Referral for building raised bed

melanieweitzenfeldApril 28, 2008


We are looking to build some raised beds with retaining walls and some walkways with pavestones. The quotes we've received thus far have been pretty high, and I was wondering if anyone had a referral for someone who could do a great job at a reasonable price. I am located in DTC. Thanks in advance!


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Azura(z5 CO)

I wish I had an answer for you but instead, I will be watching this post in hopes you get some great answers.
I am trying to finish my flagstone patio and its 85% done. We just got a quote from the husband of a lady I work with and its $2200!!! Thats not even for concrete, we already have breeze in place. We built a retaining wall and have all of the materials except 1/2 pallet of flagstone which costs $150. He wants to charge us over $4000 to set the flagstones in a thin layer of cement. I was totally shocked.
I look forward to what others have to say.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:27PM
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Try posting Craig's List. There are a lot of contractors and weekend warriors looking for work. You can also cal The Lumber Guy, 303-979-8823, ask for Kevin, they sell paves by the palette to anyone including contractors, and they might be able to refer someone.

Good Luck


    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 4:16PM
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"set the flagstones in a thin layer of cement." I'm not sure that is a good idea here. With the freeze thaw cycle over the winter, wouldn't the cement crack? I would opt for sand and adjust if needed after winter. It's labot intensive, but I thought laying block in sand was much easier than preping an area for pouring concrete and then setting, cleaning and all the rest.

If posting on Craigslist, I would tell them that you will buy the material and just pay them for the labor. That way you avoid the "I have to buy the materials, give me half upfront" and walk with your money people (like my neighbors got).


    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 9:23PM
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dafygardennut(5b-ish, CO)

I would definitely use sand rather than cement. When we put in our patio we went to Do-Rite Sand & Gravel out in Watkins, the foreman there said you only need a base of sand an inch deep. Of course this was after we had already dug down about 6 inches. I'd recommend them as a source (it's a lot out of the way though) but maybe they could recommend someone.

This is what we ended up with: 16x16 pavers in a serpentine pattern with 3x6 pavers above and below those. Then did a pattern with 12x12 red and gray pavers. I planned it out so there was no need to cut any of the stones. Roomie wanted a lot of different styles and sizes, but I wanted it to have some consistency - this was the compromise...

So, you could actually do the work yourself. Ours took about a month and a half with two of us working on weekends and the occasional help from the neighbors hauling sand to the back (they work for beer)

First, definitely plan it out on graph paper. Use stakes and string to square out your area. Figure out the thickness of your stones add about 1-1/2" to that and that would be how deep you need to go. Line the area with landscape fabric to prevent weeds coming up. Lay the sand (definitely go bulk for large areas) use 1" PVC pipe for your thickness measurement and screed with a 2x4. Lay out your stones, checking for level constantly (both each stone and across an area). Then when they are where you want them, fill in with sand and water it in. DIY Network has more specific instructions (link below)

Good luck with your project!

Here is a link that might be useful: DIY 10 Things you must know

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 11:45PM
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Azura(z5 CO)

Im sorry for hijacking your thread, Melanie!
Have you found someone to do your raised beds for you?

We didnt even consider the thin layer of cement idea. If we were going to do cement as a base we would have done 100% cement. Ive seen what Colorado weather can do to a *thick* layer of cement, let alone a thin one.
We already did the most labor intensive parts of the job. We built a retaining wall and filled it and tamped all of the sand, gravel and breeze in the correct amounts and layers. All that is left to do is to puzzle piece the flagstone which is harder than it looks but still shouldnt cost $2200.
Dafy- Your pavers look great. We considered using pavers and it would have cost less than our flagstone but we really love the look of flagstone for this area. At this point, I wish I had pavers.

And another shot...

Btw, I DO not recommend picking a landscaper off of Tom Martino's website. They pay him to be listed there and Ive had bad experiences.
Are there any honest landscaping businesses out there?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2008 at 7:16PM
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You haven't hijacked! As long as people are benefitting from the conversation, I have no problem with it!

We got a bunch of quotes for really high prices ($7K!!!). One contractor said he wouldn't even do the project unless we agreed to redo our entire backyard, because (as he put it), the raised beds would outshine the rest of the backyard. Strange people out there..

