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View Full Version : Overgrown Lawns - Holy moly.


MowHouston
09-17-2007, 12:01 AM
FIRST: I know that a lot of guys are going to say "Drop these lawns" "Waste of time", etc. I've seen it and I know these are some BS lawns but I need the money for now before the season closes. Please just stick with what I ask for...

So I got this account with a real estate broker. His last guy dropped out on him without telling him and it seems as though the guy was only mowing the front yard on most of these houses.

I'm going to do these regardless of how rough they look right now because:

1. I've got the time.
2. I'll once they are cleaned up, they'll be a breeze since they are centrally located.
3. This guy knows it is hard work, the condition of the lawns, and knows he is going to have to pay to get these yards back in shape.

So what I would like from the veterans out there is to know how much you guys think I should charge on these. I can only do them with 21" mowers which is going to suck.

Here they are:

This one is pretty big. The back is about half as big as the front to give you an idea.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/8018%20Sterlingshire_1.jpeg

Only the back on this one as seen.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Glenviss.jpeg

Only the front.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Lawn%20014.JPG

Only the back as seen here.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Lawn%20020.JPG

The next two are the front -and- back. You can see the property line on the left.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Lawn%20022.JPG
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Lawn%20021.JPG

And again, only the back.
http://www.biggreenlawncare.com/Pebworth%20Back2.jpg

I'm in for a rough ride and I know it. I would like like to get these knocked out for a fair price. I will have one guy helping me with these as well.

Thanks

Lawnut101
09-17-2007, 12:07 AM
you could charge a certain amount per hour with the 21s. good luck.

jiggz
09-17-2007, 01:10 AM
Maaaan 1 and 3 look like a lot of land.. 2 is fairly big aswell

This is what I would do.. rent a walk behind you can probably grab a 30-48 inch for around 80 a day.. Charge 110 for each first cut.. 30-40 each after.. your going to kill your self with a 21 on them fcukers bro..

Lol at that second house not having any front windows

KS_Grasscutter
09-17-2007, 01:33 AM
Ummm...you ain't cuttin that with a 21". I have tried that overgrown BS with a 21", almost killed my Personal Pace Toro doing that. I would probably just weedeat it down to about 3.5 in the first time, then go over it with the 21" at about 3" to clean it up.

willjones4
09-17-2007, 01:41 AM
shiot dude. forget the 21 incher, you need to go rent something for those. You could get a 48" ZTR for about $110/day (at least in Louisiana) and charge at least $100/per. Good luck.

bare spot
09-17-2007, 02:35 AM
don't see any grass laying down which is a plus (i think :confused: ) what kc grasscutter make sense and stihl makes attachments for their trimmers that cuts this stuff.

topsites
09-17-2007, 03:25 AM
Oh let me guess, the guy's a realtor?

I'm not sure if I should sit back quietly and snicker some...
But obviously if you read this then I didn't...
Not to scare you, he'll likely pay.

But just so you know, that condition of turf, no wait...
The whole picture, house, turf, everything...

Is exactly what things look like after the customer who had it last stiffed me.
Not the realtor, the person they bought it off of, or rented it to last.
That or the realtor just let it go, but that's unusual I think, it's more like the other case.
No, I haven't a clue as to who maintains it in between, but lets just say it ain't me.

Now guy like me, come summer time I run my blades at 3.5 - 4.5" to compensate for the heat so it doesn't kill the lawn! It really works out dandy for most of my nice lawns, I think it might squeeze an extra cut a season in, but the cost of that one cut is worth the benefit of a greener turf... That is, assuming the owner cares.

But as a bonus, the slower they pay or the more they want me to spread out the cuts, the higher I raise the blades.
Because otherwise it clumps and I gotta spend more time there than they're paying for.

And so THAT is the final result, when they finally get so tired of my game, they finally realize they can't win with me (i.e.: take advantage of me), that's when they give up... Unfortunately these folks have little in the way of nerve, and even more unfortunately my services continue unless they cancel, and since they can't pick up the phone to call and let me know, instead they stop paying. Then the service is interrupted, but it takes 30 days before I can send a late payment due letter, in the meantime the grass grows.

Hint number one: Cut those things as high as you can or you'll never see the end of the cleanup.
And if it clumps and you don't take care of that, the dead grass will kill what little lawn is left.
Up to you, most newer Lco's AND the folks who hire them don't care, but ...

