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View Full Version : Most effective way to collect leaves from backyards?


McLandscapingInc
12-01-2010, 04:57 PM
Hey guys,
Wanted to get some ideas. I bought out a couple smaller residential lawncare businesses last year; and are doing leaf removal on them. My thought is to have the guys use the barrels to bring the leaves from around back in order to get them to the leaf loader. That or blow them around the house. I know it depends a lot on the yard. On my commercial stuff we have sometimes used the jrcoplows and bobcats to move the leaves. But the problem is the small gate entries? Any ideas, questions, comments? Thanks in advance.

khutch
12-01-2010, 05:02 PM
One thing for sure, backing over the piles with Gators really reduces volume, making getting them to the front or woods, etc. much, much easier.
I hate 'em cause mowing is easier and more profitable for me - I have been targeting accounts with few trees or easy disposal in surrounding woods.

Robert Pruitt
12-01-2010, 05:29 PM
i cut the leaves up with gators,then close the chute blocker to cut them up to almost a dust.leave a lot of the leaves in the beds for the pine needles base

Mowbizz
12-01-2010, 05:37 PM
Hey guys,
Wanted to get some ideas. I bought out a couple smaller residential lawncare businesses last year; and are doing leaf removal on them. My thought is to have the guys use the barrels to bring the leaves from around back in order to get them to the leaf loader. That or blow them around the house. I know it depends a lot on the yard. On my commercial stuff we have sometimes used the jrcoplows and bobcats to move the leaves. But the problem is the small gate entries? Any ideas, questions, comments? Thanks in advance.

Cheap plastic tarps work much better than barrels! A tarp will squish through a narrow gate opening pretty easily with some coaxing...

McLandscapingInc
12-01-2010, 05:47 PM
Excellent ideas guys; very much appreciated. Keep'em comin

McLandscapingInc
12-01-2010, 05:50 PM
Mow biz, how do you like your leaf loader? Any problems, quirks, etc? Looking to buy a smaller one like that for these residential lawns

T.E.
12-01-2010, 05:50 PM
already been said tarps.

ed2hess
12-01-2010, 08:04 PM
i cut the leaves up with gators,then close the chute blocker to cut them up to almost a dust.leave a lot of the leaves in the beds for the pine needles base

Bingo cut them up in the back yard and leave the dust. We do hundreds that way every year. Moving leaves around with blowers to a sucking machine is going to take you a lot of time.

sdk1959
12-01-2010, 08:35 PM
Bingo cut them up in the back yard and leave the dust. We do hundreds that way every year. Moving leaves around with blowers to a sucking machine is going to take you a lot of time.

I agree 100%. Mulching leaves to at least reduce the volume will save a lot of time.

T.E.
12-01-2010, 11:04 PM
I agree 100%. Mulching leaves to at least reduce the volume will save a lot of time.

This works if there is not too many leaves. I done this and it worked fine, then the next lawn has so many leaves it looks like dirt's been hauled in for top dressing. Down here in OK too much oak leaf dust, and the grass will start to thin out. JMO

McLandscapingInc
12-01-2010, 11:05 PM
I agree with the mulching part; however it doesn't look as professional and is outside of our contract terms. Its a collection only contract for this particular subdivision's contract. Very much appreciate everyone's input.

corey4671
12-01-2010, 11:41 PM
I have the 13hp Little wonder Blower. When I need to go around a house or through a gate, I will set the wheeled blower up pointing in the direction I want the leaves to go. I use my backpack to blow the leaves into the airstream of the wheel blower. Works great for me.

walker-talker
12-01-2010, 11:54 PM
mulch em up and then rake onto a tarp

rain man
12-02-2010, 12:04 AM
Nothing new to add. If leaves are light (depending on the property) we mulch. Otherwise we bag. Use a tarp when multiple trips through a small gate are required. Going to be a cold one tomorrow.

sdk1959
12-02-2010, 01:25 AM
This works if there is not too many leaves. I done this and it worked fine, then the next lawn has so many leaves it looks like dirt's been hauled in for top dressing. Down here in OK too much oak leaf dust, and the grass will start to thin out. JMO

I mulch the leaves for my customers but I have two properties with a lot of trees and thin grass, bare areas & had that same problem. What I do is collect the excess finely mulched leaves with a lawn sweeper and either spread it under one of the shrubs nearby for the one property or at the tree line for the other one.

