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View Full Version : leaf removal setups and procedures


GreenscapesWV
10-26-2011, 10:38 PM
the way we have been doing leaves the past 5 years is we will bag them when there are very few leaves on the ground to make it look neater and charge a double cut, then when the beds start getting leaf collecting and gathering in them we will blow out the beds 1$/ per minute per blower and then bag ( if possible). when you can barely see the grass in parts we will do a full cleanup of beds and grass. I am charging 55-60 pmh blowers rakes tarps and getting around $50-60 per 7x16 dump trailer with 2.5' sides hauled off.

I was thinking about getting the hopper/ clam shell bagger for 2 of my mowers with the propellers on the side to help chop it up and i think i can do leaf cleanups with that even when the leaves are ready for a full blower cleanup?? have any of you guys used this style bagger for cleanups and how much faster are they than blowing them with blowers? thanks alot

JDiepstra
10-26-2011, 10:41 PM
Mulch kit. Real fast.

tosborn3
10-26-2011, 11:05 PM
If you have a dump trailer i really like little wonders suction system. You just blow them in a pile and suck the leaves into the trailer.

Lbilawncare
10-26-2011, 11:22 PM
We use clam style baggers, they work well and the leaves shred well through them which saves a ton of room in the truck.

dutchacres
10-27-2011, 12:35 AM
I run mulching kits but basically do everything the same way you do. In my area I am the only one that even offers fall clean up services. I tell people I mulch them up and they think I just mow the lawn and discharge them around then I explain what I mean about a mulching kit. I run a MOD Deere and I am thinking I may invest in a bagger for it next fall. I do mostly commercial properties but two of them are apartment and nursing homes so it would be nice to make the front areas looks perfect vs having the debris laying around. I think you would be more happy with a bagger than a mulching kit since your customers already used to you hauling off the leaves. Mulching kits work very well but it you look close enough there is shredded leaves in the lawn and for residental lawns most people perfer the cleaner look of a bagger.

macaw
10-27-2011, 08:17 AM
Get a Cyclone Rake

ralph02813
10-27-2011, 08:49 AM
what is, and who sell a clam style bagger?

TheMadLandscaper
10-27-2011, 08:57 AM
what is, and who sell a clam style bagger?
Here are some links of what a clam shell style catcher looks like.
http://www.google.com/imgres?q=clamshell+grass+catcher&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1366&bih=643&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=L6jfKfBqctlzMM:&imgrefurl=http://www.scag.com/gc-cscatcher.html&docid=5lbu4aVtjBQgzM&imgurl=http://www.scag.com/images/GrassCatcher_ClamShell-350.jpg&w=350&h=246&ei=M0apTtncF4fHsQLqlpXkDw&zoom=1
http://www.google.com/imgres?q=clamshell+grass+catcher&hl=en&sa=X&biw=1366&bih=643&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=gHhwe2kNfFDkXM:&imgrefurl=http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/kubota-owning-operating/107692-b2630-grass-catcher.html&docid=r-Gx7ehR7rIZ7M&imgurl=http://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/attachments/kubota-owning-operating/85861d1189862434-b2630-grass-catcher-p1010006-small-.jpg&w=640&h=480&ei=M0apTtncF4fHsQLqlpXkDw&zoom=1

yardguy28
10-27-2011, 09:04 AM
I run mulching kits but basically do everything the same way you do. In my area I am the only one that even offers fall clean up services. I tell people I mulch them up and they think I just mow the lawn and discharge them around then I explain what I mean about a mulching kit. I run a MOD Deere and I am thinking I may invest in a bagger for it next fall. I do mostly commercial properties but two of them are apartment and nursing homes so it would be nice to make the front areas looks perfect vs having the debris laying around. I think you would be more happy with a bagger than a mulching kit since your customers already used to you hauling off the leaves. Mulching kits work very well but it you look close enough there is shredded leaves in the lawn and for residental lawns most people perfer the cleaner look of a bagger.

thank you for saying that.

finally another person besides myself who gets that.

i hear so many people on here "mulch them".....

not everyone wants there leaves mulched.

my process is to come very week mowing up the leaves in the turf. when the mulch beds look like need a clean out i spend the extra 15 min. to blow them into the turf. i make one pass with the catcher letting it fill up then i empty it. make a second pass with the catcher and things are spotless. no shredded leaves left in the lawn.

