PDA

View Full Version : First Year Doing Leaf Cleanup


SW Services
11-13-2009, 08:30 PM
Hey everyone,
this is the first yr I am doing leaf cleanups. Previous years have just been mowing. I have a backpack blower I use to clean up grass clippings and debris on driveways. I am not fully set up yet with a perfect solution to transport leaves. I am thinking of just loading them onto rather large tarps and stacking them on my trailer and tying down with tie downs. Does anyone have any advice or recommendations on how to do this without using those 50gal buckets? I feel the buckets will take much longer. Please help me out.
Thanks:)

Yater
11-13-2009, 09:44 PM
Blow them into a pile, rake them onto a tarp, and dump them in the trailer. You'll want to build some 4' walls since you aren't mulching/compacting the leaves. You'll probably only get one cleanup per trailer load and will have to dump before the next job. Keep fuel cost, drive time, and dump time in mind when you estimate.

SW Services
11-13-2009, 10:04 PM
I have been running a low budget buisness with (laugh if you must) a 21" push mower, a leaf blower, and string trimmer and have been doing pretty darn well for just starting out. I am also using my atv and plow to do some snow removal accounts during the winter. I am using my CR-V to tow my 4x8 trailer and the mower and other equiptment. I am just trying to save some money and eventually purchase a walkbehind commercial mower and a larger trailer. Right now the accounts I have I can do with the 21" but would be more productive with larger more economical equiptment, but budget right now is a little tight. I am looking to upgrade this coming spring. I have been adding in the time for dumping and all that into the estimates. Would it be more beneficial to mulch the leaves using the 21" to compact them to a smaller size and then tarp them? I am so lost as how to do this the easiest most economical way utilizing the currrent 4x8.

Yater
11-13-2009, 10:11 PM
4x8 is kind of tight, but add the 4' plywood walls and you should still get a normal sized leaf cleanup on that trailer. I wouldn't bother with mulching them. You'll have to dump that load after one job either way.

sdk1959
11-13-2009, 11:07 PM
Mulch the leaves when you can. Look into the best deck set-up to mulch the leaves. When you can mulch the leaves it will take less than half as long when you factor in the drive time for dumping leaves plus any dump fees. A$125.00 leaf clean-up job is easier to sell then a $250.00 leaf clean-up job.

Sometimes there is just too many leaves to mulch and removal is the only option. Approach each leaf clean-up job with a open mind. Remember, we are in a down economy but that doesn't mean low-balling either, just recommend the most efficient method, the most bang for the buck. For the customer that is mulching the leaves, followed by leaf collection and dumping on-site (when possible), followed by collection and removal.

Below are before and after pictures from a 1/2 acre leaf clean-up job I did by mulching the leaves. There was a breeze that day and the leaves were still falling so a few landed on the yard before we left. There are more pictures but only five can be loaded per post.

Not only were the leaves mulched that are visible but also large pine cones plus leaves by the fence, the driveway and a alleyway by the side of the house were blown into the yard to be mulched. If the leaves are dry, you have a good mulching set-up and sharp blades the leaves pretty much disappear.

This customer paid $225.00 last year to have the leaves removed. I mulched them for $125.00 and she wants me to come back in 3-4 weeks. I may do it for a $100.00 the 2nd time if there are less leaves. It took me and my son a 1.5Hrs working steady with him taking 2 calls on his cell. LOL

Good luck in your first year with leaf clean-ups.:waving:

jeffslawnservice
11-14-2009, 10:15 AM
Mulch the leaves when you can. Look into the best deck set-up to mulch the leaves. When you can mulch the leaves it will take less than half as long when you factor in the drive time for dumping leaves plus any dump fees. A$125.00 leaf clean-up job is easier to sell then a $250.00 leaf clean-up job.

Sometimes there is just too many leaves to mulch and removal is the only option. Approach each leaf clean-up job with a open mind. Remember, we are in a down economy but that doesn't mean low-balling either, just recommend the most efficient method, the most bang for the buck. For the customer that is mulching the leaves, followed by leaf collection and dumping on-site (when possible), followed by collection and removal.