What's nice about the lawn sweeper is the brush height is adjustable so it can be lowered to get all of it. My customers expect mulched leaves to be visible on the lawn but the 2 properties I mentioned have so many trees in a such small area that even when mulching them every 2 weeks I still get a 2-3" finely mulched layer of leaves on the bare spots on the lawn. These area's I remove the excess mulched leaves with the lawn sweeper. Looks very good afterward.

topsites
12-02-2010, 05:19 AM
Blow them in the wooded area in back.

Tom'sLandscapeDesign
12-02-2010, 10:02 AM
One thing for sure, backing over the piles with Gators really reduces volume, making getting them to the front or woods, etc. much, much easier.
I hate 'em cause mowing is easier and more profitable for me - I have been targeting accounts with few trees or easy disposal in surrounding woods.

This is what I do. I went to the dumpsite once this leaf season. :laugh:

mowerbrad
12-02-2010, 01:19 PM
A lot of people say "mulch the leaves" but that doesn't always work. I know many of you guys have great success with mulching the leaves but there is just no way that it can work up here in Michigan...I've tried it.

I've been toying with several ideas this year to figure out how to make my life easier during some clean-ups...mainly the ones that have small backyards that I can't fit the big mower into. I really don't like using tarps and barrels so much, it just seems like I am always going back and forth to the truck/trailer to empty.

One of the ideas I came up with is to use one of those walkbehind leaf/debris vacuums, like the billy goat/john deere unit or the little wonder unit. Obviously this is a more expensive idea, but I think it would get the job done better. You'd still have to use a tarp or barrel to get the leaves to the truck, but the leaves would be mulched and you could fit more on a tarp.

Clark Griswold
12-02-2010, 02:05 PM
This works if there is not too many leaves. I done this and it worked fine, then the next lawn has so many leaves it looks like dirt's been hauled in for top dressing. Down here in OK too much oak leaf dust, and the grass will start to thin out. JMO

I think most people on here are talking about yards that the customer really doesn't care too much about so that kind of method will work just fine!

But on yards that are pristine and you don't want to keep running all over the yard and screw it up I blow into the middle and suck & bag them up with a 21 push mower, it works well for me!

BrunoT
12-02-2010, 02:43 PM
It depends on the particular place and access. If there are steps and other tangle foot around your barrels might be the best way. Tarps otherwise. Or if possible blow them into the lawn and mulch them up good. Bag or blow the remnants to disperse if needed.

The best strategy for avoiding hard work that sucks is to keep visiting frequently enough so that you are not trying to get up an entire tree's worth of leaves that are 2' deep all at once. The advantage is that the lawn looks more "maintained" with 2 week intervals than if left sitting for a month or more then trying to get a cleanup all at once.

I find both ways generally cost about the same to the customer but doing them gradually is easier physically, as you are not breaking out tarps very often. Just blow the beds out quickly if needed, mow, bag or mulch, and one final blow off of the curbs and drive and you're in/out in roughly about the same time as a regular mow 80% of the time. I prefer leaving the leaves in the soil in ground up form rather than personally lifting each one.

Everyone has strategies. I find I learn a little bit more each year on how to do it more efficiently. Each property may require a different approach.

BrunoT
12-02-2010, 02:55 PM
A lot of people say "mulch the leaves" but that doesn't always work. I know many of you guys have great success with mulching the leaves but there is just no way that it can work up here in Michigan...I've tried it.

