Question concerning charging for manual labor?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Novaowner, Jun 2, 2007.

  1. Novaowner

    Novaowner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    Ok guys, been at this for 2 1/2 months now and have been doing pretty decent. Been applying alot of mulch lately...ooooh my back!

    Anyway when you guys are like spading a flower bed or say pulling weeds, how do you the hour?....and if so how much do you charge?...especially since you're not running any equipment.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Allens LawnCare

    Allens LawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 926

    Not from tennessee but I get $70 a yard for the mulch delivered/installed and $35-$40 per hr for any other labor....don't forget I wor solo, if I need help I price accordingly
  3. Novaowner

    Novaowner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    I'm probably undercharging a little, maybe not for the area though. I charge around $30 an hour for straight labor (no equipment use).

    So for the $70 a yard you charge for mulch does that include the mulch purchase as well? Here in Tennessee, depending on the color of the mulch, there's different prices.

    For instance brown mulch around here is $16.50 a yard while black mulch is around $32.50 a yard. Would you still charge $70 for each yard which includes the purchase of mulch? Thanks.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,652

    Our mulch is $14 / c.y. for regular, $24 / c.y. colored or designer.

    I charge depending on how I have to do the job, it is all about method, because it does make a difference. Always with manual labor, the more manual it is, the higher the price, for more than one reason. Hand pulling weeds, $50 per hour and at least $50, it's got to be enough to warrant the hassle. I like using hand shears and a hand spade for this in case of briars or prickly stuff, usually it takes two sessions to make sure they're gone, so price it right for both visits. If I can spray them, $10 -$15 per gallon of solution used (this works good when using a sprayer), but usually towards $15. Spraying is much cheaper, but you can't always spray.

    With mulch, if I can rake spread the regular, around $50 a c.y., for orders of 2+, the price comes down a little bit towards 4 and 5 c.y.'s, rake spread, I might give $10 off the Total (not per c.y.). Keep in mind, rake spreading I can cover 400 maybe 500 sq.ft. / c.y., or to make the math simple, about the area 2-3 cars would cover if they were parked in those spots.

    My back hurts with mulch, too, but my mind, arrg, I find to get the yield just right I have to think about the spread the entire time, it wears me out mentally as well, I really try hard to get it to go f.a.r.

    Hand spreading costs much more, for one it's a much finer spread, I can cover around 700-900 sq.ft. with one c.y., or about twice as far a yield as rake spread, I charge $85 - $90 per c.y. for a hand spread (from the customer's end the price either way is about the same in the end).

    As a rule, I almost always rake spread regular mulch, and hand spread colored because with colored there is less fade so when it washes away it is much less noticeable than with regular. Also as a rule I will not rake spread colored, but I will hand spread regular, at my discretion, I use regular mulch when it is a big area that needs covering, also if the base requires it, but as a rule colored looks better, it all depends on where it is going, what purpose does this serve.

    I like colored mulch due to the yield I get out of it, it means less trips for me.
    I like regular mulch because rake spreading is so much easier, and faster.

    So the way I do it is the price is about right regardless of method, I win or lose about the same either way, this allows me to pick the method based on what is needed. Then if I find myself preferring one method over the other, perhaps something needs adjusting, is one rule I keep in mind.


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