ralph02813
10-27-2011, 09:26 AM
@TheMadlandscaper - thanks so much - I am not sure where my head was when I asked the question I kept trying to figure out what one would look like on my wb so wonder I was in space :)

ralph02813
10-27-2011, 03:58 PM
I have been known to cut around the perimeter with my discharge facing inward, last 3 or 4 passes I put the bagger on, it works pretty nice and gives a nice clean look with very little left behind.

weeze
10-27-2011, 10:50 PM
I have been known to cut around the perimeter with my discharge facing inward, last 3 or 4 passes I put the bagger on, it works pretty nice and gives a nice clean look with very little left behind.

i do the same perimeter thing and then i just go back and forth over the yard side discharging 2 passes or so until the leaves disappear...it doesn't get every little piece of leaf out of the yard but it cleans it up and it's easy to do it that way....even if you bag them up in an hour leaves are back on the yard lol...so i find it's not worth it to try to get the yard spotless...it's not gonna stay that way for long...most of the time leaves have fallen again before you even get finished so i stick with just side discharging and going over the lawn 2 passes and it does an acceptable job.

jbell36
10-28-2011, 12:07 AM
thank you for saying that.

finally another person besides myself who gets that.

i hear so many people on here "mulch them".....

not everyone wants there leaves mulched.

my process is to come very week mowing up the leaves in the turf. when the mulch beds look like need a clean out i spend the extra 15 min. to blow them into the turf. i make one pass with the catcher letting it fill up then i empty it. make a second pass with the catcher and things are spotless. no shredded leaves left in the lawn.

x2...especially when there are a lot of leaves, mulching just isn't going to cut it...pun intended...

Darryl G
10-28-2011, 12:38 AM
Sung to the tune of Kenny Roger's "The Gambler":

You gotta know when to mow 'em
Know when to blow 'em
Know when to mulch 'em up
And know when to bag
You never count your money
'Til the check has cleared the bank
There'll be time enough for countin' before your taxes are due

all together now!

cut level
10-28-2011, 01:09 AM
Walker mower dump into bags and use my Toro yard vac. This has made our cleanups SO much better looking and keeps us a lot cleaner with 90% less dust flying around. Did I mention easier and quicker. Bagging them with the walker is much quicker than the guys mulching and eating ground up leaves and dust.
Posted via Mobile Device

JDiepstra
10-28-2011, 01:17 AM
Walker mower dump into bags and use my Toro yard vac. This has made our cleanups SO much better looking and keeps us a lot cleaner with 90% less dust flying around. Did I mention easier and quicker. Bagging them with the walker is much quicker than the guys mulching and eating ground up leaves and dust.
Posted via Mobile Device

Doubt it. You still have to dump the clippings into your truck or trailer, then haul them to a dump site, pay a fee (sometimes), unload them, and drive back to wherever.

yardguy28
10-28-2011, 08:32 AM
i do the same perimeter thing and then i just go back and forth over the yard side discharging 2 passes or so until the leaves disappear...it doesn't get every little piece of leaf out of the yard but it cleans it up and it's easy to do it that way....even if you bag them up in an hour leaves are back on the yard lol...so i find it's not worth it to try to get the yard spotless...it's not gonna stay that way for long...most of the time leaves have fallen again before you even get finished so i stick with just side discharging and going over the lawn 2 passes and it does an acceptable job.

it's worth it when the client wants it spotless and is willing to pay for spotless each week.

it also gives my a business a good look. neighbors see the work i do and want there lawns to look that good.

a spotless lawn with a few leaves that fall off the trees on it after you leave looks better than a whole lawn full of mulched up, chopped up leaves that leaves a brownish tint to the turf.

Doubt it. You still have to dump the clippings into your truck or trailer, then haul them to a dump site, pay a fee (sometimes), unload them, and drive back to wherever.

i'm guessing the poster you are commenting to is in the same situation as i am.

i can get usually 8 properties worth of leaves in my truck bed before i need to drive to the dump and unload them.

during the fall 8 properties is about the max number of properties i can turn out in a day depending on the size and amount of leaves on the property.

so after i empty my truck it's the drive home i have to do, NOT back to a property.

paying a fee is not an issue, thats part of why you charge more to do leaves. that extra charge includes the price you pay at the dump.

it cost me usually $4 a truck load to empty my truck. each client pays me between $5 and $10 more each week. so i get $80 extra a day from clients for doing leaves. i think that more than covers the $4 i pay a day to empty my truck.

