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Old 07-03-2008, 10:56 AM
 
68 posts, read 216,139 times
Reputation: 48

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Hi all,

We just moved to a new home that has a nice grass backyard (yay!). We are looking to hire a landscaping company to mow and maintain the front and back (desert front) on a bi-weekly basis. The backyard's grassy area is approximately 20 feet by 200 feet? It's not huge, but it's not a little patch o' grass either.

As I compare estimates, can anyone tell me what a ballpark fair price for such work is? We've never contracted for landscaping work before and I haven't any idea what to expect. Also- anything to look out for or to avoid?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Phoenix
674 posts, read 1,542,329 times
Reputation: 259
Hmmm, maybe you can find reasonable prices at Home Depot's parking lot?


I kid I kid.
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:22 AM
 
812 posts, read 1,570,983 times
Reputation: 332
Our next door house is vacant, the guy is paying the yard guy 20.00 a month, which is ridiculous and unfair and unreasonable. The guy is doing it cause he is here weekly already doing the house across the street.
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Old 07-03-2008, 11:35 AM
 
9,211 posts, read 10,097,617 times
Reputation: 6849
If you hire a legal company out of the yellow pages, it can be steep. They will do a first time cleaning which will cost significantly more than the regular bi-weekly cleaning. A first time cleaning can be $200-$300. Then the bi-weekly maintenace costs will be anywhere from $50-$120.

Something else to consider, many of these so-called "legal" entities hire illegals. These companies are owned by Sally and John American but they outsource their labor to illegals. So you are essentially paying a middleman for your lawn care which is why they charge higher prices.

There are advantages to hiring the legal American company. For one thing, these companies usually guarantee the person actually shows up to work. If they don't, you call them up and they will get someone out there ASAP. If you hire illegals on your own, sometimes, they don't show up and will not call or notify you. In my experience, that doesn't happen too often but it will ocurr at least 2-3 times in a summer.

Also, you have some recourse with the American company. If they fail to do a proper job, you can call the company and complain that your hedges were not trimmed properly etc. If you hire an illegal on your own, you can complain and they will either make the correction or they will stop showing up and you will have to find a new service. However, in doing so, the American company can trump up some b.s. charges and say you have to pay extra if you wanted the hedges trimmed etc.

However, in terms of the quality of the work. I haven't noticed any difference between hiring the legal company and the illegals. You still have to be present and stay on top of them you want quality work done. It's really a crap shoot. It depends on the lawn personnel as opposed to who is hiring them. Some people just have a better work ethic and attention to detail while others are just lazy and want to do the bare minimum.

Cost-wise, you are saving a lot of money by hiring an illegal yourself. With an illegal, a first time home cleaning will cost between $100-150 and then maintenace can range from $25-$50. Most people I know pay between $30-$40 every two weeks.

Bottomline: Whoever you hire, stay on top of them! I can't stress that enough especially for the first summer that you hire them. You don't have to be rude but make sure to check their work at the end and don't be afraid to ask them to do things they omitted. If you check their work, they will gradually do a better job knowing you wont let them leave without making sure they did a great job. They are really testing you because many homes will not check their work and they can get by with doing the bare minimum. If you call them out in a polite way, you will see they will do great work for you.
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Old 07-03-2008, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Phoenix
674 posts, read 1,542,329 times
Reputation: 259
Also, with the illegals, you'll never know if they are illegal or not. Unless you run a SSN check of some sort but which house owners do that?
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:00 PM
 
3,368 posts, read 6,332,283 times
Reputation: 1954
We pay $45 each time they come out, which is every other week. It's some new guys we just hired, they have been out twice, and so far I'm very impressed with their work...hopefully it doesn't fall off as time goes by.

