Installing new beds

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by tjcezar, Apr 23, 2003.

  1. tjcezar

    tjcezar LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 237

    I'm about to bid a job installing approximately 450 sq ft. of beds. Since mowing customers have been so cost conscious I have needed to expand my business to landscaping for which I am uneperienced but able. What are the steps I need to take.
    1. mark out beds
    2. cut edges
    3. strip sod
    4. add topsoil (how much?)
    5. plant shrubs, etc.
    6. add mulch
    Does this sound like it? Any advice is appreciated!:)
  2. NYRookie

    NYRookie LawnSite Member
    Messages: 240

    I am not sure about the amount of time it will take. I do know that 1 yd of mulch or topsoil will cover app. 10' by 10' 3" deep. Don't forget any dump fees to get rid of the sod or a delivery fee for any topsoil or mulch. Are they providing the shrubs or do you have to pick them up and install? Hope this helps.
  3. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Don't forget landscape fabric. Some people will tell you it is unneccesary. I say hogwash! Fabric helps to eliminate weed growth and will keep rock or mulch and soil from mixing together.

    Figuring cubic yards of any material is quite easy. Multiply desired product depth X square feet. For example, 3" is .25 feet(3 divided by 12inches in a foot). Take that number and divide by 27 (cubic feet in a cubic yard) to determine how many cubic yards you need.

    .25X 450=112.5
    divided by 27=4.16 cubic yards needed for a 3" layer

    For topsoil, you need to decide if you want the bed elevated above grade. If you want to go about 4" above grade (not including mulch), you would need about 6 cy of soil as determined by the above formula.

    My estimate of required manhours:

    layout: .5 MH
    cut edge with spade: 1 MH
    Remove sod : 1.5 MH include P/U and drop off sod cutter (rental)
    Topsoil: .5 MH if dumped at bed site, otherwise, 4MH to move within reasonable distance with wheel barrow
    Lay, cut, pin fabric: .5 MH
    Planting, Layout of plant material: 1 MH
    Nursery trip/plant selection: 1 MH
    Mulch: 2 MH
    Total 8-12 estimated man hours depending upon bed access/location.

    Off the top of my head, the only times that would need to be included in addition to what I have listed are drive times for pickup of mulch and/or topsoil. It may be to your benefit to have those delivered unless you have a dump truck.

    I could go on and on, but this should give you a good starting point. Also, don't expect to markup plants and materials if you are paying retail prices. If you can locate any of these items at wholesale prices, mark them up to retail or slightly below what a reputable nursery that sells to the public charges.

    Sight unseen, I'd charge $450 labor plus materials. However, I am able to markup materials at least 50% (sometimes 100% or more, depending upon my price) to generate more profit from the job. Good luck.
  4. GarPA

    GarPA LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,585

    Landscape fabric does prevent weed growth for a year or so..but...when the mulch starts to decompose, it turns into a fertile area for weed seeds to germinate and grow on top of the fabric. Fabric is an absolute necessity if you are putting down stone but its not weed proof over time if putting mulch over the fabric.
  5. blafleur

    blafleur LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    I agree with Garpa 100%. I wont use fabric on plant beds for the same reasons he described. Then once things have grown down into it, it is a mess to clean up. Also, mulch and soil mixing is a good thing in my book.

  6. tjcezar

    tjcezar LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 237

    how much topsoil is suitable for the beds 3"? And SnoJob you said about 1.5 man hrs for sod removal is that with a piece of equipment cause the figure I was using was about 90sq ft per hr to remove by hand and wheelbarrow to truck which is not very far and total sq ft of sod is 350. Which takes me to about 3.5 - 4.0 man hrs. This was a figure I i found on another thread.
  7. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,622

    I spend more time pulling out fabric than I do installing it.
  8. SnoJob67

    SnoJob67 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    If weeds are given the chance to grow through the fabric and you are handpulling, yes I would see your point.

    If you maintain beds regularly and spray like we do, you would see my point. Nothing is "weed proof." Preemergents prevent most of the weed growth from the start and follow up visits with roundup are quick, easy and profitable.

    *Whether or not you are happy with the performance of fabric will be determined by whether you have realistic expectations of its benefits and whether you use appropriate techniques to maintain. *

    tjcezar- if you want to figure out how much it would take to get 3", do the math. I gave you the formula.
  9. tjcezar

    tjcezar LawnSite Member
    from PA
    Messages: 237

    Sorry for the confusion but I was asking what would be the appropriate depth for topsoil . Would 3" suffice? Or if I raise the beds shouild I use fill then 3" topsoil then 3" mulch?

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