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ATC1983

Ambitious gardening project - advice

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Sounds like a very small garden & a fairly simple straight foward job! Bark & wheelchairs dont mix neither do any sort of loose surfaces.

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Something is mad on this forum. You clearly don't have a clue about gardening and landscaping, yet people are offering you advice. If you said you were going to do tree work then they'd all be saying to get a pro in and that you need to get experience with a firm, and they'd all be slagging you off for offering a crap service and undercutting everyone. I don't mean to be unkind, but you're getting off on completely the wrong foot and you really need someone who knows what they're doing to work alongside you. At the moment I would not want to be one of your customers. Harsh but true.

 

The customer is aware that he's never done anything like this before. The fact that he's asking for advice and the best way to do it shows that he is looking to do it properly.

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See I can't get a digger in - there's no access save by the garage door - a crane would need to be hired to get over. Would bark really be that bad for one in a wheelchair? Is it easier to build up with soil or dig downwards to a set level and would the idea of wood markings work it out?

 

No room for a digger ok. Looks like you will need to man handle the job. I would have help for this project. IMHO bark would not be a good surface for a wheel chair to traverse over. Depending on the strength of the person using the WC it may be harder than what they are accustomed to?. If you could come up with any pictures that would be more helpful to better advise.

easy-lift guy

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OK, yep, I was harsh and agree that everybody has to start somewhere.

 

You need to think what will happen if you build up the bottom - will it be too high against the fence? And if you scrape out the top, will it be too low against the fence?

 

Can overcome the problem of being too high against the fence by building a sleeper wall (nice new oak sleepers, approx £22 each), plenty of timberlok/timberfix screws (6 inch ones approx £25/box 50 and 8 inch ones approx £35/box 50). Level the sleeper wall horizontally at lowest point of garden and build it with a long return on each end. Build it up to however many courses you want to raise the bottom. Then you can either bring new material in to build up the bottom, or drag material down from the top (provided it doesn't end up too low against the fence). To screw the wall together tight enough then you will need a powerful drill/driver, so budget for that.

 

You can also build a wall across the garden and split it into two terraces if it's particularly steep. If you need it perfectly level then level pegs, as you mention, will help. But with terraces you need to think about how the wheelchair use will get from one level to another.... a gentle slope going across the garden will do it.

 

As for surface - build a solid pathway and standing areas for the wheelchair (there are nice Indian stone slabs that are good and strong, or use concrete which can be pretty attractive if tamped nicely and broken up with some brick edging and inlays). Or use 'slip resistant decking'. And for the main area use turf - do it properly and it will give a good firm surface and look nice.

 

I still stand by what I said before though - despite this only being a small project, it still has to be done right so price it properly as it won't be cheap with respect to time and materials, and if poss have someone with you who knows what they're doing. Otherwise we'll end up with the same scenario as a customer who gets an inexperienced person in to butcher a tree, then has to pay an experienced person to sort it out - more expensive than having got someone else in the first place.

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Something is mad on this forum. You clearly don't have a clue about gardening and landscaping, yet people are offering you advice. If you said you were going to do tree work then they'd all be saying to get a pro in and that you need to get experience with a firm, and they'd all be slagging you off for offering a crap service and undercutting everyone. I don't mean to be unkind, but you're getting off on completely the wrong foot and you really need someone who knows what they're doing to work alongside you. At the moment I would not want to be one of your customers. Harsh but true.

 

 

Let me say I'm trying my best to get into this with little prior experience. I have had 8 customers so far. In that time I've become much stronger at pricing a job and making estimates. Each customer I have had has praised me on the quality and cost of my workmanship. I was told I did a great job on a front and back garden for which I earnt £25 - it took me nearly two hours of work, but I was proud of it and prouder that the customer was happy and could finally let their kids and dog out.

 

I did another job of removing 4 ferns and completely underestimated the pricing. Rather than be an asshole and demand more money half way through I stuck to the original bill as I thought it would be unfair on the customer - he then paid me double what I had asked (which I imagine was probably only a tenner short of the real market price). He also showed me where a "professional" tree surgeon had completed a similar job out his back - leaving a large, unmissable stump in the earth. My work completely removed almost 95% of the stump, with only a little bit visible, allowing the customer to regrass it.

