Best Practices

How to Estimate A Landscaping Job: The Complete Guide

June 27, 2024
8 Mins


Shivang Shukla
At a glance

When it comes to selling landscaping jobs, pricing and estimating can often become a bottleneck - and it’s not easy. This is why it’s crucial that you learn to create landscaping estimates the right way so that you can:

  • Win more jobs
  • Make more profit on the jobs you win; and
  • Scale your business by increasing your estimation capacity

From determining material costs to calculating labor and equipment expenses, every detail matters. In this complete guide, we'll walk you through the process of estimating a landscaping job, discuss different pricing strategies, and highlight common mistakes to avoid. So let's dive in and learn how to estimate a landscaping job like a pro!‍

Understanding the Basics of Landscaping Estimates

Before we delve into the details, let's take a moment to appreciate the importance of accurate estimation in landscaping. A well-planned and precisely estimated project can help you attract clients, ensure profitability, and maintain a stellar reputation in the industry. On the other hand, a failure to estimate correctly can lead to financial losses, unhappy customers, and damage to your professional standing.

When it comes to landscaping estimates, several key factors need to be considered. These factors play a significant role in determining the overall cost of a project and can vary depending on the specific requirements of each job.

Key Factors to Consider in Landscaping Estimates

Broadly speaking, when you’re estimating a landscaping jobs, you have to consider 3 factors:

  1. Production rates
  2. Site measurements
  3. Terrain

If you want to create accurate landscaping estimates, there is a mathematical formula for it.

Estimated production hours = Measurement  / Production rate

Once you have estimated production hours, you can calculate the price by multiplying them with your hourly rate. If these terms are new to you, don’t fret. We’re going to discuss them in detail.

Production rates: Production rate is basically the number of square feet or linear feet that you can service in an hour. Different equipment have different production rates.

For instance, the production rate of a 36” Walk-behind push trim mower is somewhere around 22,500 sq. ft.

This number hasn’t been conjured out of thin air though. NALP and Wilson Oyler Group have conducted time studies to find out the production rates of different equipment.

You can download the Standard Production Rate document here → Download NOW

Site Measurements: Measuring the site or property that you’re creating the estimate for is also extremely important. Depending on the number and type of services that you offer, you may need to measure different items on a property such as turf, mulch beds, flower beds, rock beds, trees, shrubs, parking lots, driveways, etc.

The only problem with this is that measuring properties manually takes time. Which means you fall behind on deadlines and you cannot produce as many landscaping estimates as you want to hit your sales quota.

This is why growth-oriented landscaping companies in the United States have been using SiteRecon to measure their properties. SiteRecon uses AI mapping to measure properties in as little as 30 seconds.

See how this $80 million company doubled its close rate by using SiteRecon.

Terrain: Now, once you have production rates and site measurements, you need to consider the geography of the site. Production rates for your equipment will vary depending on how easy or difficult it is to service a property.

Steps to Estimating a Landscaping Job

Initial Client Consultation

During the initial client consultation, take your time to understand the specific requirements of the job. Engage in active listening and ask detailed questions to ensure no crucial information is overlooked. This will help you provide an accurate estimate that meets the client's expectations.

Ask about their desired design, preferred materials, and any special features they want to incorporate. Don't forget to discuss potential constraints such as property lines, drainage issues, or local regulations. The more information you gather, the more accurate your estimate will be.

Site Inspection and Measurements

With a clear understanding of the project's requirements, schedule a site inspection to evaluate the space. Take precise measurements, paying close attention to features like slopes, existing vegetation, and any structures that may affect the landscape design.

By taking accurate measurements, you will be able to determine the quantities of materials required and calculate an accurate estimate of the labor and equipment costs. In addition, conducting a site inspection allows you to identify any challenges or potential issues that may arise during the project.

You can use Plato - SiteRecon’s mobile app to document points of interest on the map and later compile them into an auto-generated report, which can be shared with the customer or internally.

Here’s what these reports look like:

Site Quality Audit

Calculating Material Costs

Once you have gathered all the necessary measurements, you can begin calculating the material costs. Research local suppliers to find the best prices for the materials you need. Take into account the quantity of plants, soil, mulch, and other horticultural elements required for the project.

It's also important to consider any additional materials needed for hardscaping features like retaining walls, pathways, or water features. Remember to account for waste and potential replacement in case of damaged or defective materials.

Labor and Equipment Costs

Estimating the labor and equipment costs is a critical part of the landscape job estimation process. Consider the complexity of the project, the number of workers required, and their skill level. Take into account the time it will take to complete each task and any special equipment needed to achieve the desired results.

Be diligent in evaluating the capabilities of your team members and ensure they have the necessary expertise to deliver high-quality work. If subcontractors are needed for specialized tasks like electrical work or masonry, include their costs in your estimate. Lastly, don't forget to consider any rental equipment expenses that may be required for the project.

Watch this FREE landscape estimating masterclass from Fred Haskett, an industry expert with 43+ years of experience.

