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Cleve99
11-28-2011, 05:03 PM
I live in an old neighborhood with old hardwoods and mostly old neighbors. I think I can fill a need AND make a little extra money removing leaves.

The lots in my neighborhood are about 1/3 of an acre. I think I have about 4 options for getting the job done but can use some advice.

1. A rake and a tarp (effective but time consuming).
2. Bag them with my lawnmower (this works well on my yard but I have to empty the bag dozens of times)
3. Buy a used Billy Goat (or similar) push lawn vacuum
4. Buy a used Billy Goat debris loader and a trailer. Blow all the leaves to where I am parked and suck them up with the vacuum hose and use the trailer to catch the mulch.

My questions are basically based around the last 2 options I mentioned. How much more area can I cover with one bag on a lawn vacuum compared to one bag on a regular push mower. I assume the bags are bigger and the leaves get shredded up better with the lawn vacuum. Is the improvement significant enough to warrant buying a used unit for around 5 or 6 hundred dollars?

With my 4th option, I know I would be potentially tying up close to $3000 depending on the unit and size of trailer. Do the debris loaders shred the leaves up finer than the leaf vacuums?

Please excuse my ignorance on the topic. I'm just trying to figure out if it makes sense to invest money into something that is specifically designed to handle leaves.

Any other thoughts/suggestions are welcome. Thank you very much for your time.

JDiepstra
11-28-2011, 05:33 PM
How deep do the leaves get there? On a good thick lawn i can mulch 6" of leaves into the lawn and leave it looking great. By Spring you would think all the leaves were bagged and the tiny leaf particles actually helped feed the lawn as they composted down to nothing.

Patriot Services
11-28-2011, 06:14 PM
A big ZTR or commercial wb can mulch down 6" of leaves but I doubt the push mower he's working with will. There really isn't a quick/easy way to do leaves without proper equipment.
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JDiepstra
11-28-2011, 06:22 PM
A big ZTR or commercial wb can mulch down 6" of leaves but I doubt the push mower he's working with will. There really isn't a quick/easy way to do leaves without proper equipment.
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Yeah thats true. I guess i was just giving him another option to consider. Ztr w mulch kit. Could come in handy during most of the rest of the year as well.

ed2hess
11-28-2011, 07:50 PM
Mulch them up with whatever mower you have and be done with them. And if the customer is picky and wants to pay more then rake the mulched leaves up and put them in a bag. Then use your bagger to finish it off.

gene gls
11-28-2011, 08:14 PM
Befor you invest money in equipment, find a place to get rid of the leaves after you collect them. Forget about a Billy Goat vac unit for collecting leaves. And $ 3000.00 won't get you much leaf equipment, trailer, leaf loader, push blower, hand blower.

rsmith1002
12-13-2011, 10:47 PM
I agree. Mulching the leaves with a ZTR works great. One additional thing I do at my own home and for a few of my clients is to blow the leaves into a long row near natural areas, muclh them with the ZTR, then blow the mulched leaves back into the natural areas. Looks fine and once spring rolls around, we'll probably be puting out pine straw in the natural areas. This has been a huge time saver for me compared to bagging them......I dont do that anymore......unless the customer is willing to pay amuch higher rate....just my two cents

ReddensLawnCare
12-16-2011, 11:32 PM
Speaking of mulching leaves, I have a snapper pro 26/52 with the mulch kit on it, I have noticed that I get a bit of a windrow on heavier leaves with it. Is that normal, or is that something with my piece.

yardguy28
12-16-2011, 11:42 PM
here is my suggestion, what and why i do it as well. it works with most any set up you have.

i throw the catcher onto my mower and make one pass over everything, not emptying the catcher until i'm done. when the catcher is full it mulches the leaves up a bit.

i empty the catcher and make a second pass collecting the mulched up the leaves.

then i'm usually done. if the leaves are a little thicker it might take a third pass.

in my neck of the woods people don't like the leaves pulverized into the ground because it leaves a brownish tint to the turf.

oh and i do this on a weekly basis for my clients so the leaves never get too thick in the first place.

Jacobcammack
07-05-2014, 06:05 PM
I like to chop up the leaves really fine with my lawn mower, then go back with the bagger and pick the mess up.

AMC32
07-05-2014, 06:50 PM
I'm also looking into equipment for leaf removal in the fall but I was interested in the cyclone rake. Does anyone have any opinions on them or a better way that may be cheaper?
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gene gls
07-05-2014, 07:05 PM
There is no cheap way of doing leaf removal and being efficient. Cheap is a rake and a tarp. You have to design a set up based on your equipment at hand and methods that are available to you. Leaf disposal is a big issue in a lot of areas.

I had an old cyclone rake that came with an old riding mower that I bought years ago, worked good for a 3.5hp unit. They are designed more for riding tractors and on site dumping.

AMC32
07-05-2014, 07:08 PM
There is no cheap way of doing leaf removal and being efficient. Cheap is a rake and a tarp. You have to design a set up based on your equipment at hand and methods that are available to you. Leaf disposal is a big issue in a lot of areas.

