View Full Version : Price This Cleanup!

11-03-2001, 01:57 AM
One yard, about 3/4 of an acre with a solid 2-3 inches of leaves covering the entire property, and all the leaves have to be removed, no tarping and dumping in the woods. I barely ever turn away work, but I think this is just too much for my small operation (new business), since I don't have a truckloader, and the leaves are just way too thick to mulch up. What would you charge to do such a job?

11-03-2001, 04:35 AM
Maybe you should sub contract the job out to someone with a Walker GHS mower. Should handle it no problem.

11-03-2001, 06:36 AM
DMK, its hard to say without knowing what equipment you have and the capabilities of it. My questions to you:
thickness of turf?
what type of leaves?

11-03-2001, 07:48 AM
I can't give you a price for where you live.
There are a few variables that I use to determine price. Is it a weekly customer, if not is there potential to become one. Is there add-on services that I can sell now or in the future. IE aeration, fert, dethatch.
How much of the property is accessable for my Walker? If I can't get thru the back gate then we have a drastic increase in price. Is this a one time clean or do they want you once a week until all are gone?

Lots of questions and they all add up to a general price range and the details differ from job to job and area to area so it isn't fair for me to give you a number.

11-03-2001, 10:04 AM
We are looking at all oak leaves, the gates measure about 6 feet wide. The customer is a one time job. As far as equipment, I have numerous backpack blowers and an Exmark Metro with a metro mulch. I live in a relatively upscale area.

11-03-2001, 10:12 AM
For pricing I was thinking of at least 600.

11-03-2001, 10:36 AM
what town are you working in? I'm just curious.


11-03-2001, 10:37 AM

Mansfield , Foxboro, North Attleboro

Premo Services
11-03-2001, 10:48 AM
dmk You have a lot of work with that many oak leaves. I was in the same boat my first year I started this work, the person I bought accounts from didn`t do a fall cleanup and the leaves sat there all winter.I took the mulch kit off mower, and dead cut it to the middle of the yard. Then I ran bagger over to get most of them, then a backpack blower, and had to put all into plastic bags, and haul away. 120 bags whew!!! Go high on the price, because it will take a long time to do it. Now, with the lazer and ultra vac it would be a breeze to do, and I could make a lot more money on the job.

11-03-2001, 10:56 AM
Mow money,

What would u charge, just curious?

11-03-2001, 11:00 AM
Push blower and a leaf loader with dump box would probobly do it for much cheaper than you can with bagging them all. I think your best bet is find someone that is more equipped for leaves and have him give YOU a price and maybe you can work out a deal to sub it out. Maybe just pile the leaves and have the guy come suck them up? There would still be moeny in it for you either way.

11-03-2001, 01:21 PM
Lack of equipment for this makes this probably too much for you to do at a competitive price. The kit would need to come off and you would need to buy a bagger. I have one you could borrow, but your kinda far away to get it.

If you have the time to spend on it, then give a good FAIR price and do it. My personnal opinion is $600 is WAY to high. I have a 3/4 acre lot myself with a 40 yr old oak tree. All my neighbors have those huge trees also. I can handle the size lawns like that with the lazer & ultra vac in about 1 to 1.5 hours tops with VERY heavy leaves.

11-03-2001, 01:47 PM
I down think that any ZTR can suck up 2-3 inches worth of leaves. You need a push blower and alot of know how and patience.

11-03-2001, 06:23 PM

If you want to do the job, why not just estimate (overestimate) the hours, add travel time & disposal & bid accordingly. Otherwise I agree tha youmay have t ask a larger company to assist w/ truck vac, or complete subcontract of job. It is best to try to get an idea from a reputable competitor in your own area so you don't become an undercutter, or embarrass yourself by overcharging because of lack of equipment.


11-03-2001, 07:07 PM
if i were in ur situation and had your equipment i would go with the blowers and blow out all the beds and blow around the boarder of the property to make the leaves in about 2 feet, do the same around all obstacles. i would then go with the mower at the highest height and mow, keep mowing it over and over again lowering the deck everytime until they are gone. figure 2 hours tops? charge $70 an hour, $140 total.