 

In the work I've done I have had two repeat customers, one recommendation, and will have made just under £500 since I started advertising one month ago, the majority of which has been made in the past 8 days. Bear in mind I also work full time, earning 19K a year as an accounts clerk, and you will understand something of my work ethic and my committment to getting the job done. Also bear in mind that 6/7 weeks ago I could barely turn a machine tool on, couldn't fix strimmer wire, didn't understand about different oil strokes, had no trailer, no customers, little understanding of equipment and the efficiency of each tool.

 

I now have had my first business, repeat custom, 2 large jobs of tree work whose market value would be in the region of £500-600 (but for which I stupidly charged much less - but I will learn from this), a 5x3 trailer, 90% of equipment needed for this line of work, tools, overalls, and critically experience, both at doing the work and pricing the work.

 

Criticising me for the rate I'm asking for my job, in my view, is unfair - it's unrealistic, as I explained to my customer, for me to go in and complete the later work and think I can do it to a great standard. However, he is only offering me because he was hugely impressed at the other work I had done. To quote him he was amazed that so much could be done by one guy in so short a period of time (1 day). My price, which I have yet to put to him, is in reflection that this work will be, more than anything, experience-generative, rather than cash-generative. He knows this and is happy with that.

 

I started this thread to ask advice on how the best way is to approach this - not to get shot with a flame-thrower. You response demonstrates the moronic machoness that seems to exist in every manual trade.

 

Let me give you another example. A friend employs, or did employ, a commercial gardener to do his garden, as he has done for years. This gardener (no education, not well spoken) turns up in people's gardens, does a 45 minute job strimming and raking, and charges £25 a time. He doesn't cut hedges for this price, and he doesn't mow after strimming. Now who do you think is the better businessman, him or me? Him because he gets more money per job, or me because I do a substantively better job and will eventually take his customer base off him when people realise they're being taken for a ride? Even if I did 6 good jobs at £25 per job, averaging 1 hour to 2 hours per job, I would make over £150 a day (150% higher than my per day wage in an office), with more for tree jobs.

 

This isn't "undercutting" - it's hardwork, and it's the reason why the UK is full of foreigners - they understand it, where half our population would rather sit on their holes and watch Jeremy Kyle.

 

You said something's mad on this forum - it is - namely that people with no experience but aspiration to run a business get flamed, and then get flamed again when trying to get good, having established the basics of the business.

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See I can't get a digger in - there's no access save by the garage door - a crane would need to be hired to get over.

 

You should still be able to get a digger in THROUGH the garage door. Micro-diggers are readily available to hire and can actually be manoeuvred through a house. BUT you do need to know how to use one effectively otherwise you'll waste time faffing about and they're not cheap to hire. For the small area you're working on, I personally wouldn't bother. A rotavator would be a better option so you can loosen the high areas and rake them to the low areas. Stihl do a good rotavator attachment for their equipment, which is only narrow but makes light work of this sort of job.

 

Remember, after levelling everything you need to make sure it's properly firmed down again, otherwise you end up with really soft ground and lots of sinkage.

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Let me say I'm trying my best to get into this with little prior experience. I have had 8 customers so far. In that time I've become much stronger at pricing a job and making estimates. Each customer I have had has praised me on the quality and cost of my workmanship. I was told I did a great job on a front and back garden for which I earnt £25 - it took me nearly two hours of work, but I was proud of it and prouder that the customer was happy and could finally let their kids and dog out.

 

I did another job of removing 4 ferns and completely underestimated the pricing. Rather than be an asshole and demand more money half way through I stuck to the original bill as I thought it would be unfair on the customer - he then paid me double what I had asked (which I imagine was probably only a tenner short of the real market price). He also showed me where a "professional" tree surgeon had completed a similar job out his back - leaving a large, unmissable stump in the earth. My work completely removed almost 95% of the stump, with only a little bit visible, allowing the customer to regrass it.

 

In the work I've done I have had two repeat customers, one recommendation, and will have made just under £500 since I started advertising one month ago, the majority of which has been made in the past 8 days. Bear in mind I also work full time, earning 19K a year as an accounts clerk, and you will understand something of my work ethic and my committment to getting the job done. Also bear in mind that 6/7 weeks ago I could barely turn a machine tool on, couldn't fix strimmer wire, didn't understand about different oil strokes, had no trailer, no customers, little understanding of equipment and the efficiency of each tool.