Below are before and after pictures from a 1/2 acre leaf clean-up job I did by mulching the leaves. There was a breeze that day and the leaves were still falling so a few landed on the yard before we left. There are more pictures but only five can be loaded per post.

Not only were the leaves mulched that are visible but also large pine cones plus leaves by the fence, the driveway and a alleyway by the side of the house were blown into the yard to be mulched. If the leaves are dry, you have a good mulching set-up and sharp blades the leaves pretty much disappear.

This customer paid $225.00 last year to have the leaves removed. I mulched them for $125.00 and she wants me to come back in 3-4 weeks. I may do it for a $100.00 the 2nd time if there are less leaves. It took me and my son a 1.5Hrs working steady with him taking 2 calls on his cell. LOL

Good luck in your first year with leaf clean-ups.:waving:

I have to give you credit. I live over in Northeast Philly and when ever I try to mulch leaves it just looks horrible even if I go over them twice. If you dont mind what mower are you using and how many times did you mulch the leaves up. Thanks.

Darryl G
11-14-2009, 02:03 PM
I think you may need some plywood sides on the trailer as well. Around here there are a lot of jobs where you can just blow the leaves to the woods or tarp them to an onsite disposal area. You may want to stick to jobs like that if you only have a 21 inch mower.

My best advice is to be really careful bidding leaf jobs...they can easily take twice as long as you think they will.

What blower do you have anyway? If it's a smaller one you're going to be really limited in what you can do with it. A rake is often a better bet than the smaller BP blowers. Or rake the bulk and then do a final blow with the BP. I don't want to discourage you, but it doesn't sound like you're really set up for this.

Slcareco
11-14-2009, 06:26 PM
personally I think it looks bad when the result is remianing leaf confetti on the property :nono:

SW Services
11-14-2009, 11:43 PM
most of the jobs I have are blow into the woods behind the house deals. With the exception of one which is 1mile from the town dump where you can deposit leaves. That particular property is less than .25 of an acre so it is not that bad. There are not many trees there so leaf cover is very very minimal. Blower is the echo 755h 63cc. I am just looking right now for smaller lots that are blow to the woods until I can save enough to get a better suited set-up for leaves.

XLS
11-14-2009, 11:56 PM
on our 5x8 setups we build a box out of plywood that is a 4x4x8 box and we add ]hinged doors to both sides . You just mulch over the leaves then bag then with the push and dump the materials into the box this reduces the volume and also gives a cleaner apperance and it allows you to park the mower/s under the box as usual .
as an upgrade buy a mow&vac (agri-fab) and using the parts set the vac to one side and blow the leaves into the box just use your blower to move the leaves to the trailer and suck them up i can help i have done alot of small mowing crew setups ,

XLS
11-14-2009, 11:57 PM
what brand mower is your push i might can help design you a better mulching system

jeffslawnservice
11-16-2009, 03:11 PM
Here is what I do with my truck. (Bed is 8' long so the same length as your trailer) Get 4' sides on yout trailer, blow the leaves off the perimeter in ot the middle of the yard mulch them up as best as possible then either suck them up or blow them into a pile and dump them into yout trailer. To unload them use your blower to blow them out. I also use a 21'' and it works pretty good. Best of luck.

SW Services
11-16-2009, 10:21 PM
Jeffs, that is an excellent idea. So far I have not encountered a job where I need to dispose of these leaves myself. Most have been blow, bag and curb. I already have walls on the side of the trailer but I am def. going to box them in 4' high and use this idea. I cannot see it financially fit to go with a large scale leaf removal system as my accounts at date are not enough to warrant this. I am very very very selective with the jobs I take as to not get in over my head. I had one of those already and under estimated the quote and ended up doing work which I could have easily netted 300+ off but came up 100 dollars short and it was absolutely back breaking. If I know I cannot handle it, I will simply tell the client I am not capable of a cleanup of this caliber nor could I do it in a timely fashion. I do refer them to a larger company of which I am close with the owner. He in turn throws me smaller lots of which I am capable of.

sdk1959
11-17-2009, 12:24 AM
I have to give you credit. I live over in Northeast Philly and when ever I try to mulch leaves it just looks horrible even if I go over them twice. If you dont mind what mower are you using and how many times did you mulch the leaves up. Thanks.

