View Full Version : PRice per foot fot sod cutting / removal?

05-08-2008, 09:53 PM
I got a job to quote, about 4000 sf of bahia sod to remove.
Client wants just dirt left there. Later on a separate bid will be trees, mulch, rock etc. & that I've done before but I've never cut sod out & removed it. I haven't a clue how long it may take as far as man hours go or how many cubic yards of waste I need to expect to have to haul away?

05-08-2008, 11:51 PM
I'm not sure on a going rate. I read something in the forum stating people will charge 5 to 7 for 1 cu yd of sod removal, hauling and disposal as well as topsoil when complete. I am guessing its 500 to 700 but that number seems a bit huge. I cannot imagine 5-7 dollars since the cost of soil can be much much more than that.

I recently bid a job and bid high so I didnt shoot myself in the foot. Its 1806 sqfeet. He had the place 60% cleared of sod. the rest had been cut with a sod cutter in places and piled in 2 sq foot mounds in others. Also what weas completely removed had been put into bags and he wanted them hauled away.

I figured I'll need to cover the bare soil with 2.5 inches of topsoil. At 144 sq feet of coverage per yard I need 12.5 yards. Well dont want to be short so I call it 13 cu yards. I called for a price and was looking at 425 to have it delivered and dumped. Well we need a markup so 425x2 is 850. Sounds good to start. Next I need to guess on man hours without getting screwed. I go a bit high at 20 man hours at 65 an hour. I figure 2 guys can knock it out in 8 hours but I want a cushion. We are not using equipment, just shovels and rakes to spread and rough grade. Thats 1300 for labor. Lets say another 300 to haul everything away and pay to dump it. I called it 2450. HE **** a brick and said you must not understand what I am looking for. I recapped what my understanding of the job was and he declined it.

13 cu yards delivered = 425
Markup = 425
Labor 20 man hours x 65 an hour = 1300
Removal from site = 300

Did I bit too high? Possibly. I didn't really want to move 10000 # of fresh top soil and remove 7500 or more. I don't think it was unreasonable but who knows. Maybe next time I'll ask $1.00 per sq foot and see where that gets me. Try that number and see how it suits you. Of course you arent looking are adding topsoil so maybe you can cut it back to .50 or .65 per sq foot. I have found that when I guess how long a job will take me it takes double the time. I now go in guessing how long it will take and double it so I am more accurate. One of these days I'll get better!

Hope that helped a bit. Maybe it is at least good for some insight.

I dont regret not having to do all that work but I do regret not getting a bite and a hefty profit. I pay the guy I work with 7 an hour and told him if we get the job the hourly will go out the window. He will get a 200-300 depending on how long it takes. He is my first helper so I am winging it a bit.

05-08-2008, 11:54 PM
As far as yardage of removal goes.. Figure you are removing about 3 inches in depth. Or just cut into it and see how deep it is. Then run the numbers.

1' = depth is 320 sq feet per yard
2" = depth is 160 sq feet per yard
3" = ewpth is 120 sq feet per yard
4" = depth is 80 sq fet per yard.
It its more or a fraction take 320 divided by your inches to see how many sq feet per it takes to fill each yard.

All Aspects Landscaping
05-16-2008, 03:13 PM
Check your man hour rate. Seems VERY high... I run 9 full time employees, 5 trucks, riders, walk behinds, and all the goods... and were at a $37.00 per man hour rate... and I have alot of overhead.
I've posted alot about learning your labor rate. It is vital to being a true business owner. Not just in this industry, but in any industry. When you know your numbers, you will NEVER lose money. If you need help with this or a more details about how to do this, just drop me an email at allaspects@mac.com.

for anyone that needs assistance

Occasionally, you'll hit a home run, but most of the time, swing to get on base.

05-16-2008, 11:31 PM
After we talked on the phone, I tried to rebid that job but I don't think I'll get it at this point. oh well can't get emall right man?!

All Aspects Landscaping
05-16-2008, 11:32 PM
cant get email???

05-16-2008, 11:43 PM

I told ya I am tired.

Em' all... can't get em' all!

All Aspects Landscaping
05-16-2008, 11:48 PM
Yeah... i think you were a little high on the initial price... oh well... youll get the next one!

