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Leaf Clean-ups


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  #1  
Old 09-06-2011, 06:44 PM
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Default Leaf Clean-ups

Hey guys,

It's been a while since my last post. Summer has gone fairly well for me, I hope it has been good for you as well.

I've been trying to figure out the best way to go about leaf clean-ups. This is my first year on my own. My old employer did not have any set leaf clean-up, instead they continued to visit the lawn each week and cut it, clearing all leaves at each visit. I'm not really sure how they priced this, but as the leaves fell in greater quantities, there was obviously much more work to do. A friend of mine who runs a company says he does 3 leaf clean-ups. A lot of customers, however, have expressed a desire for only one leaf clean-up in the fall. Obviously only one leaf removal makes it is a very big job. But I don't know what to do for the whole month that the leaves are falling...the grass still grows, so it makes sense to go in and cut the grass, but that inevitably requires me to remove the leaves as well. If I don't cut the grass for the entire time the leaves are falling, then the grass length makes blowing the leaves much more difficult.

So, how do most companies deal with these clean-ups (i.e. how many clean-ups are performed and how are they priced?)
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  #2  
Old 09-06-2011, 07:14 PM
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I purchased the commercial Dr. Lawn Vac units, I live in an area where pretty much every client has hardwoods, some more than others, a lot more in some cases.

The first year I had two units and no idea what to charge, to do it quick you need two guys, one blowing the leaves in away from beds, fences etc. one driving a tractor or ZTR with the attachment doing the collecting, this setup worked very well.

Since every customers lawn was different and some I could not get the equipment into as they were too small, I stayed with lawns that were 10,000 square feet and up, on average we got $65 an hour.

The one condition I made was the mulched leaves were dumped on the property, I did not offer a haul away service, however we would for $45.00 cover the mulched leaves with a fertilizer 36-0-0, the nitrogen would brake the leaves down over the winter and allow the client to use the compost in the spring, this was a hit.

Biggest job we did was 1.5 acres, received $300 for it however it took most of the day.

I found there was excellent money in this, I have seen a crew pull into an area to do one job, especially on a Saturday or Sunday and never move the truck, they went house to house, this did however create problems as there were always jobs left at the end of the season we didn't get to, just too much demand.

What would happen also is people would see a truck pulling the unit to a job and call the number on the truck or trailer, I always found this interesting, it was one of those services, in my area, no one else had the equipment.

I have an almost new one sitting in the garage I just listed for sale as I am no longer in the lawn care business, be interesting how quick it sells.
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  #3  
Old 09-06-2011, 09:47 PM
justin_time justin_time is offline
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Billy Goat has a new system (new to me) that can accomodate on your truck as a dump and a leaf loader.

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Old 09-06-2011, 10:57 PM
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I'm starting to sweat this dilemma too. People assume I know what I'm doing, but honestly, I've done ONE leaf cleanup this spring where I blew them into piles and bundled them in burlap tarps.

Aside from that, I have NO idea how to handle this. Multiple cleanups? One big one? Mulch them with the mower?

I'm the type who mows his grass up until about Thanksgiving just to keep it looking neat, but I doubt others are willing to keep paying for mowing that late into the season. It sure would make it easier to just mow them into bits!
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:12 PM
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I offer the customer the choice of having me continue weekly mowings into November at the regular price or if they cancel early they have to pay $40/hour on the cleanup. It ends up being just about the same price either way but the weekly mowings are easier than one big cleanup.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:22 PM
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So do you mulch the leaves back into the lawn each week or do you take the leaves away each week?
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I offer the customer the choice of having me continue weekly mowings into November at the regular price or if they cancel early they have to pay $40/hour on the cleanup. It ends up being just about the same price either way but the weekly mowings are easier than one big cleanup.
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by element009 View Post
So do you mulch the leaves back into the lawn each week or do you take the leaves away each week?
I put the bag on my mower and let it fill up and then I go over the rest of the leaves and it grinds them up really well because the full bag acts as a mulch block. Then I'll empty the bag, raise the deck up about 1/2" and go over it again. Some gets mulched back in the rest goes in the woods.
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Old 11-04-2011, 11:43 PM
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There are so many "leaf" threads I didn't know which one to bump, but this one works...

