How can I bid landscape jobs more competively

big valley

LawnSite Member
wagoner, OK
I have tried bidding 1.50-2.00 sq ft per flower bed plus material .
(plants,potting soil, mulch). should I estimate time and sq ft together?. when I look at sq ft alone and determine a price it seems to high I thought about charging 4.00-5.00 per sq ft and include materials but when I figure that way it really seems too high. Any suggestions out there. thanks


LawnSite Bronze Member
do you know all your costs? if not then the best you can do is guess when you turn in a bid


LawnSite Fanatic
learn how to live like a begger, that's what most of them are doing

DFW Area Landscaper

LawnSite Silver Member

I'm figuring out there isn't much money in mowing lawns and doing apps. You see, a month ago, I bought this chipper shredder, a new chain saw, a tree pruning saw and a new set of hedge trimmers that can trim very tall shrubs. What I didn't realize when I bought all this stuff is that most of my competitors don't have this stuff. I started looking around at all the other LCO's in the area and so far I've only seen one with a small 2.5" chipper/shredder like mine. Anyway, it's opened up a ton of opportunities for me. Overgrown photenias. Small tree removal. Tree thinning. I can do all that stuff now and there is plenty of demand for it (so far). I'm also grossing quite a bit more per hour when I do this stuff. But tree thinning/pruning/removal is a pretty easy sell for me. And I know it's because the vast majority of my competitors can't offer these services. Everyone's got a mower and trimmer, but virtually no one has the equipment needed to trim or remove an overgrown photenia.

Everyone knows how much it costs to get their lawn mowed...25 bucks. And the Mexicans down here will always do it for that. But no one knows what a landscape install should cost. You can get a lot more gross margin on those opportunities, the customer's don't have any idea how much you're making, the mexicans can't compete on installs (because they can't communicate well enough) and you don't even have to be there on a certain day of the week. Anytime you start dealing with something that the homeowners can't do themselves or don't know how to do themselves, the margins jump big time. Another thing: It's a lot easier to sell a one time, non-recurring charge, like an install, than it is to sell an on going monthly bill. It's just the nature of the consumer. They're perfectly willing to spend $6K on a new landscape but they won't spend 20 bucks a month to have the beds maintained and kept weed free. They think they'll do it themselves and 3 years later, they think they need to spend another $6K on a new landcape because nothings been pruned, nothings beed trimmed and the weeds are bigger than the shrubs.

Not only that, but for every 50 lawn crews I see around town, there's probably 1 irrigation crew or 1 tree crew. I do see quite a few installation crews around, but it doesn't matter. The Mexicans can't compete in this space because they can't communicate. Who is gonna give an illegal resident half down before any work has been done? So, even if the mexicans could get a landscape job, they'd get stiffed too much with no money down.

My Verizon yellow pages rep called today. I had been planning to renew with a smaller ad under lawn care. But when he called today, I told him to put my ad under irrigation. I know there's margin to be made on irrigation work. I just need to get my license sometime between now and September when the book comes out. I just hope I can have a money making mowing schedule for a two man crew by that time. I should have it by then, I think.

Mowing sucks. The money to be had in landscaping, real money, is in trees, landscape installs and irrigation. Maintenance is low margin, thanks to the mexicans who are always willing to do the work for nothing (which is a lot in Mexico), the unemployed and little tommy down the street.

I guess the point of this is, bid it high. You can't bid too high with lawn maintenance because the home owner won't go for it if you're too high. They know what it should cost. And I think you're probably a little gun shy from being on the maintenance side of the fence. But I don't think it's as much the case with an install.

How much should it cost to install a landscape? How much should it cost to remove a tree? How much should it cost to install or repair an irrigation system?

See what I mean?

DFW Area Landscaper


LawnSite Senior Member
Bobbyg, it doesn't surprise me that you are disgruntled about your attempt at landscaping. This line of work truly takes a professional to be successful. It sounds like you are finding out that there is much more to landscaping than mow/trim/blow.

If managed correctly, landscaping will be the most profitable part of your business and you will put in less time doing it than you do mowing.


LawnSite Fanatic
actually lombardi, i do quite well in my area of expertise. small scale landscape jobs are what i do, what i prefer, and exactly what i need. however, my comment about eating dog food stands.landscaping is getting more and more like grass cutting everyday. a bunch of know nothings working for what will amount to less than beer and ciggarette money. i recently lost a bid on a small job, it really disgusted me, the guy who got the job told the homeowner he would arrange for a local nursery to delivery all the materials, the homeowner would pay the driver, and the "landscaper" then would do the work for $100 for 10 hrs labor. i could have CLEARED $1000 easy on that job in 6 hrs. so thank you for trying to belittle me, but i do quite well, thank you. prick