View Full Version : Bagging Thatch

01-17-2002, 04:38 AM
I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a faster method of bagging. In the spring for 2 1/2 weeks staight all we do is power raking. Ninety percent of our jobs are residential. Every home creates between 5 to 15 large bags of thatch that we have to bag. This is incredibly time consuming but the only other method I can think of would involve a truck or trailer mounted vac to remove the thatch. We currently bag and leave it curbside for city pick up. Is ther any type of vac that is capable of discharging into a bag? Thanks

01-17-2002, 10:51 AM
I know there is a Bluebird has a model that has a bagger attatched to the dethatching unit, but not sure if they make a disposable bag liner for it. What kind of dethatcher are you using?


01-17-2002, 11:18 AM
Im currently using Bluebird rakes with the bags on board. The problem is that they fill quickly. We normally dump the bags from the rakes curbside and then bag the thatch in large garbage bags when the job is done. This is very time consuming. What Im trying to find (or make) would be similiar to the way a shop vac operates. I would like to have it set up with a large drum (bag inside) and motor on top. Attached to the intake would be a large diameter hose for suction. Ive seen the leaf vac units and just wonder if something like that can be modified in a way for a specific use such as this without spending thousands of dollars.
Any ideas???? on moving alot of thatch quickly into garbage bags?:confused:

01-17-2002, 12:17 PM
If it were me, I'd buy the truck loader. It would definately save time on these power rake jobs, plus you could use it in the spring and fall for regular leaf clean ups.
Besides, I think it's kinda unprofessional to leave bags behind at the customers curb. But that's just my opinion.

Rodney Johns
01-17-2002, 01:28 PM
The truck loader is a good sugestion....
I personally use the Walker mowers. With the dethatching attachment you can kill 2 birds with one stone even. Back onto a trailer and dump all of the thatch into a big pile.
It is the easiest for one man operation especially.

Bob Minney
01-17-2002, 01:49 PM
I use a Bluebird F-20 model 520 rake. (No catcher) I then vac with my Billy Goat and dump the bags into 55 gallon drum liners. Dirty work but its real fast and easy. You can buy the bags for about 7-10 cents each. I built a holder for the bags from a 2 wheel truck and 55 gallon drum lid holder. Cost about $40. I bought 3 extra bags for the Billy Goat so I'm not stopping too often. 90% of the lawns I do can be vacuumed with just the four bags and can be done in about an hour. The Billy Goat reduces volume to about 1/2 to 1/4 of just raking. Its well worth the cost of 2 pieces of equipment,($1600 for both) I cut my time in half this way and the customers love that vacuumed look.

01-17-2002, 02:41 PM
I have a Walker right now and since I haven't really tried to get power rake jobs, anything that I do I just rent the rake (pass the rental fee on to the custumer) and vaccum with the Walker. I was wonder how good the dethaching attachment for the Walker works compared to the BlueBird power rake?:confused: :confused:

01-17-2002, 10:38 PM
The BlueBird's do a fantastic job on raking and with the bag it really does pick up everything. I find if you use the bagger model a vac for the lawn isnt required. (It does that good of a job) As I mentioned earlier the real problem is garbage bagging the huge amount of thatch these things pick up. We did one large residential last year that created a mountain of thatch 6 feet high and about 15 -20 feet long. Even with 2 guys per yard it takes awhile. As far as it being "kinda unprofessional to leave bags behind at the customers curb" it is the norm for this city. We have one landfill site available for a population of 670,000 people. To access the "dump" would take 1 hour min. per trip per day. I have never had any complaints about leaving bags and try to plan jobs as close to garbage pick up days as possiblefor that area. So my quest for a quicker bagger continues.........

01-17-2002, 10:44 PM
Walker mower with the oversized catch. Expensive, but man does it do the trick!


01-17-2002, 11:35 PM
The BlueBirds do a fantastic job too. I just want to somehow move the thatch mountain from the curbside to bags mechanically. Im sure I would have the same problem even if I was using the Walker.

01-17-2002, 11:56 PM
Did a search on the web and found this...http://www.dnai.com/~wfw/gvac.html
It kind of gives you an idea of what Im looking for but only on larger scale.

01-18-2002, 12:30 AM
Found one more system but it looks pricey. http://www.elephant-vac.com/cutaway.htm


Bob Minney
01-18-2002, 03:54 AM
If you are catching the thatch as you go why dump it on the curb then go back and vacuum it up into bags? Dump your catcher directly into bags. 55 gal are 23" wide 65 gal are 24" wide and 95 gal are 28" wide. Some sort of open sided bag holder and it should take about 1 minute per bag. Are you trying too hard to get a piece of equipment to solve your problem or am I just not getting it. I'd be glad to send you a photo of the cart I made for dumping my Billygoat.

01-18-2002, 06:10 AM
Check out the Cyclone Rake. They have a web site and will send you a free video. I have one and love it It reduces the thatch 8-1 and the bag can hold alot without stopping. Also you can dump or blow it out from the bag with their hose attachments. A quick and easy process that I utilize in my 1 person operation. Cost is about $1600.00. I dethatch with a Bluebird tow behind and then pick it up vacumn it up with the Cyclone Rake.
Hope this helps


01-18-2002, 06:14 AM
You may be right about trying to get a piece of equipment to solve a problem. I just really want to find a way to speed up the process of bagging. I figure the amount of time it takes to bag each job would be the equivilant of doing an additional 3-4 yards at the end of the day. Multiply that by about 21 days =allot of lost revenue. We currently have one person holding a bag and another using a large snow shovel. Id really like to see the set up your using with the large drums.Thanks

01-18-2002, 08:48 AM
There is no way in the world I could be profitable and bag the spring clean jobs.

I know your situation is different but physically bagging "thatch" is like bagging fall leafs. There really is no fast way to do it.

Yes you are losing alot of money by bagging like that. If those extra 4 jobs a day were worth 75 dollars each, that is a gross of 6300.00 in 21 days. You could just about pay for a Walker in 33 days. I have one and thats just about what I did.

There also has been alot written here about the Definition of Thatch. GrndKprs has the most concise and accurate post I've read. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=22508

The Bluebird does a good job of dethatching but you have to really know if the lawn has a thatch problem or if it just needs to be "fluffed". I have found that 99% of the lawns I do do not have a thatch problem. I use the Walker spring tine attatchment and run over the lawn a few times to raise the mat and then vacuum the debris. The customers are very happy and the work is easy with the machine. I still demand 10 to 15 per 1000 square depending on removal to the dump or setting on the curb for municipal pick up. The average is about 100 an hour and I have plenty of energy when I get home.

I am not picking on you because as I said, I don't know your situation but you are on the right track to investigate options. This is what works for me. Good Luck.

01-18-2002, 11:36 AM
I agree that it is important to know the difference between thatch and the look of a pitiful lawn after the grueling winter months. Many of our homes dont have thatch problems but require there lawn to be "combed" because of the compression from the snow and leaves. I also find that the fert. guys here use alot+++ of nitrogen on our kentucky blue grass resulting in alot of thatch come spring time. Once we have done a yard its like night and day. Most people we do for the first time cant believe the amount of thatch we pick up and how green their grass is under that stringy felt like mat of debris. I heard a saying once and have to agree "Thatching is the work gardeners do in hell for punishment". I find that this type of work is very profitable with minimal overhead. The jobs are everywhere and my phone doesnt stop ringing for 3 weeks. I guess Im greedy and would like a bigger slice of the pie. That means working quicker.
P.S. Im nice guy so dont pick on me:p