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OMG
11-30-2006, 12:41 PM
I'm not really equipped for bigtime leaf removals.


I have trucks, trailers, Z's with mulching blades, blowers, etc......but no actual leaf removal equipment.


I am considering getting more into this line, but I have a couple questions.


1) Does all the extra leaf equipment really save time and overall is it worth the extra expense?-----Billy Goat, etc.

2) Are the jobs easier to get than regular lawn maintenance or harder?

3) Do you price these jobs at your normal rate.....or Higher/Lower?

The reason I ask is up until now we only usually do 8-10 per year for regular mowing/hedging customers. Normally with these customers, they don't have a problem paying for our regular service. However, some seem to act like leaf removal should be a $7/hour type job.....I guess they don't realize the equipment we might use saves time.....Just a guess.


Thanks for your replies.

MDLawnman
11-30-2006, 01:53 PM
I'm not really equipped for bigtime leaf removals.


I have trucks, trailers, Z's with mulching blades, blowers, etc......but no actual leaf removal equipment.


I am considering getting more into this line, but I have a couple questions.


1) Does all the extra leaf equipment really save time and overall is it worth the extra expense?-----Billy Goat, etc.

2) Are the jobs easier to get than regular lawn maintenance or harder?

3) Do you price these jobs at your normal rate.....or Higher/Lower?

The reason I ask is up until now we only usually do 8-10 per year for regular mowing/hedging customers. Normally with these customers, they don't have a problem paying for our regular service. However, some seem to act like leaf removal should be a $7/hour type job.....I guess they don't realize the equipment we might use saves time.....Just a guess.


Thanks for your replies.


I've just ventured into leaf cleanup this year by purchasing a Billy Goat leaf loader & mounting it on the front of my dump trailer. So I'm not perhaps the "expert" that alot of the other folks here are. However-

1. If you HAVE to pick up the leaves & remove them from the property the leaf loader for me has been a great time saver. I've seen a few businesses in my area using plastic barrels or tarps to put leaves into their pickup trucks or trailers. I just don't see how that can be an effective use of time. I'm not trying to start an argument here. I've used tarps, they take a long time to use and you have to drag them and then lift them into the vehicle. The leaf loader shreds the leaves and reduces their size at a 12 to1 ratio. That's a lot of leaves in a smaller space. The mowers that you have should be great for mulching leaves. Use that technique wherever you can convince the customer of its benefits. It seems that the older customers that I deal with want the leaves picked up and hauled away no matter what.

2. As far as getting the job to begin with, for me it has been as if I started a brand new business and no one has heard of what I do yet. Which come to think of it is true. I did advertise in ways that work for me and thus far I have made enough money to pay for the new equipment that I purchased. So if this venture goes the way that my mowing business did, I may not make any real money for several years. And you know what? That's OK with me. I had a pretty good mowing year for a change and I'm tired! I'm looking forward to a break. My steady mowing customers for the most part do not need leaf removal. 90% of my leaf clean ups have been new clients. I'm trying to apply mowing strategies to my leaf bidding. Meaning make the best educated bid (time wise) that I can and stick to it. Walk away if they say no.

3. Thus far I've been pricing my leaf clean ups at the same hourly rate as my mowing bids. If I can master the bid process (which is only going to come thru trial and error, so far no two jobs have been the same) I feel that I can make a profit. The work is harder physically than mowing. With that in mind I suppose that I should bid or charge more for this service than I do for mowing. Since I'm just starting in the leaf clean up business I don't want to bid myself out of business by making high bids. I refuse however to low ball.

No one in my little neck of the woods has a leaf loader. I'm the only one (so far). I can do the job a little quicker than my competition, but as I said earlier it's going to take time to build up a customer base.

A good money maker for me has been to offer leaf pickup if the client will rake the leaves to the curb. I just show up, vacuum up the leaves and hand them an invoice. Easier for me, cheaper for the client.

I hope this helps answer you questions. Good luck!!

lawnprosteveo
11-30-2006, 02:13 PM
Im not really set up for leaf removal either. However I am set up enough to be in the biz...at least enough for me.