.................................
Now here's what I would do if I were you:
I would come up with YOUR estimate, whatever you think.
Then ADD 20-40% to it.
If you can do that...

Because like the lawn I left just this month (BIG lot), I would've charged the customer 240-300 to bring it back in shape. But the realtor who bought the house, well these guys are as cheap as the person they bought it from, so there's nothing doing there.
Instead, the realtor hires some 1st year Lco, such as yourself.
Those guys, I guarantee they did it for 100-120.
And what I'm saying is they should've, and could've gotten 140-160 for it.
Sure it's still losing out, but then they left clumps everywhere and I wouldn't have, either way 140-160 is better than 120 from their end, and still better than my price from the realtor's side of the fence.
So, after you get your price, feel free to add 20-40% to it.

Here's the flipside of this thread (where I left it like that, and someone like yourself got to clean up the mess):
http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=200264

It's kinda funny, but I'm still out the money.
You, otoh, more than likely will get paid.

topsites
09-17-2007, 03:38 AM
And I could be wrong, maybe it's not like that at all.
But if it is, then the last lawn mower that touched it cut it HIGH!
So it's not just tall, it's got a thick base.
And it will clump, thou that's regardless.

You do as you like, if you need the money then just do the best you can.
What I do if I'm not in the mood to start at 5.5" and then lower the cut 1/2" per pass and keep running over it until it's all good...
Because that works, but you have to have a mower where you can adjust cut height via a lever or a notched wheel and it has to go high enough, I'd start 5.75" on that and go over it once... Then lower the cut 1/2" per pass, and run over it 3-4 times, keep lowering the height 1/4 - 1/2" each pass, beyond that you can't go much further because it will start to clumping, you'll have it down to 4" or so thou, then come back 8-10 days later and start at 4" and bring'er down to 3"

But when that doesn't work, or I can't do it.
What I do is windrow the clippings into piles with the Wb, then rake them onto a tarp and haul away.
Take you 4 or so tarp loads, don't load it too heavy or you can't lift it, probably 1/2 a cubic yard of clippings per lot.
I usually put it in my trailer or IF you can leave it on that property someplace that's even better.
It's hard work, but a lot faster, a lot more effective than bagging.
So whatever you do, don't bag it lol.

Last method is to just run over it and keep running over it until it's as good as it gets.
But the clumps won't dissolve completely, and a lot of lawn will die from that.

I'd see if you can get 60'ish per lot, start there.
That's not quite double 35, I likely would quote close to 100 myself, per each.
So, well...

Vikings
09-17-2007, 04:50 AM
I would assume the owner is a cheap skate idiot and be done with it. 8 years in business and one of the most important things to learn is to pass on crap jobs unless there is serious money there.

I didn't read anything I just looked at the pics though. (I'm drunk :()

SCAG POWER
09-17-2007, 07:32 AM
WOWOWOW those are nice and high. Top-sites has given some good advice.I have had lawns that look like that in the past year. Pricing is important and should be considered a clean up not any type of mowing . My rate has been from 190.00 350.00 depending on the severity of the lawn.

This is what i would do , are they in the city or county , if so try too find out just what the fine will be if they are not cut. There was this city in the news that the local govt , tried too charge $ 1,800.00 dollars to mow what looked like one of your yards. Around here in the Orlando area they run about $ 350.00 depending , just how bad it is.

Getting paid on all that mite be a stretch , depends on just who is footing the bill. You can try too get some of it up front , have them meet you at the site , some times they will.You need to ask who is going to pay for this . If the Realtor. It may take some time too get your money as all over it is slow.

Rent a walk behind and put new blades on it , and the blades will be shoot after you are done with it.:waving: :hammerhead:

MarcSmith
09-17-2007, 07:56 AM
Up here in VA you can rent a 36" walk behind bush hog for 70 bucks. or a 36" wb mower for 80....

Id rent one for the day and then knock everything down, and then cleanup the mess, and then recut with your 21" or just rent the Wb for two days, add the rental rate to your bill and mark it up....

if you rent a WB like the guys said after the first lawn the blades will be shot so you'd end up to at least sharpening the blades after each "bush hog" to get a nice clean final cut.

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 08:02 AM
Thanks for all of the advice. I will probably rent a WB to get all of this done.

I understand that people who aren't actually dealing with the guy might think he is a cheapskate or that he won't pay me but here is the situation...

