Contractor Installed Lawns

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Darryl G, Mar 8, 2003.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I was wondering if building/development contractors in you area use the same horrible practices when installing lawns for new homes. Here is what has become common practice in my area, I’ll start after the lot has been cleared of stumps. 1) strip off all the top soil, push into a pile and haul most of it off-site to be sold 2) Grade the lot, being sure to crush and expose the roots of all the mature trees left standing 3) Put down and inch or so of top soil mixed in with free horse manure 4) Seed or hydroseed with contractor grade rye grass. 5) Sell it and run.

    These lawns look good just about until they find a buyer. After one season it’s all sand and weeds. The trees all slowly decline and are dead within eight years or so. Granted, some of the contractions do a better job and some sub to a landscaper, but it’s amazing to see $400,000 homes landscaped in this manner. I’m looking at it as a potential market, that and installing additional plantings since they go pretty sparse on those too.
  2. greenngrow

    greenngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 403


    I have 5 contractors that contact me when ever they finish a house. They have seen my work and know the importance of good lawn establishment. Most of the home owners in this area will call the contractor back if they are unhappy with the lawn. So they would rather I get the phone calls than them.

    I have spoken to others contractors they have the mentality that you speak of.

    I would try to talk a couple to see how they would feel about you doing the job. You will have to work with them on the price. These will the guys that can count on as long as the building boom keeps going.

    I have right at 20 lawns to install in the next 2 weeks. All but 2 are from contractors waiting for me and the ground to dry up....

    MAN I love this business
  3. J&R

    J&R LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 835

    Around here they pull the top soil off don't replace any lay sod. i have one com. account i took Jan 1 you can't see the sod for the Hembit.
  4. johnhenry

    johnhenry LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 488

    Here is terrible .They start off by grading the yard and exposing tree roots. The if they are lucky 6 months after house is finish they will put a 1 inch layer of topsoil over the weeds.Then throw ky 31 seed on it.When the homeowner moves it.They just have weeds and rocks to mow .
    We had a doctor move here from St.Louis and let his wife handle the building of there 7000 square ft home.They call me to give them a price on there landscaping.It needed 50 loads of topsoil,sprinkler system,and she had to have sod the whole bill was $52,000. She was really taken by the price so she called 9 different companies.Now they have a 850,000 home on 8 acres with no grass and the trees that are left have expose roots and are dying.Those black jack oak are looking very bad.They never slotted for landscaping.So now they put this home up for sale after Christmas and still no buyers. Still no landscaping.I envy the guys in the east who are slotted allot more than they are here.Our guy here don't have a clue at how much it takes to landscape a yard.There excuse is"they don't do landscaping"
  5. john henry,

    you're exactly right, these guys don't do landscaping! thats why they call us.
    the builders we grade for usually only allot 200 to 500 dollars in plant material. around her they're pretty good about either not stripping the topsoil or piling it up. honestly i prefer when they DO take it off for sale, means i can make money on bringing in sifted topsoil and i don't have to work a bunch of rooty dirt.
    i love going on a property and the new homeowner says they want such and such and giving them a price for it. most of the houses we work on are in high end neighborhoods, (for our area) and have certain guidelines for landscaping. yes, some elect to just have me install the set price materials and call someone outside, but a majority just have us install the additional plant materials. for those that do i stick it to 'em. i figure that if your going to build 300k to 500k house you can come off some of that money.

    just my thoughts
  6. lbmd1

    lbmd1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Daryl, they do the same up here in the new cookie cutter developments. Strip the land, then they put in a budget of $2500 for landscaping a half a million dollar home. That $2500 has to be divided up among the grader, hydroseeder and plant material. The one builder here goes to Home Depot and buys about 6 2 gallon plants like rhodys, azaleas, boxwood and throws them in front of these 3 story homes. Total cost of plants:$80-$100. Looks so stupid against the foreground of the foundation. Next year, the quick growing annual ryegrass is gone, poor soil and landscape looks horrible. I was there when the tree guy clearing the lot was taking down trees. There was a 40 foot magnificient hemlock in the corner of the property which would have made a great cornerpiece to the property. He came by with his "scissorcutter" and grabbed the tree and felled it. No respect for existing landscapes. We have one house a few streets away that is selling for $1.4 million. The builder didn't even budget any plants at all!!!. After being on the market for about 6-8 months, the realtor went by and put 2 mum plants on the doorstep to make it sell quicker I guess. Still no buyers. What a joke!

  7. greenngrow

    greenngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 403

    I tell the home owner that is having a home built to budget about 5 to 10 % of what the home cost for a very basic landscaping job.

    They look at me like I am crazy. But when you put the pencil to it that's what it runs.

    Now some of the builders I work for are on the low side for landscape allowance, but the home owner usually wants more so the cost is a little higher.
  8. KerryB

    KerryB LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 661

    Yep sounds like the contractors around here. We have a new development close by and they stripped all the top soil as well as all the existing trees . lol
    Graded out the prop after the houses where finished and planted Rye for the yards and about 15-20 small shrubs and called it a day lol.
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Interesting to hear that it's not just in my area. I forgot to mention all the roots left sticking up out of the lawn and the potatoe-sized rocks waiting to be hurled by the mower. I landed the mowing contract for one of these lawns last season. I inspected it while it was still under straw and too soft to walk on, so I had no idea. When it came time for the first mow, I had to stop after about 5 minutes and tell the customer I couldn't mow it until they removed all the rocks. They never called back.
  10. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    You are not alone in this area. This is totally the standard practice here. By the time the lawn looks bad and the trees start showing that they are dying the home warranty is up. I put a positive spin on it though and look at it as though the builders help keep me in work for installations.


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