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Boxwood Install Pricing Help

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Darryl G, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Hi guys. I do mostly maintenance but have a good customer who has me maintain 4 of his properties. One of them is a small multi-tennant retail/professional building that had an addition put on last year. There are landscape beds installed already, but just weeds in one and plants the new tennant installed in the other. There are boxwood hedges in all the other beds, and he wants me to make the new area look like those.

    I came up with a price of $1,300. I will have to remove the tenants plants and relocate them...a few ornamental grasses and 2 or 3 small white pines trees covering about 25 linear feet of the beds, all recently planted. Then I will install the boxwoods at 18 inch intervals in 70 feet of beds and mulch. I'm getting 50 plants.

    I've priced out the plants (Buxus Microphylla - Green Mountain Boxwood) at $8.75 each wholesale for 2 gal size. I basically doubled that price to $17.50 each (retail for the smaller 1 gallon size is $15 at a local garden shop - on sale for $11 right now), figured about 8 hours labor at $45/hour and $75 for 2 yds cedar mulch delivered (I pay $26/yd). I am NOT providing any survival guarantee on the plants or maintenace afterward. I will, of course, water everything well upon completion of the install.

    Is this about right. I basically figured 10 minutes per plant to get the 8 hrs. This is a good customer who also owns a construction company and I'd like to get some of the clean-up and finish work on his jobs, so I don't mind being a little low. He pays a little slow, but at least it's always the same time each month. He's also my #2 highest grossing customer per month now. It's close to home and any supplies I might need also. If I run over by 1/2 day or so, it's no biggie. Hopefully, that's enough info for you guys.

    Summary - plants $875, labor $350, mulch $75.

    Thanks in advance. I have to finalize my proposal in a couple of days.

  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    If you are happy with that and you are a one man show you won't lose. I'm sure the the owner will know he is not getting screwed... but get it up to at least $1,500 to cover for any mistake in how long it will take, it will still be a bargain compared to what someone with lots of overhead would charge.
  3. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    For your manhour time estimate, remember to include the time involved in removing and transplanting the existing plants and trees. Don't warranty those transplants. Also include the time involved in acquiring and delivering the plants.
  4. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Thanks guys. Yes I am a one-man show with low overhead. Yeah, I'm afraid my hours may be a little on the low side considering the plant p/u & delivery, but I'm making good money on the plant mark-up, so that should cover it. I usually end up buying plants at or near retail price so I can only mark them up 15% to 20%. To me, 100% mark-up without a guarantee on this job is good money.

    I was originally going to do it on a time & materials basis with an estimate of $1,300 to $1,500 (figured out sitting in my truck at the property while on the phone with the customer). When I threw out the numbers to the customer he said something to the effect of "for $1,300 it's yours." So I pretty much verbally agreed to do it for that price, but just wanted to make sure I'm not low balling it. I could always tell him I forgot to add in a few things and raise the price in my written proposal, but if you guys don't think I'm giving away the farm, I think I'll stick with it.

    The nursery (Clinton Nurseries - a pretty large outfit that grows in Florida too) is right at the end of my road, so pick-up is cake. They usually have a minimum order of 100 pieces but are giving me a break, probably because my wife used to work there and it's near the end of the season.

    I'll also be adding mulch to all the existing beds and trimming those boxwoods at my hourly rate, so overall I should do pretty well.

    One thing to note. I got this job because while doing my weekly mowing, I noticed that the new tenant had planted their own plants in the beds. The white pines are only about 3 feet tall now but are already against the building. I called the customer to tell him that it was a really bad place for white pines.

    Thanks again.

  5. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    I agree you might be a little light on the labor estimate...said I would word the estiamte to say "not to exceed $1500"
  6. Tim Canavan

    Tim Canavan LawnSite Member
    from Houston
    Messages: 218

    I usually triple the price of the plant to cover for labor and any overhead that might occur. as far as the mulch goes, I would charge 50 to 60 dollars a yard depending on haow many. In your case, 60 dollars because it's less than 3 yards. One thing you might consider is taking before and after pictures. It might help you get some more jobs like this one. Make sure you use some sort of a root stimulator or soil activator, especailly on those transplants. Good luck!:cool:
  7. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Here's an update. Basically, you guys were right, I was a little light on the labor. FYI- I ended up sending the proposal out at $1,400 instead of $1,300 based on your input.

    Everything went well except the bed prep. Since these beds were already installed and had fairly new plants in them, I thought the prep would be cake. WRONG.

    The beds are between the asphalt parking area and the building and are edged with granite blocks. I had no idea that they poured concrete along the back (bed) side of the blocks when they installed them and then filled the beds with cobbles and asphalt/concrete rubble! The poured concrete extended about 1 foot into the beds. One of the beds is only 2 feet wide and I had planned to install the plants more toward the parking lot to keep them away from the buildiing. I ended up having to bust up the concrete just to get them in the middle of the bed.

    Luckily I had my 8 year old along to pick the rocks and concrete out for me. Also, the soil was sandy in places and I had to run out to buy soil ammendments (not budgeted) at a nearby garden center.

    It wasn't until after 2:20 yesterday when I started installing the plants, and about 6:30 by the time I was done with clean-up and watering.

    I had to go back today and install the mulch and 4 more plants, as well as the tenant's plants that I removed. Total time involved was about 13 hours. Materials cost was about $525, so I get $875 for 1 1/2 days labor. Could have been better, but still more than I can usually make doing maintenance work.

    Thanks to all those who replied previously.

  8. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457

    I triple the price I pay for the plant at the nursery. I've learned the hard way, like you when I went to do the job and there was 25# boulders in the beds just under the surface. I'd rather be high and get paid like I should than get the job and make $2.00 per hour.

  9. brentsawyer

    brentsawyer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 663

    In the future, I would find out prices for retail and wholesale and pretty much base your prices 50%-75% above retail. This will cover, time in picking up, installing, and warranty. On 2 gal Boxwoods, I charge $25-30 ea. for that # would have figured $25/ea. For trees, I push 75% or $100 profit min. and stopped warranting most evergreens and dogwoods. That will keep you very competitive and at the same time make you real good money, just look at how much more you would have made on that alone. On beds, figure hours at $50-60/hr.
  10. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Based on the estimate criteria provided by Green Pastures and Brent, my pricing was about right. I doubled the price of the plants I got at wholesale $8.75 each. I couldn't find 2 gal plants at retail, but retail for the 1 gal. was $11.00 each, on sale. Green's comes out to $1312.40 and Brents a bit more.

    I could probably get more $$ out of my customer to pay for the Advil I had to eat if I showed him the pile of rocks/rubble I deposited in the back of the property, but I think I'll just let him know it was a PITA and he got a deal.

    I've got to admit that I enjoy this kind of work more than mowing. It's nice to look at what I've done and know that it's a big improvment and will last for many years, whereas a lawn cut is only good for a week or so. I'm planning to change my business focus more toward softscape/hardscape install, which was the plan all along...I decided that I needed to do maintenance my first year full time in order to have steady cash coming in.

    I'm planning to install some block walls, steps, and a paver walkway/patio at my house to gain some experience. I already have a fair amount of expience on my compact tractor with loader and hoe, and I plan to start marketing tractor services as soon as I buy a trailer that will haul it. A York rake is on the list too. I've been doing some tractor work, but I don't market it because it's a pain to rent a trailer all the time.

    I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me as I feel my way through the shift to landscaping.

    Thanks again.


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