He's got all of these lawns because the last LCO screwed him over. Mowing the front yard and not the back on some of these lots. The first picture is a new property that he just got. The last mower was this guy's friend and I can easily see him saying "Say bud, how about I just mow the front on the ones that aren't actually for sale right now to keep the homeowners association off of your ass?"

In any case, I told him I would mow what wasn't overgrown, again, most of the front yards to get them in shape, charge for that, then start working on these projects.

He just sent in the payment for $820 for the 30 lawns that I have already completed and we're supposed to talk today about paying for the rest of the month so I can go ahead and buy a WB because 1. I need one, and 2. He knows this will all be much easier on me.

This is why I didn't want the naysayers jumping in. I just wanted the advice on how to chop these fuckers down. But like I said, its understandable to want to speculate.

I'm gonna run out today and take care of 10 new customers that I got this week, drop by the car dealership to pick up my application for an F-150, and see if I can't find a place where I can rent a WB. (in no particular order) :rolleyes:

Thanks again for all of the help. Anyone know how much it usually runs to rent a WB? (lol nevermind got my answer while I was typing) :D

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 08:03 AM
Up here in VA you can rent a 36" walk behind bush hog for 70 bucks. or a 36" wb mower for 80....

Id rent one for the day and then knock everything down, and then cleanup the mess, and then recut with your 21" or just rent the Wb for two days, add the rental rate to your bill and mark it up....

if you rent a WB like the guys said after the first lawn the blades will be shot so you'd end up to at least sharpening the blades after each "bush hog" to get a nice clean final cut.

Great, awesome. Thanks for the advice.

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 08:05 AM
Oh I forgot to add... The first picture, I said $200 and he said he'd authorize up to $250. I'm not worried about him skunking out on me. :)

I am worried about how tired I'm gonna be though! :cry:

IHusky
09-17-2007, 09:33 AM
I would agree that you need to rent a walkbehind. If you try that with your 21" your going to kill it. If you know someone with a walk behind edger, that would help too. Good luck.

Dunn's
09-17-2007, 09:47 AM
lollollollol!!!!!!!1:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

capetan
09-17-2007, 08:21 PM
1. weed trim
2 then cut
3 rake
4 cut again

unless he is going to be fined by the county ........ i dont think he is going to want to pay the cost of the job

i had a similar job, 3 foot high grass, about 70 x 50 ft ......... i charged $120, and followed the above process with a 21" mower,
charge no less than 40 an hour, or charge per day (thats at least 3 10hr days) with a small push mower ............ good luck

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 08:29 PM
Well. Thanks for all of the advice.

A few of you had me stressed out thinking I was just another pawn for a very large PITA customer. However, today he sent $1235, thanked me for being the only company that took care of all of these lawns, and is letting me use a Lesco 36" that he has just lying around to complete these big jobs.

Still a lot of hard work but I need the money and they account will be nice to have once all of these are maintained.

Thanks again for all of the help.

topsites
09-17-2007, 08:38 PM
I may be naysaying, but I did tell you several ways to do it also and I said you could do it however.
I already figured you'd bid and do your own thing so the reason I threw the figures and my bs in is so that the ideas would set themselves someplace in the back of your mind, for later...

See, I put myself in your shoes when I was new, and I didn't listen to the oldtimers either but that's ok because until I SEE the reason my mind can not fathom the advice anyhow, but I am glad they said what they had to say because at least some of it I remembered later, which helped.

So what I'm trying to tell you is how are you going to cover your COSTS?

You talk on one end about quoting 200 for a lawn (or is that for all 4) because on the other you say you just got 27.33 for each of 30, and then you go on talking about buying a brand new truck yet you still have to rent a Wb...?!

Dude...
You can't afford a brand new truck, even in my 6th year I'm driving what I can pay for cash, that's so I have no payments to bog me down plus I have minimum liability insurance and the thing about running a business is you HAVE to do everything at your absolute least possible cost... My truck costed 2500 but I had to fly to boston to get it and drive it back, then I had to fix everything that was wrong with it and ttlir by the time it was all said and done I was out 2 weeks and 4000 bucks but it was ALL paid for.
That is, unless you just so happen to have the 20k for the f150, in that case you'll have to excuse me but you still need to get an f250 because the transmission in those 1/2 tons isn't good enough.
Not true, if you have YEARS of experience driving around with a trailer that's hooked to your rig 24/7 then you can probably make an F150 do it, but most guys who try it with a 1/2 ton end up having transmission problems within a year, and then they are out of business because they didn't listen and now they can't afford teh tranny repair AND they're out of a working vehicle they still owe money on... So then what, default?

