Being a landscaper has many perks. The fresh air, the variety, and the hands-on way of working that those stuck behind desks simply don’t understand. But let’s be honest, there are certain parts of the job that we all wish we didn’t have to deal with. For many landscapers, calculating material estimates is one of those parts.
Chances are, you didn’t become a landscaper so you could do math. The stakes are high, and seemingly simple tasks like calculating mulch volume or adding up how many bags of bark are needed can throw off the whole estimate if they are miscalculated.
Bad math has proven to be the downfall of more than one landscaper.
It’s not surprising then that so many estimators are turning to landscape estimator calculators and apps. These tools can help you calculate materials for landscaping estimates, and often feature mulch calculators, annual calculators, stone calculators, and even mowing calculators, depending on your individual needs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how these landscape estimating calculators work and some of the alternative methods taking the industry by storm.
Landscape Estimate Calculators
Landscape calculators are used to calculate the amount of mulch needed for a given project, but can also help establish the quantity of stone or plants needed.
Landscape Calculator is one of the most popular apps of this kind and converts known measurements into the square footage.
First, the calculator converts the depth from inches into feet. It does this by dividing the figure by 12. It then multiplies the depth by the area. For example, 0.25 foot depth times 500 square feet equals 125 cubic feet.
If you are calculating 0.5, 2, or 3 cubic foot bags, you would then divide your answer by the size of the bag. Or, alternatively, if you are calculating cubic yards, you would divide your answer by 27, because one cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet.
While mulch is almost a guaranteed addition to any landscape project, it is by no means the only material you will need to account for.
Other materials, like gravel, stone, or plants, present landscapers with their own unique set of challenges. For example, when estimating how many of a certain plant you will need, you not only need to take into account the area you want to fill but also how much space must be left between plants, the layout within the bed, and what percentage of this area is unplantable. The calculations needed for this type of estimate are considerably more complex, and manually calculating these figures can be both time-consuming and leave you vulnerable to miscounts.
Some landscape calculators provide free estimates of mulch, but most other materials require you to sign up for a paid membership in order to calculate.
On landscapecalculator.com, the plant calculator, stone calculator, mowing calculator, and margin calculator are all listed under premium content, meaning you will have to pay extra to calculate a full project estimate.
So what are the alternatives to paying for a landscape estimate calculator?
Calculating Landscape Estimates in Excel
If you’re a computer whizz, it is possible to program your own spreadsheet to calculate material quantities. Although free (software cost excluded), calculating a manual estimate in excel can be time-consuming and fiddly, and requires a decent knowledge of mathematical equations.
It can be frustrating to teach new employees to create estimates this way, and there’s a risk that mistakes will be made, leaving with you a variety of incorrect estimates depending on who inputs the numbers. Materials can be overlooked as they are copied from the blueprint to the spreadsheet, formulas can be deleted by mistake, and serious errors can end up on your client’s desk.
For many landscapers, this method is simply not worth the risk to their bottom line.
Is There a Simple Way to Calculate Landscape Estimates?
The short answer is yes, there is a simple way to calculate landscape estimates quickly and accurately, without having to spend a fortune on individual calculators.
LandOne Takeoff software is designed to take the stress out of every stage of the takeoff process, including calculating materials. With the easy-to-use program, you can convert PDF designs and aerial images into accurate landscape estimates, without the need for complex formulas. LandOne Takeoff counts materials, measures area, and volume, and lets you map out projects for clients with the click of a button, and even converts your takeoff into a client-ready report when you’re done.
The program automatically calculates each material as you add it to your design, using built-in formulas to get you an accurate and instant result. Simply tell the system what materials you will be using, use the simple click and drag drawing tool to place it onto your design, and let LandOne do the math for you.
The object grouping tool allows you to set the spacing required for annuals or other plants and automatically applies this to your final estimate, making it quick and painless to calculate even the most complicated sections of your design. As a bonus, the built-in measuring tool allows you to measure as you go, without the need for fiddly manual estimates.
At LandOne, we believe it should be easy to calculate costs and provide your customers with a comprehensive estimate. Our software is designed to simplify every aspect of a landscape and irrigation project, from planning to estimating to project management. It is easy to use and lightning-fast, with every measurement and estimate happening in real-time.