Question About Mulch Suppliers

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by CFerriter, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. CFerriter

    CFerriter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Hey Everybody,

    My name is Chris and I am currently a college student in the Miami area. For a group project we were asked to find a business opportunity and develop a business plan around it. Having a few years experience in landscaping I noticed something while riding my bike around campus. The large majority of the mulching that is done here in Miami is done with bagged mulch. I'm not talking just small jobs either, the other day they were re-doing the outside of our baseball stadium and had a pallet of mulch stacked at least 8 feet high. I also had a friend who owns a very large house who had two pallets stacked in his driveway with bagged mulch (probably 6 yards). Being from New Hampshire we always used a materials yard and got our mulch in bulk piles, never used the bags. I wanted to come to you guys to ask if you had any idea why they might use such large quantities of bagged mulch (which has to be moved with a forklift if on a pallet, costs more, and would seem to me to cause more of a hassle in large quantities). I stumbled across this website while searching suppliers of mulch in Miami and thought you'd be able to help. Is there a reason why Miami would use bagged mulch (too expensive to transport large quantities)? I was also hoping you guys could tell me where the majority of mulch is supplied from (geographic region). Sorry for such a long question I'm just trying to gather all the relevant information for my project.

    Thanks for reviewing this.

  2. capetan

    capetan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 226

    yeah that's a good observation .......... ? why ? this is only in some areas though, i would assume its because of accessibility, it might be easier to maneuver a pallet bags than dumping a pile ( more so in busy cities) and congested areas, i dont know why bags would be more popular for larger suburban and country areas ?
    good question ..............
  3. LB1234

    LB1234 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,208

    For the most part materials would be cheaper in 'bulk' but it may not be cheaper for labor. Think about the cleanup aspect along. Whe nyou wheelbarrel it into the beds chances are you are spilling mulch, staining sidewalks, pathways, etc. No need to worry about that with bags. Also, you can move a lot more mulch in bags that you can in bulk with a bucket. With a bucket (say on a skid) you need to take the time to either (1) shovel it out of the bucket or (2) dump it and rake it out.

    Another thing to think about (guessing) is safety. Instead of traversing a walkway multiple times with material, you are travering it less b/c you have all the mulch you need with one trip.

    I of course don't know the specifics, but chances are there is a good, legit reason for it.

    My advice would be to not only look at the materials savings but the labor side as well.

    Why not call maintenance?
  4. CFerriter

    CFerriter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thank you guys for your replies. I understand what you're saying about labor but I really can't see it making enough of a difference to warrant bringing in 2 pallets (probably 60 bags) of mulch as opposed to having it supplied in bulk at a materials yard. Especially here in Miami where landscaping labor is found so cheap. The way I see it, bagging mulch adds another link to the supply chain, which adds on to product costs and costs the end user (homeowner) extra charges. The mulch goes from producer, to the packaging company (could be done by the producer but still adds costs), to supplier, to landscape company, then homeowner/business. I think the clean up of excess mulch is something that is done quite easily with a blower or a rake. I have been working on contacting landscaping companies to help me but haven't had much luck finding anything yet. Thank you guys and please continue with your replies.

    Also if anyone can answer where the majority of the mulch producers are that would be greatly appreciated.

  5. retrodog

    retrodog LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,429

    I have a good friend that started a mulching company not to long ago here in NE Texas. I know he gets all of his cypress from Loiusiana. He now ships his mulch all over the country and has built it into a huge company, chances are you guys are buying his mulch sometimes. I know he has alot of costs involved in bagging his mulch, you can get it really cheap if you just go out and get it dumped in your trailer. I know he will fill up a truck bed for around $30. For me, I still buy the pallets for the simple fact that they are alot easier to transport and alot less work to deal with. I honestly could save nearly $100 bucks on one pallet if I would just take the truck bed loads instead, he is always trying to talk me into it, he would even let me use his dump trailer if I had to.
  6. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    At my local mulch yard, the cost for bulk mulch (real good quality dyed red, brown, or black) is $18 per yard.

    The same amount of mulch, in bags, works out to $22 per yard for contractors.

    I use the bulk, but the companies using bagged tell me that, aside from the labor and cleanup issues mentioned above, they can drop the amount of pallets needed at a jobsite, plus some, let their guys work, and come pick up the rest later, and its easier to handle and store after the fact.

    I know for me, its a pain when you get done with a job to deal with the leftovers. I do not have a place to store it, unless I wanted to hand shovel back onto the trailer when I needed it. Sometimes, if I don't have another muclh job coming up soon, or if I need another color, I will take it and dump it back at the mulch yard. I have considered switching to the bags myself.
  7. hackitdown

    hackitdown LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,650

    I found that the key to installing bulk mulch is a dumptruck.

    With a dump and two wheelbarrows, installing bulk mulch is way faster and easier. Without a dumptruck, the bags can be easier. Easier often equals faster and lower labor costs.

    On the distribution side, a mulch supplier needs a lot more space and equipment to sell bulk. You need the giant bins to keep the mulch, a loader (and operator), dumptrucks(and drivers). Any retailer can order the bagged stuff on pallets, then customers can self-serve.
  8. CFerriter

    CFerriter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Thanks again guys for all your responses. Would love to hear more because all opinions really help me out. I like how you guys tell me the benefits of bagged mulch, I would also love to hear all the benefits you guys find in using bulk mulch. Lushlawngreen, that sounds very cheap for mulch to me, do you guys all find that you can get it for around $20 a yard? Also thats a good point about storage and transportation of bagged mulch. What I was trying to figure out is if you guys get bagged mulch on a pallet placed into your truck, do you just leave it on the truck and unload the bags from there? I've noticed that a lot of the pallets here in Miami are dropped in the yard/driveway, which I would assume would require a forklift (which would add a delivery expense). Hackitdown, I agree that a dump is a huge benefit with bulk mulch, which I've used in my project. I feel if you have it in a pile and can go at it with a shovel and wheelbarrow you'll find the process to go much quicker. Retrodog, do you think there is anyway I could contact your friend and ask him a few questions about how he runs his company and the benefits of bagged vs. bulk mulch? This would really help me with my project. Once again thanks guys.
  9. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,120

    I'm not sure about your area specifically, but for $20 a yard I am getting GREAT mulch. I can get natural mulch for as little as $11 per yard, but I do not like the quality.

    I can get really good quality natural mulch for $12, but I prefer dyed, even if its brown. It shouldn't be that hard in most areas to find decent mulch for $20 per yard. You can buy retail around here for $30.

    Check around for companies that are actually grinding mulch, stay away from retailers if your doing this professionally.
  10. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2,994

    The cheapest I have found bulk mulch around here is $30 per yard. That isn't much cheaper than bags....and I make that difference up on the labor. I can install bagged mulch faster and easier.

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