So, do as you wish.
But I'd be for looking for a used truck in the 1,400 - 2,000 dollar range, and a used Wb in the 1,000 dollar range, and if you do not have the money now then you need to keep working your daytime job and start saving it. Yes those trucks run like crap, I drove crap for 5 years but that's how I made it.
There may be the exception, but most of the guys who make it past 5 years started with some cold hard cash that they saved by slaving for the man, and that's after they thought about going in business, myself included.

Supper Grassy
09-17-2007, 08:43 PM
I agree with all above posts

Trim first much easier on mower

Down2EarthLawns
09-17-2007, 08:52 PM
Why only 21's?

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 09:07 PM
I may be naysaying, but I did tell you several ways to do it also and I said you could do it however.
I already figured you'd bid and do your own thing so the reason I threw the figures and my bs in is so that the ideas would set themselves someplace in the back of your mind, for later...

See, I put myself in your shoes when I was new, and I didn't listen to the oldtimers either but that's ok because until I SEE the reason my mind can not fathom the advice anyhow, but I am glad they said what they had to say because at least some of it I remembered later, which helped.

So what I'm trying to tell you is how are you going to cover your COSTS?

You talk on one end about quoting 200 for a lawn (or is that for all 4) because on the other you say you just got 27.33 for each of 30, and then you go on talking about buying a brand new truck yet you still have to rent a Wb...?!

Dude...
You can't afford a brand new truck, even in my 6th year I'm driving what I can pay for cash, that's so I have no payments to bog me down plus I have minimum liability insurance and the thing about running a business is you HAVE to do everything at your absolute least possible cost... My truck costed 2500 but I had to fly to boston to get it and drive it back, then I had to fix everything that was wrong with it and ttlir by the time it was all said and done I was out 2 weeks and 4000 bucks but it was ALL paid for.
That is, unless you just so happen to have the 20k for the f150, in that case you'll have to excuse me but you still need to get an f250 because the transmission in those 1/2 tons isn't good enough.
Not true, if you have YEARS of experience driving around with a trailer that's hooked to your rig 24/7 then you can probably make an F150 do it, but most guys who try it with a 1/2 ton end up having transmission problems within a year, and then they are out of business because they didn't listen and now they can't afford teh tranny repair AND they're out of a working vehicle they still owe money on... So then what, default?

So, do as you wish.
But I'd be for looking for a used truck in the 1,400 - 2,000 dollar range, and a used Wb in the 1,000 dollar range, and if you do not have the money now then you need to keep working your daytime job and start saving it. Yes those trucks run like crap, I drove crap for 5 years but that's how I made it.
There may be the exception, but most of the guys who make it past 5 years started with some cold hard cash that they saved by slaving for the man, and that's after they thought about going in business, myself included.

You probably wrote all of this when I posted previously but:

1. I've worked out a deal with the guy and I'm using a 36" WB for as long as I need it for FREE.

2. I'm not getting a =brand= new F-150. I'm getting one with low enough mileage that I can use it for a good while before it craps out. We bought a Mustang from this dealership back in January and it turns out the guy that traded it in for a Mercedes (as part of the down payment) took a loan out on the car so the car belongs to a bank. Here we are in September and we still don't have the title. I made my way to the dealership and gave him a few choices 1) Give us our money back. 2) We get an attorney and sue you 3) We give you back this car and get an F-150. We're looking at like $3000 difference for the truck. My girlfriend pulls in $50,000/year, I can't swat new customers away fast enough and the business is growing. This isn't a problem.

3. I'll use this Lesco that my real-estate account isn't using and get a new mower. I'm not dicking around with a used mower. I've seen a lot of posts that mention getting a used mower but many posts that say they wish they would have had a brand new one. Money is almost always a factor.

4. I can handle a dinky little F-150 with a trailer and equipment on it. I've got 2 years OTR 18-wheeler experience and while it isn't air brakes or a 75,000lb load it wont be a problem

5. $820 is the total for the lawns currently completed. Its always nice to do $820/30 but that doesn't work when some of the lawns are projects and only the fronts were cleaned up for the time being, meaning a little less for now. Some of them are pretty small yards as well but in close proximity of eachother.

