How much labor to install two 24" box trees?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Fine Gardens Landscaping, Feb 28, 2013.

  1. Fine Gardens Landscaping

    Fine Gardens Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    First time bidding installation of 24" box trees. I'm in SF Bay Area, California. Clay soil is typical here, back yard installation with good access. I would not be using any equipment to install the trees. I'm just guesstimating here but I'm thinking it would take me and a helper about 3 hours to plant, and stake each tree. So am thinking $600 labor for two trees, plus delivery and whatever the trees cost.

    Thoughts? Is this the right price to charge?
  2. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,318

    Im also from the Sf bay area.
    My 2 man crew plants and stakes a tree in about an hour give or take. Sometime it can take 45 min and sometimes 1 1/2 hours. But $600 for labor is too much for our area. We just raised our rates a little to $300 a tree, purchased and installed.
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  3. Fine Gardens Landscaping

    Fine Gardens Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    That's a big help, I would have been way overcharging them! Thanks You!
  4. New2TheGreenIndustry

    New2TheGreenIndustry LawnSite Senior Member
    from GA
    Messages: 925

    Tell me where you can get $600 for two hours labor and I'll move there tomorrow.
  5. Fine Gardens Landscaping

    Fine Gardens Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    Follow up question. There's not a good spot on the property to lose the dirt that comes from the holes. I figure there would be about a yard of dirt to get rid of, a yard of dirt weighs about a ton. To put that in my truck and haul off I'd have to add two man hours plus a dump run/dump fees. Does that sound correct?
  6. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,318

    The $600 included the trees, stakes, ties and hauling of dirt.
    About :
    $ 250 for trees
    $40 for stakes and ties.
    $100 give or take dependin on location for dirt removal, or if you get lucky you can spread it on site.

    Theres only like $50 per man hour left. $50 x 4 (2 guys taking 2 hours)

    You make more profit planting 15gallon trees.
    We charge $150 per tree x 2 = $300

    Each tree costs us $30
    Plus $10 for stakes and straps.
    Plus 2 man hours of work
    And theres a lot less dirt to haul off.

    2 guys can plant 2 15gallons in an hour.
    $60 in trees
    $20 in straps
    A couple buckets full of dirt
    And your billing $220 for those 2 hours of work. (1 hour each guy)

    And so much less of a pain in the @&$ with having to deal with bigger trees.
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  7. muddywater

    muddywater LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,813

    When you put it that way... $600 sounds cheap if that includes the trees.

    It is really hard to make money on these small jobs if you have a dedicated landscape crew. I would want $600 just in labor. You will end up spending close to half a day to do the little job. You have got to pick up the trees, tarp, then go to job, plant, stake, water in, then load up left over dirt, then find something for your crew to do for the other half of the day.
  8. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,318

    We only do commercial so what we do is schedule the plantings on a service day and send an extra helper to plant the trees. So they carpool and i just pay for that one employee. Still a pain and not really worth it, but if the customer wants it they get it.
    We try to sell 15gal. Because we have higher profit margins and they are a lot easier to plant.
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  9. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    We don't see many boxed trees here, but according to nursery standards that should equal a #25 container. Having reversed many bids over the years, I know that in my area (Cape Cod, MA) most of the decent contractors pricing, regardless of how they calculate it, falls in a range of 3.5 or 4 times the cost of the tree from one particular nursery price list that I use as a standard for estimating. Your price of $600 for labor for planting the two trees is in line with that (including delivery and soil amendments if any are necessary). A #25 costs about $165 if it is picked up at the real wholesale yard (not the garden center discounted retail price), would be sold for retail or roughly twice that ($330), and the installed price would be between $575 and $660 total.

    I have no idea if that is competitive in your area, but it would be in mine.

    Hopefully, you are also selling the tree at a retail price and either getting a discount at a local retail nursery or buying direct from a wholesale nursery to add to your bottom line as well.

    hort101 likes this.

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