Bid Help w/4 small beds

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by BrandonH, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. BrandonH

    BrandonH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    I don't do much landscaping, so when I'm asked for a bid I'm still stumped as to how to figure. I have a client that wants 4 beds all to be 6'x12' w/pine bark mulch. He already has the bushes for them , which is 2 per bed. The area where he wants these is currently in the lawn and is covered in St. Augustine grass. I know I'll have to tear the grass out, then turn the beds good then more than likely add some soil. I have no idea how long this may take, so without an estimated time I can't really figure based on hours. I would appreciate any advice.

  2. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Messages: 2,702

    Well, I'm just goofing off at work anyhow, so I'll give it a try.

    1. Remove grass with sod cutter, or kill grass with round-up. Is St. Aug a stolon or rhizome? You might have to cut the edge good (stick or bed edger) to eliminate future encroachment into the beds? sorry, not familiar with warm season stuff. Removing the grass might be better idea if the beds are bordering grass.

    You might want to mark your beds out with marking paint before cutting or spraying.

    Don't forget, if you remove grass, you'll have to dispose of that too.

    2. Are you installing the plants? Even if they are large, say, 5 gallon or more, they shouldn't take more than 15 minutes each. Don't forget slow release fert and soil amendment for the plants.

    3. You'll need about 3 yards of mulch to give a 3" spread. If the beds are fairly close together, it shouldn't take much more than 1.5 hours to spread 3 yards.


    establish beds, remove grass, install plants, spread mulch:

    8-10 hours solo

    mulch, slow release fert, compost or other soil amendment, sod-cutter and edger rental.

    Total price anywhere between $500-$750 depending on what your mulch price is, how long it actually takes you, and what your market will demand.

  3. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    Green Monster's work order sounds about right..........but I think $500 - $750 is a little low.....most especially the $500 end (although I don't know your area's pricing).

    Would you have a dump fee for the grass you have to get rid of? I would. Figure that in too if you need to, plus your time getting it there & dumping. the client dead set on pine bark mulch? That stuff is horrible - doesn't retain moisture well, gets lost out the beds easily, etc. Actually, same goes for that trashy red mulch. Anyone inquires about it & I tell them to reconsider & just go with the good ole hardwood which DOES hold moisture well & chokes out weeds. Do yourself a favor and sell the guy on the good stuff so his brand new beds don't get all weedy in two weeks. I say this becasue you don't mention putting down any plastic weed guard as part of the job...........or maybe that could be one more add on for ya if he insists on the pine bark.

    Also........the soil you have to bring in to build up the beds, I think that's a little more work than you might be thinking. Depends on how much you're having to build them up. One ton of dirt is not all that much when you're looking at it, but it weighs a lot & if you have to move it around (you might need 3 - 4 tons) charge a little more than what you get for a yard of mulch. Consider whether you'll be getting it to the site on your trailer or delivered (extra fee).

    For the slow release fert.......get osmote if you can. That stuff is great but expensive (a sandwich bag full is about $4.00 - $5.00). Also maye 2-3 bags of composted manure (about $7.00 each).

    To me, this job sounds more along the line of $1,100 - $1,200. The client is getting a very nice addition to his landscape for just over a grand. Probably change the entire complexion of his place & it should be done right (that's something you could maybe tell him if he balks).

    Overall, sounds like a lot of grunt work & a lot of running around to pick up mulch and top soil, dump, etc......which is great as long as you have the time and get paid. Your hours are going to add up fast on this one I'd bet. Just think a litte more about what will need to go into the job. There's some variables here that are kinda hard to see.

    Jim Lewis once told me he would rather have less jobs that pay well vs. a lot of jobs that don't have much profit in them. That's good logic. Why kill yourself out there on an install that doesn't pay?

    Of course, only you know where this client fits into the big picture. Is he a must-have, or good for business type (meaning referrals or close proximity to other clients, etc.). Sometimes there's a good trade off in coming off rates a little bit if it opens other doors.
  4. BrandonH

    BrandonH LawnSite Member
    Messages: 138

    Thanks for the replies.

