View Full Version : trimming forsythia bushes.....

03-22-2005, 08:43 AM
I have trimmed forsythia bushes before, so I know that they are pretty easy. But what my question is how long do you think it would take you guys to trim it when it is about 334' long, I think about 4-5' wide. It's been at least 1 year since it was last trimmed. The one side (161' long) is really overgrown the rest is pretty overgrown. The homeowners usually do these bushes themselves, I think they stand on their Envoy and trim that way...they said it was a little out of their reach now. I think that at its highest point it might be about 10'. And there are also a couple of bushes around the house, no more than one hours worth of work. So this is how I broke it down....just want to see if I am in the right ballpark.

Left side bush....161' long x 5' wide x 10' high = about 3 hours
back bush.....85' long x 5' wide x 8' high = about 1.5 hours
right side......88'long x 5' wide x 6-8' high = about 1.5 hours
and one hour for the bushes around the house.

then I was figuring on charging either an extra 1/2 hour or hour for going to the job and then disposing of clippings. Also a $30 dump fee.

I just wanted to see how long people think they can do this job...I am not sure if I am being unrealistic in thinking that I can do it in this time period or if I am way off. Thanks for all your replies in advance.

I know that your not suppose to trim forsythias till they after they bloom...but if I tell the customer this and they still want it done beforehand, could this possibly harm the forsythia?

03-22-2005, 08:54 AM
Cut now and they will not bloom this year as you will cut the buds off.

Norm Al
03-22-2005, 09:02 AM
what about the clean up time? you have the dump fee but wont there be trimmings to clean up?

03-22-2005, 09:12 AM
It's already figured out in the time...I forgot to mention that there will be 2 people, I am going to have a helper that will probably do the little bushes around the house and then after that just continue to rake clippings. Also as my arms and back get tired we can switch back and forth..by the way I will be using a pole trimmer and most likely a ladder.


03-22-2005, 09:23 AM
What do you mean by pole trimmer? Are you speaking about a cutter on the end of a pole with a pull-rope to activate the cutter head? Or are you talking about a hedge clipper attachment on the end of a string trimmer power head/shaft?

I presume the second choice, but your comments aren't clear. If so, you should be able to do all the work from the ground, no laddering -- a huge time saver. Or, do you have to square them off on the top, and if so, what height? If you have to take much off, the debris will be huge. How close from the bushes to your truck/trailer? How to get the debris there?

Also, I presume you are intending to "shear" them, not prune out dead wood, old stalks, etc. This is all hand work, a large time sink. This is really how they should be trimmed out, but few people do it because of the time.

I have done some large hedges on long rows like this, but not forcythia. Your times seem reasonable, for two people.

03-22-2005, 09:37 AM
Hey Roger,

It is the second choice..I dont foresee the debris being too much of a headache because I have a pretty good access to get them to my trailer. I am thinking that when I am done that it will be about 7-8' tall approx. I am thinking that I will spend very little time on the ladder if at all. I would get on there just to make sure that is squared off. Anyways, thanks for your opinion Roger. This is the biggest bush trimming job I will be doing and just wanted to get a reality check and make sure that I wasnt underestimating time. Any other advice would be much appreciated.


03-22-2005, 07:19 PM
One quick suggestion: instead of having your helper rake up the trimmings, put tarps on the ground. Let the trimmings fall on the tarps. Easy to load into the trailer and less mess on the ground.

old dog
03-22-2005, 09:08 PM
One quick suggestion: instead of having your helper rake up the trimmings, put tarps on the ground. Let the trimmings fall on the tarps. Easy to load into the trailer and less mess on the ground.
Safety tip-don't walk around on tarps,they can be mighty slippery.Pitchfork
the heavy stuff onto a tarp,then rake the small stuff.On most pruning and shearing jobs your helper will have as much time in cleanup as you will in
making the mess.Wait until late April-you will have the blooms and get 'em
trimmed early.Be aware they can grow 4 to 6 feet this year.Forsythia should
NEVER be put in as a proper hedge!!!

03-22-2005, 10:09 PM
Thanks for all the response...I have never tried to use a tarp along the hedge that I am trimming but it is definitely that I will start doing as long as I am not on a ladder. Thanks again for all the input.


03-22-2005, 11:35 PM
Your time break down seems to be right on. Clean up will take longer than you would think. Id say 2 hours to clean up and then dump time.

Should bring a "day" rate easy.

03-23-2005, 10:35 AM
o-so-n-so Your time break down seems to be right on. Clean up will take longer than you would think. Id say 2 hours to clean up and then dump time.

Should bring a "day" rate easy.

I had pretty much decided that I was just going to charge them a fill day's rate. I thought that that was pretty fair. I just wanted to make sure that I wasnt thinking that it was going to be easier than it actually was.

In the end they wanted 3 diff estimates anyway, I gave them an estimate for all the bushes,then w/o one of the long bushes on the right side (85') and then one doing only the one on the left side that is overrgrown the most (161'). I hate to do bushes on someone's property that I dont do all of them. They are probably going to try to do the others themselves. But hopefully not, I am still waiting to hear back from them. Again thanks for all the responses.


03-23-2005, 11:02 AM
One more comment ... The tarp idea may or may not help with the cleanup time. My practice is usually to use tarps, but I've discovered tarps in some situation are a time sink. When trimming yews, over mulched beds, the tarps are not only a time saver, but leave a quality result (no trimmings in the mulched beds). However, for less refined areas, the tarps take too much time and the clippings clean up well enough. For example, I have some bayberry hedges that have good access on both sides. I used to use tarps, but one time left the tarps on the trailer. I discovered that using a pitchfork, then rake, then hand blower -- the debris was cleaned up well. I start at one end, working sections (e.g. 20 ft), trim down, clean up, then move to the next section. The last pile for each section gets rolled into the beginning pile of the next section. The time to put down the tarps, move them, dump them, etc was more than worth their while.

Also, I've refrained from using tarps when trimming burning bush hedges or individual plants. But, in all cases, the area around was easily cleaned up with rake and blower.

My point, one method does not always work for all situations. I trapped myself into always using tarps for a long time, and then, in "a moment of weakness," tried something different. Wa-la ... the change proved to be better.

Two keys are important on which works better: (1) The kind of debris, fine or larger pieces, (2) The area where the clippings fall. Large debris can be handled with pitchfork (or silage fork), then rake. Finer debris is much more difficult to collect, making tarps more desirable. If the area beneath the bush, hedge, or whatever, is mulched, ground cover, or otherwise hard to rake or blow, then a tarp is helpful. If the area is hard ground, can easily be raked and blown clean, then the "no tarp" is probably the best.

Sorry for the length -- just a few things I've learned from experience.

03-23-2005, 01:32 PM
When you say load up your trailer, what kind of trailer are you talking about? Dump, utility, enclosed? Dump trailer would make the unload time about 10 minutes, enclosed would be a large hassle, open trailer would make easier to load but could be difficult and time consuming to unload. I'd recheck those times, especially if you are taking two feet or more off of the shrubs...in my experience, they kinda tend to stick together as one clump and pulling them apart can be a hassle...but then again we use a dump trailer and the tend to come out in one giant tangled mess.

Not sure if this would work...

Try placing your wheelbarrels or carry-all barrels underneath were you are trimming...since you are using the pole-trimmer (I believe from reading the posts) you can 'reach' over the barrels. Then the helper could just move them along with you. IMO, it is much easier to load a trailer via wheelbarrel w/ramps on trailer or dumping carry-all barrel into the trailer. Getting a tarp up into a trailer can be a big pain in the arse.