I've also been finding that some lawns that still need cutting are covered with leaves to the point where they can't be mulched. (push mower)

On a few of the smaller ones, I did a quick leaf cleanup first and told them I did it as a courtesy - the reality was that if I hadn't, I couldn't have made any money by mowing and they weren't ready to pay for a "full" cleanup yet.
All of the freebies have involved blowing them into the woods or to the street where the city sucks them up - I'm not bagging/hauling leaves for free.

Doing this has earned me some points with my clients and has given me some practice at moving leaves with my new Echo backpack, so for now it's a win/win situation.

That said, next season, I'm going to add a cleanup charge if I come to mow and I am unable due to excessive leaves on the lawn. I can't do twice the work without being compensated.





Funny story:
I went to cut one of my regulars yesterday. She had switched to biweekly about a month ago and I knew there would be leaves as well as the grass to cut. I wasn't sure what the regulations were in her area regarding leaf collection - do they need to be in brown paper bags, or can they be blown to the street for the borough to come and vacuum up?

As I started down her street, I saw a borough truck sucking up some leaves. I then passed a landscaping crew who was blowing leaves from a lawn to the street, so I stopped and asked them if the borough takes them from teh curb. "Yes" was the answer - cool.

I proceeded to blow all the leaves down to the street, making a nice, neat pile in a long row along the client's curb. I then mowed the lawn and left a bill in the mailbox, as my client wasn't home.
That evening I received a call (voicemail) from the client - "You can't put leaves on the street - I'll get a fine. Please come and bag them as soon as possible". This was at 5:30pm and I was headed home.

I called the borough building the next morning and discovered that the client was correct and the landscapers who told me it was "OK", were wrong. Apparently the truck I saw just does some naturally occurring "trouble spots" of leaves - not "pickup" as I was lead to believe.

Sigh. Off to spend time picking up leaves that I'm not getting paid for.
When I arrived, the borough leaf vac truck was two houses away, so I walked down and explained the above scenario. I asked if they planned on sucking up "my leaves" because if so, I wouldn't waste my time doing so. He explained that he wasn't allowed to and we chatted about a few things before I turned to walk back up to my truck and get started on my cleanup.

I just got my trash can and rake out when the vac truck stopped and I was approached with the old "Buy us lunch and we can suck those up for you" offer. LOL! DEAL!!!
I forked over ten bucks and everyone was a winner.

Lesson learned: Know the leaf collection rules for the area you work in ahead of time!!!
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Old 11-05-2011, 12:39 AM
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I'm happy they offered you some help!

I was shoveling a small parking lot last year, had a guy with a plow across the road come and do it for $10.

The only problem was everything wasn't completely out of the parking lot due to the fact he used a plow, not a blower. So I had this massive compacted pile I had to shovel away at.

I ended up ramming it a few times with the truck in reverse... I won the battle. It was 3:30AM, and I was tired man.


**********-

Anyway, leaves this year are bugging me. Last year it went smoothly, but I think it's because I have a lot more to do, and so little time before the snow.

If you've got a place to dump leaves, blow them on a tarp and toss them in your trailer. Even if you make 2 visits per property to dump the leaves (or something crazy), you'd be saving money in equipment maintenance.

All lawn mowers can do a good job mulching or picking up leaves, but I still don't like to abuse my equipment like that. It's also starting to get very tedious picking up leaves with the lawn mower.


.... I saw one company with a can, and they were burning the leaves on the road (new company?). Probably the dumbest (waste-of-time) thing I have ever seen to be honest. Strange stuff!

Last edited by CHEESE2009; 11-05-2011 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHEESE2009 View Post
.... I saw one company with a can, and they were burning the leaves on the road (new company?). Probably the dumbest (waste-of-time) thing I have ever seen to be honest. Strange stuff!
Did they have marshmallows?
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