PDA

View Full Version : Methods and Machinery for Leaf Pickup


azlelawncare
01-10-2008, 12:29 AM
Leaf blowers, leaf vacs, leafloaders, tarps, bagging, dumping... Where to start? Where to go? I am just getting started and am looking for the right direction the first time. I'm not that big, but will be.

Where do you use a leaf blower and or leaf vac?

Are they no-brainers to purchase?

What is the time savings over tarps and raking?

Lot's of simple questions, any experienced help to reduce my learning curve would be appreciated!!!

Raven386
01-10-2008, 12:51 AM
Welcome to LawnSite! - do you have a dump insert or truck? - if so.. IMO I would get a leaf vac.

we use a load-handler on a 2500hd. we can fit a lot of leaves in the back with the sides. we chop the leaves with the mower, then suck them up with the mower, then drive the mower to the truck and unload. very time consuming and to make it work well, you need to have someone in the truck unloading the bags. removing the leaves is a breeze with the load handler its just the getting them into the truck thats a pita. I was looking at getting a dump insert for my truck this year, maybe getting leaf vac if i can afford it. the leaf vac would make our lives a lot easier. blow all the leaves to the front of the yard and your done.

leaf blowers are a must for clean-ups. we have a br600, i love that thing! light weight and powerful. now if your just starting out, im going to assume money is a factor in what you purchase. so going out and spending 2000 $ on a leaf loader isnt feasible. what kind of equipment do you have now?

Raven386
01-10-2008, 01:03 AM
http://i250.photobucket.com/albums/gg244/10ehappygrass/IMG_0188.jpg

now that wasnt filled to the top, but the loadhandler took all of that out with no problem. only a small amount left behind.

KS_Grasscutter
01-10-2008, 01:08 AM
Right now I use a Echo PB603 BP blower to clear out beds and such, then use my 42" Walker MCGHS to pick up the leaves. Dump them into rubbermaid bins, then into the truck. Works well, will probably use the same setup next year. Also use a 50" Dixon with a catcher, but it looks like it may be replaced with another Walker this season (MTGHS 48"). Also hope to have a dump insert or something before this fall. Sure make life a lot easier...

azlelawncare
01-10-2008, 10:58 AM
Welcome to LawnSite! - do you have a dump insert or truck? - if so.. IMO I would get a leaf vac.

we use a load-handler on a 2500hd. we can fit a lot of leaves in the back with the sides. we chop the leaves with the mower, then suck them up with the mower, then drive the mower to the truck and unload. very time consuming and to make it work well, you need to have someone in the truck unloading the bags. removing the leaves is a breeze with the load handler its just the getting them into the truck thats a pita. I was looking at getting a dump insert for my truck this year, maybe getting leaf vac if i can afford it. the leaf vac would make our lives a lot easier. blow all the leaves to the front of the yard and your done.

leaf blowers are a must for clean-ups. we have a br600, i love that thing! light weight and powerful. now if your just starting out, im going to assume money is a factor in what you purchase. so going out and spending 2000 $ on a leaf loader isnt feasible. what kind of equipment do you have now?
Raven386,

Thanks for the info. I was not familiar with the unloader until now. It is a great concept and I can see how that makes life easier. I currently have a 1/2 ton (too small) pulling a 16' trailer, a 52" Huster ZTR, 34" Gravely ZTR, 2 push mowers, three line trimmers, eder, handheld redmax blower.

I have been wanting to get a large backpack blower and will do so.

Sounds like the optimal operation is blow, vac and get a loader.

Onthe vac side, is it better to suck it up with a bagger for the mower or get a lawn vac? I am not personally fond of multi-use equipment.

Anyone out there really think they have the one right way to do it? What's the investement?

Raven386
01-10-2008, 11:45 AM
no one has the perfect way. every situation and every lawn is different. and every LCO has their own way of doing it. theres no right way and theres no wrong way. whatever works for you.

search for some posts about "lawn vacs" there has been quite a few threads.

If i was you, I would get a load-handler put some sides on your truck and there ya go. When you have the customer base and the finances to get yourself something bigger with a dump insert or whatever. Then I would get a truck loader.

