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Digging myself into a hole(s) - Time and Price?

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  • Digging myself into a hole(s) - Time and Price?

    Hi, I just had a call today from someone interested in having me plant "shrubs".

    • 15-20 (4'-5' tall) arborvitae/juniper plants to go along property line
    • Pick up plants at the nursery (hope they all fit in one trip - short bed w/cap and cargo carrier on back)
    • Dig holes/plant

    I haven't spoken to the client yet, I can only go on what was left in the message. (info above)

    They are located within 30 min of my house.
    I'm a beginner at all of this. Well, I've been digging/planting my own (plants in general - no experience with this type) for years, but the whole "lawn care" for a living is completely new. I actually just picked up my first gas hedge trimmer this evening for two jobs I need to do - electric and cordless have always been sufficient for my own use.

    I don't know what type of soil I'll be digging in, and it will be done with a shovel, and pick if need be. This will be just me, no help.

    Would 20 minutes per planting be anywhere in the ballpark? If I have an idea of how long it may take to put those suckers in the ground, I can give them an hourly rate. (unless you experts think a flat rate is better)

    I'm not the type to do a job fast just to get done - I like to do it right. I'll also need to find out if there is a place on the property to dump the excess dirt that is left over after digging.

    Any other tips for planting that type of shrub would be appreciated as well. At my own home, I usually mix native soil with peat moss, potting mix, or whatever happens to be handy to throw in around the roots. If that is not necessary - great! It will take long enough just digging the holes.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by Hedgemaster; 07-27-2010, 10:34 PM. Reason: typo

  • #2
    I am just getting started as well. This is my first year in the lawn care business. However, I have had a lot of experience planting. Where I live, the soil is clay. It's very hard to break loose as it sticks together. Even if you water it it sticks. Breaks a little easier but then you have a mess! For my area though it takes me about 5-10 minutes to get the hole dug. I dig it about 1 and a half the depth of the pot. I also dig it about two of the pots wide. This allows for good root formation and expansion. Before I plant the plant, I put a little miracle grow or similar into the hole. Though it's not necessary, I have found it helps. After putting in the miracle grow I fill the hole up with a little bit of water. Then i put the plant in there. I try to loosen the root ball up a bit to allow the roots to become un-pot bound. Over all it takes no more than 15 min per plant

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    • #3
      try this.

      20 minutes is a good number to go by. remember you will have left over soil. what will you do with it? if you haul it away, you can charge for that as well. If you are spreading it somewhere else on the property, will you need a wheelbarrow. that will take extra time.

      you could charge a flat rate, like $10 per plant and a disposal fee for any extra dirt if the customer wants it taken out and disposed of.

      what we tend to do is charge at least double of what the plant costs. This way if the plant dies we can replace it and all we would lose is the time. If you charge less and the plant dies, you may end up losing more than time. think about some of that stuff when you go to see the job.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the tips, guys. As a noob, it really is appreciated.

        I realize that prices will likely vary considerably depending on location, but as someone hopping into this in order to put food on the table using ordinary homeowner's tools to do the job (for now), any bit of info is helpful.

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        • #5
          its been a while since ive planted anything, but even when i worked with a landscaping company, we always took some of the extra dirt and formed a ring around the tree at the drip line or at the hole edge kind of looking like we made a small pond dam around the tree, to hold in some water when it rains/ gets watered, also the dirt u use to fill in the hole, and that extra up there on top usually will compact down over time and be right., you dont want to have to come back out and add more dirt! plus like i say the ring retains some water, to help it establish.

          I hope this helps you some.
          (352)682-3094 Suwannee River, Florida 32680

          Visit my site, http://www.lawnmoore.com, Thanks!

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          • #6
            I made an appointment to go look at the property tomorrow in the early evening.

            The digging doesn't concern me (well, unless it turns out to be rocky) as much as the delivery of the plants and the leftover dirt.

            They didn't say what nursery they were buying from, but there are two within about 2-3 miles of their house. I can't see fitting all 20 in one trip, so I may need to do it in two.
            see pic of truck post #17 here: http://www.gopherforum.com/showthrea...t=12282&page=2



            The extra dirt is my biggest concern. The home is in a new housing development, so I doubt there's a "back corner" where they dump things.
            I know from planting in my own yard that there's always a LOT of dirt left over. 20 holes worth is worrying me.
            Last edited by Hedgemaster; 07-28-2010, 08:34 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Keep us posted on how it turns out tomorrow. Also, if they already ordered the plants from a nursery, could they simply have them delivered to the job site for you?
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              • #8
                Keep us posted on how it turns out tomorrow. Also, if they already ordered the plants from a nursery, could they simply have them delivered to the job site for you?

                Do you know how effing stupid I feel right about now?


                LOL! Thanks! I was so worried about all the other aspects, I neglected to consider THAT! I'll check into a delivery cost when I know where they are getting them. (not purchased yet as far as I know)

                Comment


                • #9
                  That dirt.. if you were able to make the trip without your handy dandy no wheel trailer, you should be able to just wheel the dirt to your truck and shovel it in the back bed. presuming it isnt full of stuff like most of our trucks are,..

                  or take the trailer off at the site then put it back on if u have to have your trailer with you (lol i still chuckle when i talk about your trailer)
                  (352)682-3094 Suwannee River, Florida 32680

                  Visit my site, http://www.lawnmoore.com, Thanks!