TLC-AR
11-03-2011, 12:46 PM
Walker mower dump into bags and use my Toro yard vac. This has made our cleanups SO much better looking and keeps us a lot cleaner with 90% less dust flying around. Did I mention easier and quicker. Bagging them with the walker is much quicker than the guys mulching and eating ground up leaves and dust.
Posted via Mobile Device

Hey Cut Level, I've been trying to figure our best way to dump into bags as you mentioned you do. Could you please advise your method? Do you use a bag that fits over your hopper opening?

weeze
11-03-2011, 12:57 PM
it's worth it when the client wants it spotless and is willing to pay for spotless each week.

it also gives my a business a good look. neighbors see the work i do and want there lawns to look that good.

a spotless lawn with a few leaves that fall off the trees on it after you leave looks better than a whole lawn full of mulched up, chopped up leaves that leaves a brownish tint to the turf.

you can't get it spotless no matter what you do....you cut the leaves up until you can't see them anymore...if you can still see them you didn't cut them up enough...and by this time of year the yards are all brownish anyways since the grass has gone dormant so in all honesty you can't even notice...it looks as though the leaves haven't fallen on the yard other than the few that fall after you get done.

Darryl G
11-03-2011, 01:57 PM
Lawns are green here up north! Sometimes in milder winters they will stay green all winter.

JDiepstra
11-03-2011, 02:36 PM
i'm guessing the poster you are commenting to is in the same situation as i am.

i can get usually 8 properties worth of leaves in my truck bed before i need to drive to the dump and unload them.

during the fall 8 properties is about the max number of properties i can turn out in a day depending on the size and amount of leaves on the property.

so after i empty my truck it's the drive home i have to do, NOT back to a property.

paying a fee is not an issue, thats part of why you charge more to do leaves. that extra charge includes the price you pay at the dump.

it cost me usually $4 a truck load to empty my truck. each client pays me between $5 and $10 more each week. so i get $80 extra a day from clients for doing leaves. i think that more than covers the $4 i pay a day to empty my truck.

You obviously fail to see the big picture. You are also paying for gas to drive to the dump. You are also putting wear and tear of your vehicle. You are also costing yourself time driving to the dump and then back to wherever you park your setup. You are also taking time to unload the truck. Etc etc etc. You need to learn to look at the big picture.
You can only do 8 small lawns in a day. That is terrible. So what if you are making a few bucks more per account. You are only doing 8 lawns in a day so you are obviously making less money per hour!!!!!!!! I know you have small lawns because of comments you have made in the past such as "i go over the entire lawn once letting the bagger fill up and then empty it and then I go over it one more time and fill the hopper one more time and im done". One hopper? LOL. You have also told me "it sucks to be you" because I said I have huge lawns where I can take 20 hoppers or more off easily.
Learn to see the big picture. You're like a horse or a dog with blinders on.

weeze
11-03-2011, 03:10 PM
Lawns are green here up north! Sometimes in milder winters they will stay green all winter.

yeah different grasses i guess...down here they are brown/green mixed...getting more brown each day.

JodyG
11-03-2011, 03:36 PM
I have been looking into an efficient way to do leaf removal. Our leaves have been falling for over a month (due to the drought) and will continue into December. I went today to price a Billy Goat truck mount vacuum. I think I started too late and would not be able to justify the expense of the vacuum and enclosing a truck or trailer for the debris plus looking for customers. I do know that a couple of guys with blowers can move and pile up a lot of leaves in a short period of time. It’s the disposal that’s time consuming. I am looking to see if anyone rents a truck or trailer mount vacuum to try out. I would hate to drop $2600 plus for something that doesn’t work.

Groomer
11-03-2011, 04:48 PM
we mulch when the drop is light, and sometimes double cut, depending. When the drop gets heavy on the well tree'd properties we blow to the woods or to the street for curbside pickup (which is handled by a phone call to my landscape friend who runs a dump/vac truck in the fall.) He bills me and everyone's happy. Cleaned up a big property yesterday where he filled the truck and had to come back again.