We've had three other guys/companies before the current ones and I wasn't happy with any of them. They would either not show up on the days they were supposed to, or do a half-ass job.
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Old 07-03-2008, 03:12 PM
 
508 posts, read 1,145,622 times
Reputation: 406
Another thing to consider is liability. If you hire someone who is not licensed, bonded and/or insured, you become the employer and assume all liability for their safety. If the guy from the home depot parking lot scales your palm trees falls and breaks his back, guess what. You are his employer and are as such liable for the medical costs. Always hire someone who is licensed and insured and works as a contractor.
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Old 07-03-2008, 03:57 PM
 
430 posts, read 956,672 times
Reputation: 147
Default wow that is unfair.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Prinny View Post
Our next door house is vacant, the guy is paying the yard guy 20.00 a month, which is ridiculous and unfair and unreasonable. The guy is doing it cause he is here weekly already doing the house across the street.
we pay 120.00 a month. it is so worth it in the summer, they earn every penny too in this heat, They do an great job, they do rush through a little in the summer, but, I can understand that. Winter they spend more time on the yard.
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:05 AM
 
Location: Phoenix AZ
30 posts, read 147,368 times
Reputation: 48
Its funny to hear the homeowners end of things I have a lawn service for upscale residential homes I have been in the vally in the indudustry since 1981. The going rate is something like this but there are exceptions.

Commercial companies like the ones doing HOA's or office /apt complexs are getting 25-28 per man hour but to be honest I havent talked price with my pals in that market for a year or so.

Companies I compete with charge from 30 per hour on the low end most are in the 50-60 range. I am at 40-48 depending on total hours on the job.

Illegals are in the 18-20 something range.

Some things to keep in mind. Your landscape is an appreciating asset like your home. Unlike your car that is depriciating and you pay 70 or more per hour for auto service. I have seen homes flooded 100-k or more of damage by a gardener that left a hose on. I have not fixed a widow yet that was less than 700 bucks. Your gardener knows when you are home when you are out of town.

There are too many horror stories and I am biased. I run a good compamy do everything legal, pay my guys above avg. they all speak english are legal citizens have families etc. I provide health ins paid lunches trining vacations the works. It costs me 55 per man hour to operate so I loose money on labor but I managed to eelk out a small profit last year because we of our extra sales, flowers plants, lightbulbs, fertilizers etc. Once I have 9-10 employees that will flip and I will begin to make money on my labor as of now there are 8 on payroll but only 7 that are putting in billable hours. It is a tough industry.

I would encourage you to hire a American pay at least 25 per hour and do as much as you can yourself to save the dimes. If not... the next time you are in the emergency room wiith you child waiting behind 30 or so illegals just remember how much you save on lawn care.
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:58 AM
 
9,211 posts, read 10,097,617 times
Reputation: 6849
Quote:
Originally Posted by azgardener View Post
Its funny to hear the homeowners end of things I have a lawn service for upscale residential homes I have been in the vally in the indudustry since 1981. The going rate is something like this but there are exceptions.

Commercial companies like the ones doing HOA's or office /apt complexs are getting 25-28 per man hour but to be honest I havent talked price with my pals in that market for a year or so.

Companies I compete with charge from 30 per hour on the low end most are in the 50-60 range. I am at 40-48 depending on total hours on the job.

Illegals are in the 18-20 something range.

Some things to keep in mind. Your landscape is an appreciating asset like your home. Unlike your car that is depriciating and you pay 70 or more per hour for auto service. I have seen homes flooded 100-k or more of damage by a gardener that left a hose on. I have not fixed a widow yet that was less than 700 bucks. Your gardener knows when you are home when you are out of town.

There are too many horror stories and I am biased. I run a good compamy do everything legal, pay my guys above avg. they all speak english are legal citizens have families etc. I provide health ins paid lunches trining vacations the works. It costs me 55 per man hour to operate so I loose money on labor but I managed to eelk out a small profit last year because we of our extra sales, flowers plants, lightbulbs, fertilizers etc. Once I have 9-10 employees that will flip and I will begin to make money on my labor as of now there are 8 on payroll but only 7 that are putting in billable hours. It is a tough industry.

I would encourage you to hire a American pay at least 25 per hour and do as much as you can yourself to save the dimes. If not... the next time you are in the emergency room wiith you child waiting behind 30 or so illegals just remember how much you save on lawn care.
I like your way of thinking. I agree with everything you said except for the hourly wage part. Look the fact of the matter is if you pay someone by the hour, guess what, they are going to take their sweet time doing a job so they get paid more. It's human nature. And you bring up negotiating 101 when discussing contracts, always pay per job and not per hour. And don't pay until after the job is completed and check everything before cutting the check. Again, I don't have a problem paying you what you feel you are owed but I would rather pay per job than per hour.
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