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Old 06-19-2013, 05:43 PM
 
3,339 posts, read 8,849,142 times
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I'm having a 17-year old next door neighbor kid spread the mulch I'm ordering this summer. He has always been very reliable and an excellent worker. I pay him $10 an hour, which he thinks is very fair, and so do I. Now for the mulching job, I'm thinking I should have negotiated to pay him for the job, not by the hour.

I got aninitial order of ten yards. He and his brother (college soph) worked for three hours day before yesterday. He and a friend worked six hours yesterday. That's a total of 18 manhours at $10/hour = $180.

Looking at the remaining pile, I think we have about four yards left. Still with me? That's 6 yards spread at $30 a yard labor. That is about equal to what I paid for the mulch, tax and delivery. And what I am also upset about it how little is getting done. There is SO much more to do.

So I'm thinking I will go out early in the morning and work for an hour or two, see howmuch I get done and then speak with the kid. I am as old as his grandmother (almost) and not in peak high-school-football-player shape like he is. He goes to football camp, comes here to mulch, goes home for dinner and then plays basketball after dinner.

I'm being had, aren't I? What would be fair for both of us? I have so much to do here and can't do as much as I could even five years ago. It's getting away from me!
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Old 06-19-2013, 06:29 PM
 
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I had mulch delivered and spread last year because I don't have a truck to haul with nor a suitable place to single spot for a drop off delivery. I also don't have a willing worker of that age nearby. I knew it would be costly but still cheaper and easier on the old body (we are close in age).

The price was about double that for just the mulch (very good quality which you do have to pay for). The mulch spreading was time consuming because I have so many perennials, bulbs and shrubs that had to be worked around carefully. They were as efficient and as fast a they could be so I am not complaining. It did take time though, enough so that if I go that route again I will probably have the mulch spread very early in spring where only the bulbs and shrubs need to be taken care with.

You may not be "had" so much as they may not know how to spread it more rapidly without risking getting you upset about the damage to any plants that may occur. You may want to demonstrate what the appropriate "speed" is and do a little supervising to see if that is the case. Obviously if it is wide open territory with few obstacles I'd say the boys are stretching the work a tad. LOL
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Old 06-19-2013, 07:32 PM
 
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Thanks, Em, that's actually comforting. I love the family next door and this is a really good young man. We talked about him maybe being too careful. I am waiting to plant annuals until the mulching is done, and I even cut back overgrown perennials (salvias mostly) so they'd be easy to work around. He has done mulching for his parents lots of times, and also for me last year, but I don't remember him being so slow last year. I also know it's very hard work, and it's hot out there now. I think I'll have him work here on days when he doesn't have football practice first. Even muscular teenagers can get worn out and lose steam.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,502 posts, read 50,603,832 times
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Tina, here we have to pay a teenager $10 or more to sit in an airconditioned house and watch TV while two 11 year old sleep? so no I don't think you are being had!

I have paid as much as $20 per hour to get somebody to hand weed in my perennials and was happy I could EVEN find somebody who knew the difference between a weed and a perennial.

Every contractor is told to bid on a job as a unit and not per hour but I don't know how a teen could even begin to know how to estimate how much to charge or accept for spreading mulch. The hotter it gets the longer it will probably take too. Have you seen him being pokey or dilly dallying while spreading the mulch? If so you could take him a glass of iced tea and say something like "I hope this will refresh you and help give you some more pep as I'm afraid with the days getting hotter so soon you will not get it all spread"...or something gentle like that or you could just say "Look kid, speed it up will ya?"

One suggestion is to keep on having more than 1 teen doing it together. males especially like to compete and may help speed each other up. Or you could offer a bonus for getting the job done in X hours.

I tell you what-I would not spread mulch for $10 per hour in June. Could he possibly come very early in the morning before it gets hot or is he in football camp really early. I remember I had a hard time getting my teens up early. They were slugs in the summer unless they had jobs to get to.

I agree it would be best to get the job done in spring but the kids are in school and have plans for the weekend so you are in a catch 22. I want to hire somebody from Craigslist to help me this summer but DH won't let me since he travels a lot and he is worried about my safety. I simply cannot be out in the heat anymore and even with Preen my beds need hand weeding again and it was thoroughly done in April. Sigh...getting old sucks! I lay awake in my bed picturing myself doing all the chores I want to do in my yard but when I get out there I simply can't handle what I did even 5 years ago.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:58 AM
 
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Okay, I am in taking a break from loading, moving and spreading mulch in a bed that has a lot of shrubs and shastas and roses in it. The cart holds 7 cu. yds. when level, and I alwaysmound it up as much as I can. So I did a whole cart, easily 3/4 of a yard. 45 minutes.

Granted, it's in the 70s this morning and pleasant. But let's balance that off. I'm 62 and overweight. And even if I conservatively calculated 2 hours for me to move one yard of mulch, that would come to 20 hours of labor to do the whole ten yards. I think that allows for slowing down after a couple hours. I did almost a full yard in one hour.

