Pruning Question

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by ny scaper, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. ny scaper

    ny scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Hey all, I have deciced that I want to push for more pruning jobs next year. I am wondering given all the different shrubs and their bloom dates, etc., how you all handle the pruining/trimming of your properties? Some stuff needs early pruning, some just after bloom, some whenever, etc...How do you guys charge for this stuff?
    Do you just charge in increments as you prune the bushes at the appropriate times? I have always pruned like once a year for one rate , but as I learn more about it, I realize I am doing a diservice and want to change that. Thanks in advance.
  2. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,755

    I charge an hourly rate and only prune at current customers residences. There really isn't good money in it unless I can up sell mulch.
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  3. vencops

    vencops LawnSite Bronze Member
    from NC
    Messages: 1,537

    If I were you (what I'm doing), I'd keep track of how much time I spent pruning, this year (at your hourly rate). Then, figure those costs into your weekly service for 2012.

    Unless more ornamentals are added, the time spent should be the same. And, if you explain the weekly up-charge to the customer, he'll know he's not spending any more for the service (any more than he did, this season).

    IMO, this takes the "nickle and dime" out of the equation.

    Another way to deal with this could always do your pruning on weeks you didn't mow (in case of drought situations). It would take the place of your normal, weekly service costs.
  4. ny scaper

    ny scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I like that idea Ven. I always time ALL jobs to help me out when doing future estimates, etc. so putting together a number for next year would not be a problem.

    Thats how I do my pruning now - during slower times in July and Auguist, but like I said, I'm pruning stuff at the wrong time of year and as an up and coming professional still learning, I do not feel that this is right for the customer even though they are happy with my work.
    Thanks man.
  5. ArenaLandscaping

    ArenaLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 230

    I have 1 crew, myself and a laborer. It is hard to trim/prune what needs to be trimmed at certain times of the year. I try to do the best I can for my customers when it comes to keeping up on the pruning, but things get skipped mainly because of my work load. The only advice I have for you is to keep your hedge trimmers with you "all the time" and if you have time to prune after you finish mowing a property, trim whatever you can, or like vencops said "you could always do your pruning on weeks you didn't mow (in case of drought situations) ". I would not charge the same as the "weekly maintenance" for pruning. I built my business with trimming/pruning trees and shrubs. Mulching, planting, shrub trimming, lawn installs, thats where the money is. There is alot of money in that kind of work and it is specialty work and should be charged accordingly. Weekly maintenance basically gets your foot in the door for all the other services that come along with the property maintenance.
  6. lukemelo216

    lukemelo216 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ...
    Messages: 1,267

    Yes have your hedgers, but also have your hand pruners too. Majority of the bushes that landsacpers prune truly need to be pruned with hand pruners, and not shaped into a ball shape like most lawn guys do. Examples of bushes that should be trimmed with hedgers are boxwoods, formal hedges, spirea, barberry. Things like dogwoods, burning bush, lilac, roses, potentialla are all supposed to be hand pruned with pruners. Much more natural look is what is ment to be not this round ball look. We sell our clients on the hand pruning, but most commercial stuff we will round off. What you need to do, is walk the property and look at the bushes and determine what needs to be pruned when. Spring, summer and fall. Then add up the time for each set of bushes and charge accordingly. So say your hourly rate is $45/hr for pruning. Spring pruning takes you 1.5 hours, so you charge $67.50 and bill upon completion. Summer only takes 1 hour so its $45 and billed upon completion, and fall is 2 hours so its $90.00. You just need to explain to them why your pruning at the schedules that you are. Tricky part about pruning is its more of an ongoing service becasue flowers are all dying at different times over about a 2 week period.
  7. ny scaper

    ny scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    I agree there is $ to be made in pruning for sure. I was just trying to be polite to RB. I have pruned for several years as well as cleanups, mulching, and planting. I try to have as many full service accts. as possible minus fertilizing. I'm small and solo and as of right now, 80% is full service so I basically mow to get the rest of the decent paying stuff. But being that pruning is specialty, i figured it might be a good thing to focus on. IE: There is a guy that holds down the mowing in a neighborhood (29 accounts) I have a couple lawns. We are friendly and I asked him what services he offered. He said he pretty muich does the weekly mowing and cant do much more because he has bad knees. His lawns look great but the shrubbery needs help. I'm thinking I could get the ok from him to speak with these people about pruning for them.
  8. ny scaper

    ny scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Yeah, I have really gotten into the hand pruning over the last two years and have noticed quite a difference! Always have shears and the handy's on me. I still break out the HS45's for what you mentioned above and use shears for a lot of stuff too. You use hand pruners for burning bushes? Almost all of them around here are shaped so I use shears along with hand pruners. I lik the natural look dont get me wrong, but most customers want them shaped here. Most of my customers I've had for a while and have good relationships with so explaining why I am doing the pruning incrmentally next year should not be a problem. I also like your payment method idea
  9. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,285

    One doesn't prune with hedge trimmers. One trims with hedge trimmers.

    For the most part I would agree, but not spirea. They should be treated as a woody perennial. Not sheared.
  10. ArenaLandscaping

    ArenaLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 230

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