Landscaping Made Easy

Use Technology for Pricing

The program Google Earth can make it easier to determine a landscaping estimate.
Mike Dooley, July 2017

I spend most of my time breaking hearts. Yes, it’s true.

Many potential clients are either on a budget or have a limited amount of money that they want to spend on landscaping projects. So I go out to their home and “break their hearts” when I tell them that the project they are interested in is going to cost more than they wanted to spend.

But times have changed and technology has made my job easier, thanks to the computer program Google Earth. It renders a simulacrum of the Earth based on satellite imagery.

Here’s how it works: Google Earth is free, so download it onto your computer if you haven’t already done so. Now type in your address and there it is ... your house. Now go to the tool bar and click on the little ruler. Then click on a corner of the area in question and drag the yellow line to the other corner of the yard and read the distance. The box that appears can measure feet, miles, kilometers, etc.

Make sure you’re measuring in feet. If the yard is not exactly square, square it up as well as you can to wind up with a box. In the main area where you want the plants, multiply by a factor of $3.50- $5.00 per square foot depending on how many plants you want. If you’re familiar with my website, those landscapes are around $5 per square foot. Let’s say that you don’t want any plants on the sides of the house so in those areas multiply by about $1.75 per square foot for colored gravel and weed barrier.

Estimating removals is much more difficult but make a guess at how long you think it might take and figure $65 per laborer per hour.

Alright. Total it up and there’s your estimate. It’s surprising how accurate it is, probably within 15 percent, with the exception of removals.

Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscape Designs. Visit his website at


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