Mulch Jobs- Need advice, tired of working for free

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by RonWin, May 21, 2012.

  1. RonWin

    RonWin LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 689

    I have been getting passed around by a lot of people lately for mulch jobs. I started out doing jobs for cheap and sometimes hourly due to just starting out and trying to build up a customer base/reputation. I have been charging hourly for a few places and charging flat rates per yard of mulch else where. Clients pay for the mulch themselves and have it delivered ( i know im missing out on making money by delivering it myself but get orders of 10-15 yards + which multiple trips on gas wont pan out for) and then i charge $30 per yard to spread. PROBLEMS I'VE RAN INTO:
    1. The beds are NEVER mulch ready and i have to weed
    2. The edges are gone, grass has merged into the beds
    3. Should i be charging more for beds that have extensive plants/bushes/trees i have to craw thru?

    I generally do these jobs with another guy whom i pay $10 an hour. Instead of just spreading mulch (as the customer assumes) i find myself spending way more time there due to "bed preping". I could probably spread 1.5 yards an hour with my guy helping me if im filling and dumping the wheel barrel.

    Is it worth more than $30 per yard spread?
    How should i be charging for bed preping? hourly/flat rate?
    Should i be charging more when beds have lots of plants/bushes/trees to work around?

    It costs me $25 round trip to get to this place and back, they say that 15 yards is what the usually order. I have 1 worker working for $10 an hour with me. Is making $50/hour what I should be ending up with at the end of the day for myself?

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 5,226

    instead of weeding everything and wasting a lot of time i just spray weedkiller or use the weedwacker to knock down the tall weeds then spray
  3. LandFakers

    LandFakers LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Messages: 6,309

    Im with him. Its a blow, roundup, spread rotation.
  4. RedSox4Life

    RedSox4Life LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,719

    I read your post, thought there was definitly some things you could do differently.... then I got to the last sentence.

    If youre CLEARING $50 an hour, i.e. $50 an hour going into your pocket, not being used to pay operating costs, Id say you're doing just fine.
  5. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,645

    Wow $30 to spread a yard of mulch!? Then you pay a guy $10 an hour to help you. I charge $65 for a yard of mulch installed plus bed prep. For bed prep, if there is weeds I will spray them with round-up and redefine the edge if it needs to be done or if its a new bed start with a new edge.
  6. orangemower

    orangemower LawnSite Silver Member
    from pa
    Messages: 2,768

    There's no way he's clearing $50hr after expenses. He's not charging enough and working for peanuts.

    Doing bed work is good money if you know how to charge for it. The last mulch job I did (2 weeks ago) needed 4 yards of mulch but the bill was over $1500. I did a 6 yard mulch job before that one and it came out at $100 a yard installed. It all depends on the conditions. When I estimate a mulch job I factor in everything.

    If a potential customer calls and wants me to install 10 yards of mulch that they had delivered, I will go out and see what the property looks like and price it according to the conditions. You can't price it per yard of mulch. It has to be priced by the conditions and add materials. If you look at the property and it's nice and clean, no weeds and easy to get the mulch to the beds, then you can price it by the yard installed. I can spread a yard of mulch in less then an hour by myself and charge $60 a yard to install with no other work. MOST jobs need edged, weeded/sprayed, hedges trimmed/pruned and mulch installed. I've done maybe 2 jobs that didn't need more then just mulch installed.
  7. sgrenier24

    sgrenier24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    I am with orange on this one. We average around $100 a yard for mulch. We weed, spray Round up where needed, spread the mulch and cleanup after. Any less than that I don't bother. A lot of customers balk at the price at first but keeping a portfolio of before and after pictures of previous jobs usually clarifies what type of work we do.
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  8. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    Wow $30yd!! I'm between $65-85yd (labor only) so close to $100-125yd (labor/material)
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. SSmith

    SSmith Banned
    Messages: 447

    Did a mulch job today where I was on my hands and knees the entire time. This is HARD work. Charge accordingly.
  10. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,734

    Bingo. Do not use blanket "per yard installed" prices with everything included (edging, trimming, clean-out, weeding, etc...) All properties are different. We keep ALL mulch materials separate in the estimate/invoice from labor. "Labor" includes the bed prep, trimming, weeding, edging, delivery and install of mulch and THEN the material is line-itemed totally alone. Gotta make money on mulch, per yard, per bale, per bag, whatever...

    The majority of our Spring jobs like this- the mulch is the EASY part... you have to account/estimate the other stuff differently. We make most of the money on this part, not the mulch mark-up and spreading. but then you'll get those easy spreading jobs where your labor is low or in-line with the mulch costs.

    And be careful how much you weed eat down weeds and spray, then mulch... that's amateur hour if it gets to be ALL you do when you prep beds. Some situations, OK, some not.

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