A step-by-step guide to calculating estimates with a simple lawn care pricing formula.

Hey, Clippers! Dave Tucker here to take you back to the basics: Pricing for lawn care services. We talk a lot about different lawn care pricing and job costing strategies around here. But if you’re brand new to the lawn care business, all that tactical talk can get pretty overwhelming. Sometimes, you’re just looking for somewhere to start. 

Today, we’re sharing a starter formula for estimating and quoting lawn mowing jobs. We’re not doing calculus here, but you are going to have to commit to a little math. We’ll take it step by step.

Step 1: Find a big, flat property with a clear, open, half-acre patch of grass.

Your goal is to find a half-acre square or rectangle of just grass. No trees, no rocks, no obstructions. Ask your friends and family if anyone’s got a really big yard or some land. You might also ask a local school or park. Offer to mow the whole property for free in exchange for using the land for a little bit.

Step 2: Use a timer to see how long it takes you to mow that half-acre.

Get a stopwatch or use an app on your phone. Get your mower ready to go, hit “start,” and do your thing! Don’t worry about going as fast as possible or anything. Just mow like you normally do. Don’t forget to hit “stop” when you’re done. Record the time somewhere before it gets erased.

If you have multiple mowers:

If you have a 36-inch, a 48-inch, and a 60-inch mower, you need to repeat this exercise with each of them. You’ll probably get different results for each size. I’d hate to see you short-change yourself because you set your prices based on the wrong size mower!

Step 3: Multiply that time by two.

Pretty easy, right? Now you’ve got a pretty good idea of how long it takes you to mow an acre of grass! This is a really important starter number to have. Of course, this doesn’t account for travel time, unloading equipment, or trimming, but we’ll get to that.

You might consider calculating this number every year. You might also want to run this same trial with a few of your guys so you can get an average. Plus, if you’ve got a guy who’s crazy fast, you can use that to get more bang for your buck! (And if you’ve got a guy who’s crazy slow, you might have some training to do.)

Now let’s talk about using that number to calculate pricing for lawn mowing jobs.

Step 4: Measure the property for a baseline lawn care service estimate.

To start a price estimate for a specific property, measure the acreage of that property. Let’s say it’s three quarters of an acre. Now you can multiply that number—0.75—by your one-acre mowing time. This will give you a baseline timeframe for mowing this particular property.

Step 5: Add on any extras for a more accurate time estimate.

You’d be hard pressed to find a lawn that’s just a patch of grass without any obstacles or oddities. But don’t worry: I’ve got numbers for you! Lots of CLIP users rely on a few guideline percentages to help them account for a lawn’s quirks. You can tack on a percentage or a few minutes for each factor that may affect the total job time. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Add 10% for trimming.
  • Add 10% for any really bizarre or wicked obstacles.
  • Add 5% for blowing.
  • Add 12 minutes for travel time and 6 minutes for unloading mowers and gear.

You may tinker with these numbers a little as you go, but this can serve as a great starting point.

Also, go ahead and round up to the nearest tenth of an hour, which will be a factor of six. For example, if you’re at 46 minutes, bump it up to 48. That’ll give you 80% of an hour.

Step 6: Multiply your final time by your hourly rate.

So now you’ve got a really solid estimate of how long it’ll take you to mow given property. One more step: Multiply that time by your hourly rate. Bing! There’s your price to mow that lawn!

If the number feels low or high, you can go back and make adjustments. And you may refine your system over time as your lawn care business grows. But this is a great place to start!

If you’re ready to start thinking about job costing, CLIP can help. Our lawn care business software has robust modules for that, so you can always get the best price. In fact, you’ll find all sorts of tools to make your lawn care business run better.

Do you have a different pricing philosophy or any advice for someone just starting out? Tell me in the comments.