Why Bagged Mulch is a Better Investment

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by PlantscapeSolutions, Sep 18, 2010.

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  1. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    According to his math he is doing about 1-1.5 yards of mulch per man per hour. I can do 2-3 yards bulk myself with a wheelbarrow and close access to the truck. When working as a crew two wheelbarrow guys and me raking mulch we usually do 6-8 cubic yards/hour.

    If you are estimating mulch well you should never have more then 1/2 yard top leftover. That's equivilant to 6-7 bags. Just spread it over the area a little thicker. No need to bring it back to the shop. Charge the customer for what was used only.
  2. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    If you know anything about Diesel trucks you should know they are underrated for the towing capacity for legal reasons. The 02' Ran 2500 I sold recently would tow 18,000 with no problem. But you must have Firestone or Pacbrake airbags on the axle to make your truck ride level. My 02' had a host of mods that boosted the output to about 600 horsepower and 1300 foot pounds of torque. I had it on a dyno several times.
  3. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    Here's a tip take the mulch out of the bag before you put it on the plants. Ha ha ha! How in the world are you blaming bagged mulch for any sort of problem?
  4. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    This is the first time I have ever heard of someone taking a mower through a house. I will go have a :drinkup:
  5. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    It was only a small push mower. Hard to explain the house layout but the garage was up in front of the house and then the "backyard" was about 1100 sq.ft. That was locked in by a tall rock outcropping, a neighbor's fence and another persons garage. They had no way to get anything in so it all came through the house. They had a small patio and a lawn in the rest of the area. We did a large patio (most of the yard) with a small section of synthetic grass for the look. Then some plantings along the borders to soften things. They also added a swim spa which was craned over the house. I need to add that the house is more traditionally landscaped in the front, with a lawn, walkway beds. So the backyard mulching is just a small part. I think when we refresh the mulch next year, I will just have the guys bring some bulk through in a couple of contractor bags.
  6. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    We do not mess with middle men. We cut out the retailers and re-wholesalers and buy mulch in pallet quantities straight from the mulch company. In central Texas Austin Wood Recycling has the best product. There are a lot of wana-be mulch companies as well but they just aren't as good. You need to age mulch for about a year so the microbes can compost the mulch and give it a good dark color. If mulch isn't composted enough it will bleach quickly. You also need million dollar tub grinder to insure good quality control. The little guys just can afford the good equipment needed to make quality mulch.

    We do mostly million dollars homes with vast expanses of flower beds. It might be 40' from the edge of the bed to the back. You can't just run over a bunch of plants in high density beds. You would have to put the mulch in a bucket or something to get the mulch to the back of the beds. That would be a lot of wasted labor. The bags let us carry the mulch to the exact spot we need it and then we can either dump it out a little at a time in tight spots or dump the whole thing. Bags are mulch more flexible then a cumbersome wheel barrow.

    Shoveling 29 yards of mulch out of my trailer would be a hell of a lot of work. That's about 17,500 lbs to shovel. I can put 1/2 a yard (6 bags) of bagged mulch on a dolley in about ten seconds. My guys can move the mulch to where it needs to go and dump the bags on the ground. The guys working the beds just keep on working. If we used a fleet of wheel barrows they would bottleneck at the trailer trying to load up.

    If you have a tiny two many operation efficiency may not be a concern but when you have 4-5 guys it's a different story. It's important everyone stays busy. Every minute workers are waiting for mulch at the beds or bottle necked at the trailer it's money coming out of my pocket. My guys run mulch like an assembly line where everyone stays busy.

    But I will agree with you that if your don't know who your suppliers are and have the proper business paper work to buy the mulch directly from the company your going to pay too much. It pays to be networked and know the green industry suppliers in your area. It's also easier if you live in a large merto area with a good supply chain with lot of competition to keep supply prices down.

    Here is something else to ponder. When you look at TruGreen and the other huge companies who have lots of bean counters you won't see bags. They have lot of management in place that nixes wasteful practices. New construction where skid steers can move mulch around is the one exception to the efficiency rule you will see sometimes.
  7. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    My maintenance clients pay for exactly the amount of mulch we use. On landscape jobs we bid in a fudge factor. If I come up short the mulch comes out of my pocket. If I have a few bags or more leftover it's jobsite booty I get to take back to the holding yard. I don't care who you are nobody can look at a job and say with 100% certainty how many bags it will take. Any good estimator will always leave a little room for error.

    Having bags left over is part of my bidding science!
  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    15 buck for bulk by the truck load. 80 yards
    2.50 per bag by the truck load. 60 bags per pallet 18 per truckload a pallet ofmulch is 4.4 yards. or 35 bucks per yard...

    sorry just the economics of buying bulk, you are getting 2x as much product... granted bag has it place. tree rings, hard to reach areas, ect.. but when you can load up 7 yards on a f-450 stake body and still wheel barrow around.

    now this is assuming that you have a place at the yard to store it in bulk, and load onto trucks(skid loader)

    but I do close to 1500 yards a year....I don't get ANY bag mulch..but my situation is a bit unique...
  9. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    Mulch here usually weighs about 45 lbs a bag or about 607 lbs a yard. A bag (2 cu) of mulch is good for about 12 sq ft (at 1.5" - 2"). The math shows it should go further but it never does.

    At 3 yards (about 40 bags) an hours that's loading 1820 lbs with a shovel, making about 8-10 trips all over the yard, dumping out the mulch and spreading it over an area of almost 1000 sq ft. If you can do this for a 10-12 hour day Your hired!

    At most of the houses we do having to haul 100' - 200' feet from the trailer is the norm. Hell I'd like to see you haul mulch at that rate at one of my houses for just one hour. Is there a big "S" on your chest and are you afraid of Kryptonite?

    I've done a few jobs with wide open beds where we have done 30 bags an hour on a job that required 650 bags. But it's rare that you have wide open beds where you can sling mulch like a crazy person. The temps in the part of the country or the time of the year you do mulching can also effect your output. We hit 107 F last month and that definitely takes a toll on output.
  10. kilgoja

    kilgoja LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 944

    this might be a weird question but what do you guys mean when you say a yard?...a yard is 3 feet right? so what am i missing here? lol....a square yard would be 3 ft x 3 ft right?...i've been out of school for awhile hahaha
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