how to build mulch beds

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by ojays lawn care, May 16, 2012.

  1. ojays lawn care

    ojays lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    Ok, so i am making up a quote for a customer that has approximately 500 feet of beds that need to be re edged, they want an island bed built in the middle of yard, approximately 200-300 square feet, and another mulch bed, no edging for about 200 square feet. So im looking at about 1000square feet of beds to mulch. plus various shrubs to be trimmed, and 3 holly bushes to remove. all the beds need to be weeded, and the island needs to be HEAVILY weeded.

    I dont usually get into this stuff, but im trying to add services besides mowing to my business and this looks like a good job to start, but im not sure were i should begin. I assume i should rent a bed edger, but i never used one.I assume i would outline the beds with the edger, then go in with a shovel and clean out the rest of beds. also should i just weed wack the piss out of the weeds and then thro 3 inches of mulch on them to kill them? i figure i could tell them i would come back in a 3 weeks to check the weed control.

    when i was at the house they said they were looking to spend less than $1000 for the job. now my cost are (mulch delivered)8x35=280 plus 100 to rent bed edger. So there is 380. I assume 20-25 hours( im going to have a helper) or so to trim shrubs, edge, weed, and remulch? so at 35 an hour that's 700-875. so to quote $1100-$1300.

    I don't know if im getting in over my head. This might be a one time deal or could lead to weekly mowing plus other work. I was also thinking about marking the mulch bed job up about a 100 bucks and telling them if they commit to a weekly mowing ill knock of 5-10% of the bed job. Also this house is in a town that im trying to get work in as it is the "richest" town in the area.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    One thing to remember is that when you are a novice at something, you do not charge professional premium prices...

    next, you'll want to know that weed whipping and covering with mulch is not going to kill a single weed...

    running an edger where there will be no edge, like the center island may be an unnecessary and wasted step... there is all grass there now, correct???

    I would roundup every spot they are interested in mulching and start the process AFTER everything is dead...
  3. RedSox4Life

    RedSox4Life LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,599

    Round up is the way to go. If youre not licensed try vinegar, or Burnout 2. Also could leave the grass where it is and dump loam on top of it to make a humped island bed.
  4. ojays lawn care

    ojays lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    Roundup is out of the question, the woman does not want me to use any chemicals.
  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,497

    I usually just edge by hand and with a stick edger. I have rented a bed edger and they make pretty quick work of edging but make sure you know where all electrical lines and water lines are. I always seem to "find" something that the homeowner didn't mention. The mulching itself shoudn't take more than 6 hours or so....8 tops. I came up with 6 yards of mulch based on a 2 inch depth which in my experience works out about right.

    As far as the bed with lots of weeds...I'm confused...are you creating a new one or is it existing? You need an applicator's license to spray the weeds even if you're using vinegar in most states.
  6. ojays lawn care

    ojays lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    a stick edger huh, ive been looking for an excuse to buy a kombi motor and edger, do you think that will do the trick
  7. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,645

    Yes, I have used a stick edger in the past to edge beds! They work pretty good.
  8. ojays lawn care

    ojays lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    cool im gunna pick one up later today, i have 2 other big mulch jobs lined up so that will help me define those beds as well. thanks guys for the help
  9. Darryl G

    Darryl G LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,497

    Yes the stick edger helps but if the edges are overgrown it won't be enough by itself. What I usually do for a free-form earthen edge next to turf is, with a new blade on and the depth/guide wheel all the way up (so it cuts as deep as possible), run a nice straight line for the new edge, working the tool back and forth down the slot a couple times. Then I'll take a spade or my half moon edger and deepen it as necessary and remove any turf clumps between the lawn and the bed. For some I'll give the grass a shake to get any soil out of the roots and toss it in my wheelbarrow. Remember to pull the existing mulch back before doing all this, so you don't get soil on the mulch. Another way, which sounds like more work but can be quicker and give better results, is to just put all the material you edged....soil, weeds, grass straight into the wheel barrow and dispose of it. This is the preferred method for me on a few of my jobs because the bed edges are already too steep (and have a hard time holding mulch) and it would just make them steeper, and I don't want to pile soil around the shrubs in the beds either. My final step is usually to take my hand weeder that has 4 prongs on one side an adze on the other side, a large trowel, a hoe, or even a gloved hand and remove any soil that's fallen in and to smooth the soil from the edge up the bed slope....I might even fire up the blower and blow it out. Some people like an angled edge, personally I make my edges vertical. I bring the mulch up to 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the level of the turf and don't leave much actual edge showing, while others prefer to show more edge because it looks more crisp. I find that exposed soil is a good place for weeds to grow, which is why I don't leave much exposed. Edging can make a big difference in how a bed looks. If you aren't good at it the bed will still look ok, but if you can do it makes it look so much better. Take a look at "PerfectEarth's" pictures on this site...his edges are always pefect.

    This is his work, not mine, but this is what I strive for...that's the standard I try to meet.

  10. ojays lawn care

    ojays lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 32

    thats beautiful, im going to go back to the house tomorrow, and do some exact measurements for the quote, ill take some pictures, before and after

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