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How much should a bale of pine straw cost to install?

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So what should you charge to spread a bale of pine straw mulch?

It's true, one of the most challenging and important decisions you can make as a lawn care provider is pricing your lawn care services accurately

Today let’s take a look at how other lawn care providers have priced pine straw mulch. 

And see what the consensus is and what a fair price is for an installed bale of pine straw.

Be forewarned, unlike shredded mulch. Prices for pine straw installations vary a lot from area to area.

Let’s dive in!

Bales of pine straw about to be installed

Pricing Strategies for Pine Needle Mulch

When it comes to mulch, there is no shortage of options. And if you are using shredded bark mulch, you even have to decide whether you want to order it in bulk or buy it in bags

However, if you have decided to go the pine straw mulch route instead of shredded bark, you have one less decision to make because pine straw is only available by the bale or roll

Not by the yard. 

Which makes pricing a bit of a challenge. 

It gets worse, the amount of pine straw in a bale varies greatly. A bale of pine straw will cover anywhere from 35 to over 100 sq. feet, depending on where you get it from and how thick you spread the mulch. So there is no real way to accurately calculate a price by the yard.

Therefore, when it comes down to it, there are two general pricing strategies you can use to come up with a fair price for your pine straw installation. 

Pro Tip! If you can find the producer of the pine straw and cut out the middle man, you can charge less and make a better profit. 

bales of pine needles sitting in landscape bed

Pricing Strategy 1: Upcharge on the Bale

Most lawn care providers opt to charge by the bale.

Unlike hardwood mulch, where the price nationally is relatively the same, the rate you will come up with will likely be unique to your area. This is due to several factors including the fact that pine straw bale prices vary widely from as little as $2.50 a bale to more than $10.

To make matters worse bale sizes are not standardized. 

So the amount you pay vs. what a bale can cover will vary from farm to farm. Therefore, many simply opt to double the cost of the bale to arrive at the installed price. 

For example, if a bale costs $5, you would charge $10 to have it installed. 

Most lawn care pros report charging about $10 per bale of pine needles. 

Pro Tip! A roll of pine straw is roughly two and a half bales. 

Rolls of pine straw for mulch

Pricing Strategy 2: Time and Material Pricing

Alternatively, you could develop a time and material pricing strategy

Simply put, this strategy involves charging your clients your hourly rate and adding the material cost. 

For example, if a bale of straw costs you $6.50, and you buy ten bales for $65. And it takes you an hour to spread at $65 an hour. The cost for that mulch installation would be $130, which would be about $13 a bale. Or twice what you paid. 

Personally, I think using strategy 2 for the first few installations is the safest route. Then you can get a general idea of what you should be charging per bale. Otherwise, you may end up losing money on the first few jobs and not even know. 

Pro Tip! If you develop a time and material model, don’t forget to add a delivery charge if you are picking up the material. 


Short vs. Long Needle Pine Straw

When it comes to pine straw, there are two main types. You can either buy long or short pine needles.

While long-needled pine is generally more expensive, it lasts a bit longer than the short needle. Additionally, long needle pine tends to have a brighter color that is preferred by many.

But, if your client already wants to do two installations a year, you can charge less by using short needle. 

Pine straw installed in bed under bushes

The Pros of Pine Needle Mulch

While there are downsides and difficulties when it comes to pricing a pine straw install, however, there are certain benefits to using pine straw as a mulch vs. shredded wood. 

These benefits include pine needle mulch being:

  • Cheaper,

  • Easier to handle and spread,

  • Better for the environment as far as processing goes,

  • Not leaving a huge mess,

  • More difficult for weeds to establish in.

Pine straw on the side of house as mulch

The Cost of Installing Pine Straw Mulch

Here’s the deal, the cost of installing pine straw will vary on many factors.

However, the nationwide consensus seems to be that about $10 a bale is in the ballpark. But again, bales of pine straw may be more expensive where you are. 

Therefore I would recommend charging a few jobs based on time and material. That way, you can better understand what you need to be charging. Then go on a per bale or roll price that works for you and your business.

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