We got a quote from Runninggold Landscaping for just the labor, and it came out to $1700. It seems to me like the landscaping companies are gouging people, esp. on the materials. We are buying the materials on our own, which we have discovered is significantly cheaper. We're working on getting them scheduled, and hopefully I'll have good things to report back. I'd love to continue to hear about other people's progress, as well! Thanks, and happy planting!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Ok, I am going to bug into this conversation again. I really find that most people neglect to notice the opportunities that the schools offer. Shop classes are great for getting woodwork, welding and mechanical work done, cheap. They usually just want the materials. Today the Sophmore class is auctioning themselves off at their annual "slave auction". What does this have to do with bricks?? Well, as we are a rural community, these kids have experiance in just about everything: roofing, fencing, concrete, you get the idea. What about checking in the area and seeing if any of the your schools do anything like this. Our school, the kids are doing it as a fund raiser for their Senior trip (ther're talking cruise). As long as your an able foreman (you can lean on a shovel WHILE holding a cup of coffee) this might be an idea. Our kids usually sell for about $50 each. They each auction individually so the buyers can pick and choose like a real auction. There are ten kids in the group, and you would get 6 or 8 hours (don't remember) of work from each one. The only drawback for you is that the 4 hour round trip would kill your work time, but if you could find the same type of thing in a local school, or maybe suggest it. Our kids usually do a profile sheet telling all about themselves and what they have done and know about.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 10:41AM
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I usually just lurk here but thought I could possibly contrubute something on this thread. Almost scared to stick my foot in here, but I'm going to anyway. The gouging comment got to me.

I'm a professional gardener/landscaper. I'm NOT asking for or offering to do either job, but can maybe give a bit of insight into your project from a different perspective.

I've done both, built raised beds, and laid dryset flagstone patios, although I try to stay away from hauling stone around. I'd rather plant flowers. However, that said, I can give you a glimpse into how a landscaper figures and sets our prices.

A professional landscape company has a limited time frame in Denver to make their annual income, due to weather obviously.
Assume, I have a 3 person crew.
Ok so if my 3 man crew will (barring weather) put in 40 hour a week for 32 weeks of the season, then I have 3840 hours of work I can sell. This is my product. I take my base overhead is $38,400 (3 men at $10 per hour) Plus 20% for Uncle Sam's share = $46080 add in insurance (multiple types), Work Comp, Rent, Phones, Owners Salary, Transportation costs (have you seen the price of gas???), repairs, loan payments, equipment payments, equipment recovery/replacment, Office expenses, Ect......

Ok, so you get the idea. And that doesn't even get into the amount of time spent on a job, while not on site, selecting materials, working and reworking bids, fighting with suppliers who don't deliver what they say they will when they say they will, and so on.

Ok lets say we end up with $150,000 in total overhead, so then I take that 150K and divide by the available work hours in the season 3840 = 39.07 per man hour. This is what I need to charge every customer to make a halfway decent living.

Most large landscapers cannot begin to justify the expense outlay on such a small project, which is why that one stated he wouldn't come out if you didn't do the entire yard. His excuse to you was pretty lame, but the real reason was simple math. I don't care what anyone says about no project too big or too small in their advertising, it just doesn't make sense to send a crew to more than one location per day. Two or three small jobs in a day means transportation time between jobs, which I have to pay the crew for, but is not producing any income. If equipment is involved, most companies won't take a job that is less than several days.

If you used the above figures, assume 2 men, 8 hours for your walkway. Could be done in less, but there are some variables, slope, limited access, drainage close to the house, etc, that will require extra time if done properly. 8 hours, x roughly $40 per hour, x 2 men. $1600. Not far off the other guys $1700.

Another thing. This is absolutely the worst time of year to try and get a small project done cheap. We are busier than we can handle. I for one, am working 10 hour days on the job site, then meeting with potential new customers AFTER that in the evenings, and working into the night drawing new designs and researching plantings and trying to build estimates for those customers. We won't even discuss how far I am behind on quickbooks.

If you want a small project done, call someone in February. Or November. We're much hungrier then.

As someone who hires a lot from Craigslist, it's about a 50/30/20 gamble. Of the ones who answer your ad, 50% of them will show up. 30% of those have the motivation to do more than lean on a shovel. 20% of them will actually have a clue how to do the work without you having to tell them every step to take.

And that doesn't allow for the nasty, mean flaming emails you will get when you post that you want manual labor for $10 an hour. And I totally understand that living in Denver on $10 an hour is nearly impossible. But bump it to $15 an hour, plug that number into the formula above, and see how many customers you get.

For the raised beds, you might try searching craigslist for a handyman. Might be cheaper.

Ok, sorry for the rant, back to work.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2008 at 1:20PM
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