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planting times??????


LawnSite Member
Hello everyone,

I have been lurking around here for some time but this is my first post.

I currently run a small greenhouse/nursery for 5 years now and we are approached daily about landscaping and would like to do some jobs this year. I have never done any landscaping commercially but have done so extensively around our location and at the home of my mother, grandmother and myself.

The problem is I have never tracked the time to plant a given size of container (ex. 1 gal, 3 gal, 5 gal, 36 plant flat, etc.....). I could definately use some help here for the bidding process.

So my question is how long should it take to plant.......
1-36 plant flat of annuals
1 gal pot
3 gal pot
5 gal pot
15-20 gal pot
2 ft b&b root ball

or any other size you can think of.

I know what I need to make an hour to make it so not really looking for pricing. I just need to know how much time it would take to dig the hole (by hand), throw in the plant and amedments, and cover it back up.

I have already found mulching and other time estimates here by searching but did not find much on this subject.

I sincerely appreciate anyone taking time to answer question for me. If you need more info please ask.

Greg McDonald
Commonwealth Greenhouse and Nursery
Barbourville, KY


LawnSite Platinum Member
Garland, Texas
Geez. All depends on the dirt. Hard clay? Sandy Loan? Huge roots underneath the ground? Rocks under the surface...

But time to plant should be like...

10 mins for a 36 flat.
3-8 mins per the pots.
and i dont know about the rest.


LawnSite Bronze Member
northeast ohio
holes should be 2-3 times the width of the root ball full circle, and 1-2 inches less in height for drainage from the trunk. but likejwingfield said it all depends on the soil you have and what type of workers you have.


LawnSite Member
Wow, 2 hours and 2 replies. Thank you.

Obviousily alot depends on soil condition. No doubt about that. But for the sake of argument lets say that it is good soil with little to no roots or rocks. I am really looking for ballpark ideas.

As for my real-world conditions, always rocky, clay soil and always need lots of amendments.

Also I am well versed in how to plant but again thanks for the info.

Keep it coming guys....



LawnSite Senior Member
i think it takes longer than 3-8 minutes for the pots. you have to dig the hole (at least nearly 2'x2' for the 1 gallon), mound the bottom, add amendments, place plant and backfill, clean-up, and water. seems like more than 10 minutes.


LawnSite Silver Member
transition zone
I would suggest you purchase a one man hole auger for the small pots if you where planning on doing this on a regular basis. Different size augers can be used on the machine and it will speed up the planting by several times over. I have planted over 100 1 gal junipers and been back to the house by myself in just 2 or 3 hours using the hole auger. When my wife helps they can be planted in the time it takes me to get the holes dug. First job we done paid for the auger.

D Felix

LawnSite Bronze Member
Augers tend to glaze the sides of the hole, so they shoud only be used when the ground is well prepped and tilled. If the hole sides are glazed, you will not have good drainage, and the plants will continue to grow as if in a pot and the roots will circle.

Here's the times we use:
All times are in hours per plant
Qts: .15 hours
#1: .2 hrs
#2: .3
#3: .4
#5 or 6: .6
#7 or 10: .9
#20: 1.2
B&B broadleaf evergreen shrubs:
10-30": .6
36": .9
42": 1
Narrowleaf evergreen shrubs, B&B:
12": .3
15-18": .4
24": .6
30": .8
36-42": .9
48-52": 1
5': 1.5
6': 2.3
Deciduous shrubs, B&B:
12-15": .4
18": .5
2-3': .6
3.5-4': .7
5-6': .9
Conifer trees, B&B:
5': 1.5
6': 2.3
7': 3.5
8': 5.0
9': 6.5
10': 8
Shade and flowering trees, B&B:
1-1 3/4": 3.3
2": 4.5
2 1/2": 6
3-4": 8.5

Again, these numbers are in TOTAL hours per plant. They may seem high to some of you, but they are pretty accurate when you consider all of the handling that is done with the plants. At a minimum, you handle each plant 3 times if delivered directly to the site, 5 times if delivered to the shop. The bigger material you generally have more than one person working on at a time too.

These are OUR numbers, and OUR numbers only. They work for US, they may or may not work for YOU.:D

Hope this helps.



LawnSite Member
D Felix,

Thanks for the numbers. That was exactly what I was looking for. Those will give me a ballpark to use for doing quotes.

Thanks again.

Greg McDonald


LawnSite Member
San Diego, Ca.
Hi im currently bidding a very large project and one of the plant material is 12,400' sq. feet of Gallardia 'Goblin' 4" pot planted 6" OC. I used the formula;
12,400/.25=49,600 plants;
49,600/ 866=58 crew days;

using a 4 man crew planting 28 plants per hour per guy.
does this sound about right for 4" pots?


LawnSite Silver Member
consider buying a Mantis.(it may be a small machine but its design and torque is awesome. THe Mantis has improved our planting time by over 50%. Believe it or not, this little machine can make adequate holes for most nursery stock (things like barberry, rhodies, of laurel, small B&B stock, etc.

sOmeone gave this tip here a couple of years ago and I thought they were full of baloney until I tried it. ANd the best part is, the soil coming out of the hole is pulveriized which is great for the plant and makes the backfilling soooo ez....