Landscaping & Design/lawn re do


QUESTION: I removed 17500 Square feet of sod brought in36 tons of topsoil spread it and leveled and replanted Bermuda how much should I charge

ANSWER: Is it a "one & done" task or are you hoping to sustain a business on this type of work?

BUSINESS: Hard cost (topsoil/grass/fuel/equipment rental/etc.) + Labor rate (you/helpers) + Soft cost (overhead like office/equipment maintenance/business licenses/tax) + Profit (my estimate is 15-20%; yours can & will differ!) = some #

ONE & DONE: Negotiate a fixed price beforehand OR "best guess" after the fact = some #

If you hope to sustain a business doing this, then take the first number and divide it into the project size, so that in the future you can more easily bid on work on a square-foot basis, knowing you'll get to stay in business!  

Profit margins vary widely based on lots of factors, but I've seen then from 5% to 60% on landscape services and products, and you can buy books which have guides to help in pricing and margins for almost anything related to this field.

(good article:

You are in a tough negotiating position AFTER the work is done.  If they don't like your number, do you rip it out?  I would be open with the client, showing him/her your costs and appeal to their willingness to not rip YOU off.

2/5ths of an acre is pretty good sized job for a one-person crew.  Congratulations & good luck! ~M

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: So 1.16 a sq.ft?

Your bill comes to $20,300?  ($1.16 x 17,500)

Here is my stab at it:
1 ton of topsoil (my guess is $17-20/ton ~ you fill in your #) x 36 tons = $720
Plus fuel/eqpt. rental = I'm guessing $500
Labor: my guess is 3 days, or 24 hours of labor x two people at $10/hour = $480
Soft cost: I'm guessing $500-$600
Profit:(720 + 500 + 480 + 600 = $2,300).  
20% on top of that is $460, so a total of $2,760.

I'd round it up to $3,000.  Then divide it by the square footage, and for future jobs like this, you're looking at 3,000/17,500, or $0.17/sf. So, for future jobs like this one, perhaps you bid out at $0.18-0.20/sf or so...See how I got that number?

Just the field-grown, roll-out type sod in our area runs $0.35-0.50/sf (contractor cost), and that's without the soil preparation work. We don't use Bermuda sprigs, but I know that is a common practice in other areas.

Hope it helps. ~marc

.....Am I actually helping you with a homework question?! ;)  

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Marc Chapelle, RLA


I am a licensed Landscape Architect. I can answer general questions about style and design, give you ideas and suggestions for site amenities, help with larger site-planning issues, or perhaps give guidance for recreational amenities & park design. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ASK FOR A PLANT SUGGESTION GO HERE: I prefer you ask somebody else why your petunias are not as perky as they should be; I'd LOVE to tell you how those petunias can increase your home's value!


20+ years of working with homeowners, contractors, developers and local civil engineering/architecture firms. I am located in the dry Great Basin area (Greater Nevada/Utah), so the use of landscape materials OTHER than plants is emphasized. As a licensed Landscape Architect I've worked on both the East and West Coasts.


BSLA in Landscape Architecture,Licensed in NV, CA, & VA - but can answer Q's across the country Many additional seminars, educational venues, and classes (both taught & attended)

Awards and Honors
Best Multifamily project, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association Best Model Home Landscaping, Reno/Sparks Builder's Association

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