    The only reason I'm using pine bark mulch is that he already has 5 bags and I will just pick up 15 more to have enough. I get the idea that he doesn't want quality work, he wants cheap work. I'm not going to waste my time doing a quick job and sacrifice quality no matter what. I think I can get by with a minimal amount of soil, maybe 1.5 yards or so.

    I may be way off on my time calculations, but here's what I have.

    Remove Grass: 1.5 hours
    Add Topsoil: 1 hour
    Plant shrubs: 3/4 hour
    mulch Beds: 1 hour

    Total: 4.25 hours of onsite labor.

    Dumping: 1 hour
    Picking up materials: 1 hour

    I don't have dump fees, but I do need to figure in time for dumping.

    So that's a total of 6.25 hours needed to do the job. Like I said I may be way off on my time, I'm just guessing at this point.

    As far as hourly rates I usually try to get $50 for mowing, so I would assume I could try for $50 landscaping maybe more maybe less.

    At $50 that would be $312.50 for labor alone. Mucch should only be $30 or so, and soil should be close to the same. Add some fert. and I still only am only around $400. I'm sure I'm underestimating my time, since I don't do this sort of thing on a regualr basis.


    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    Brandon- I believe this is about 10 hours of work. If you are by yourself, than this is going to be the only job you do that day. Will you be happy with a full "hard" day of work for only $312. I would want at least double that for the labor and mark-up on the mulch you pick up.
  6. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585 others have stated, I think you are too low on the manhours needed to complete the job. I would also just ROundup the grass unless they want a few inches of soil installed for flowers, etc.
  7. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    1) If the guy wants pine bark mulch because he has a a few bags
    fine.(that mulch sucks for reasons already mentioned) but it's what the client wants.

    2) Use the 5 bags and buy the remainder in bulk it would be eaiser to make money on it and it would be the same.

    3) Skim the grass with a sodcutter or by hand

    4) When you edge the beds throw the edging dirt into the bed
    that should help to raise the bed without adding topsoil.

    5) Planting the plants after the beds are skimmed should only take you about 4-5 min. each

    6) 125.00 per bed is a good fair price

    edging = 135.00
    mulching 4yds 220.00
    planting 128.00
    total 483.00
    Divided by 4 beds 120.75 round out to 125.00

    Total 500.00
  8. Gilla Gorilla

    Gilla Gorilla LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 923

    Dude do yourself a favor and add in a $85.00 rental for a sod cutter. You will have the beds cut in 10 minutes versus sweating your azz off down in that hot weather when you are trying to cut out the grass with a flat shovel. If you do get a sod cutter after you cut the beds out then use a flat shovel to cut the sod into two foot long sections, that way you can pick them up by hand and put them into the wheelbarrow but the best part is when you go to dump them out all you have to do is grab each peace by hand instead of trying to pitch fork out a 8 foot long section of sod. And the disposal time will be cut down dramatically and you will still have some energy after you leave the dump to do the rest of the job.

    Just a thought and good luck
  9. trying 2b organic

    trying 2b organic LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 566

    Good tips all but I have one thought. Wouldnt it be way easier to pad the bid slightly but using Roundup on the grass. Yes you still have to cut through the grass where u did the holes but thats a whole lot less work than removing all the grass. Is it because its not a raised bed and you want to be level not going above level? Thats the only possible issue I can imagine with not just killing the grass and tossing the mulch on top. ESP since he already said the customer is looking for a low price.
  10. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    The round-up is not needed when you remove the grass.

    I would not jeopardize quality or my reputation by spraying
    the bed and mulching on top.

    In my opinion this process does not last as long,or look as nice.Some things are more important than money,short term fixes seldom get call backs or referals.

    By removing the grass,then edging the bed throwing the edging dirt into the bed and raking it out the bed would be higher than the ground level.

    I personally would edge those small beds by hand. There would be alot more edging dirt to throw into the bed.

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