Bidding complete lawn care jobs

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Todd Shumaker, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. Todd Shumaker

    Todd Shumaker LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I work as a full time fire fighter in Williamsburg Virginia and have a part time business doing lawn care. My goal is to pick up about 8-10 customers but to do all the work. aerating, overseeding, liming etc.

    What I want to know is does anybody have set prices for doing work? I want to make sure i'm not charging too much or not enough.

    I know how to charge for my mowing, no problems there.

    Looking for some advice!!
  2. MrFangs

    MrFangs LawnSite Member
    from Zone 8
    Messages: 119

    I assume you have all the permits and licenses for this type of work.
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Ok you need a FORMULA for doing it and by this I mean you need to know how many bags of lime + fert + seed, etc - What works for me may or may not work for you, but I will give you my formula and you can work with that, then develop it to suit your needs over time.
    Everybody has their own formula and it's kind of like cooking, some people use more of one thing, others use more of the other and you will need to figure out what works for you. As for me, I like using more seed than anything else because thou the seed is the most expensive, the difference in labor for spreading LESS of the heavy stuff makes up for it and the results work great for me, so:

    Here's your guide for aeration price = grass-cutting + $10 for smaller yards, grass-cutting + $15 for larger (all these under an acre, once you get to an acre lot it's +20 and so on).

    For lime + fert, here's what I do:
    I buy Super 16-4-8 at Home Depot because it's $5 / bag (roughly) and so the math is easy, one bag covers ~5k sq. feet and don't use more because TOO much and you'll burn the lawn. Now for lime, I like to use 1 bag of lime per bag of fert OR 3 bags lime per 2 bags of fert. Price of lime = $3/bag to make things simple and you can't go wrong with lime, if you use too much then is no harm done.
    For seed, I have only 2 formulas: 1/2 bag for smaller yards, full bag for larger. I buy the 50lb. ky.31 bags of tall fescue for ~$45 so then I charge 25 for 1/2 bag and $50 for the full bag.
    Then +$10 pickup fee what I like to do is get 2 or 3-4 customers lined up and pick it all up at one time so I get like 30-40 bucks for getting the stuff. Now for labor, I figure 2 bags spread = 5 minutes so then divide total number of bags / 2 and multiply x 5 so:
    For example, say you have a 10k yard:
    Areate + 3 bags fert + 5 bags lime + 25 lbs. ky 31 + P/up fee + labor to spread:
    (is 9 bags or 25 mins. @ $1/min. to spread + areate + pick it up)
    $45 + $15 + $15 + $25 + $10 + $25 = $140 would be my estimate.
    (45 to aerate, 15/15/25 for materials, 10 for p/up, 25 to spread.)
    As you can see, there is a bit extra built in, about 10 dollars for bs such as price increases or shortages (u gotta go to ANOTHER home depot cauz yours is out) etc, etc but then if it all works out u get paid $20 to pick up or however you want to look at it, $140 is a good price for a decent treatment ~10k yard nowadays. Last year it would've been a bit high but I think it's in line, you can play with it some but in the end with fuel being WHeweee, I think you'll do ok.
    good luck
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I did go 1 bag heavy on the fert and +2 on the lime because it's been a dry hot summer here, also you need to watch the weather:
    Aeration is best done in the 3-4 days right AFTER it rains AND it needs to rain sometime in the week after you do it, that helps also. If you wait too long after it rains to aerate, your tines will only dent the soil and fail to pull the plugs / pull very small plugs only.
    Oh, and of course make sure the grass is cut right before you do it AND do make sure it has rained before you cut it again thou in worst case scenario I have actually done the do THEN cut the grass 3 days later AND then it didn't rain for like a month and it STILL worked real good, but then that's after a few years of doing this and the closer you follow the rules, the better.
  5. Lnd Svyr

    Lnd Svyr LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    "How can you get a permit to do a damn illegal thing?"

  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Actually, for everything he described, he doesn't really need a license. Perhaps a local type thing through the city or village, but as long as he's not putting down any pesticides, he's good to go.
  7. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 903

    Mr Fangs, you must be underage due to your childish profile. Cute bear by the way! I assume you have all the permits and licenses for it to operate that walk behind.
  8. anothertractor

    anothertractor LawnSite Member
    Messages: 61

    You will need a permit for applying fertilizer in VA. Contact your local extension agent for details. It is only $50 for, I think it lasts 2 years.
  9. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,587

    mr fangs is back, check it out, he has three years experience in his business, but his first post said he is hoping to start a lawn car e biz in the spring of 2006, so he has been handing out advise, and hasnt even cut his first lawn yet ;) :rolleyes: :dizzy:

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