MOW ED
11-03-2011, 05:15 PM
We can debate the mulch-no mulch all day. Whatever works for you is best. Personally I mulch even the heaviest drops BUT I will the Walker to pick up the reduced clippings in heavy areas. The final clean gets a vacuuming by the Walker. It always looks great. If people want you to clean a lawn spotlessly every week and pay well for it then do it. I can make a lawn clean here and after my next stop come back to find a bunch of leaves dropped. It isn't worth it to me to spotlessly clean until all the leaves are down.
The mulched up pieces are in perfect size to decompose and add good stuff to the lawns. (not the oaks) I have excellent looking lawns and never had problems in the spring. Do what makes you money. Snow is coming.

mowerbrad
11-03-2011, 07:36 PM
From the sounds of your set-up, you may actually benefit from a truck loader. Mount the loader on your dump trailer, build some taller sides for a leaf box on the trailer. If you currently do the whole blow the leaves into a pile and tarp thing, a truck loader will surely help speed-up loading the leaves into the trailer and reduce the number of trips you take to your dump site. Put a leaf plow on one of your ztr's and you will increase your productivity a little more.

Now, if you are set on getting a the collection systems for your ztr's, then by all means go for it. I use a 14-bushel collection system on my Deere and love it. If you are looking to have the most reduction of the leaves, get a set of blades like gators to assist with the reduction of the leaves and to fit the most in the bags. The best bagging systems do have 8" tubes leading from the fan housing to the rear hopper (6" tubes clog much easier).

With the collection system on my Deere, I can clean up just about any leaf clean-up job. With heavy amounts of leaves, it goes slower because of the amount and how fast the bagger fills up.

If I had my choice, I would do leaf clean-ups with blowers and a truck loader first, to get the majority of the leaves off the lawn then follow up with a ztr to go over the lawn and give it that clean/neat after appearance.

yardguy28
11-03-2011, 07:59 PM
You obviously fail to see the big picture. You are also paying for gas to drive to the dump. You are also putting wear and tear of your vehicle. You are also costing yourself time driving to the dump and then back to wherever you park your setup. You are also taking time to unload the truck. Etc etc etc. You need to learn to look at the big picture.
You can only do 8 small lawns in a day. That is terrible. So what if you are making a few bucks more per account. You are only doing 8 lawns in a day so you are obviously making less money per hour!!!!!!!! I know you have small lawns because of comments you have made in the past such as "i go over the entire lawn once letting the bagger fill up and then empty it and then I go over it one more time and fill the hopper one more time and im done". One hopper? LOL. You have also told me "it sucks to be you" because I said I have huge lawns where I can take 20 hoppers or more off easily.
Learn to see the big picture. You're like a horse or a dog with blinders on.

you know what they say about assuming. you make an ass out of u and me. mostly you though.......

my properties currently range from $32 a cut in the summer to $50 a cut in the summer. add $10 to $15 extra a week for fall clean ups.

i primarely use a 52" grandstand. i have a few with small backyards i have to use a 36" walkbehind and a couple that require a push mower.

i would never do a huge lawn that i would have to empty my grass catcher 20 times. but thats just me. lets see those grass catcher for the grandstand are what, 3 bushels in size?

whatever.........

i'll stick to my method since it seems to be working very well for me.

ralph02813
11-04-2011, 07:55 AM
@yardguy28 I operate similiar to the way you do except, I probably add the extr in for some every week for others every other week, those are the weeks I trim a bush here or there or weed garden etc., I am also doing early spring cleanup and fertilizing then fall clean up. Customers seem to like having a little bit done each week. I think running solo has a lot to do with it, I personally for my customer base cannot justify the expense of a big vaccum

yardguy28
11-04-2011, 08:28 PM
for me running solo has A LOT to do with it......

i don't want to be at one property all day long emptying a grass catcher 20 times on the property.

as for seeing the BIG PICTURE. i see it alright. it's called my income at the end of the year.

i'm meeting my big picture goals at the end of each year doing things the way i do them.

you'd be hard pressed to find a lawn maintenance company in my neck of the woods who doesn't visit the local compost site at least once a day during the fall. so as far as i'm concerned my method is the normal in my neck of the woods.

most companys around here seem to use the method i'm using with the exception of a few who will dump them at the curb for the city to pick up and the one company who has the trailer leaf loaders. but even the trailer leave loader company is at the compost site at least once a day with one of there rigs.