I've been toying with several ideas this year to figure out how to make my life easier during some clean-ups...mainly the ones that have small backyards that I can't fit the big mower into. I really don't like using tarps and barrels so much, it just seems like I am always going back and forth to the truck/trailer to empty.

One of the ideas I came up with is to use one of those walkbehind leaf/debris vacuums, like the billy goat/john deere unit or the little wonder unit. Obviously this is a more expensive idea, but I think it would get the job done better. You'd still have to use a tarp or barrel to get the leaves to the truck, but the leaves would be mulched and you could fit more on a tarp.

Honestly I think the capacity of those is so low and they are so slow you'd be disappointed. Fill the bag and you will barely be able to carry it to dump. I had one years and years ago and it was not worth much. It converted to a blower so I used it more for that. Even with better models their ability to reduce leaves is probably not much if any better than a 21" mower with a mulch kit on it, if you are worried about turf wear or gated areas. And certainly a ZTR with a mulch kit can make huge piles of leaves disappear. The key is can the turf under it handle the wear? It depends on the situation and weather conditions.

Try a pass or two with a 21" and mulch kit, then switch to the bagger and vac up the remnants.

ALC-GregH
12-02-2010, 06:39 PM
You're not going to mulch leaves when the 3/4 acre lot has 70 trees on it!
http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e160/americanlawncare/CIMG0091-1.jpg?t=1291333037

Mowbizz
12-02-2010, 09:08 PM
Mow biz, how do you like your leaf loader? Any problems, quirks, etc? Looking to buy a smaller one like that for these residential lawns

I like it very much...no quirks...starts on one pull every time. 16 hp is not THAT small...just right for me though...probably be selling the whole rig after next season (semi retiring) Had enough of leaves...good money maker though.

Robert Pruitt
12-02-2010, 09:48 PM
A lot of people say "mulch the leaves" but that doesn't always work. I know many of you guys have great success with mulching the leaves but there is just no way that it can work up here in Michigan...I've tried it.

I've been toying with several ideas this year to figure out how to make my life easier during some clean-ups...mainly the ones that have small backyards that I can't fit the big mower into. I really don't like using tarps and barrels so much, it just seems like I am always going back and forth to the truck/trailer to empty.

One of the ideas I came up with is to use one of those walkbehind leaf/debris vacuums, like the billy goat/john deere unit or the little wonder unit. Obviously this is a more expensive idea, but I think it would get the job done better. You'd still have to use a tarp or barrel to get the leaves to the truck, but the leaves would be mulched and you could fit more on a tarp.

have you tried the Gators with the MOD?

mowerbrad
12-02-2010, 10:24 PM
have you tried the Gators with the MOD?

Not yet, I've only been using the high lift blades for the bagging system.

One thing I should try is closing the MOD halfway and bagging at the same time, I've done that with grass and it works pretty well with mild growth, not so sure how it'd work with heavy amounts of leaves.

I may try gators next year with the MOD. I've just been seeing such great results with the high lifts I have now, that I didn't feel the need to change.

sdk1959
12-02-2010, 11:27 PM
I think most people on here are talking about yards that the customer really doesn't care too much about so that kind of method will work just fine!

But on yards that are pristine and you don't want to keep running all over the yard and screw it up I blow into the middle and suck & bag them up with a 21 push mower, it works well for me!

The 21" push mower w/bagger works ok picking up mulched leaves if the leaves are not mulched too fine but if they are a lawn sweeper works much better. Especially in areas where the grass is thin or bare where you get a lot of blowout with a 21" mower.

pinecrestwoods
12-02-2010, 11:36 PM
You're not going to mulch leaves when the 3/4 acre lot has 70 trees on it!
http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e160/americanlawncare/CIMG0091-1.jpg?t=1291333037




How many times you gonna make that post? :rolleyes: (Just yankin yer chain) I don't read this forum all that often, and I've seen it at least one other time. Yes, you have a lot of leaves to deal with, and no, you can't simply mulch all of what you show in your picture into nothing. You have to have many techniques in your pocket, ready to go.

sdk1959
12-02-2010, 11:50 PM
You're not going to mulch leaves when the 3/4 acre lot has 70 trees on it!

