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Please help me figure this small job

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Pecker, Sep 20, 2004.

  1. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,454

    Hello all,

    I need a little advice regarding what to charge to completely overhaul a small bed. . .I don't do much landscaping but I want to learn and here's a great start (I work solo). Also, I did a search and just haven't found what I'm looking for.

    Here's the deal:
    - Bed measures 2' x 8'. There is nothing in the bed, it obviously died off years ago. It needs probably 3 inches of soil excavated (the soil will be very difficult to break up and its mostly clay) and hauled away (my calculations show that to be 4 cubic feet or about two wheel barrow loads). I will need to put a border around it. I'm thinking of black plastic edging but possibly landscape timbers. I plan on adding about 3 inches of topsoil back in and tilling with native soil. Here's the plants I wanna put in. After talking with the customer and assessing her needs: 5 Dwarf Yaupon Holly bushes @ $3.96 a piece. An 8 foot row of monkey grass in front of it; not sure of the price here, but I'm thinking will cost less than $20 or so. In the front will be a flat of Petunias stretching the 8 foot span which are $10.89 per flat (36 flowers). 4 cubic feet of topsoil will cost around $5, but I'll get some extra so say $8. Then, for a rich dark soil look, I'll top it off with a bag of Landscaper's mix; roughly $3. To sum it up, my materials should cost roughly $65.

    Here's my questions:
    - What's a general rate for labor (ie. for lawn service a lot of folks say $1/minute and I average $.93/minute, to give you an idea of my area)?
    - How long do you guys think it will take one hardworking man to do the actual labor?
    - Should I charge for my truck time going to buy the materials and if so, how much?
    - Finally, please tell me a rough estimate of what you guys would chargefor this job. I know there are things which are unique to every job and if you have questions please ask me.
    Also, I have not told this lady a price yet. Of course, I don't want to price myself out, but I'd rather not work than work for free.

    PS On the plant materials, would it be fairly safe just to double the price of the plant (which would cover shopping time, unit price, and labor) and then add the labor it took to prepare the bed, put in the edging, and shopping time?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    For a jobsite project that takes four hours for one person - get your materials the day before, if possible, and have your shovel and spade blades already-sharpened. For true, the general rule is double the price of the materials, but then always add 30-35% for your overhead (how else you gonna buy that new truck you deserve in a few more years?). There's no 'bonus' for you in doing free work for anyone while you and your family starve !!
    If you are going to be on steep hill-sides or real swampy areas to install any project or bring in materials, always add more to the percentage, due to the "degree of difficulty".

    After your soil amendments are tilled in (we till in all indoor or outdoor plantings with a few cup-fulls of cheap Milorganite fertilizer ($6-8 for 40lb bag), next place an inch and a half to two inches of Hardwood Mulch (for your 2'x 8' bed, just one 3-cu.ft. bag for $3-5) to hold moisture on top of that new bed, then move aside the mulch to plant in your plantstock, then gently replace the mulch back around the plantings. Tell the customers that you've just bought the freshest, hardiest plantstock - however they can kill it all real quick into the deadest mess this side of the Mississippi if they won't gently-shower-water it for 10 minutes every morning for the first 15 days, and two or three times weekly thereafter for the first year (especially if the bed is under trees -even if its raining a good clip! - proximate big trees will outdo your bed in rainwater-consumption ).

    Word of caution- Be conscious of the mature heights of the plants you install, so in a year or two your customer don't cuss you because the view of their new plants gets blocked out by the tall-growing plants or encroach into the territory to crowd out other plants you've planted, or those already in-place.

    Landscape well friend, and be sure to follow up with a bed maintenance contract offer($24-per-quarter-hour, materials included): offer pre/mid-season maintenance [Treflan Granules ($12-15 for a 18lb, bag) yields 3-4 months worth of weed suppression for just a 32 oz cupfull gently sprinkled into and around shrubs or plantings in a 16 sq.ft. bed] or end-season maintenance (cut-downs/leaf removal).

  3. Pecker

    Pecker LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,454

    Somm, thanks for the the input.

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