Hopefully we will take a video of the load handler in action when we do some more clean-ups. its a huge time saver. we used to load up the truck and then have to rake out the leaves taking us 30 minutes everytime we unloaded. now all we do is go to the dump, take out the tarp and equip, drop the tailgate and unload the leaves. takes us 5 minutes. you can do clean-ups fine without having a truck loader, its not essential. it will make your life easier. but you can most certainly get by without it IMO.

azlelawncare
01-10-2008, 10:34 PM
Raven,

Thanks for the input. Sounds like a direction I may go.

I have a 1 acre lot with quite a few leaves (not like the Northeast, but alot for North Texas trees). I told the customer I was going to bag them, but it really is more than the city is supposed to pick up.

Also, would it be faster for me to bag or to load and haul to the dump 15 min away at $5/yrd?

Do you use a leaf plow or blow onto a tarp and then drag the tarp to the truck? I am thinking about fabricating a leaf plow for one of my Z's. What do you think?

Raven386
01-10-2008, 11:25 PM
it depends on the job... last clean-up we did we blew everything into a huge pile in the backyard, then raked onto the tarp. before we had the Z we used to run the leaves over 2+ times and then bag them. so tedious with those small baggers on the w/bs. now with the ultravac and Z so much easier, holds a lot of leaves in there. (check out our pics here ... http://s250.photobucket.com/albums/gg244/10ehappygrass/ ) took a picture of the bagger completely full also some pictures of the mower in action.

- I was looking at a leaf plow that someone had for sale here, just cant justify spending the extra money. It would help to get all the leaves into a pile to load them into the truck or use a leaf sucker. now i dont know if bagging or loading them into the truck would be faster for you. do you have someone working with you?

Raven386
01-10-2008, 11:28 PM
like i said before, theres no perfect way. each job will be different, and over time you will learn what works the best for you. theres also a picture of what the loadhandler looks like on the truck..hopefully we will take a video of it next time we unload leaves.

azlelawncare
01-11-2008, 05:47 PM
Thanks for the photos! It sure helps. I have one guy working for me, but will have a couple more on this job.

Is the primary moving of leaves with a blower and not rakes without the Z? Trying to figure out how to tackle the job.... Just hit it with rakes onto a tarp and bring to the truck and load up? How much better would a back pack blower be? How much better with a wheeled blower?

Just getting started and feeling my way through it.

Thanks.

SpruceLandscape
01-11-2008, 07:20 PM
IMO... and take it just as that because its based off of my area and customers needs...
Get the best backpack blower that you can (by that I mean for your budget, not necessarily the most expensive). I started with Redmax 7001's and still run them now. They can be found on ebay for around $475 or locally around me for around $525 out the door.
How long before you get a new truck? is the one you have now a 6 or 8 foot bed? Be next best investment you can get on the truck side is a dump insert! You can find a good one used for $2k or less. Truckcraft, ez-dumper, bri-mar, etc. all make good inserts. This is best saved for once you have a truck you are going to hold onto and work out of year-round. You'll need at least a 3/4ton truck because these weigh 7-800lbs. when empty. Until then, if you have a 1/2 ton, stick with the loadhandler, but go with the 3000 model and the mat so that it slides easier.
I am assuming you cut grass as well? what kind of mower do you have? does it bag? Best machine for this is a Walker (in my opinion) because of the bagging capabilities and the maneuverability of machine since there is no side discharge.
If you can't bag, then blow towards the front, chop up with mower, and then load onto truck. A leaf loader comes in really handy here, especially if you don't have a mower that bags. One of the most important things you can do (ONLY WHEN YOU HAVE TO REMOVE THE LEAVES) is to chop them up to fit as many in your truck as possible to maximize your time and money.
There are an infinate number of ways to do this efficiently, it mostly depends on your budget. My advice would be to skip the items that are only useful for cleaning up leaves (leaf loader, walk behind blower, etc.) and stick with the ones that you can multi-task with for the rest of the season, ie: good backpack blower(s) good mower (maybe one that bags if you offer that service) a device for unloading your pickup bed (whether its leaves, grass clippings, mulch, dirt, whatever).
Once you start to establish more clients and more income, then start selling off your equipment for better/more specialized equipment that will make even more money.
Hope that all makes sense. Good luck to ya!:drinkup:

azlelawncare
01-12-2008, 12:06 AM
Thanks SpruceLandScape! Lots of good advice there from methods to asset management. I dont have a bagging system. Currently I am running a 52" Hustler Fastrack and a 34" commercial Gravely ZTR. I plan on selling the 52" for a heavier commercial brand. Probably a Hustler again due to service of the dealer and their location. Almost no one bags here, but I get the questions. Maybe I need to offer it and have a new market.