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                  • #10
                    That dirt.. if you were able to make the trip without your handy dandy no wheel trailer, you should be able to just wheel the dirt to your truck and shovel it in the back bed. presuming it isnt full of stuff like most of our trucks are,..

                    or take the trailer off at the site then put it back on if u have to have your trailer with you (lol i still chuckle when i talk about your trailer)
                    LOL! I should have my wife read that. She'd laugh her a$$ off! You see, before I started doing odd jobs, nothing much ever saw the bed of my truck. I used to wax the inside of the bed. I currently have carpet padding and beige colored carpet back there! (much easier on the knees due to the cap) I have huge sheets of cardboard over the carpet to keep the dirt off. If I need to move dirt, I'll get a huge tarp and line the bed.

                    Man, I really need to ditch that glorified shelf and get a real trailer!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lol

                      i have another tip for you and you all, instead of a tarp, since you have a full size truck, find you a s-10 sized bedliner, the ones that are poly or whatever there made of, get a used one, no need to buy it new.
                      Heres the time and money saving advice: since its smaller it will fit and come out easy from your bed, but on this job, use a wheelbarrow get the dirt to the truck, shovel the dirt into the back of your bed into "that bedliner", you get home or wherever just get under the back of the bedliner and slide it out voila! On a different job, take it out of the back, use it on the job for moving mass amounts of leaves/debri/brush/etc.. it slides across dirt ez and lawns easier.

                      I hope that helps you, i know its aomthing that when u read this, u will be like wow i never thought of that.. but its a nice tool when its out of the truck as well as in the truck or trailer!
                      Last edited by LawnMoore; 07-29-2010, 02:31 AM.
                      (352)682-3094 Suwannee River, Florida 32680

                      Visit my site, http://www.lawnmoore.com, Thanks!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sigh.
                        I knew there would be more to this than just digging holes.

                        Here's where they need to go...



                        The customer is at the property with the white fence. They and the neighbor have discussed it and both wish to run the arborvitaes down the center.
                        There's only 4' 5" between the fences, so no room to run a wheelbarrow through after a plant is in the ground. I'd need to work one at a time from the far end back toward the front of the house.

                        They also wish to "cover the grass with weed block, then mulch over the entire space between the fences". I don't know if that will be sufficient, or if all of the grass will need to be killed first. Any advice on that would be helpful.

                        There MAY be a place nearby on an undeveloped lot that I can place dirt, but not within several lots, so taking it there with a wheelbarrow is out. I may not need to remove the dirt though if they want to cover the area with mulch. I could probably just spread it all out first.

                        Here I was thinking 20 minutes per tree, but with that "sucky" location, I don't know how much it will add to the time it takes. The only access is right in from the front as shown from where the photo was taken.

                        Oh, and delivery will not be an issue. I stopped at the local nursery and got a price - $20 if I unload, and $40 if they have to unload. $40 is a lot less than I'd charge for all the aggravation of doing it in my own truck.

                        Here's a shot of the type of houses in the development...

                        Attached Files

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What are you needing help with here exactly?

                          Are they providing the materials, weed block and mulch or are you supplying all that? i know they supply the plants.

                          You should have took some test pokes in that soil when you took those pictures,

                          What are your measurements on total area of mulch to be covered? It looked like to be about 4.5 x 75 feet but thats a guess.

                          p.s. clean your windshield! lol
                          (352)682-3094 Suwannee River, Florida 32680

                          Visit my site, http://www.lawnmoore.com, Thanks!

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                          • #14
                            What are you needing help with here exactly?

                            Are they providing the materials, weed block and mulch or are you supplying all that? i know they supply the plants.

                            You should have took some test pokes in that soil when you took those pictures,

                            What are your measurements on total area of mulch to be covered? It looked like to be about 4.5 x 75 feet but thats a guess.

                            p.s. clean your windshield! lol

                            Well, like I said, "Here I was thinking 20 minutes per tree, but with that "sucky" location, I don't know how much it will add to the time it takes. The only access is right in from the front as shown from where the photo was taken."

                            I'm not sure how that obstruction (fences) will play into the estimate of how long it will take.

                            I thought I posted the measurement, but I see I only noted the width. It's 92' long and 4' 5" wide.


                            They will be buying/paying to have the plants delivered. I didn't know anything about the mulch until I saw them in person and as I'm new to this, I neglected to verify the details, but they did mention the possibility of having the mulch delivered at the same time as the trees, so I'm assuming they will handle that.

                            Weed block is no big deal, I can pick that up and charge them, but I'm wondering if simply covering the grass will be sufficient, or if I need to dig it all up, or spray it with vegetation killer first. I'd hate to do all that work and have stuff come up through the weed block.

                            I did get to dig a little. The homeowner actually offered to get his shovel to let me see how the "soil" is to dig. Mostly dry, light colored dirt with a little bit of small rocks. it wasn't TOO hard to dig, but it seemed like pretty crappy stuff to grow things in. I'm told it isn't "fill" - that it was a farmer's field where the development now stands, but who knows.


                            And yeah, I wuz bombed. Washing the whole truck tomorrow.
                            Last edited by Hedgemaster; 07-30-2010, 03:52 PM.

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                            • #15
                              I would find a sodcutter for that much area.They rent them around here for 35 a day it will take the grass and a little dirt up with it.The holes I would figure 30 minutes per tree because you have to dig em ,set the tree and haul off the dirt.

                              What about stakes are the trees gonna stand up straight if it blows?You might have to stake each tree.I would just to CYA for future call backs because of weather.

                              Laying the fabric and cutting around the trees another 1 to 1.5 hrs.Spreading the mulch another 3 hrs.Remember you won't get a wheel barrow in ther after the trees are in so you may have to set a tre put down the fabric and mulch as you move along otherwise you could be carrying the mulch from end to end on a shovel.

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