05-26-2008, 09:11 PM
I ended up getting this job though I discounted the price (it was kinda high) during negotiations. All in all was still a good day financially but man, is that hard work! I'm pretty #### sure I was boardering heat stroke on friday when we removed the lawn from this back yard. Next time I will spring to rent a skid steer rather than picking it up with shovels, rakes & pitch forks. Never Again. Lesson learned. The ridiculously hard way. About 3:30 in the afternoon I was dying (not literally but close) & my employee looks about the same. I started calling for back up to get a brother & another friend on the job. The customer over heard me on the phone, saying "I need help to get this job done if we're gonna finish it today, I'm already into a second days rental on the sod cutter as I didn't get it back in time.... it's a lot of work & we're exhausted... Can you come help us out?" He came out about an hour later & asked if I would be ok (financially) with the extra labor & rental fees. I said I should be ok but thanks for asking. Ya know you take the good with the bad in any business. He laughed.... When we finished as he handed me the final check he said "I added $200 bucks for you so please adjust your bill." I tried to decline & he insisted after watching us bust our butts all day.

What a great guy huh? I also picked him up as an annual lawn account & have a great chance of closing the deal on the landscaping too.

05-26-2008, 10:00 PM
Chuck great job!

If you were to do it again, what advice would you have as far as bidding it?

Did you take any pictures of it or can you?

I'd love to see what you did.

05-26-2008, 10:25 PM

05-26-2008, 10:27 PM

05-26-2008, 10:32 PM
And after

05-26-2008, 11:54 PM
hi guys,

Is that a sod cutter machine. If it is are they hard to use? Any one else try one?

05-27-2008, 06:15 AM
Yes it is,
Not difficult to figure out but tiring. I got it all cut up in about 45 minutes but it takes alot out of you. vibrates like a jack hammer.

05-27-2008, 10:55 AM
Hi Chuck,

Very nice work!

Knowing what you know now, if you had to rebid the job, what would you bid it at?

05-27-2008, 09:30 PM
I would probably bid it similarly & I woulduse less labor to do it... Cause I'd spring for the skid steer rental & save my back. About .50 cents per square foot. I suppose

05-27-2008, 10:25 PM

As you experiment with these different jobs, do you find there are some you enjoy doing more than others or some that you find are more profitable than others?

05-31-2008, 12:52 PM
Yes I do find there are jobs I don't like & others I really enjoy.
Lawn Care has become the backbone of my business but I do alot of trimming, prunning, & property clean ups (harder work but usually better money per hour). I enjoy landscape design & installation but I don't do as much of it as I would like to as the economy is tough now & new construction is really slow.

I don't like trimming tall trees & I like tree removal even less.
I don't offer these services or if I do I sub it out to a tree company that has the equipment & liability to cover those tasks.
Tree removal (unless there is a risk of it falling on a structure) seems like a shopper item. People don't care about quality or experiance there, just as long as the end reult is the tree is gone. So the margins seem low to me... The real tall palms don't get trimmed often enough (cause they're hard to get to) so there is usually alot to trim off, alot of waste to haul off & time involved. People don't want to pay enough as they see it as just another palm tree, Why's it so expensive? the answer is it's 35 ft tall & it hasn't been done in 2 years! I can't do those for $25 or so. So I just steer clear most of the time.

Pulling weeds sucks too, some people are willing to pay your hourly rate & some are like no way, I'll get my neighbors kid to do it, and that's fine with me too. We have fire ants here that make pulling weeds particularly unplesant.

06-02-2008, 02:39 AM
How often do you find yourself selling landscape projects to current customers who you provide lawn care service for?

Do those customers buy such upsells from you or are they mainly new customers who get the landscape projects?

Then do they later sign up for you to maintain the property after the landscape project is complete?

06-02-2008, 06:39 PM
This time of year most landscaping is from new customers, then I try to pick up the maintenence for them, I start making suggestions & talking to existing customers in the late fall when the grass slows down again. If a regular customer asks about a new project I tell them I can surely do it for them & would be happy to, though they would probably save a few dollars if they can wait til the weather is cooler & we aren't so busy with maintenence.

06-03-2008, 02:45 AM

In the past we saw one of our forum members, Tim, talk about how he would create landscape designs to present to a maintenance customer to show them how he could improve on their landscaping.

Have you found yourself doing that yet or will you?

Do you talk to the customers about problems with drainage on their property? What have you found was the best way to come up with landscape ideas and then present them, even if you weren't approached by the customer first?