Needing help pricing a large mulch job.

If you are used to getting small mulch jobs to bid on from time to time and then all of a sudden you get a call for a larger area than you are used to, your ability to estimate the job may be challenging. Here is a great example from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, of how you can get real nervous and not trust your costs when estimating that mulch job price.

One lawn care business owner wrote “I received a call for a mulch job yesterday. The owner wants a HUGE place mulched , trees trimmed , bushes dug up, and more planted. The measurements for mulch is 134 ft long 27 ft wide total is 3,618 sq ft plus to make this job even tougher, it’s on about a 45 degrees pitch.

Here is my plan, I am going to trim trees etc. and dig up plants and replant them first. Then I will do the mulch. I will have myself and two other people working with me. With that being said I need help trying to figure this mulch bid out.

I’m about 17 miles from the job and I get red cypress mulch for $18 a scoop. I can haul at least 4 scoops / yards at a time. I’m just not a 100% sure of how to charge this as it is the biggest mulch job I have bid on yet it is going to cost me.

Large mulch estimate bid

Large mulch estimate bid

I need 30 yards of mulch delivered. That is $1,381. I think that’s way to high but what ever so break that down, say 55 a yard = $1,650. I can’t pay my help with that. There is a lot this home owner wants.

• Trimming of small trees, shrubs,
• Remove trash & debris from mulch bed
• Remove certain plants from mulch bed
• Trim plants for regrowth of plant in spring near mail box
• Roughly 30 + cubic yards of Mulch delivered and installed
• Weeds spray: applied to prevent weeds in mulch
• Removal & Disposal of all trash debris
• Rain drainage ditch
• Edging of mulch bed
Mulch bed design
• Removal / Reinstall block border along drive
• Heavy equipment rental

I figured up every thing to be around

  • 57 man hours =$456
  • mulch delivered $1,381
  • $456+ $1,381 = $1,837

There is no good way to approach this with the customer because I know someone will under bid me on it so I’m going to throw my line in the pond at $3,150 to see if I get any bites. The guy claims he recently sold a 130 acre farm so maybe he has the money for this. How would you do this would you mail the estimate to him or arrange a meeting?

large mulch job bid

large mulch job bid

I’m just nervous as this is my first job this size and I don’t want to lose it.

I will request 50% of the bill up front as soon. As soon as the check clears I will start the job.”

A second lawn care business owner said “here is my quick estimate of this mulch job.

  • 23 yards at $55.00= $1,430.00
  • 2 guys at $10.00 per hr for 8 hrs= $160.00
  • $200.00 for extras ( if needed )
  • $1,790.00 for the job

Three guys should be able to knock this job out in one day if you have it delivered and there is no drive time, fuel, etc. This bid gives you a little room to play around with costs if the client isn’t sure about the amount.

Give it a try. Good luck and let us know how it goes.”

A third lawn care business owner said “well there are a few ways you can go, so here is my two cents. Most guys in my area when installing mulch charge by the yard installed and not the hour. I only use my company hourly rate so I can figure out what I need to determine my per yard rate. Typically it ranges from $25-$45 a yard in my area depending on the difficulty of the job.

Here is what I would do. I would price out my mulch, delivery and my time for the estimate, ordering the mulch, any mark up on the mulch and any other leg work. This is my mulch cost. Then I multiply my mulch yardage by the rate per yard to install. Say for example you want $40 a yard to install it. For the 26 yards that is @$1,040 for labor. Add this to your material cost which could be around $850 and you have $1,890 for the job. Then you can add to that any additional cost for other work, bed prep, product mark up, disposal fees, leg work, etc.

For example this is a pretty easy job by looking at the pictures. You can have the mulch dumped right next to the bed on the street and install it. I know myself and a helper can install 2yards of mulch an hour and that is even using a wheel barrow to a back yard. I based the above example on using a two man crew with my productivity. Yours may be different so change the rate accordingly.

This job will be a little more challenging than a standard flower bed mulch job because of the angle and you may have to come up with a different transport method besides a wheel barrow, but still not bad.

Now don’t use my numbers for your mulch job estimate. This was just an example of how I would do it based on rates in my area. Your area and the rate you need to charge to turn a profit and pay your overhead I can guarantee are different then mine.

I know it is hard not to get emotional. I am the same way when a big job comes in, it doesn’t help when the client is holding the carrot of additional work over your head.

My $45 an hour example was an average hourly rate for landscapers. I don’t charge that per yard of mulch. I typically use a number close to that for my normal landscaping work like bed edging, plantings, hedge trimming etc. For mulch I charge the price of the mulch plus an installation charge per yard. Around here that labor charge is between $30-$40 a yard. So if this was my job, labor for 30 yards would be in the $900-$1,200 range…”

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