11-03-2001, 07:07 PM
dmk- What kind of truck set up do you have? Just a regular pickup would be about 4 million trips to your dump site. I wouldn't do it. Tell them that you just don't have the time (or tell them the truth), but I wouldnt try it and have it take me 2 days when someone with a loader could do it in a couple of hours. Doing it with the blowers would still require rakes, which I simply dont use anymore. (kind of)


11-03-2001, 07:10 PM
sts- How could a metro with a mulch kit possibly get rid of that many leaves? If they are 2 inches thick, 2 feet of that will make a big pile. You will push it all, it will come up into the belt housing, jam your belts; get caught on your muffler, set on fire; and all around suck. That many leaves would leave such a thick **** blanket of leaf debris on the lawn it would kill the lawn.

gene gls
11-03-2001, 08:54 PM
dmk 395:

Make arrangements with another L/Co that has a truck loader to suck up and haul away the piles when you are done and just add it to your bill.


11-03-2001, 09:08 PM
dmk, $600 sounds awfully high to me too. I'm also in the same boat where I don't really have the proper equipment to do a job that large (not efficiently, anyway).

I would maybe look into seeing what someone with a truck loader would charge me to suck them up if I get them to the curb.
Then if you think you can, run over everything once with your mower to reduce the volume some, then use backpacks to blow it all to the curb. Or just do the yard in sections using tarps.

I have no idea what someone would charge you to suck them up, but I'm thinking your time would probably be somewhere aroud 4 hours. Less then an hour to blow out beds, less then an hour to make one pass to reduce volume, and maybe two hours of blowing. Then maybe one more time around with bagger on mower to get any remaining debris up.

4 hours x say $35 = $140 + whatever the loader guy charges.

Do any of you guys with truck loaders to this, just suck them up for someone that already got them to the curb? Or do you not do it if you can't get the whole job?

Three Seasons
11-03-2001, 09:47 PM
We just did a cleanup this week that was two acres, all oak leaves from 2 to 5 inches deep. we ran over it first to break up the leaves a bit so more would fit into our material collection units. then we bagged them, we dumped into there woods and didn't have to drive very far. we used doubles the first time over then put on single gators for bagging. We charged these people $400.00 for the job and it took us 4 hrs. I hope this helps you! That was our final cleanup of the season, now we are putting the jd's away for the year. we had two machines going on that job also.

11-03-2001, 10:13 PM
$600 sounds pretty high. I try to make $30-$50 an hour, a one time cut i charge about $10-$15 dollars more. Run a mulching mower over it a couple of times then bag it, you wont get that many clippings. Sounds like this one is alot of work, Id bid high and if I got good and if I didnt no loss. Good Luck

Premo Services
11-03-2001, 11:36 PM
This is a he!! of a lot of leaves. Hard to tell by not looking at it. I will give it a try, if you intend to put into bags, this is time consuming. I would be doing this by myself, because I know how hard I can work, I would charge 400-450 for bagging the leaves then add on what the charge would be for dumping the leaves at the dump. Iwould think that this could be done in 8 hrs, but most of the time it takes longer. I use my lazer now and the time was drasticly reduced from when I used a turf tracer with a bagger on it.
My home has 2 1/2 acres of woods behind it, so all the leaves would be put there, and I would get what the dumping charge would be also.

Mabey what was suggested on another post about finding someone to come and pick em up at the curb. Then add his cost to your labor cost and charge. If you do it, good luck on your bid, you will have your work cut out for you!!!!!;)

11-04-2001, 01:43 AM
Wow, I can't believe the difference in job pricing.

11-04-2001, 02:19 AM
I can't believe that someone came up with $140!! There is NO way that you could do this for that much and even break EVEN, let alone having it COST you to do it. It ain't happenin'! If you want to know what to charge, use this formula. First of all, determine how much it will cost you to do this job, and second, find out what they drive.

11-04-2001, 02:29 AM
Runner -LMAO!

$140?!?!:confused: That's 32K SF of leaves, Oak leaves at that! Heck, I charge alot more than that to aerate a lawn that size and that's easy compaired to picking up that many leaves, no way!

I have found an easy solution for leaves, I don't do'em. I have 3 lawns with "heavy" leaf fall, all three agreed to have them blown into the large natural areas. With the Shin's and RedMax this takes little time and I haven't bagged a single leaf in 3 years.

I hate'em.

11-04-2001, 03:09 AM
We did a cleanup almost identical. We billed it at $200.00. We used 4 people. 3 backpacs, 8hp little wonder, Ransomes bobcat with trac vac, rakes, tarp and a 15 yard dump trailer with a 20hp billygoat vac. The job took 45 minutes from load down to load up.

We blow out the beds and the bulk of the leaves to the tarp and haul to curb. Bobcat with Tracvac picks up the rest. Suck up the pile and move to the next job.

The vac is the big time saver. By the end of the day it is not unusual to have 10 000lbs of leaves in that dumper.