Maybe I should just be doing this myself, but I have so much else to do, and the DH is overseas still, not due back till the 30th. Surely, two incredibly fit high school athletes should be able to move and spread ten yards in ten hours. Not ten yards straight, but maybe a few hours at a time.

So I am going to limit the amount of time they work at one time. I'm going to work with them for a little while to coach them on efficiency. And I don't want them coming here after a grueling football practice. I know $10/hour doesn't sound like a heap ofmoney, but the kid's mother says that is plenty, and he's also happy with it, so there is no point increasing it.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:45 AM
 
6,482 posts, read 8,147,070 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
Granted, it's in the 70s this morning and pleasant. But let's balance that off. I'm 62 and overweight. And even if I conservatively calculated 2 hours for me to move one yard of mulch, that would come to 20 hours of labor to do the whole ten yards. I think that allows for slowing down after a couple hours. I did almost a full yard in one hour.
You're forgetting to calculate your years of mulch experience. Your license plate even says "MULCH"!

I've spread 5 yards of mulch this summer, which is my first time spreading mulch ever; not even the bagged kind before. While I did spend some of the time rolling out weed paper and plantng a few things, I'm 26 and I think it easily took me 5 hours to do those 5 yards. My mulch pile was a small distance from the area being mulched, though. So I guess you could say the guys are being slow, but it's probably just due to inexperience and not malcontent. I also think it's easier to work on your own stuff because you're motivated by the thoughts of a beautiful garden. $10/hour is pricey to pay, but not all that much to receive.

I agree that having them work together will get better results due to competition, assuming it's a big enough area with enough tools for them to not get in each other's way.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:49 AM
 
Location: Lower east side of Toronto
10,568 posts, read 12,130,254 times
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BETTER to over pay the young guys then underpay...if you can afford to hire people to do work for you it means you are a person of means...pay the guys and maybe talk to them about value? Are you pleased with the results?
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:58 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,502 posts, read 50,603,832 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oleg Bach View Post
BETTER to over pay the young guys then underpay...if you can afford to hire people to do work for you it means you are a person of means...pay the guys and maybe talk to them about value? Are you pleased with the results?
No, it simply means you have work which must be done but you can't do it. You would be surprised how many families of modest income hire a maid or lawn care. It's all a matter of priorities. Some of us would go without food to have a nice garden. it represents so much more than just pretty flowers and to an "aging" person like Tina and myself we will find ways to continue our favorite pastime even if it means reducing the time, energy and money we can spend on it. She is busy and has a time table she wants to meet and she will probably feel that 45 minutes of strenuous exercise in a few hours.

Tina, I like the idea of working along side them and also trying to get them when they are more rested.
Good luck.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:32 AM
 
7,455 posts, read 8,800,011 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
The cart holds 7 cu. yds. when level... .


So, three trips and they are done????

I think you are gertting a fair deal. You don't have crushed plants, uneven mulch, stuff all over the place (according to what you have told us) and are generally pleased with the work.

Keep encouraging and supervising, but at the end of the day, you're plus or minus $100 to what you think thr 'right' price is, you have a decent job, you actually found somone to do it, and the project will be done and you can move on.

Just for giggles (and maybe you can call the materials yard now and get a quote), next time you order mulch have it come in a pump truck and they spread it mechanically. Would it be twice the material price? I am curious how it compares to your labor plus materials bill.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:36 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 8,849,142 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrarisnowday View Post
You're forgetting to calculate your years of mulch experience. Your license plate even says "MULCH"!

I've spread 5 yards of mulch this summer, which is my first time spreading mulch ever; not even the bagged kind before. While I did spend some of the time rolling out weed paper and plantng a few things, I'm 26 and I think it easily took me 5 hours to do those 5 yards. My mulch pile was a small distance from the area being mulched, though. So I guess you could say the guys are being slow, but it's probably just due to inexperience and not malcontent. I also think it's easier to work on your own stuff because you're motivated by the thoughts of a beautiful garden. $10/hour is pricey to pay, but not all that much to receive.

I agree that having them work together will get better results due to competition, assuming it's a big enough area with enough tools for them to not get in each other's way.
Anyone can shovel mulch into a big garden cart, haul it to a bed and use a spade fork to spread it around. Anyone. It is a no-skill job. I have stressed that extreme care is a waste of time because time and rain will settle the mulch. I gave good instructions, and I told him not to be anal. I've just done two yards in two hours, and that included a long break. You spread five yards in five hours -- that's terrific!! These two young men, both 17, used up 18 manhours (9 hours each) to load and spread 6 yards.

As for motivation, these kids knock themselves out at football, and they don't get paid for football. There is a work ethic that needs to be learned here. I don't think they're intentionally being slow, but they're probably thinking more of the money at the end of the say (tax free cash) than getting a lot done. That's shortsighted, too, because if you want to be hired back for a job, you have to do a good job AND do it efficiently. My husband had a cow when I told him we had paid $180 to have 6 yards of mulch spread, and I don't blame him.

Now I am in a quandary. I'll talk to the kid. I really do want to hire him for yard work. He needs the money, I need the help.
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