View Full Version : Fall cleanup/ leave removal

Potomac Lawns Inc.
07-15-2002, 04:55 PM
I was just wondering how everyone esle price there fall cleanup and the type of equipment they use,just trying to do my homework before fall gets here and since it hardly rains anymore i have a little free time.


07-15-2002, 05:02 PM
simply blow out the beds, and have an exmark with the ultra vac and you'll be fine, but if you feel the need to mulch before you bag to save on space in your truck just let your shoot get clogged and this will mulch up the leafs and cut down on yopur leaf collection by more than a 1/3.
always have a rake in your truck just in case
if you have a helper, have 2 blowers
don't worry about every leaf until you think that is your last time there
and last be ready to dump several times a day

mdb landscaping
07-15-2002, 05:44 PM
i set in my mind how many hours it will take to do the cleanup, and whether i have to vac the leaves out and use an hourly charge type method. i blow all the leaves out of the beds with a br400 and then use a 9 hp little wonder and my scag with a leaf plow to blow them into the woods or to get them into piles. then i vac them out if i have to.

Firefighter Dave
07-15-2002, 05:50 PM
I am also new to all this Fall Cleanup stuff too. What are you charging for these clean ups? I hope to tackle a bunch of 1.5 - 2.5 acre lots this season.

:blob2: :blob2:

Season 2 Season
07-15-2002, 07:30 PM
I just blow everything into lawn. Then mulch it all up. Charge is on how many I have to go over lawn. Price per cut X how trips over lawn. I find mulching easier on your body.

dr grass
07-15-2002, 07:37 PM
I cant wait! ! Fall is my favorite time of year. but anyway, i have a 721D grasshopper with a 15 sq. cubic ft. hopper. picks up leves like nothing ive used b4. i can have a pile of leaves in front of the mower 4 ft. high and that mower will just keep sucking and sucking and sucking..... you get the point. i pretty much do the same as everyone else. we go into a job, grab our br400's and hit the beds, drives, walks, decks, around trees, the house, barn, etc.... then while im sucking up the big sections. ill have another guy chewing up the leaves in the thin spots. trim up and your done. depending on the amount of leaves in the yard is how i go about charging. if its minimal and i dont dump alot, ill charge the weekly maintenance price plus an additional charge depending on the size of the yard. if the leaves are deep and im dumping every few stripes, they get an hourly rate of 60.00/hr. good money in those cleanups. aerate and throw down some seed and some winterizer, and call er' good for the year. see ya in the spring.....

Shep :alien:

07-15-2002, 08:22 PM
Just startin out on my own in the biz.... but the guy I worked for last season (and thus far this year) was charging customers $90.00 / hr. for leaf cleanup (no mowing !!) I thought this was nuts.... who's gonna agree to an hourly rate of $90.00 (!!) instead of an estimate for the job??
Apparantly enough people, 'cause he/we were busy.
Personally I don't agree with his thinking (in many ways, that's why I'm going solo:D ) I'd never agree to such an open ended pricing schedule, and I'd never expect a customer to agree to something I wouldn't myself.
I know I'm going to have a tough time estimating cleanups this Fall, but all the info here sure helps.....

Thanks everybody !!!!

07-15-2002, 09:08 PM
In our area, the city picks up leaves from the street twice in the fall. We do the cleanup, and put the leaves in the street. The city comes along and sucks them up. We don't have to pick 'em up, mulch 'em, etc. Just blow 'em to the curb. For the big yards, we put the leaves in a pile, transfer them to a tarp, tie the tarp to the mower and pull 'em out into the street. Dump 'em. That's that.

However, the township areas does not pick up leaves. We don't usually do those areas, but I have been contemplating getting a vac/mulcher and carting them off.

We charge $50 an hour for a 2 man crew. Usually each job takes 1.5 to 2 hours.


General Grounds
07-15-2002, 09:47 PM
:blob3: dr, could'nt agree with you more fall is awesome, as for $ we get 125.00 per hr. to blow and pick up, we do about 4-5 jobs a day we all the leaves are down. tony

07-15-2002, 09:58 PM
Navig8r, keep in mind your old boss wasn't getting $90 an hour if there were two of you. He was getting $45 per MAN hour.
That seems pretty fair to me.

07-15-2002, 11:28 PM
Very seldomly do we ever actually pick any leaves up, as we have a way to just make them "magically disappear". I do charge by the job though, so when the people see how fast we're finished with some of these things, and how clean it is, it's too late. The price has already been set, agreed upon, and the work is performed. People really don't care, though. They're just happy to get it done, and know that it's alot of work, otherwise. I wouldn't mind trying out an Ultravac for some of the tight areas. This could certainly save some time, too.;)

07-15-2002, 11:44 PM
I always blow the leaves to the street. Where I live, you pay for leave cleanup and snow removal in your property taxes. So I remind any customer that wants them hauled away that they are paying me to hall them away and they are paying the city to do it. Then they realize why pay double.


07-15-2002, 11:52 PM
Holy toledo, talking about leaf cleanups already?? It's not even August!

mtdmaster, $50.00 per hour for two guys? That's pretty low. Is that average for your area?

07-16-2002, 01:26 AM

Let say you're cutting a customer on a weekly (although right now it's an every 2 weeks cause of the extreme heat and NO growth) routine. Let's say you're getting $27 pet cut from this customer, which is to mow, edge and trim the property.

The property has on it... 4 trees.. 2 smaller ones, 1 medium and 1 huge oak.. So you will be having to do some leaf cleanup of some sort.