Believe it not I only went over it once and the mower is a Simplicity Regent tractor, 44" 3 blade floating deck with full length rollers, high lift mulching blades. Yeah, it can stripe too. LOL The mulching baffles have a lip underneath for minimal leaf blowout keeping the leaves underneath the deck, even if set to 4" high. The deck is like this one except with full length rollers on the back. http://www.terp.ca/images/SimplicityMowerDeck.jpg

Push mowers and walk-behinds only do a so-so job I found at leaf mulching although the Simplicity Pacer 17.5 HP 32" walkbehind has a similar deck & may leaf mulch just as well, who knows. Basically the same mower as the Ferris Hydrocut but with a Briggs engine with a slower ground speed instead of a Kawasaki V-twin. Both have single hydro's so they would not be good on hills.

I think one of the keys is the mulching baffles with the lip underneath that really keeps the leaves under the deck. I may look into fabricating one for a walk-behind see if I get the same results.

I use a variation of your idea if the leaves are really thick on heavily wooded properties and blow the excess leaf mulch underneath any shrubs outlining the property.

I think a flexible approach to leaf and yard clean-ups is the best approach vs the one method fits all approach.:hammerhead:

STIHL GUY
11-19-2009, 11:47 PM
i would mulch the leaves if you can. its amazing how many more you can fit in the trailer when they are mulched

SW Services
11-19-2009, 11:50 PM
what brand mower is your push i might can help design you a better mulching system

mower is a bobcat 32" wb. i am trying to source a side discharge bag for it. idk if there are any. and my other mower is a yardman 21" which i do have the bag for

SW Services
11-20-2009, 06:47 PM
Correction: Mower is Bobcat 36" wb

I just recently purchased a 5x8 trailer and am going to attempt to convert the 4x8 into a leaf trailer. Anyone have any suggestions? I dont know how or if I would be able to mount a vac to the trailer though. I am thinking about just mulching the leaves and collecting them with the 21" and dumping into the rear of trailer but am just curious on ideas on how to do the box aspect.

XLS
11-20-2009, 10:11 PM
if you are going to vac just box the trailer in to become a 4x8x6 trailer and mount the vac to the tounge .this is simple and we have several trailers this way . If you are going to dump them into the trailer build 4' walls on the trailer and fab some steps on the outside to help your step up to dump it ofer the walls then cover it in a $!0 tarp .

the open trailer would have approximatly 128 cubic ft of capacity or around 50-3 cubic ft bag dumps with standard bag and regular blade shreading
if you enclose it you would have around 192 cu,ft of capacity or around 80-3 cubic ft bag dumps with standard bag and regular blade shreading. hope this helps.

XLS
11-20-2009, 10:14 PM
sw I have a 36" bobcat deck out back what is your manufacturing date ????? ill have them build one and test it and see if we can get you somewhere .
mine is a duel blade deck fixed with a straight front how is yours ???

SW Services
11-22-2009, 12:41 AM
sw I have a 36" bobcat deck out back what is your manufacturing date ????? ill have them build one and test it and see if we can get you somewhere .
mine is a duel blade deck fixed with a straight front how is yours ???


its either a 96 or 97 dual blade fixed straight front

XLS
11-22-2009, 01:41 PM
ill pet a pic of mine and make sure its the same size if it is ill help you out. Do you have a catcher or can you get one for it if so i know ill save you time . we are testing a system we call veri-bag where we took a 60" deck and we are getting verry little discharge into the bagger at all it is more dust then leaves but it is spotless going into the bagger . can you get me a pic of a leaf cleanup job you do looking at the leaf density so i can compaire it to ones in our test????