Kelly's Landscaping
11-06-2011, 06:54 PM
My all time record and its one you wouldn't want was 5 trips to dump the leaf box over the course of 2 days. That's a 11 foot by 7 foot by 6 foot tall box. Here we pay by the yard last year was 4 this year that jacked it up to 5 dollars a yard I'll let the math guys here figure out what that neighborhood cost to dump. Now times the total yardage by 10 and your have the amount we started with before sucking it all up with our 20hp vac. There is simply no way to mulch that amount of leaves on just 4 small half acre lawns which what made that mess.

ralph02813
11-07-2011, 07:27 AM
@kelly's and yardguy28 - I think both your post highlite the importants of knowing what "your" business is all about and what your customer base is and which way you want it to go. , and what gear you really need -I bought an extra 21" just a couple of weeks after buying my 36 ferris thinking that when my ole spare 21 toro breaks down I would have a back up for my 21 ferris. My new 21 has only been on my truck once, and that was the ride up - in my case I based my hasty decesion not really knowing that in a couple more weeks, my skills level with my 36 just about put the use of my 21 down to almost nothing - if I had really though about my properties I would have never bought the new 21.

yardguy28
11-07-2011, 08:46 AM
My all time record and its one you wouldn't want was 5 trips to dump the leaf box over the course of 2 days. That's a 11 foot by 7 foot by 6 foot tall box. Here we pay by the yard last year was 4 this year that jacked it up to 5 dollars a yard I'll let the math guys here figure out what that neighborhood cost to dump. Now times the total yardage by 10 and your have the amount we started with before sucking it all up with our 20hp vac. There is simply no way to mulch that amount of leaves on just 4 small half acre lawns which what made that mess.

nope your correct, not one i wouldn't want.....

thats a lot of leaves.

if i can't get the job done with my 52" grandstand, grass catcher, 36" walkbehind with trac vac and my br400 blower and not spend all day at that one place i don't want the job.

all i have to haul leaves is a 6' pickup bed. i do have a 5' x 10' open trailer with 4' sides on it but i don't have the extra vehicle to get that trailer to the locations since my truck is pulling my enclosed trailer with all my equipment.

RigglePLC
11-08-2011, 08:23 PM
Mow ED,
Did you say you don't mulch oak leaves? Why not? Are you thinking they could cause acid soil?
I have an inexpensive garden pH meter and I checked many instances of pine needles under white pine trees. No sign of acid soil. I also checked a few oak trees and I have two 60 foot tall white oaks in my small backyard. There was no sign of acid soil.

Is anybody else willing to test the soil around their local tree species with a pH meter or soil test? Let us know what you find.

MOW ED
11-09-2011, 09:59 AM
Riggle, I don't mulch huge piles of oaks. I have had requests from homeowners to not do it so I charge extra to bag. I will however mulch them to reduce size.
Now these requests are from residences with many very old oaks and they have tons of leaves. I know it probably doesn't do much to the grass underneath as our city mulches what equals a huge park of mainly oaks and every year there is plenty of grass to mow right under those trees.
I try and listen to the customers request and if I can make a few bucks and they are still happy we both win.

clydesdale
11-09-2011, 03:08 PM
I used to have a truck loader and would run the leaf blowers all over and then vacuum them. Now, I mulch them up, then blow to the perimeter. The lawns look way better. The reason is that I don't wait so long for the property to accumulate a max amount of leaves. I go by one week and mulch them, make the property look very presentable, but not perfect. I do the same thing a week to 10 days later. I then go back a third time and mulch and then bring out the blowers and the dust is blown to the periphery. Almost all of my accounts have some small amount of woods in the backyard. The end result is a lawn the looks maintained during the whole leaf season and does not require a vacuum. I sold the vacuum and I am now sold on mulching.

ralph02813
11-09-2011, 04:12 PM
I think oak leaves have a mistic (sp) of there own, I think black maple leaves to far more damage. Clydesdale I run pretty much the way you do, I have a couple of customers the I try to place the mulched oak leaves especially in one place, the I run them over a few times while added some 40-0-0 general it is run to the edge of the yard - this stuff makes beautiful free mulch for the follow year, and adds a lot of organic matter to the beds.