11-04-2001, 03:38 PM
Runner, I saw the other post of $140 total. I agree this is too low.

But I'm curious what you and Kirby thought of my guestimate which was to get them to the curb and then pay someone with truck loader to suck 'em up. I had said $140 for myself (I guessed 4 hrs to blow and tarp to curb at $35 hr.), plus whatever truck loader guy charges. Billed to customer as one total.
Think I'm too low? Think my guess of 4 hr's is too low just to curb them?

Appreciate your input.

11-04-2001, 03:47 PM
Without really seeing the actual amount of leaves, I would guess in the $250 - $300 range. This is site unseen guesstimate.

11-04-2001, 03:48 PM
I would not do leaves for $35 an hour, too labor intensive for my small time operation. I'm sure guys that have the right equipment could afford it, I just couldn't spend 4 hours on a job for $140. I focus my efforts on lawn renovations, aeration/aeravations, and such, by the time leaves arrive I'm too tired to do anything else, plus I've made enough money that I don't have time. Now vacation starts.;)

11-04-2001, 06:06 PM
$140 for a leaf cleanup is very very high for around here. also even for an area where thats a low price for a guy with little equipment and for a one time job its a good price, not everybody has the right equipment, not everybody has a big business, also not every neighborhood is rich.

11-04-2001, 06:38 PM
Its whatever your market will bear but it also has to do with knowing your costs in the first place.
What does all of that equipment cost you to run? Do you figure that when you run it you are lessening its life by a little each time. Are you just making money for today or are you getting ready to replace the equipment as needed. There are alot of hidden costs involved in this business and if you are doing a 4 hour leaf clean for 140.00 on a 32k property, I want to hire you as a sub-contractor. I'll be busy too but I can make 75% on that labor rate.

I understand that all neighborhoods or people are rich but if you can afford a 32k property then you have a couple of options,
you can rake em yourself (probably not) you can hire the neighborhood boy( good luck finding him) you can find a person who doesn't really know what to charge but wants the work or you can have it professionally done by someone with the right equipment.

I'm not getting on anyones case here, all I am saying is that it IS worth more than 35 bucks per hour. If you are getting that much you might as well clean gutters which will give you a higher return on your time for the same price.

11-04-2001, 11:29 PM
Based on surveys in industry magazines, $35/hr is the national average.
I shoot for $35/hr (minumum) whether I'm trimming hedges, cutting lawns, cleaning gutters, whatever. There's times where I make a good bit more then this because the job took less time then I expected, and I don't think I ever go under this.
If it's hedge trimming, I figure in removal and dumping of debris, and travel time to dump debris. Not just time on the job site.

Keep in mind that my bill would include whatever the truck loader guy would be charging me. So their bill would be considerably more then $140, could be $240 or more. This is what I think my market will bare.

You left out one option for the homeowner, leave the leaves there!

I will say that based on more then one reply here, I may need to see if I can get away with charging more on my estimates. Hey, I'm all for getting paid more! I'm sorta doubting it though.
Thanks for your input.:)

11-05-2001, 12:41 AM
dmk, personly if i was working with you i would run the metro with the mulch kit on at about 5" to start the mulching process then maybe at 4 depending on the quality of mulch, then box cut the yard blowing everything toward the middle of the lawn and have someone with a truck loader come and suck them up or you could bag them with the metro but you will get alot of blowout. the oak leaves should mulch up very nice, their one of the easiest to mulch ( my opinion). or borrow a leave vac and suck up what the metro doesn't get.
can't give you a answer on price because i don't know the market in your area. if you are good though it should take you 3-4 hours.
when youbid this keep in mind that this will beat your equipment.

11-05-2001, 11:32 AM
If you dread it shed it.

In this case you don't sound like you really have the necessary equipment to do this job real efficient. Try to find a guy that could help you with some of his equipment and split whatever you get off of it. Better to get half than nothing at all and you might pick up more that you can do together.

There's some things that just ain't worth trying to do.

I'll run up thar and help ya out!

09-23-2002, 09:45 PM
It's almost 1 year later..

Any word as to how this one made out? Sure seemed to be a large range of pricing when it was kicking around last November......


11-23-2002, 08:31 PM

11-24-2002, 02:17 AM
dmk, give us some more details. How long did it take, how many guys, mulch or remove, and if remove, how?

I'm a little embarrassed by this thread. Seems most felt I was way off on my prices for leaves.

I will say that I have learned from it and have gotten my prices up some.