Yes you can, just not all at once, over several visits. I have a property similar to that in the amount of leaves, they have a lot of trees plus it's on the edge of the woods. Took 5 visits this year, did the last one last week.

I did have to use a lawn sweeper on some parts where the grass was thin or bare to pick up the excess finely mulched leaves. It was 2-3 inches thick in those areas on the last visit because we had a recent storm and the trees lost a lot of leaves in a single day. Dumped some of the excess mulch from the backyard into the woods and from the front yard they wanted the excess mulch spread out under a shrub. Yard looked excellent after I was done and I got a nice Xmas tip to boot.

lawnprosteveo
12-03-2010, 12:32 AM
This works if there is not too many leaves. I done this and it worked fine, then the next lawn has so many leaves it looks like dirt's been hauled in for top dressing. Down here in OK too much oak leaf dust, and the grass will start to thin out. JMOThis is true. I mulched for 3 seasons. Now I blow them and tarp them to a leaf vac. You get a much cleaner looking end result.

cgaengineer
12-03-2010, 06:54 AM
I had 2 customers call earlier in the week for a leak job...I mulched both. One of them the front yard is all trees...they mulched just fine, it did take a few passes. If the customers wants leaves bagged they will have to hire someone else...I do not have the time or the equipment to bag leaves.
Posted via Mobile Device

Robert Pruitt
12-03-2010, 08:03 AM
You're not going to mulch leaves when the 3/4 acre lot has 70 trees on it!
http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e160/americanlawncare/CIMG0091-1.jpg?t=1291333037

Dos'nt quite look like 70 trees to me.

cgaengineer
12-03-2010, 08:06 AM
Dos'nt quite look like 70 trees to me.

I only counted about 10....lol (sarcasm)
Posted via Mobile Device

BrunoT
12-03-2010, 09:11 AM
[QUOTE=sdk1959;3811151]Yes you can, just not all at once, over several visits. I have a property similar to that in the amount of leaves, they have a lot of trees plus it's on the edge of the woods. Took 5 visits this year, did the last one last week.

This is correct. The way you can mulch it is that you don't wait till you have a huge mess of leaves. You get out there as they fall every 1-2 weeks and zip over the lawn. You also do not wait till 6 weeks accumulation has fallen into the beds, blow them into the lawn on top of the huge mass already there, then expect it to mulch neatly.

1. FREQUENCY
2. GOOD MULCHING MOWER (most aren't, apparently) I can't stress enough that some of my mowers over the years have mulched 10x better than others. Get an Exmark if you want to mulch leaves, it's a safe bet. You can't mulch much with a dog mulching machine.
3. CONDITIONS (dry, not windy) Spreading out visits instead of trying to do a week's worth of huge cleanups means you can be pickier about which days you work on. Windy and wet? Stay home that day. Work longer on the days its dry and calm. More efficient.
4. USE THE WHOLE BAG OF TRICKS. (don't just mulch or just bag. Mulch where appropriate, then bag when needed in spots or on certain properties. Or make one mulching pass to reduce volume, then suck them up with a collection system.) Invest in enough machines to have this flexibility if you can. Load one dedicated mulcher and one collection machine, ideally.
5. YOUR GRASS; You can mulch leaves better at 2" than at 3.5" or more. If your grass variety has to be mowed at 3.5", you will not get the suction power needed to pull leaves up out of the soil and mulch them completely. In areas where grass is mowed at 2-2.5" it's much easier and they mulch quite cleanly and completely most of the time. But many varieties can safely take a temporary reduction to 2.5" or so to get the leaves up. Also, super thin grass and bare spots makes mulching less effective.