SW Services
11-22-2009, 04:37 PM
ill pet a pic of mine and make sure its the same size if it is ill help you out. Do you have a catcher or can you get one for it if so i know ill save you time . we are testing a system we call veri-bag where we took a 60" deck and we are getting verry little discharge into the bagger at all it is more dust then leaves but it is spotless going into the bagger . can you get me a pic of a leaf cleanup job you do looking at the leaf density so i can compaire it to ones in our test????

I dont have the catcher for it at this point. I have had it only 4 days. It came with no catcher and no gear cover. I did post in the mechanic section asking if someone knew a source to get it, however, all i get back was a wiseass comment "ummmmmm, a bobcat dealer" so I will continue to prowl. If another leaf job comes up I will get you pictures if I have a bag for it at that time. However with the holiday coming up I dont know if I will get it still in leaf season. 99% of my leaf accounts are finished.

XLS
11-22-2009, 06:23 PM
got ya there is alot of smart arse comment giving people on here i just wanted to see the kind of leaf cover you delt with on regular cleanups to be sure it would work for your needs ill see what we can do .

SW Services
11-22-2009, 06:54 PM
the leaf cover is never very dense. Its just bulk after its blown into a pile. If I could have a way to mow over the lawn without blowing and mulch 95% of whats there into 2 or 4 bags, then either blow the rest into a pile and bag, or make a once over pass with the mower again to collect the rest, life would be alot easier. Its tough running a one man show when it comes to leaves.

XLS
11-22-2009, 06:59 PM
so the muching system i am working on is a good idea to you too . To have mulching and bagging going on at the same time . is your spindles hollow with a bolt that goes throught the bearings and tightens up when you tighten the blades up or are they solid and threadded?

SW Services
11-22-2009, 07:44 PM
so the muching system i am working on is a good idea to you too . To have mulching and bagging going on at the same time . is your spindles hollow with a bolt that goes throught the bearings and tightens up when you tighten the blades up or are they solid and threadded?

I would have to go out and look. I will go outside tommorow during the daylight and take some pictures and post them for you. That may help you a bit more. Mulching and bagging at the same time would be great. Much more economical and time saving.

XLS
11-22-2009, 07:50 PM
i started to develope this much/bag setup after we started hateing the extra man hours to mulch first

SW Services
11-22-2009, 08:16 PM
i started to develope this much/bag setup after we started hateing the extra man hours to mulch first

I started to hate leaf cleanups as soon as the town with my biggest account stopped allowing the blow to the curb deal. The towns vac truck broke, and they refused to fix it. Now, its bag your leaves and leave them at the curb for a dump truck to come around and take them away. Until I was able to convert the 4x8 into a trailer with walls, it was bag the leaves by hand and leave them at the curb. If you can devise this system, I will glady buy it off you or implement the design idea into my practice. Hopefully plowing this winter I can make enough money to slap a vac on the back of the trailer. Who knows. We shall see

sdk1959
11-28-2009, 12:44 AM
the leaf cover is never very dense. Its just bulk after its blown into a pile. If I could have a way to mow over the lawn without blowing and mulch 95% of whats there into 2 or 4 bags, then either blow the rest into a pile and bag, or make a once over pass with the mower again to collect the rest, life would be alot easier. Its tough running a one man show when it comes to leaves.

That's almost exactly what I'm doing tomorrow, except I'm dumping the mulched leaves in the woods next to the house. If there are too many leaves to mulch on a job and collection is necessary this is my second method. I don't do leaf removal.

You might want to rethink getting into leaf removal, just refine what your doing now. You will price yourself out of a lot of fall clean-up jobs trying to do leaf removal because you'll have to come in at a higher price. The extra equipment needed (leaf loader, walk behind blower, dump box or trailer), manpower, drive time to the dump, time spent at the dump unloading, paying possible dump fees, etc.

clcscaper
11-30-2009, 12:18 PM
personally I think it looks bad when the result is remianing leaf confetti on the property :nono:

The leaf "confetti" adds organic material to soil surface and breaks down really fast when mulched well. If the you want to provide a cleaner look just bag after mulching and there's much less mess.