With all that I am hearing, I believe that I will get a back pack blower this week. It's between the EBZ7001 and the EBZ8001. I hear the 8001 is a little too heavy but blows better. I hear good solid reviews on the 7001 and will probably go with that one.

Thanks!!!

Raven386
01-13-2008, 12:59 AM
Have you looked at Stihl? BR600 blows away the Redmax we used last year, and blows away the Echo 751 we have currently, its really light too. I can say the Ultra-Vac, isn't good unless its perfect conditions. If its wet, it just clogs up instantly, especially with tall or overgrown lawns. Dealer support is the biggest factor when buying equipment IMO.

We dont use the loadhandler mat and it still comes out fine. I would imagine having the mat would make it a lot easier though. but like Spruce said, dont waste your money on a w/b blower or leaf loader now. Wait until you have the customer base to worry about that. A good back pack blower would be fine for leaves and for every day work too. Thats why i like the stihl, light and easy to use in the summertime and powerful enough to use to take care of leaves.

Good Luck!

- Matt

c-bass
01-21-2008, 11:59 PM
we use the stihl 600 and you cannot beat them. the rmax is heavy, loud and not any more power. i have a 6x16 trailer w. 4 ft. sides. i blow out beds and get leaves in a straight line pile, take the scag with deck lowered to about 1 inch and push the pile to where i want it. does great and does not mess up yard. chop up leaves with deck on high setting, blow remaining leaves as the mower wont push all of them, put on tarp and load in trailer. i can ussually fit about three to six yards worth of leaves. i have a metal square frame with a chain on it and the guys at the mulch yard pull it off. unless you do alot of very big yards i don't see how you can justify a vacuum so this works great for me.

andyslawncare
01-25-2008, 07:54 PM
we use 2 echo 755 blowers to clean up the beds into the lawn and use the mowers to suck up and mulch the leaves. dump the mowers bags in trash can with bag in it. usually get like 10 bags per house and takes about an hour

RGM
01-25-2008, 07:59 PM
Last year I had a call from a new cutomer on fall clean up. whwn i arrived at the house it was about 1/4 acre lot with about 30 oak tress next to some woods. talk aboput some leaves. Well beleave it or not I came back the next day with my lazar with a wire rack from a store shelf hooked it up like a plow and went over her yard pushing leaves to the woods it worked pretty good I know its crasy but what you going to do.

Barefoot James
01-25-2008, 11:08 PM
We do a ton of blowing Red Max 8000 (very powerful) into street then hitting it with our Wright Stander and pulverizing it into powder then sucking it up with a billy goat lawn vac. We can get 3 or 4 bags into one this way.
Next year we hope to get a truck mounted vac and blow into truck or trailer then go to dump and turn vac around and suck out of truck into dump. this way one or two guys can blow to curb another can come buy with truck and suck it up - we have had several cars go by and give us angry looks but we have gotten more business because the neighbors all come out an wonder what the heck are you messing up my street for but the billy really cleans it up and then we blow any dust into the grass and the street always looks better than when we got there. One other thing to mention is on my Wright Stander I rigged a rake contraption on the front and can push massive piles out to the road (easier than blowing) Jrco has a really cool front mount plow for leaves that we will take a hard look at in terms of investing in this next fall. Thats all the tips I got - BTW we made over 10K this past season on leaves alone and picked up many new leads for customers this year because of it. Good business!

azlelawncare
01-27-2008, 04:36 PM
Here is an update… We did the yard. 1 acre, 70 oaks, 60 man hours…. What a job. I followed some advice from my friends at lawnsite.com. Tools used: a rented 6 horse Billy Goat wheeled blower, Redmax 7001, Handheld redmax, Gravely 34Z, Hustler Z 52, a leaf plow I fabricated for the job, tarps, pickup with sides and rakes.

I picked two places to drag the leaves to and mulched them up with the Z’s and then loaded them up on the truck. I used the driveway which seemed to work better and didn’t tear up the yard. It was easier to get a good mulched up job and easier to clean up. It was 11 yards of mulched up leaves. I way underestimated the job, but it was a good learning experience. Thanks for everyone’s help on this.