sq ft. price for new lawns

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by BLC1, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. BLC1

    BLC1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 718

    What is a good price per sq ft for new installation?
  2. BLC1

    BLC1 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 718

    as a side note lets do it as seed and straw and then also as hydro.
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    This is the wrong question.

    First, bidding jobs "by the sq. ft." or "by the zone" or "by the yard" whatever is just wrong. Every job is different. Some sod jobs require removal of old, weedy sod first. On other sod jobs you're starting with just clean soil. Some sod jobs are easy access in a front yard, just feet away from where you will park. Other sod jobs are through a gate, down a few steps, around a corner, and into a back yard. Some jobs require a lot of soil amendment, others require none. How can you even expect to arrive at some "general per sq. ft." price? One job might be 90 cents per sq. ft. while another might end up being $3.00 per sq. ft. because of all of the difficulty involved in the job.

    Secondly, rates are going to vary wildly from one area of the country to the next. What I can buy sod for here in Oregon may be 2x what you can buy it for. The weather conditions I have to work in and the muddy clay soil I have to deal with here may be twice as difficult to work with than yours. How can you expect to even get close? The answers you'd get from this sort of question around the country would vary wildly and wouldn't be much help at all.

    If you're bidding jobs using formulas, you don't know what you're doing and you're trying to figure out the best way to "wing it" or guesstimate. That's not smart business.

    Figure out how long the job will take you (taking into account all of your conditions) then figure out what all your expenses will be. The price you should charge is your hourly rate x how many hours you expect it to take + materials. Simple.

    If you're not sure the answer to these questions, then you should be asking THOSE kind of questions. Questions like, "I'm doing a job that involves removal of 3000 sq. ft. of existing sod, amending the soil, tilling, and installation of 3000 sq. ft. of new sod. Soil is clay-loam and fairly hard this time of year. How long should this job take?" That's the right kind of question.....
  4. BillyRgn

    BillyRgn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    i'd have to say i dis agree with you a little JimLewis, i know exactly what your saying, but when i go to bid a job it seems to be working for me to do it by the square foot for sod, seeding, and hydro seeding, and then the square footage price i come up with, i then adjust depending, on the soil test results, if a machine is needed, and how accessible the location is, as well as several other factors. i find that square footage pricing is a good place to start when doing jobs such as seeding.,either way you need the square footage to determine the necessary material, top soil, seed, straw, starter fertilizer, or any other chemicals needed to correct to soil pH levels etc.
  5. k911lowe

    k911lowe LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    a good rule is price is time of job.no lawns are the same so square foot don't work unless you are applying sod.sound like you are looking for any easy pricing you can do on the phone.no such animal.gotta look at time.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Well, I know this - it definitely doesn't work around here. Sod jobs just vary WAY too much from ones site to another.

    I guess I could see an argument for it if;

    1) Where you lived, every property was flat and had huge wide gates with easy access to the back yard
    2) Soil conditions were the same on every property
    3) Drive time was somehow not a factor
    4) Everyone calling you always just had bare-dirt landscapes with nothing to remove first
    5) You are able to do 1000 sq. ft. jobs with the same efficiency that you do 7,000 sq. ft. jobs

    Then I guess go ahead and use formulas.

    Even if I could use formulas, I guess I don't see why I ever would. What's the purpose? Just so that when people call you can shoot off some number off the top of your head and see if they like the price???? I guess I am just in a whole other arena. I am not typically trying to compete on price. Nobody calls us because we're the cheapest price. People hire us because we have better customer service, quicker response times, detailed bids and presentations, the best warranty in our area, nice clean professional trucks and workers, a nice website with hundreds of photos, more references than the other guys they've talked to, and the experience. There's so much more to landscaping than just offering a cheap price. I don't see the point in just having a quick, off-the-tongue, price to give people. I just don't work that way.
  7. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,972

    Before I just answer the original question Jim made some good points and I think the are some great things in what he said.

    Based on part of my business being as a hydroseeding contractor and having seeded as much as 2 million square feet a year for more than a dozen years. Based also on being an officer of the IAHP (Hydroseeding Association) and talking to lots of other contractors and based on my other business that has me talking to even more seeding contractors, Jim, most everyone prices by the square foot other than those who price by the square yard, acre or hectare. I agree with you totally Jim that you need to temper that with looking at other factors. One big one may be distance. Particularly with the price of gas the way it is. Another as you mentioned is size. The largest job I have done was 14 acres, the smallest 30 sq ft. Yes that is a factor. For me as a hydroseeding contractor probably one of the biggest factors I look at is water since on most larger jobs I am going to be refilling. I look at accessibility and the difficulties of the particular job. If I am going to be spending may day dragging hoses up steep banks I want a little more. OK, rant finished let me get back to the original question.

    BLC, assuming we are just talking about installing the lawn (planting grass) the size of the lawn will be a factor. I usually set my base price at about 8 cents a sq. ft. her in W.PA. That would be for a typical lawn of 10-20,000 sq ft. If it is smaller such as someones front lawn I will go to 10 cents. I also have a minimum price but factor distance into that. I try to stay to a minimum of $ 200.00 which is cheaper than many will do. If it is a larger job I may come down to as low as 6 cents. If I am subing for another contractor or seeding for a home builder that may give me a large number of homes a year then I come down another cent.

    I don't do dry seeding to say much about that. The material costs are less with hydroseeding and the labor much less but usually dry seeding is priced less than hydroseeding mostly because it does not take a $ 4,000 - 20,000 machine and any teenager can go to home depot, buy a spin spreader for $ 20.00 and be in the business. I would say figure a penny less for dry seeding.

    I hope this helped a little and Jim did bring up some really good points as well, particularly if you will be doing prep work too.
  8. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I think maybe I read the original post wrong too. He asked, "What's a good price per sq. ft. for new lawn installation?"

    I took that to mean sod. Around here, sod is how most landscapers do new lawns. Some do seed or hydroseed or terraseeding but 95% of new lawns around here are done by sod. So I was just assuming sod. His second post he mentioned wanting another price for seeding. So I just assumed in his first post he was looking for price per sq. ft. on sod and then also wanted some alternative pricing on seeding methods.

    Now that I look back, seems like most all of you are talking about seeding. And maybe you're not amending the soil much - but rather just blowing in hydroseed, etc. I can see if you're doing it that way, and if conditions are roughly the same everywhere, that you could get pretty close with a per sq. ft. price.

    Perhaps I spoke to soon and assumed too much. Again, I though we were talking about sod.
  9. Turboguy

    Turboguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,972

    Yes, I think he was talking about seeding. I do agree that many parts of the country sod is king. Here I virtually never see sod installed. Closer to Pittsburgh yes but right where I am I saw one guy put in sod about 5 years ago and that is it.
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Yah, well this kind of proves one of my points about asking questions like this in an open forum with people in all 50 states and around the world chiming in. When you ask a question like, "How much to install lawns?" answers are going to vary wildly. It's different everywhere.

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