Pricing Strategies for Landscaping Jobs

Now that we have covered the essentials of estimating a landscaping job, let's explore different pricing strategies that can help you maximize profitability and maintain a competitive edge.

Flat Rate Pricing

Flat rate pricing involves charging clients a fixed price for a specific service or project. This pricing strategy is straightforward and easy to communicate, making it a popular choice for many landscapers. By setting a clear flat rate, you provide your clients with cost certainty and eliminate the potential for unexpected expenses.

However, it is crucial to ensure that your flat rates are carefully calculated, taking into account all the project's costs and potential risks. Failure to accurately estimate the time and resources required for a job can lead to financial losses or dissatisfied customers.

Cost-Plus Pricing

Cost-plus pricing involves calculating the total cost of a project and then adding a markup to determine the final price. This pricing strategy ensures that you cover all your costs while also accounting for your desired profit margin. By itemizing the costs and explaining the markup to your clients, you provide transparency and build trust.

When using cost-plus pricing, it's important to keep track of all project-related expenses and monitor any changes that may impact the final cost. Regularly update your clients on the progress and any potential cost implications. This way, you ensure that the project remains profitable for both parties.

Value-Based Pricing

Value-based pricing revolves around the perceived value of your services and the benefits they provide to the client. Instead of focusing solely on the costs incurred, this pricing strategy emphasizes the overall value your landscaping expertise brings to the project.

When using value-based pricing, it's important to demonstrate your unique selling points and the value you provide compared to competitors. Highlight your experience, expertise, and the quality of your work. By creating a connection between the price and the value delivered, you can justify higher prices and attract clients who prioritize exceptional results.

READ MORE: How to Price Landscaping Jobs

‍Book a FREE audit of your Estimation Process: CLICK HERE

Common Mistakes in Landscaping Job Estimation

While striving for accurate estimation, it's important to be aware of common mistakes that can derail your efforts. By understanding and avoiding these pitfalls, you can ensure that your estimates align with the actual costs and deliver profitable results for your business.

Underestimating Time and Labor

One common mistake in landscaping job estimation is underestimating the time and labor required. This can happen due to various reasons, such as an overly optimistic assessment of the project's complexity or failure to account for potential delays or difficulties.

Avoiding this mistake requires a thorough evaluation of the project and an honest assessment of the time and resources needed. Consider the experience and proficiency of your team members, potential weather or site-related challenges, and any unforeseen circumstances that may affect the project's timeline.

Overlooking Hidden Costs

Hidden costs can quickly eat into your profit margins if not diligently considered during estimation. These costs can come in various forms, such as unexpected equipment repairs, permit fees, or additional materials required mid-project.

To avoid this mistake, conduct a comprehensive assessment of all potential costs involved in the project. Research local regulations to identify any permit fees or inspections required. Have a contingency plan in place to handle unforeseen expenses that may arise during the course of the job.

Failing to Account for Seasonal Variations

Seasonal variations can significantly impact the cost and timeline of a landscaping project. Failing to consider these variations can lead to inaccurate estimates and potential client dissatisfaction.

Ensure that your estimates account for factors such as seasonal plant availability, increased labor costs due to extreme weather conditions, or reduced working hours during winter months. Taking these variations into account will help you provide clients with realistic expectations and deliver successful projects year-round.

Now that you are equipped with the knowledge of how to estimate a landscaping job accurately, implement these strategies and avoid common pitfalls. Remember, precision and attention to detail are essential for maintaining profitability and client satisfaction. Keep honing your estimation skills and continually adapt to changes in the industry. With practice, you'll become a master at estimating any landscaping job that comes your way!


1. How to Estimate Landscaping Jobs?

To estimate landscaping jobs:

  1. Measure the area to be landscaped
  2. Consider the cost of materials and labor
  3. Factor in any additional services or features
  4. Get multiple quotes for comparison

2. How to Estimate Landscaping Costs?

Factors to consider when estimating landscaping costs:

  • Size of the area
  • Type of materials
  • Labor costs
  • Equipment rental
  • Permit fees

3. How Landscape Contractors Get Automated Estimates?

Landscape contractors can get automated estimates by using a specialized software like SiteRecon, which is designed for the industry. By simply entering your property address in the system, SiteRecon can autonomously measure the property and generate an estimate, which you can then fine tune as per your needs. SiteRecon even integrates with green industry CRMs and ERPs for a seamless flow of data.

4. What happens if the landscaping estimate isn’t accurate?

Precision matters in landscaping estimates. Accurate estimation allows you to set realistic expectations for your clients, ensure the profitability of your work, and maintain a healthy cash flow. It also helps you avoid potential issues during the project and enhances your credibility as a professional landscaper.

Without accurate estimates, you run the risk of underestimating the time and resources required for a job, leading to delays, cost overruns, and customer dissatisfaction. On the other hand, overestimating can make your prices less competitive and deter potential clients from choosing your services. Striking the right balance is crucial for a successful landscaping business.

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