If you have a good mower with a mulching kit, you can do alot of leaf jobs that way. I have alot of customers that let me come out weekly or every two weeks. That way Im never mulching too many leaves at one time. Works great and doesnt cost the customer much. I charge $40 per man hour for that type of work. Average billiing is $45-$60.

There are some yards that mulching just doesnt work well or look good. On those I have a good backpack blower and tarps. I haul these into my trailer and take them to a local leaf dump. I charge $30 per man hour here. That may be a little low for some of the guys/gals on this site, but its about par here in Tulsa.

charmill26
11-30-2006, 08:46 PM
i only tarped this fall as its my first year but i think a leaf loader would help alot because i've foudn most of the time spent it loading and packing down the leaves. with a loader you just tarp them all to the curb and suck it up. you can get alot more leaves in. i charge more than mowing and i think most people do but im not sure. oh and i found it way easier to get customers. i put out about 40 fliers a few weeks ago and have probalby gotten 15-20 calls so far

seacoastlandscape
12-01-2006, 07:47 AM
sounds like you have a good start on the equipment side of things. A must is a vac, put a box on one of your trucks and get atleast a 16hp leaf loader, its one of the biggest time savers.Im assuming you already have a few backpack blowers, ground blowers are extremely helpful but not completely necessary unless your working on a huge job. In the last few seasons im finding it easier to do most jobs just with backpacks. As far as pricing I bid jobs on an estimation of how long I think it will take us at 75-85 per hour depending on how many guys you have on the job. I usually have 3-4 working on each job and im finding were finishing jobs much quicker and making about 100 per hour.

wahlturfcare
12-01-2006, 09:20 AM
this is my 3rd year doing cleanups and this year i got me a dump and leaf loader. Both are a big helper, and the leaf plow come in handy also.

HOOLIE
12-01-2006, 03:29 PM
Your equipment needs should match your actual job needs. Could be a leaf loader or could be a walk behind w/bagger. For the leaf jobs I do a loader really isn't necessary, sure from time to time I get an oddball call from someone on a large prop that wants the leaves all hauled off but I just pass those on to another LCO.

I don't think a leaf loader or other dedicated leaf equipment would really help you land more jobs...maybe on true high-end properties but for the average homeowner I don't think they care. ZTR's certainly don't seem to help sell mowing anymore than a walk behind.

jeffex
12-01-2006, 04:15 PM
waste of money. All you need is a mower with a mulch kit and double blades and another with a grass gobbler . Total investment under $500 . Grind the leaves into little pieces and make a few passes with the catcher on to give it the vacuum look. Huge piles of leaves can be ground into dust by doing a wheelie over the pile with the walkbehind to grind them up. No big expense or storage problem for equipment used just for leaves.

Shawn Burns
12-01-2006, 04:36 PM
I don't really need a leaf loader, however having one could be a time saver if you needed one. Most of my customers have natural areas where i can dump leaves. I have a good bagging system for my z (backpack on a Hustler super z) and a bagger for my toro w/b.
When we get to a property (mostly residential) one starts blowing the hard surfaces into the yard. The other gets on the Z (used wherever possible) and gets up the leaves. Blow hard surfaces again and we're on to the next one. It really works well for us.
I charge $40/hr per man above regular mowing prices.

Lawn Simplicity LLC
12-01-2006, 05:12 PM
I thought about buying a leaf loader by Giant-Vac & didn't. Instead I bagged on a weekly basis using my Exmark walk behind. If a yard normally took me 1/2 an hour start to finish then at the end of that 1/2 hour was when the $60.00 an hour leaf clean up started. Worked well on a weekly basis.
Then came the week where dang near every leaf in the trees came down. I blew every thing into piles & used the TTHP & bagger again. I hustled & was surprised @ how quickly I was able to do it.
I think leaf loaders would be the only way if you one was doing this for other than a regular client. Still keeping in mind you have to use the tarps to get the leaves to the loader.
I still see a loader in my future. Check out the ones by Giant-Vac. They are right stout looking. More so than Billy Goat. The Little Wonders didn't look to bad either.
Good Luck,
Larry:clapping:

prizeprop
12-01-2006, 09:39 PM
I too used to think grinding leaves to shreads was easier, after learning how too suck the leaves up with the leaf loader even when wet has really saved alot of time and labor.Here's my set up.

prizeprop
12-01-2006, 09:41 PM
works well and holds alot.