6. SCHEDULING. With 50 accounts to hit one CANNOT get to all of them if he is having to do a major leaf haul-off at each one in a single 1-2 week period. So for solo operators and tiny businesses its easier to schedule doing leaves gradually over a couple of months. This avoids the "when are you going to get to my yard" calls. I haven't spoken to a customer of mine other than to say hello in person while there since sometime this summer. They know I'll be there every two weeks and handle the leaves that have fallen so far before they get out of hand.

Finally, yes, there are situations where you have to tarp or vac them or otherwise get rid of the bulk because it is too much leaf material to grind into the ground in a single area. But luckily that is rare. Mulching won't work for one-time "cleanups" for strangers who call up.

gasracer
12-03-2010, 10:50 AM
I like to use the vac/bagger on my Toro Z with gator blades on it. It grinds it up very fine. I dump them in a big pile and put them in bags. Each dump of my mower is 2 large 3mil trash bags.Most yards are about 8 bags. I did one the other day that was 20.I started thinking about a leaf loader if I did many of them.

TheGoat
12-03-2010, 02:21 PM
my lawn service (http://www.hungrygoatlawns.com) uses tarps and a blower.

Mudly
12-03-2010, 06:15 PM
i havn't been on this site very long and i'm already getting tired of this debate.
i use a 18h billygoat and echo blowers to run through a yard before i mow, this is weekly sometimes 2wice a week on woody accounts. Then i sub a loader to grab them. This works for me, sometimes I have to use a tow tarp (you will be amazed how many leaves fit on a 20*35 tarp). i don't own a bagger, loader, or leaf plow. But this method works for me. it is easier to blow/rake whole leaves and its cleaner. i'm sure some yards don't require a sweep before you mow with a bagger some do. some yards are so large you need a leafplow and 3 point blowers yada yada yada. get my drift. use logic, use what you have.

Robert Pruitt
12-03-2010, 09:39 PM
i havn't been on this site very long and i'm already getting tired of this debate.
i use a 18h billygoat and echo blowers to run through a yard before i mow, this is weekly sometimes 2wice a week on woody accounts. Then i sub a loader to grab them. This works for me, sometimes I have to use a tow tarp (you will be amazed how many leaves fit on a 20*35 tarp). i don't own a bagger, loader, or leaf plow. But this method works for me. it is easier to blow/rake whole leaves and its cleaner. i'm sure some yards don't require a sweep before you mow with a bagger some do. some yards are so large you need a leafplow and 3 point blowers yada yada yada. get my drift. use logic, use what you have.

Get use to it. it's about time for the Stihl gas cap to come back again. around here us for hire can not put leaves or brush on the street curb. this is why i prefer to mulch them.

Mudly
12-03-2010, 10:16 PM
Get use to it. it's about time for the Stihl gas cap to come back again. around here us for hire can not put leaves or brush on the street curb. this is why i prefer to mulch them.

you can't even put them up there to get to the loader!!?? they are there for no more then a hour sometimes

khutch
12-04-2010, 07:58 AM
I try not to have accounts that are "leaf intensive", but of course that can be easier said that done. On the ones I can't blow into the woods or mulch easily, I sub a guy who has a Walker and leaf truck. I blow to the street or driveway, he picks them up and dumps them in the truck, and I pay him $60 and hour. I'll charge $100 per hour so I don't make as much on these accounts, but it is the easiest way I know and pretty quick to boot.
Actually, $40 an hour for me blowing leaves while listening to my iPod isn't so bad....

ALC-GregH
12-04-2010, 08:20 AM
How many times you gonna make that post? :rolleyes: (Just yankin yer chain) I don't read this forum all that often, and I've seen it at least one other time. Yes, you have a lot of leaves to deal with, and no, you can't simply mulch all of what you show in your picture into nothing. You have to have many techniques in your pocket, ready to go. I plan on posting it as many times as need too.