 

I now have had my first business, repeat custom, 2 large jobs of tree work whose market value would be in the region of £500-600 (but for which I stupidly charged much less - but I will learn from this), a 5x3 trailer, 90% of equipment needed for this line of work, tools, overalls, and critically experience, both at doing the work and pricing the work.

 

Criticising me for the rate I'm asking for my job, in my view, is unfair - it's unrealistic, as I explained to my customer, for me to go in and complete the later work and think I can do it to a great standard. However, he is only offering me because he was hugely impressed at the other work I had done. To quote him he was amazed that so much could be done by one guy in so short a period of time (1 day). My price, which I have yet to put to him, is in reflection that this work will be, more than anything, experience-generative, rather than cash-generative. He knows this and is happy with that.

 

I started this thread to ask advice on how the best way is to approach this - not to get shot with a flame-thrower. You response demonstrates the moronic machoness that seems to exist in every manual trade.

 

Let me give you another example. A friend employs, or did employ, a commercial gardener to do his garden, as he has done for years. This gardener (no education, not well spoken) turns up in people's gardens, does a 45 minute job strimming and raking, and charges £25 a time. He doesn't cut hedges for this price, and he doesn't mow after strimming. Now who do you think is the better businessman, him or me? Him because he gets more money per job, or me because I do a substantively better job and will eventually take his customer base off him when people realise they're being taken for a ride? Even if I did 6 good jobs at £25 per job, averaging 1 hour to 2 hours per job, I would make over £150 a day (150% higher than my per day wage in an office), with more for tree jobs.

 

This isn't "undercutting" - it's hardwork, and it's the reason why the UK is full of foreigners - they understand it, where half our population would rather sit on their holes and watch Jeremy Kyle.

 

You said something's mad on this forum - it is - namely that people with no experience but aspiration to run a business get flamed, and then get flamed again when trying to get good, having established the basics of the business.

 

If you get stuck with anything give us a ring and ill give you as much advice as you want. 07964947272

Everybody needs to earn a pound and fair play to you for having a go

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ATC1983, my post last night was intended as more of a reality check - didn't sound like it I know! The point I want to make is that landscaping work is often undervalued. It's the same with tree work. If I were to put up a post saying I don't know what I'm doing but want to get experience in reducing a tree for a customer and will be charging £6.25/hour, then I'd be properly spanked by the people who do this for a living.

 

Re the pricing.... ok I understand you say you're not intending to undercut, but £6.25 hour is unrealistic. Reason UK is full of foreigners is that fellas can come here and earn reasonable money which, in Poland etc, is a huge amount of money. No different from the days of Aufwiedersen Pet, when blokes went brickying in Germany - it wasn't because the Germans were lazy feckers, but because they could earn better money there than they could here, and then send that money home.

Edited by Pedroski

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If you want the customer to be happy, find out exactly what he wants to achieve. Does he want 30 share metres of woodchip? Possibly not. What are his long term plans for the garden? What does the guy in the wheelchair want? Is he an aspiring gardener? Maybe raised beds... Wheelchairs don't travel over woodchip (I'm guessing that's what you mean by bark, apologies if I'm wrong. Bark is far more expensive and no better for wheelchairs).

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Mate- you got to charge more

I assume (I may be wrong) you arn't paying tax- cash jobs- private customers love these.

You're relatively new to this and it shows. We all started thereabouts.

Pedroski has some good advice even though he has come across harsh.

Mini digger through the door was my first thought too!

Are you insured?

etc etc etc

Just watch it when you have a go at guys who charge £25 an hour for this sort of work. Remember the phone doesn't ring from November to April in your first year.

My first job as a was to dig out a slope for a conservatory- took me 2 days and I sweated thinking I had to prove myself. Soon as I was done it was cheers mate- heres your cash Bye bye. No more work from anyone for a week.

Of course he'd had a quote from the builders for this and I was considerably cheaper. Can't blame him. I was a young naive kid ripe for the taking.

Take good advice- charge more- honestly come November you will understand why you had to.:thumbup1:

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