How to Do a Landscape Estimate in Excel

Pricing landscaping jobs is crucial to both the immediate success of your business, and its long-term growth. To accurately price a job you will need to assemble a comprehensive list of numbers and costs, and know exactly how much it costs to run your business even when you’re not working. Knowing these figures is crucial to creating a landscaping estimate in excel, and an essential part of evolving your business. 

Unlike other service sectors, the associated costs of a landscaping job can vary greatly from one job to another. It is important to carefully consider the type of property, materials, size of your crew, special requests, and always-changing market expectations in order to determine an accurate budget. On top of this, it is common for landscaping jobs to become more and more complex as they progress, raising the costs and squeezing your profits. 

In this article, we’ll take you through how to complete a landscape estimate using Microsoft Excel (or Google Sheets), and look at some of the common problems business owners experience using this method. We’ll also take a look at some of the innovative alternatives out there to help you save time, energy, and money. 


1. Gather your information

Before you begin entering all those numbers into your spreadsheet, you’ll need to make sure you have all the information required to complete the task. This includes:

  • A pdf, jpg, sketch, scans, or google map images of the property 
  • A comprehensive list of all the materials you will need
  • Accurate quantity estimates for each material, and its size


Make sure you know where to find each piece of information before you start, so you can avoid unnecessary delays as you enter data into the spreadsheet.


2. Assign prices to your materials


The next stage of creating a landscape estimate in Excel is to assign a price to each material quantity. This will give you your estimated material costs. 


There are plenty of ways to markup your materials in Excel, and each landscaper will have their personal favorite. For us, the simplest and most accurate way is to follow the Multiple Overhead Recovery System, AKA the MORS method. Based on the percentage markup you assign to equipment, materials, and subcontractors, this failsafe formula automatically calculates how much of your overhead can be recouped from Labor. 


MORS allocates G&A overhead costs using three fixed percentages, which are normally set at 10 percent for materials, 25 percent for equipment, and 5 percent for subcontractors.


3. Add your costs


Once you have assigned prices to your materials, it’s time to add together all your costs. 


It’s crucial that you don’t overlook anything in this section, otherwise, you could end up eating into your profit as the project progresses and unexpected costs arise. Subcontractors, labor costs, and equipment hire costs should all be included here. 


4. Calculate your total price in a separate column


Add up all your landscaping costs as listed above to calculate your break-even point. 


Obviously, this isn’t where we’re aiming to be, but it’s useful to know the tipping point between profit and loss. To work out the total price of your quote, simply add your chosen margin to the sum. 


5. Add in additional margin


If you want to get paid for all your hard work, then make sure you approach this section of the estimate carefully. You need to apply a margin to the total cost to you of completing the job, not a markup. If you do this, you’ll make the profit you desire if all goes according to plan.


You probably should be charging around 20% on residential jobs, and between 10 and 15% on commercial jobs. 


The problem with manual estimates in Excel


Still with us? 


While many landscapers swear by the old-fashioned manual method, plenty of others have grown tired of the drawn-out and convoluted nature of creating estimates this way. Not only is it time-consuming and fiddly, but it also requires a pretty in-depth knowledge of mathematical equations. 



Because of this, teaching new employees how to create estimates this way can be frustrating, both for you and your workforce. There’s a risk that mistakes will be made, and you’ll end up with different results depending on who inputs the information. Materials can be missed as they are transferred from the blueprint to the spreadsheet, a formula can be deleted in a few clumsy clicks, and serious miscalculations can end up on the desk of your valued client. 


That’s why most companies today are leaving spreadsheets behind and opting instead to use software like Aspire, LMN, or Jobber to price projects. 


The most important step of a landscape estimate


However you price a project, your estimate is only as good as your takeoff. 


Software like LandOne is designed to take the stress out of the estimating and takeoff process. The easy-to-use program allows you to convert PDF designs and aerial images into accurate landscape takeoffs, without the need to apply complicated formulas. At the click of a button, LandOne Takeoff counts materials, measures areas or distances, and helps you map out your project for clients. You can even convert your estimate into a straightforward report, ready for your potential customer to inspect or to import into your pricing software. 

The competition in the landscaping industry has never been so fierce. To attract customers you must ensure that your process is as streamlined as possible. This includes bidding and estimating, which is crucial in making a good first impression to potential customers. Companies that solve this part are well on their way to presenting themselves as experts in their field. 

If you’re looking for a place to start, consider using our free template and investing in our premium landscape takeoff software. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Leave a Reply