Dos'nt quite look like 70 trees to me.

Robert, you of all people should already know that the picture does not show the entire property therefore you can not see all the trees on the property. Do I need to take a pic of each tree?

I was at this same property 2 weeks prior and had all the leaves cleaned up. There's no way to mulch them when they dump as fast as they do at this place. You'd have to go over it twice a week to keep up.

Robert Pruitt
12-04-2010, 08:33 AM
I plan on posting it as many times as need too.



Robert, you of all people should already know that the picture does not show the entire property therefore you can not see all the trees on the property. Do I need to take a pic of each tree?

I was at this same property 2 weeks prior and had all the leaves cleaned up. There's no way to mulch them when they dump as fast as they do at this place. You'd have to go over it twice a week to keep up.

i am seeing at least a half acre in this picture. there would have to be at least fifty trees on a quarter acre behind you.

Cutting 1
12-04-2010, 09:19 AM
Tarps work good, get the bulk out quicker

Barefoot James
12-04-2010, 11:37 AM
Hey guys,
Wanted to get some ideas. I bought out a couple smaller residential lawncare businesses last year; and are doing leaf removal on them. My thought is to have the guys use the barrels to bring the leaves from around back in order to get them to the leaf loader. That or blow them around the house. I know it depends a lot on the yard. On my commercial stuff we have sometimes used the jrcoplows and bobcats to move the leaves. But the problem is the small gate entries? Any ideas, questions, comments? Thanks in advance.

Mulch them with mulching mower as much as you can - into windrows or lines or to a drive or sidewalk then use a Billy Goat Lawn vac and suck them up. sometimes you can just Billy goat the whole yard if smaller but sometimes it is best to mulch the leafs up a bit then suck them up. Or maybe just use a tarp and blow them on and drag it out?? We LOVE our Billy Goat - but wish we spent the extra 200 to get the Honday engine - Briggs engines SUCK - we replaced one already and probably will need to replace another soon plus you have to pull them 5 to 10 times to get them started - especially when it gets colder. Even with oil changes ever 10 or 20 hours of use. Even with that issue we love the Billy.
Every yard is different - hope this helps:waving:

XLS
12-04-2010, 04:08 PM
you can look into the LEAF MONSTER for ideas we started using them this year to help our smaller properties guys.......it is about the same thing as taking a 16' tarp and joining the sides and then closing off one end and then tie the other side to the mower ..... we seen them for $50 each at the GIE and made our own if you buy a deck boot you can take any mower and bag or take a lawn vac and drag it to the rear ....... it is about 24 cubic foot and we learned in real tight lawn areas we could take a garbage can , cut the bottom out of it and then insert it into the tarp and it would stay open and help on clean up . just a new idea on an old problem

sdk1959
12-05-2010, 02:58 AM
I plan on posting it as many times as need too.
I was at this same property 2 weeks prior and had all the leaves cleaned up. There's no way to mulch them when they dump as fast as they do at this place. You'd have to go over it twice a week to keep up.

I live in Southeastern PA near Philly and the biggest leaf drop was about 3 weeks ago when we had a storm with high winds and rain. I have 2 accounts very similar in leaf volume to the one in your picture.

I was still able to mulch the leaves and I had areas on both properties that had leaves that deep. Both of the properties had been mulched 3-4 times before but the visit after the storm had the most leaves. The only thing extra I had to do was use a lawn sweeper to get the excess finely mulched leaves that were on the thin and bare areas of the lawn. A lawn sweeper I found picks up leaf mulch much better than a push-mower or rider with a bag. The excess leaf mulch was about 2-3 inches thick in some spots. I just dumped the excess leaf mulch in the woods and under a shrub on one property at the customers request and at the other one at the tree line. The worms love mulched leaves, if you ever need some for fishing just look under some leaf mulch that's been there awhile.:laugh: