How to Price and Quote Landscape Jobs (Examples Included)
Learning how to price landscape jobs can be a steep curve. Unlike some service industries, landscaping prices can vary wildly from job to job. You need to consider the type of property, materials, size of your crew, special requests, and always-changing market expectations.
On top of that, many landscape jobs can quickly become more complex than you initially thought, with costs snowballing and profits suffering.
The good news? You can learn to accurately price and quote landscape jobs to ensure you’re turning a profit—and this resource will show you how.
Ready? Let’s get started.
1. Get crisp on the scope of work
If you’re serious about estimating a landscape job accurately, you need to understand the full scope of the work.
Visit the site, speak to your client on the phone and in person, and keep track of every job detail. Here are some questions you should ask yourself during these initial stages:
- What is the job location? The more remote the job site, the more you’ll have to charge to cover fuel costs.
- How big is the yard? Measure the yard, so you know how much materials you need to order.
- Is there any existing property damage, safety hazards, or accessibility issues? Do a thorough walkaround and take photos of the property. You can save these photos to your client’s profile for future reference.
- Is there a time constraint? If the client absolutely needs the work done within a tight timeframe, you can charge more for the service.
- What services am I providing? Is it something standard like removing sod or more complex such as building a retaining wall? The more specialized the service, the more you will charge.
- Does my client have any special requests? You need to know ahead of time if your client wants something your usual supplier can’t provide. E.g a unique lighting fixture that costs more than the one you’d usually buy from Home Depot.
- What types of materials will I need for the job? You’ll learn more about common landscaping materials in step 3.
READ MORE: How to start a landscaping business
2. Estimate your labor cost
Calculate your labor cost for the job by multiplying the number of hours needed to complete the job by your hourly labor rate.
2.1 Estimate the number of labor hours required to complete the job
Use all the information gathered from step 1 to determine how long the job will take. Multiply this figure by the number of people on the job to get the labor hours. For example, if six people take 40 hours on the job, that’s 240 labor hours.
Pro Tip: If you or your team is just starting out, use time tracking software to track exactly how long each crew member takes on each job. You can use the results as a benchmark for estimating future landscaping jobs.
2.2 Calculate your hourly labor cost
Factor in employee wages plus extras for taxes, worker’s compensation, and other employee-related expenses.
While the hourly wage will differ by state—California, for example, has an average hourly wage of $15.11 and Florida, $12.13— let’s keep things simple for this example and use the national average of $13.73.
FREE TOOL: Get our free landscaper salary guide
Add a percentage for taxes, workers compensation, and benefits. This percentage will vary for your specific business, but 20% is a reliable marker.
Your total hourly labor cost is $16.47 ($13.37*20%).
2.3. Multiply the labor hours by the hourly labor cost
The total labor cost for the job is now $3,952.80 (240* $16.47).
3. Estimate total material costs
List all the materials you need for the job, attach a corresponding cost, and tally all costs for the grand total. Common landscaping materials include:
- Lawn turf
- Landscaping rock
The materials you need will vary by job, and the quantities will depend on the size of the yard. So, refer back to the measurements in step 1. For this example, let’s assume your total material costs are $3,500.
4. Estimate your overhead fees
Overhead fees include office rent, advertising, legal fees, telephone and internet bills, utilities, insurance, accountant, and landscape business operations tools like Jobber. Basically, all of the things you need to run your business that aren’t directly tied to a particular job.
It’s easy to underestimate or even forget your overhead costs, but you must charge enough on each job to cover these costs and remain profitable.
Here are four steps to help you calculate the portion of overhead costs you need to recover for each job:
- Calculate your weekly overhead fees (let’s assume it’s $1,000).
- Determine the number of weekly labor hours worked (for example, 100).
- Divide weekly overhead cost into hours worked for an hourly overhead cost ($1,000/100=$10 ). This means that for every labor hour you need to charge $10 to cover that cost.
- Multiply the hourly overhead cost by the number of man hours for the job ($10*240=$2400).
5. Calculate your total cost
Add your labor, material, and overhead costs to get the total cost for the job:
- Labor: $3,952.80
- Material: $3,500.00
- Overhead: $2,400.00
- Total costs: $9,852.80
6. Add your markup percentage for profits
The final step in estimating a landscape job is to determine your desired profit margin and add a corresponding markup percentage to the total cost determined in step 5.
Let’s take a second to define those terms.
- Your margin (also referred to as gross margin) is your net sales revenue minus the labor, material, and overhead costs calculated above. The higher your margin, the more money your business retains. You’ll usually see profit margins expressed as a percentage. The formula is Profit divided by Sales times 100.
- Your markup is the dollar amount you add to your cost to arrive at a final, profitable price. Markups are also expressed as a percentage. The formula is Profit divided by Cost times 100.
So, now does this apply to your landscape job estimate?
A general guideline for pricing landscape jobs is to aim for a margin of 15 to 20% for residential jobs and 10 to 15% for commercial jobs.
In order to achieve those kinds of margins, you need to markup your total cost by a percentage greater than your gross margin. For example, if you want a 20% margin, you’ll need to add a 25% markup.
Let’s look at our sample job and let’s aim for a 20% profit margin.
You’ll need to charge a 25% markup, which means your final selling price will be $12,316.00.
To get this number, we take your costs from the previous section (labor, material, and overhead), and multiply this by 1.25 to account for the markup.This looks like the following:
$9,852.80 X 1.25 = $12,316.00
The selling price ($12,316.00) minus your costs ($9852.80) gives us your profit. Your profit will be $2,463.20.
To verify that your profit margin is indeed 20%, simply plug the values into your profit margin formula:
Profit ($2,463.20) / Price of the Landscaping job ($12,316.00)* 100
Your calculation should confirm that the profit margin is indeed 20%!
Check out How to Determine Pricing for Your Service Business to dive deeper into this topic and learn about the opportunity to charge more with a value-based pricing model.
Hourly vs fixed-price pricing for landscape jobs
When it comes to landscape jobs, there’s no hard rule about hourly vs. fixed-price billing. It all comes down to the scope of the project, your preference, and your expertise.
Whichever pricing method you choose, make sure you understand the pros and cons of each:
- Hourly pricing gives you wiggle room, especially when jobs take longer than estimated.
- There’s less pressure to work faster because you’ll still be paid for your time.
- You’re not rewarded for getting better and faster at your job.
- Hourly rates can lead to conflict if clients feel you’re working too slow.
- If, for any reason, the job takes longer than expected, clients may try to rush you through the job, or become upset when they see the final price.
When to charge hourly: When you’re starting your business and still getting a sense of how long jobs take, and/or the full scope of work is not clear.
FREE TOOL: Try our free landscaping receipt template
- Clients feel in control of their budget.
- You can charge based on value which lets you set a higher price.
- As you create efficiencies in your business and develop your expertise, you won’t get penalized for becoming better at what you do.
- Underestimating labor and materials is the biggest risk of fixed-price billing. If you underestimate costs, you’ll have to absorb them.
When to charge a fixed fee: If the scope of work is clear and you can predict with a fair amount of certainty how long a job will take.
Check out Fixed-priced Billing vs. Hourly Billing to dive deeper into the topic and help you decide which pricing method is best for your business.
How to quote landscaping jobs
Once you’ve priced the landscaping job, it’s time to quote your client.
What is a landscape quote?
A quote is a professional document that shows your client the cost and pricing breakdown of their landscaping project before they hire you.
Landscape quotes include the services your company will provide, your client’s information, how much each service will cost, additional service notes, and important terms and conditions. Quotes must be approved by the client.
When quoting, make sure you include the following key elements:
- Your landscaping company name and logo
- Your contact details and steps detailing what the client needs to do to “action” the quote
- Service descriptions with a dollar amount, so the client knows how much the landscaping job will cost
- The date, your client’s name and their contact details
Quote expiration date. Because prices of materials do fluctuate, you’ll want to protect against being out of pocket
- Mention if the client needs to pay a deposit. Chances are, you’ll want one to purchase the materials
You can create your landscape quote using online templates or Excel and Word. But these methods take time and often lead to errors. The better approach is to use quoting software such as Jobber.
Jobber ensures you spend less time creating quotes and more time doing the work and getting paid. With Jobber’s quoting features you can:
- Create and send professional quotes in minutes
- Upsell and showcase your recommended package options for customers to pick from
- Manage all your landscaping quotes from one central place
- Attach line item images to your quotes so you stand out from the competition and your customers understand what they’re paying for
- Easily include vital information such as discounts and deposits
- Schedule an on-site assessment to kickstart the quoting process
- Update quotes on the go via your mobile phone
- View the status of all your quotes
- Get client approval online via e-signatures
Beyond your quote
Your work only really starts once you’ve sent your quote, but it sure doesn’t end there. You need to follow-up with the client to leave a good impression, remain top-of-mind, and improve your chances of closing the deal.
That’s why Jobber has quote follow-up features that let you automatically send emails and texts to prospects who haven’t approved a quote.
You can customize your follow-up message, select the number of follow-ups, and specify when they should be sent. Once the job is complete, you can also convert quotes into invoices and collect payment online or on-the-spot.