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Mulch Question

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by DDAF, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. DDAF

    DDAF LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I have been doing athletic fields for a number of years. I have also be doing a few lawns along the way, but now I am receiving a lot of request for mulch. I have a few questions I could use some help with.

    What is the going rate for applying mulch?
    How do you determine how much mulch a job will require?
    Do you build in a delivery cost

    Thanks in advance for the help

  2. Ocean Side

    Ocean Side LawnSite Member
    Messages: 71

    Ok here is the going thought to your question in my area.

    Mulch, Double your cost, installed, usually runs close to your hourly rate per hour per 1 yard. Takes about an hour to install 1 yard by yourself, you will get to be faster and your profit margin will increase.

    If I can haul it, I charge the same as my supply yard. 25 per load. Or if you have your supplier deliver, just pass the charge along and explain delivery is an added cost, to both of you. Remember it costs different to deliver to different area's dont sell yourslf short, time = money! Dont be a lowballer either

    To figure the amount of mulch you need, it is simple, 1 yard per 100 square feet, = 4 inches thick
  3. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    That's about right, I usually charge $45 / yard delivered and spread but this includes everything while the cost of the mulch for me used to be near $20/yard, now it's $12.60 / yard (plus labor plus $30 for delivery, it adds up quick).

    Nowadays I can spread 2 yards in one hour but it does take an hour / yard when first starting... When I first started, $25 / hour was good money (consider you're not using any expensive gas-driven equipment, just a barrow and some rake and pitchfork), thou today I can get closer to $50 / hour (still have to include driving time, so it's not quite 50, more like 40 maybe 45 / hour).

    100 square feet / yard / 4 inches thick is good, I usually take a yard and figure it will cover the area of two cars (which is 2 inches thick) and that's 180 square feet (figuring a car is about 15 x 6 = 90 sq.feet). So, I park cars in my mind in the area to be covered with mulch. Once you do a few jobs, you may be able to estimate by the barrow once you know how far a barrow goes, I usually get 7 barrows out of a yard but I load my barrow light (heavier loads, 5-6 barrows / yard is closer with a 6 cu.ft. basket).

    To me, a 4-inch cover is the no-nonsense method, you really almost can't go wrong with this except it gets expensive.
    If you're spreading it with a rake, it has been my experience a 2-inch cover is achievable and affordable, while anything thinner will require you spread it with your hands (yes, literally) and that gets it down to about an inch in thickness. Although the hand-spread gets the most cover / yard, it also takes longer and I can feel my back hurting while doing it (it makes me hunch over) so I intensely dislike this method and charge $10 / cu.yard extra for doing it thusly - However, keep the hand spreading method in mind for those instances when you make a mistake and underestimate the amount of mulch, I've saved myself from having to go back for more mulch by spreading a yard or two by hand to make up for the shortage (more than once lol). Obviously, I only charge extra when the customer specifically wants me to spread by hand, not when I made a mistake.

    The rake spreading method means dumping a load with the barrow, then using a rake to spread it (common sense, yes?).
    The hand-spreading method means leaving the mulch in the barrow and grabbing clumps of mulch with your hands and fanning it out.

    If you have a blower truck, it appears you can spread it as thin as you want and there is little in the way of extra cost if thinner.
  4. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    You don't want last years dead junk and overgrowth making a new mulch job look shoddy. So bill the hours necessary for prep work of cleanup, plant cut-backs, and a dug-edge of 3-4" at a 45-degree angle with a sharpened spade -careful not to cut into any existing buried irrigation lines (bed edge machines make quick work of this, as long as you've hand/spade dug around irrigation lines).

    At least double the mulch cost then add delivery cost, and add 30% for overhead. Saavy homeowners and ppty managers can tell when mulch has been spread or blown too thin (especially when torrential downpours expose
    "cheap priced" style workmanship).
    Fine Black Mulch goes on level ground only so as not to be gravitationally washed down hillsides, shreaded hickory/oak brown mulch goes on hillsides and level ground.

    Up- sell with a discount if possible, to install enough perennial plantings or groundcover so the customer never needs to mulch again !

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