How much to charge for fertilizing?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by green-pa, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    I'm hoping to gain some winterizing business this fall and wonder how much to charge for this service; fertilizing my customer's lawns?

    I was thinking about:

    sq foot price

    5000 $25
    7000 $30
    10000 $35
    15000 $50
    20000 $65
    25000 $75
    acre $125-150

    do these sound reasonalbe or way off; too high/low????
  2. NC Greenscaper

    NC Greenscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 446

    How much do you pay for your fertilizer and how much do you want to make? How long does it take you to spread 5K? What is your labor rate? What do you usually mark you products up to?
  3. Dunn's

    Dunn's LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,534

    first find out how to get your commercial pesticide applicators license in your state. Then you be a little more in the know of what you should charge.
  4. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    Well, fertilizing is much easier than mowing/trimming and requires less expenses in gas. I'd like to make my usual $40/hr but would settle for a bit less. I'm looking at 15000 sq foot bag for $25. I'm thinking it would only take about 10 minutes to spread over 5k lol. But then there's the gas and time it take to drive to that 5k home! So if it costs me $9 in fert, $2 in gas, and takes overall 20 minutes including application and drive time, I'd say $25 would be ok, as long as I have several others lined up for that day, otherwise it's not worth making a special trip. But I want to know what u guys charge cause if it's too low, I'm not going to waste my time. I know these big companies like tru green, ect, will do it for less, but I'm hoping my customers will stick with me on this.
  5. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    If you are not able to control weeds, that in itself makes it a problem, as you are simply fertilizing the weeds and unwanted grasses, as well. The majority of it though, comes in the knowledge of being able to identify pests, such as weeds, disease, and insect damage, and knowing how to treat the target(s) effectively. The proper handling and use of pesticides is a MUST to know, as well. This is why licensing can not be stressed enough. there are many people who are just wanting to make the "jump" from mowing to lawn care, and the vast majority just don't realize that there is an exponential amount more to know needed to do lawn care than there is to do maintenance. As a hint, and the experienced guys can confirm this....the average kid that works for tru-green doesn't have a CLUE on how to properly run a program. They know as much about identifying and running a program as a dishwasher knows about running a restaurant.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    You can do this as a one time deal but you'll be messing with the soil ph as well, either way a 35 charge on a 25 bag is hardly profitable... I know what you're trying to do but you're better off, if you're going via this method, go to Home Depot and get their 30-0-0 Generic fertilizer for like $8.59 a 40 lb. bag.

    No, it's not 30-0-0 exact and it's not Generic by name, but the price is about right and it's along the same section as their 10-10-10, some type of all-purpose or general fertilizer and it's like 30-8-2 or some such BS maybe it's 28-3-5 anyhow but it IS about 8-9 bucks a bag and it works pretty good, one bag per 1/4 acre is what I usually do, very profitable if you can line up 3-4 or so and pick up all the bags at once then I charge 30 bucks per bag LOL and it's a good deal all around.

    I THINK it's called All-purpose or maybe General purpose, something along those lines, some ameri-something company makes it, blue and white bags, first number is right around 30 might even be 32 or 34, second two numbers are much lower.

    Then in spring, what you can do is throw down 3 bags of lime per 1/4 acre on every lawn that you did this to, which will first help equalize the ph, but also you'll get a small secondary boost from the magnesium interacting with what never got released from the fertilizer, charge about 30 bucks for this, per 1/4.

    That's how I do it, a little fertilizer then some lime, and once you get used to that you might want to check into gypsum but hang off on that right now, just do the general-purpose fertilizer for starting out.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Another trick I used to do, once I learned roughly what this 30-0-0 does (or whatever the exact numbers are) is in spring, those lawns that could use a little boost, write down all the ones that do, then pick up enough bags to throw one down per 1/4 acre and give one free fertilizer treatment to all of those.

    It's catch-22, you lose a little bit of money but your customer will likely have to pay for an extra grass cut, at the same rate their lawn gets a free boost, well it kinda works out, I used to do this without even asking, just do it but be sure to do it for free.

    It is a small boost, you CAN see it thou, but it's not outrageous either, you will see.

    I did that for a couple of years in a row but then I stopped because it just felt like I was doing something wrong because eventually the fertilizer by itself does more harm than good, either way it was very educational and nobody ever complained.

    Hell yeah, 30-0-0 general purpose fertilizer, I'm pretty sure it's 8.59 or 8.69 a bag, put down one per 1/4 acre (10-14k sq.ft.)
    It's good for one, maybe two treatments and you will see, just do it and watch the effects...
    Likely after that you will want to start heading in the direction of lime, later on do gypsum but it takes a year or two before all of this happens so start with the fert and voila you're set.
  8. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    The prices you posted are similar to what I get. I'm cheaper than TrueBrown and Lawn Destroyer.

    You are going to have to get a pesticide license and and make sure your insurance covers pesticide use (This is a requirement for a pesticide licence).

    You should be paying closer to $16-18 per 15,000 Sq. Ft. Bag. Go to lesco and get set up with an account. Don't do it on the website, that will set you up with a spend level so your materials are cheaper. Once you add weed control chemicals your cost will go back up to the $25 rance for that 15,000 sq. ft.

    You will also need some type of sprayer to spray liquid weed control. Granular weed control is not effective enough for a paying customer. I am using a Lesco spreader with the permagreen liquid sprayer attachment. Cost around $700 and is the cheapest way to get started with liquid weed control.

    I can walk a 1/2 acre property in under 15 minutes, so your $40 per hour rate is not a problem
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I got it, it's called All-American All Purpose 34-0-0, blue and white bag.
  10. green-pa

    green-pa LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 737

    Is this stuff good value for the customer though in comparison to like Scott's Wintergaurd? Only problem is, that stuff is $37/bag at wallyworld. I returned the one I had in my cart once I realized how high it was. I don't want to get to technical, into chemical sprays and what not. Just want to help people fortify their lawns for the winter and perhaps this will make it more tough for the weeds to return next year.

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