You make it sound like I'm taking this money and waving it around like it is going to pay for my insurance, truck, trailer, mower, brush hog rental, etc. I'm not naive. Now that everything is explained mostly direct to the point everything I am doing might seem feesable. (except for dicking with these rough lawns)

In the end. I've got an account with one guy for 30 lawns and more will be coming and going but it will stay about the same or grow. Once I get through this crap, its over, these lawns aren't going to be 3ft tall every week.

I took care of 10 new customers today and got three new estimate requests today? Where is the problem? My bank account is going up even after gas, truck insurance, business insurance, equipment repairs, hiring help, bills, a baby on the way... AND I bought a neat little WWII Shooter game for my PC :laugh:

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 09:11 PM
Why only 21's?

Just started in February moved in June the moved back in August and started again.... Its all I had. I've got a 36" Lesco to mess with now, as of today.

snowjeep
09-17-2007, 09:24 PM
You might want to rent a walk behind to get them manageable. You will kill your 21". I had 3 of those last month, same condition and I was in the same boat. The smallest one was 1/2 acre which I charged $150.00( metro reality) I weed wacked the property and then used my ztr. I think your range should be $150-$300. Good luck.

freddyc
09-17-2007, 09:41 PM
I've done some of this tall stuff before. Unless you rent a brush cutter (billygoat type) then the best way I've found so far to deal with it is to use the trimmer with the hedge clipper attachment. Essentially, chop it down low and then mow later like everyone has said.

The real issue is to walk the property first... theres always something buried under that stuff. I found a coat hanger and a bicycle chain the other day. Big rocks are also common. And dont forget those cement chunks from where they pulled the swingset out.

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 09:44 PM
I've done some of this tall stuff before. Unless you rent a brush cutter (billygoat type) then the best way I've found so far to deal with it is to use the trimmer with the hedge clipper attachment. Essentially, chop it down low and then mow later like everyone has said.

The real issue is to walk the property first... theres always something buried under that stuff. I found a coat hanger and a bicycle chain the other day. Big rocks are also common. And dont forget those cement chunks from where they pulled the swingset out.

Nice. Great stuff. I hit a yard the other day that had a backyard -full- of low stumps.

I've got a bladed disc-head for my trimmer. I will try out a few things along with this WB to see what is quicker.

topsites
09-17-2007, 10:43 PM
I'm sorry man, but at least now I feel a little better.
Just trying to keep some brand-new Lco from making total fools of themselves, sounds like you have things under better control than I had thought.

On the f-150 it's not the brakes but it's about the transmission!!!
If it's a manual I'd have to guess you can replace a clutch.
But on an auto just make sure you change the trans fluid and filter every 10k miles... That way you'll at least know if you're damaging it, by the amount and size of the shavings in the pan. I do suspect, with your experience with 18-wheelers, that you are all about the maintenance, so no problems here.

Because even my 3/4 tons get shavings going, I know guys who went through f-150 transmissions in 6 months and I know a guy could replace a clutch in 45 minutes is how often it burned through on him. But I also know a guy who drove a 1/2 ton for many years and never had a problem, so it does depend how you drive but some of us find out the hard way that we're not as good at driving as we thought...
And for those of us who know about this or maybe we are not sure, we get 3/4 tons.
Now I am glad you're aware of the brake issue but my issue is with the transmission bands / clutch.

Anyhow I think you'll be fine, sorry to pester you to death.

Dunn's
09-17-2007, 11:46 PM
:laugh: lollollololollolol:laugh:

MowHouston
09-17-2007, 11:53 PM
:laugh: lollollololollolol:laugh:

It went out of style many posts ago. :rolleyes:

pj550v12
09-18-2007, 01:18 AM
While the thought of an expanding comapny, might seem like a reasonable cause to go out and buy new, nice equiptment, weigh all your options first. While yes your company may expand and make enough money to afford a new truck, think about if its what you need, and if there are other posible things you may want in addition

MowHouston
09-18-2007, 09:47 AM
While the thought of an expanding comapny, might seem like a reasonable cause to go out and buy new, nice equiptment, weigh all your options first. While yes your company may expand and make enough money to afford a new truck, think about if its what you need, and if there are other posible things you may want in addition

I understand what you mean. As far as the F-150 goes I just don't see myself needing a more powerful vehicle all too soon. I may be wrong, but right now it just seems more reasonable. I've got equipment that I need to buy for next year (professional equipment) most of my stuff right now is sub-par and while it works, it was bought in a rush and I wish I didn't do that.

There's a lot of stuff to think about and thats why I'm glad we've got forums like this with all sorts of neat advice (most of the time).