Basic Gardening Work - Distribute Mulch, for example

Thank you in advance for any recommendations for a gardener to hire, as well as a sense of going rates. 

I had a large load of mulch delivered, and the person I hired to distribute (he is the friend of someone recommended by a neighbor) wanted $25-30 / hr each for him and a helper, but they were incredibly inefficient, didn't bring any tools or even water, and needed constant directing and reminding of what to do. I'm looking for someone who can efficiently distribute the mulch so I can get it off my driveway, and I'd like to know the range of what people pay for such directed, straight-forward work. I would like to hire someone who works well for various projects that arise; I already know quite a bit about gardening and don't need an expensive expert or plant curator, just someone to do the physical work that we can't always handle. I don't mind providing tools and water if needed, but do want the person or crew to work efficiently, and of course is kind as well. We live in the Oakland hills.

Parent Replies

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I hire Joe Bob Gardening for periodic cleanup and specific projects. You just need to schedule a couple weeks in advance. The communication is very good, and the work is done reliably.

My kid doesn't live near you, but you might be able to find some neighborhood teens through NextDoor.   My 15-year-old and his friends love getting these kinds of jobs through NextDoor, and appreciate the flexibility of lining up a Saturday job.    As a parent of a youngish teen, I appreciate when they are hired as a pair (my kid and his friend together), and when I get to meet the "employer" briefly by dropping them off at the start of the job.  They are strong and hard workers and  have typically earned $15-$30/hour depending on the job.  Sometimes the person offering the job offers minimum wage, but tips them at the end after seeing that they work as efficiently as some adults. They also enjoy working as a team, so often they can recruit an extra friend if needed to get an all-day job done in 2-3 hours.  If you specify that they should bring certain things (mask, gloves, water bottle, their lunch, or a shovel & broom for example), they do.    Typical jobs my teen has done in the past year are: weeding (lots of weeding in spring!), spreading wood chips, getting many boxes of things out of an attic down an attic ladder,  re-attaching insulation in a crawlspace. 

The upside of hiring neighborhood teens is their energy, lower cost, weekend availability, ability to receive instructions well and knowing you can call on them again if you like their work ethic.  The downside of hiring teens is scheduling around school (they are not available weekdays during the school year) and their relative lack of experience so you should expect to show them how to use a wheelbarrow, how to lift safely, and you should be there to supervise and make sure they are doing what you want, the way that you want it.     

Hi - you might considering hiring a young person from Enterprise for Youth’s job bank. The nonprofit trains students and places them in internships and about half of them go through the summer gardening program in San Francisco parks have experience with mulch.