If theres a ton of leaves we'll blow off the lawns first, either to woods or tarp. In the city we can pile leaves on the curb and the city will pick them up.
Either way I'll get the leaves to a manageable level and then mulch, then bag if necessary.

XLS
11-30-2009, 01:29 PM
lol if you blow first you should be 95-98% completed at that point .why do either after that untill your final cleanup???

clcscaper
11-30-2009, 02:23 PM
lol if you blow first you should be 95-98% completed at that point .why do either after that untill your final cleanup???

What I'm talking about is a one time cleanup where leaves are deep. I'm not talking about a regular maintenace client. Apples and oranges. lol. Some customers are pickier than others and want a really clean yard when your done. Hopefully, you can determine this before you give your estimate. I have a regular client who has tons of leaves, 12-15 maples, cherries, bradford pears, redbuds, on .5-.75 acre prop. He never wants any kind of pick-up only mulching but he lets me come every week, or every other week depending on the fall that week, anyways, if there thick it doesn't always look great, but that's what he wants. You have to please the customer, but you better know what they want before you price.lol.

SW Services
11-30-2009, 09:51 PM
What I'm talking about is a one time cleanup where leaves are deep. I'm not talking about a regular maintenace client. Apples and oranges. lol. Some customers are pickier than others and want a really clean yard when your done. Hopefully, you can determine this before you give your estimate. I have a regular client who has tons of leaves, 12-15 maples, cherries, bradford pears, redbuds, on .5-.75 acre prop. He never wants any kind of pick-up only mulching but he lets me come every week, or every other week depending on the fall that week, anyways, if there thick it doesn't always look great, but that's what he wants. You have to please the customer, but you better know what they want before you price.lol.

I wish every one of my customers was a multi cleanup. I always get the calls from people who in previous years have done it themselves every week but slacked off this year and then fried out numerous electric blowers attempting the cleanup. I have one customer that I take care of on a weekly basis to maintain the leaves which has 2 benefits. It leaves him with a nice looking lawn and also alleviates the time and headaches if I were to have to do it in one bulk load. Then there are the customers that blow the leaves into one enormous pile in the side of the yard furthest from the street and the driveway making getting them into an area that is accessible to clean the up properly is just an absolute bear of a task. I have began asking my customers to just leave the leaves as is and I will handle it. They seem to want to assist by blowing them into various piles. This coming leaf season I am going to push for more weekly or bi weekly service for fall cleanup.

sdk1959
11-30-2009, 10:29 PM
I wish every one of my customers was a multi cleanup. I always get the calls from people who in previous years have done it themselves every week but slacked off this year and then fried out numerous electric blowers attempting the cleanup. I have one customer that I take care of on a weekly basis to maintain the leaves which has 2 benefits. It leaves him with a nice looking lawn and also alleviates the time and headaches if I were to have to do it in one bulk load. Then there are the customers that blow the leaves into one enormous pile in the side of the yard furthest from the street and the driveway making getting them into an area that is accessible to clean the up properly is just an absolute bear of a task. I have began asking my customers to just leave the leaves as is and I will handle it. They seem to want to assist by blowing them into various piles. This coming leaf season I am going to push for more weekly or bi weekly service for fall cleanup.


I agree.

If you get customers with a lot of tall mature trees in thier yard or at least thier neighbors do, doing the leaf mulching or clean-up over 3 or more visits is the best approach for the task and the lawn.

When they wait till the leaves are 6" or more deep on most of the lawn the bottom layer of leaves never dries out and they are a bi*tch to work with.:cry:

Time consuming to move damp or wet leaves with a blower or rake, won't mulch or pick-up well, leaves tend to stick to the bare spots on the lawn leaving a poor look, etc.:cry:

Better to decline a job like that or give them a real work time estimate, sticker shock be damned.:laugh: