Easy Ballpark Cost Estimate

This topic contains 1 reply, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  David J. Chirico 9 years, 11 months ago.

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    Lori Molitor

    I’m working with an engineering firm on a new Park-n-Ride lot. Basically, we’re meeting landscaping ordinances. Is there an easy way to get a very rough cost estimate by using the type of planting and the area of each? (ie. groundcover = $X per sq. ft; perennial shrub bed = $X per sq. ft)

    Ideas? Any info on what those Xs should be?


    David J. Chirico

    Budgetary Cost = 3 x plant material! Old rule of thumb, but it is more complex than that.

    You might not want to make it that simple. 100 sf of groundcover could be 10 plants at 30 dollars each, or 100 plants at 9 dollars each. The cost would vary greatly for a groundcover.

    As it is now in this Virginia Beach, VA office, we break it up by the size of plant and assign a rough cost to install. Then we figure how many plants we need in a certain square foot area. So it would be broken up in your cost estimate by type. 100 small shrubs would be $30 dollars each installed for $3,000.00.

    These are installed costs with normal city ordinance sizes. Larger sizes would increse the cost.

    Annuals: $50 a flat
    Perennials: $9 each
    Small Shrubs: $30 each
    Large Shrubs: $75 each
    Ornamental Trees: $300
    Large Canopy Trees: $450

    Let me know if I made this as clear as mud, or send me an email, and I can send you a sample cost estimate.



    Assuming you are figuring a construction budget, (including materials and installation), very roughly, and subject to plant material spacing and species, you could use $3.00 a sq.ft. for groundcover/shrub bed areas and come out fine for such a project. You should break out your trees (depending on size $200-$300) and irrigation ($.33 s.f) separately. These are decent numbers for the southeast.

    Disclaimer: geographic location influences costs.


    Bob Luther

    This is a very interesting question… how about updating the costs and pricing, does anyone call various contractors, material yards, and/or nurseries to see how material pricing changes or has change in recent months or are you using “stock” pricing for each estimate. I am wondering because I am going to be updating a lot of company policy and procedures and am wondering if this is something to look into updating.


    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    A good way to get an installed planting price estimate is to go over previous bids for plantings. They tend to vary on how they show you what you would be paying for, but you can usually figure out what the total price is for the listed plants and materials and labor to plant them.
    I make a spreadsheet (or actually use one provided by a nursery, now) with the plants, sizes, price of plant. and simply get the total cost of the plants from this particular nursery. It does not matter if it is retail or wholesale, only that you use the same reference every time. Take each bid price for complete installation of all the plants and divide it by the total price of plants from your spreadsheet. Do that with several bids and you’ll soon get a feel for a markup range. Like David said, it can be about 3x, but will vary based on whether you use a wholesale or retail priice list. I find it comes between 3x and 4x based on a wholesale catalog that I get each year from the same nursery.
    The actual bids always fall in that range and has not failed me yet.

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