And say you cut them on September.....21st and about 10 leaves fell off the tree. Then you're back again on 9/28 and 50 leaves fell down.. and then on October 5th, 250 leaves come down.. And then on October 12th, it pours like hell, so you don't get there until the 14th and there are 600 leaves down.. And then you come back on 10/20 and there is the major drop of.... 1500 leaves and then on the last time or two, there are 400 leaves...

*HOW* do you bill or even talk to your customer about this as far as pricing goes, since you're already cutting them every time for $27? And with the hypothetical calendar I laid out, does that make sense? At what point do you no longer mulch (which I'm currently doing) and go to bagging or do you run doubles exclusively? or doubles and bag? and at what price? Do you go by this customer twice a week to keep up with the leaves, or just as you have been (every 7 days) and charge extra?

Help. Thanks

dr grass
07-16-2002, 02:57 AM
runner - how do you make the leaves "magically disappear"? whats your secret. am i missing something on this? do tell , do tell.


07-16-2002, 03:14 AM
$40 lawn = $40 per man hour = 30 min. = 2 man crew

every thing over 30 minutes is $40 a man hour

07-16-2002, 07:41 AM
Originally posted by Doogiegh

And say you cut them on September.....21st and about 10 leaves fell off the tree. Then you're back again on 9/28 and 50 leaves fell down.. and then on October 5th, 250 leaves come down.. And then on October 12th, it pours like hell, so you don't get there until the 14th and there are 600 leaves down.. And then you come back on 10/20 and there is the major drop of.... 1500 leaves and then on the last time or two, there are 400 leaves...

Where did you find the time to count those leaves? Your customers might think that you are nuts when you are doing this. J/K :D

07-16-2002, 08:06 AM
I charge a penny per leaf and a dollar per leaf for the evergreens and pines.:p

I can't believe I'm talking about this now but it is a nice thought since it is 90 today and its brown.

my weekly customers pay for mowing until the grass stops. You know as well as I that the grass really slows at some point (October) then you can lower the deck. They still pay that weekly mowing fee but I might spend an extra 10-20 minutes per property blowing out around the house and picking up leaves. I continue to mow/mulch until the freeze hits. Then its pretty much leaf pickup or mulching at an hourly rate. It ends up being around 40 to 60 per man hour. I have been doing these properties for many years and I have adjusted prices accordingly. I don't take on many one time leaf cleans from people that I don't mow for, as most have services that are doing the same as I am. Single jobs are by the hour quoted at 40 to 60 per man hour. The difference being if I have to remove the junk to the compost. The cities come around but they are slow. I remove=60/man hour door to door. I remove to the curb= 40 to 50/man hr depending on terrain.

So basically I will cut lawn until mid to late October and bill thru the end of the month for that. After the grass stops, I will still come by weekly and vacuum up the leaves but only bill for a Final leaf clean when all is done even if I went there 4 or 5 times to work. The final bill is for the time spent but it isn't indicated that way on the bill. I know a certain property is billed at 200.00 beause I spent 6 man hours there. That is including any extra time I spent while mowing back in October. You have to manage your time but its worth the extra hassle. I don't get any complaints as my properties are rather full of trees and no one wants to tow a rake .

Its a nice time of year but it doesn't last long enough.

07-16-2002, 09:24 AM
I mulch them up until it gets heavy. The mulch kits stay on the eXmarks until then. They totally disappear. Then I put the ultra vac on the Lazer HP and we suck 'em up.

I don't give a customer a per hour fee. I base my estimate on how long I think it will take. Depending on level of difficulty I use a man hour fee of $50 to $75.

If someone calls after he waited until all the oak leaves are down I base my price on $100+ per man hour. Extremely large amounts of oak leaves are real hard on equipment.

Remember costs go up during leaf season. All the dirt and leaf dust means you need to change air filters more often and oil needs to be changed a little more often also. If you run an ultra vac or some other type of bagging system it requires added fuel cost also.

07-16-2002, 05:26 PM
wow time to think about it alright, these hot 'dog days' get me wishin it was fall already.. I love leaf season. For my 'new' fixer upper Scag STHM 3 wheeler, I would love some sort of vac catcher. Maybe I will make one. Who knows. That would be for fall next year. For fall this year I dont' have alot of work to do as most yards only get leaves in a portion of the yard and I use my catcher on my mower to get them. If they're thick or wet I mulch them first, then go back with the catcher. I usually just do what was mentioned, let the catcher clog and it mulches, then unclog it and take off bagging.

07-16-2002, 05:42 PM
I love doing fall cleanups................................for about 2 days!!!! I'm with Hoss. I try to never give an hourly rate if I can help it. People can get sticker shock. Last fall was super dry so my cleanups went really fast. My pricing scheme last year was either #hrs x $45/hr or what I charged them the previous year, which ever was greater.


07-16-2002, 07:19 PM
As go-getter mentioned.. obviously my boss wasn't makin 90.00 per hour if he's paying a second person... I really wasn't specific.... he did not represent to the customer up front that 2 guys (or 3, or 1, or whatever) would be on-site..... sometimes he left one guy there to work, other times there were 3 of us....... all the customer knew up front was that it would be "$90.00 per hour"..... I guess he figured too bad for them if he decided to let one guy do the job.... In my opinion, this leaves the door open for a customer to claim you should be working faster/have more guys, etc..... Also.. it seems to me that a customer only hears the hourly rate and thinks "Wow, That much ?!?".... Whereas estimating your time and multiplying by your rate, then presenting the customer with a solid estimate, might not scare them as much.

Potomac Lawns Inc.
07-17-2002, 12:06 PM
Thanks for all the help guys.

2000 dodge (junk)
2002 f250psd
JD f735 60in
JD f620 54in
JD ja65 push
2 JD String trimmers
1 Sthl trimmer
20x7 open landscape trailer