But I will also say in my defence, that all I used to get the leaves to the curbs last year was one backpack blower and a tarp. I didn't even bother running them over with my mower first. Didn't even bring trailer/mowers with me. Just blower in back of truck. So I didn't have alot of expense involved on my end. And I didn't have to wrestle them onto my trailer and haul & dump them either (payed another LCO with truck loader to suck them up).
This year I'm doing the same. Next year I will have a walk behind blower, but still no huge expenses on my end (no truck loader, no fancy vac/baggers on a ztr.....yet).

Thanks for starting the thread too. It's one of the ones that opened my eyes a bit more.

Tony Harrell
11-24-2002, 07:26 AM
You know, getting sub work would be a good way to offset the cost of a loader. Networking with other LCO's to suck up the curbside leaves. I get something from almost every thread I read here.

11-24-2002, 07:47 AM
another price story...2.5 acres, wooded property...about an inch or two of leaves over most of it...leaves can be dumped on the property but a long long way from the work area...2 homes and 2 detached garages on the property...leaves everehere in nooks and crannies around the strucures...told the guy it would not be less than $600...he looked at me like I was about to mug him...
he calls me last nite and says he got a guy to do for $125....oh my golly!!!!! this hee haw guy will not have a nice day....but I'm sure he's only thinking about how much Old Milwaukee that $125 will buy...other than the fact I despise low ballers of any kind in any business, I'm not upset to lose this job...it was an ugly one...thought some of you might enjoy the price details

Tony Harrell
11-25-2002, 06:22 AM
Why did the guy call you back? If I thought someone was overcharging me by $475, I don't think I would call them back. Not saying you're overcharging but, in his mind you were. Sounds like a really cheap guy. Probably has an electric blower in the garage! I see those electric blowers all the time. Nothing like hassling with leaves while trying to lug an extension cord all over the place. I'm surprised nobody has come out with a solar powered blower!

11-25-2002, 06:54 AM
when I gave him the estimate I asked if he would give me the courtesy of letting me know one way or the other because in about 2 weeks I'm going on vacation and need to know whats left in the schedule...at least he had the courtesy to do what he said he would do...I would not be surprised if the guy shows up, works a couple hours and realizes what a mess he got himself into....then the customer calls me.....sorry..."We're full for the til the end of the season"....not going to be running over reindeer with the vaccuum.

11-29-2002, 04:19 PM
This is my first year using John Deere MC519 material collection utility cart with power flow fan blower on my John Deere GX325 with 54" deck. It turned out to be a huge time saver in leaves clean up and I am very happy and satisfied with these units. The mower and power flow fan shred up the leaves into smaller pieces, making more room for the 19 bushels collector cart, allowing less trip time to dump leaves onsite and near the road. I am trying to figure out how much I should be charging my customers. I figure that for just bagging leaves I would charge twice the hourly rate as for just mowing lawn. Does that sound right?

I did the math and I figured that it is close to what I charge last year (assuming that I clean up same amount of leaves that I did last year, this year) when cleaning up with rake and leaf blower. It seems that everyyear I see about 20% increase in leaves volume on the ground due to growth of trees.

11-29-2002, 11:31 PM
$2. Thats what a gallon of gas a pack of matchs costs. If I can't dump it, I skip it.

11-29-2002, 11:41 PM
$35 an hour "national average". its real tough to use that because it depends on where u live. i believe the southern states, with thier lower wages, and longer seasons bring this "average" down considerably. what ive been noticing between the last 3 years is that with a warmer/longer season, we are cleaning leaves well in to december(last years final cleanup was dec. 22). also, the feedback im getting from callers is, "we called 7 different companies, u r the only one that returned our call."so, during late season, i use the law of "supply and demand". jack up the price, alot, take it or leave it(alot take it)

12-01-2002, 12:12 AM
I know this older thread is probably going on way too long now, but I wanted to add something else I learned.

I had already learned that I was probably a bit low on my hourly rate (especially now that I've put out even more money for a second backpack and a walk behind blower. I've gotten my rates up a bit this year because of this).
But I was also way off on estimating the amount of time it would take. I usually do lawns under 10K. I recently did a half acre lawn and it took way longer then I thought it would. So I would have eaten it pretty good on the lawn in the orignal question here!

This thread helped me alot in learning how to price my leaf clean ups. Because of this thread I spent a good bit of time learning what guys mean when they say "know your costs". Thanks!

12-15-2002, 08:56 PM
Did you get the job and if so, do feel you made money or took a bath doing it?