KS_Grasscutter
12-01-2006, 09:54 PM
1. I have NO extra leaf cleanup equipment that I use. I just use my BG85 to blow out beds and whatnot, then go over it once with my dixon without the bagger hooked up to mulch everything up. Then I put the bagger on and go over it 1-2 more times to get everything. Works perfect for me.

2. Easier- I put an add in the newspaper, and got over 10 calls in 2 weeks. I think about 90% of those calls ended up having it done.

3. First ones I did I priced slightly higher, and lost money in big ways. After that I priced about 2-3x the mowing rate, and was ALMOST profitable. Would be a lot better if I had a BP blower though, there are times I actually get the rake off the trailer and use it as it is faster then blowing with my handheld blower.

Also, for regular customers, in most cases I just charge the mowing rate, and since it is done weekly, it doesnt take too much longer. If they skip a week or more, I raise the price considerablly, usually as high as my rate for non-customers.

mdvaden
12-02-2006, 12:57 AM
I may invest in some equipment for this someday, because I would like to keep and compost all the leaves.

If a landscaper had an extra 1/2 acre, they could do wonders with composting.

jeffex
12-02-2006, 06:07 AM
I just love to see the look my customers neighbors get when they peer out the window and see the 3-4 bags of ground up leaf dust I put at the curb while they have 20-30 bags stacked up across the front of their yard. New customers always ask what I did with all the leaves. I had one this year start to panic as the leaves where knee deep after I blew them out of the beds . I thought she was going to cry, "how In the world are you going to bag all those leaves" she exclaimed. 15 min of grinding and she was smiling! 15 min of sucking them up in the bagger and 4 bags of leaf dust at the curb.1.5 total hrs check in hand. Nothing to haul away and no extra equipment to buy. I use the mulch kit in the spring for spring cleanups and take it off when the heavy growth kicks in at the end of april. The grass gobbler comes in handy for sucking up shrub trimming too. Who needs a rake. I use the grass gobbler for customers with heavy growth once in awhile and charge more for it. Everyone has what works for them!!! Thanks to Eric ELM for making me a grinder many years ago!!

Groomer
12-02-2006, 10:09 AM
nice setup, prizeprop! Did you convert the truck, or is that an available accessory? I'm looking at changing out my truck for next season.

mojob
12-02-2006, 10:54 AM
I too used to think grinding leaves to shreads was easier, after learning how too suck the leaves up with the leaf loader even when wet has really saved alot of time and labor.Here's my set up.
Did you have that top canvas custom made? If so, how much did it cost? I have 4' mesh sides on my dump and was thinking about having a canvas top made up for a leaf loader set up with the idea that it would inflate during use and collapse onto the leaves when turned off. How much was that retractable tarp and where did you get it? Awesome set up you've got there.

prizeprop
12-02-2006, 01:29 PM
I bought it about 4 years ago for about $350.I heard there more like $500 now in that size.They give you the curved support bars for the top which mount to the side boards and all the bungie cords that hold it down. It goes on the truck in a half hour and stays on for a month during cleanups only.Its custom made, bring the truck with the leaf loader on it and they make it for you in a about a week.Blanchards out of Dunellen I believe.They make awnings,boat tarps etc. So anyone in your area that does awnings etc should be able to do it.

Alta Lawn Care
12-02-2006, 01:58 PM
I'm a newby one man operation but my system seems pretty competetive to the larger operations.

I bought $100-$150 in plywood for my open trailer and treated it with boiled linseed oil mixed with paint thinner to keep it looking good. Then I bought an extra large Acellerator grass catcher for my John Deere Quik-Trak 657.

I blow out the beds onto the grass and then run over them with the JD. I let the catcher fill up and I mulch the leaves. Then I empty out the catcher and load it up. It takes up minimal space on the trailer. I can get a 1/2 acre lawn done in about 3 hours. Add 30 minutes for emptying out the trailer. I use the backpack blower to do that. I charge $199 for a lawn that size so I can do two per day.

The big operations I see for a lawn like this use two trucks, two trailers-one dump with boards and truck loader, the other--open, one Z with bagger and maybe a rake, backpack and walk behind blowers, and ususally four guys. I would expect them to be done in 30 minutes but they take more like 1.5 to 2 hours. My system from an investment and man-hour management point of view seems to me to be a better way. But then again, I haven't yet scaled it up.

green horizons
12-02-2006, 07:45 PM
Leaf loaders seem very effective at what they do. My only real knocks
on them are the fact that for true effeciency, one would need a dump
truck/trailer for unloading and the leaves must still be brought to the
curb. I use the tarp method and my biggest complaint with this is running
out of space on the trailer. Shredding leaves through a loader fixes
this issue, but unloading and manpower (tarping) remain problematic.

Tree & Lawn Care
12-06-2006, 01:04 AM
I work in Rockford, IL (formally called 'Forrest City') where the leaves drop fast and furious. I have seen companies mulch the leaves but the end result (IMO) doesn't look very good. You can't get all those little pieces sucked up well enough. Last year we did 29 fall clean ups with a 3 man crew. We averaged around $200 - 350 per yard and it took us on ave. 2 hours from start to finish. I didn't have a truck loader and had to haul everything to the curb and load into the truck by hand. It was too labor intensive.

This year I purchased an 18hp Billy Goat truck loader and was able to get 55 yards done with just myself and one other person. Much more efficient and cost effective.

Here is a picture of our set up.

razor1
12-08-2006, 04:54 PM
Mulch Leaves into Lawns, Studies Say By The Associated Press 11/22/2004 Mike Goatley is the kind of guy we couch potatoes appreciate most on football-rich fall afternoons. The Virginia Tech extension turf specialist preaches the gospel of "leave them alone" lawn leaf management.
Thereís nothing wrong with blowing, vacuuming or raking downed leaves - especially if youíre trying to spot errant golf balls or keep your grass from being matted down over winter. Disposal is the problem.
"One of the biggest things weíre trying to get away from is putting these things in bags and dumping them in a landfill," Goatley says. "At the same time, youíre improving the organic matter in your soil."
The technique has been used for years, he says. But "thereís quite a bit of data out there now (from Purdue, Michigan State and Cornell universities) indicating this is the way to manage those leaves."
In other words, crank up your mulching-capable lawn mower first when the leaves start piling up in autumn.
A Purdue University report details the responses of a perennial ryegrass lawn to the addition of as much as two tons of maple leaves per acre per application.
Mowing the leaves into fine pieces and filtering them through the turf doesnít degrade lawn color or quality, introduce diseases or weeds, the report says. Over time, the shredded leaves decompose, enriching the topmost soil layers.
Mower mulching also saves time and money that would be unnecessarily spent on bagging and dumping. Composting leaves directly into the turf doesnít mean you should stop fertilizing, however.
"I donít think leaf recycling is a substitute for a sound fertilizing program," Goatley says. "Mother Nature has already removed a lot of nitrogen from those leaves. The microbes needed to further break them down also need some nitrogen.
"Fall fertilization of cold-season grass definitely is the way to go. You can still reap some lawn care benefits with a November nitrogen application."
Applying shredded leaves to your lawn does not alter its underlying soil chemistry, researchers say.
"The deciduous leaves coming off trees have been shown to have a minimal effect on soil pH," Goatley says. "What could make a difference, though, is pine straw (layers of pine needles). Thatís acidic. The needles also donít break down very quickly."
Grass height depends upon the species, but two to three inches is good for this time of year.
"An advantage to maintaining your mowing schedule into the down time of winter is that the leaves continue filtering down," Goatley says. "You canít completely pulverize them, but they will settle down into the grass and become organic matter."
While you should always think safety when mowing your lawn, that goes double when leaf-mulching. Wear safety goggles and an air mask, Goatley says. Donít use your mower for branch-shredding or stump-grinding. Sharpen the mower blade and change the air filter more often when mulching thick layers of leaves.
"Walk the area and pick up whatever branches and debris have come off with the leaves," Goatley says. "The leaves should be on the dry side so they pulverize a little better, but then that means dust.
"You should also think about whoís out there, including pets. You canít have anyone or anything nearby while youíre running the risk of throwing sticks or any debris buried beneath the leaves."
Monday, November 22, 2004