time I'm quoting.
  3. greenhorn01

    greenhorn01 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Well my trailer was handed down from my dad to get me started. It's just a 5 x 8 and the truck is paid for so it gave me a decent near debt free start. My goal this year is to make enough to pour back into getting a bigger trailer. The truck is an f-150 long bed.

    I guess I had bags of mulch envisioned in my head that I could split between the trailer and truck.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. bradtf

    bradtf LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Thats fine, same as me, mine is 5x10 and I can easily get 2 yards in there, I throw my tools in the bed of my nissan frontier
  5. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,569

    mulching is simple and easy. i use bags whenever i can. less mess and easier to just take a bag and lay it down where you want it then cut it open and pull up the bag and it all falls out. using a load of mulch you are shoveling mulch which is harder work and takes 2-3 times as long.

    bagged mulch does cost more but i still think it's cheaper for the customer overall. the only time it makes sense to use loads of mulch is if you have a crew of workers on a large job.

    think about it.

    even if you charge double for using bagged mulch instead of a truck load the savings in time (labor costs) would more than make up for the difference to the customer.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2013
  6. greenhorn01

    greenhorn01 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Thanks for the replies.

    Bumping this for more answers to the other questions.

    Still trying to figure out things like licensing, sales tax (if it's needed or not depending on how you obtain the mulch). And what time of year is best for lawn care companies. I say lawn care companies because I see neighbors etc doing them at all times of the year.
  7. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,273

    Ok you can mulch installs easily. Tools - wheelbarrow, pitchfork, large aluminum manure shovel (much bigger than normal shovel with short handle usually). spade shovel (for edging) and hard rake (for spreading mulch[or hand]).
    Get your mulch from a nursery. Most if not all of them sell bulk mulch which is cheaper and more eco friendly than mulch in plastic bags. should cost around $20/$25. Usually delivery fee will be around $50. depending on your area and the specific site conditions charge between $50-$100 (or more possibly) per yard of mulch installed. I think mulch weighs around 800lb/ yard. fill dirt around 2000lb/yard.
    Do mulch anytime. for people who think mulch draws termites, just tell them you keep it 2"-3" deep and keep it away from the house a few inches. tell them that ALL their neighbors have mulch.
    depending if you need to do a major bed expansion you might need to rent a sod stripper or buy a manual one ($300 and hard work i probably wouldnt unless you use alot). otherwise if its manageable strip soil with a shovel or tiller.
    for edging use the spade shovel and keep the edge of the bed very nice and defined.
    good luck
  8. greenhorn01

    greenhorn01 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48


    So when you buy the mulch and therefore charge a client for it, I'm assuming that requires a retail license? Is the idea to buy wholesale and sell to client at retail price? Or do you pass that savings along to the client and boost up your delivery charge?

    I didn't know if there is a set standard for how most go about introducing this service. I wish I had a steeper background in this sort of stuff...and actually tried to get a job as a helper for other lawn companies before starting my own...but jobs are apparently hard to find, even in this sector so I started my own.

    I stayed busy last year even though I started late May just doing mow, blow & go...but I want to be taken seriously one day and grow and be able to stay busy in between cutts.

    I'd like to hear from some of you vets how you did your first job.

    Not mowing, but the extra services you offer. How did you get your materials when you started, Lowes or Nusrsery etc. What did you learn? How long did it take you? We're you solo?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. weeze

    weeze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,569

    around here they sale the load of mulch at the same price for the homeowner or a company. there is no difference. you usually just buy the load and then add a bit to it to cover the cost of driving to pick it up and so forth.

    i'm doing a mulch job next week. the owner is getting the mulch himself in his own truck. i just have to shovel it out and put it in the beds for him. every job is gonna be different.

    check around for prices though. one place here charges $40 a load and another charges $25 per load. i'm not sure how many yards are in a truck load of mulch. they don't really go by yards here they just scoop it up and charge you by the scoop. one scoop fills the back of a truck up. not sure how many yards are in a scoop.
  10. recycledsole

    recycledsole LawnSite Gold Member
    from MD
    Messages: 3,273

    ok. it is not as complicated as it may seem to you. i have never heard of anyone having a retail lisence for mulch installation.
    the math is probably the most complicated part. lets say the property has 600 sq ft of beds that need mulch. you need to figure out how deep to put the mulch. most use 2-3 inches. lets say you want 3 inches. 27 cubic feet in 1 yard = 108 sq ft if mulch is 3 inches deep. 600/ 108 = roughly 6 yards.
    call nursery/ garden center order 6 yards of mulch. tell them to deliver to clients house and ask how much is delivery fee. around here it would be $24/yard + $50 delivery usually. that is $194. you charge the client lets say $70/yard + delivery fee. that would be $470 delivered and installed. This should take you 3-6 hours solo depending how far you take the mulch in the yard. if its far in the back yard, charge more per yard. from that you will make $280 roughly. then for edging you can get rougly around $1/ foot of edging.

    i am solo.
    i think my first job was 9 yards. got it delivered in 2 large piles and wheel barrowed it into the beds, spread it around. before this i weeded and edged the beds. once i was done i raked the area where the mulch was so it the lawn was clean and i blew it off with the blower. it helps to get it dumped onto a tarp so no damage is done to lawn. if delivered on driveway you can use hose to get it very clean which is a key to any job, making it look very nice at the end.
    you keep asking about the bagged mulch from home depot. see the prices range from $2.50 - $3.50 for 2 cubic feet. this is $33- $45/yard vs $24. Now if you get a whole pallet from the nursery it might be cheaper, but for me the bulk mulch has always been cheapest and best. get hardwood shredded most of the time. dont get died mulch that is sick.
    mulch should take an hour at the most to install 1 yard. if youre quick and careful 30 minutes.
    i hope this clarifies somethings for you and empowers you to do the job. this site has helped me a lot i hope this helps you
    good luck

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