I had an old cyclone rake that came with an old riding mower that I bought years ago, worked good for a 3.5hp unit. They are designed more for riding tractors and on site dumping.
I have a gravely proturn 460 which in my opinion is pretty heavy so would a used cyclone rake on craigslist be a good way to go as long as it's in working condition?
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caseysmowing
07-05-2014, 09:38 PM
There is good money in leaves but you have to spend the money to make it. Really depends on properties far as what equipment you should buy. Bagger type equipment doesn't work for my properties but a leaf loader is a must. Bags are a joke no matter what size property you are doing.
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gene gls
07-05-2014, 09:58 PM
I have a gravely proturn 460 which in my opinion is pretty heavy so would a used cyclone rake on craigslist be a good way to go as long as it's in working condition?
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Have you sent for their free brochure? A new cyclone starts in the area of $1200.00, depending on model, and goes up to $2200.00 or so. You need to read up on them and think about how you are going to hook it up to a Z machine and what will be involved in the use of it. My info book lists the unit as being 7'6" long. Picture your self with it in a fixed position, mower and cyclone, 12 + feet long unit . Have you tried to back up a small utility trailer hooked up to your Z unit? Buying a used cyclone could be a good deal if you find one in good condition and know what the model sold for new. Replacing parts could put you over the price of a new one in a hurry. It will be a "learning" curve for you which ever way you go.

appalachianoutdoors
07-21-2014, 10:26 PM
There is good money in leaves but you have to spend the money to make it. Really depends on properties far as what equipment you should buy. Bagger type equipment doesn't work for my properties but a leaf loader is a must. Bags are a joke no matter what size property you are doing.
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Agreed..we never became efficient and very profitable until we had about $8K-$10K alone in leaf equipment or things that could be used on leaf jobs. Otherwise, you will work a lot for not much profit. Sorry, no real easy outs on leaf jobs.
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redmax fan
07-22-2014, 12:46 AM
anybody use one of these agri fab lawn / leaf vacume units - http://www.usfarmer.com/#archived-equipment/Mowers_-and-_Cutters/Lawn_-and-_Garden/Agri-Fab/LAWN_VACUUM/Agri-Fab_LAWN_VACUUM_99174/

smlc451
07-22-2014, 12:54 AM
I have a 16' trailer with 4x10 sheets of plywood around the entire thing. We blow all our leaves into a pile, rake onto tarps, and throw it in the trailer. We can do 2-5 cleanups a day before dumping, all depends though on how bad the yard is.

redmax fan
07-22-2014, 01:27 AM
we never blow into a pile as first step because theyll fill truck up much faster . where as if first step is leaving them as they sit and running over them a few times before using mower to then shoot them into piles your able to fit alot more on truck plus its less raking . then after we rake up leaves into tarps we give it a final cut with bagger on

smlc451
07-22-2014, 01:00 PM
that works if you have a nice mower like that or a tract-vac system.. we don't so we just blow and throw into the trailer. Most of the yards we work in are so weird shaped or on hilly terrain you couldn't use a mower if you wanted.

xstatikplus
07-25-2014, 08:08 AM
Chop leaves down with mower blow into a row leaf plow into pile then blow to clean up remainder of row leaf plow onto tarp toss in trailer and stomp when it starts getting full. But like others have said that's after investing money into things.
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echo
07-25-2014, 08:08 PM
Never used a cyclone rake.

Leaf plow, leaf loader, wheeled blower, big backpack blowers.

The guys(there will be plenty and most all from southern climates)that tell you to mulch them with the mower, bag them up, and blow the mess, have no clue when it comes to what a large amount of leaves really is...and certainly don't know what's it like in cold, wet, icy conditions.
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2 Cycle
07-25-2014, 10:06 PM
Blow to leaf sucker. Tom our leaf sucking stooge sucks them up. We say thanks tom and then we drink beer when job is complete

ducnut
07-26-2014, 09:27 PM
anybody use one of these agri fab lawn / leaf vacume units

I have a neighbor of a property I care for who has three different shredder-vacs. One of them is an Agri-Fab and he said it's junk. They're "local" to us, so there's a lot of it around. He said his Cyclone Z-10 is in another league. The next neighbor to him, also, says the same. He's got an A-F and Cyclone.

I sent a message to Cyclone about mounting options on my X-ONE. Within an hour, one of the reps called me. He walked me through all the options and recommendations for my business, assigned me ref#, and sent out an info packet. They have a 12-month trial period, so there's no risk. I'll be ordering mine, this week.

AMC32
07-26-2014, 09:43 PM
I have a neighbor of a property I care for who has three different shredder-vacs. One of them is an Agri-Fab and he said it's junk. They're "local" to us, so there's a lot of it around. He said his Cyclone Z-10 is in another league. The next neighbor to him, also, says the same. He's got an A-F and Cyclone.

I sent a message to Cyclone about mounting options on my X-ONE. Within an hour, one of the reps called me. He walked me through all the options and recommendations for my business, assigned me ref#, and sent out an info packet. They have a 12-month trial period, so there's no risk. I'll be ordering mine, this week.

For the trial period is all of the money due up front and then if you end up not liking it you can get a refund or how does that work?
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ducnut
07-26-2014, 09:49 PM
For the trial period is all of the money due up front and then if you end up not liking it you can get a refund or how does that work?

IIRC, you have to pay the freight back to them. But, yes, you pay it all upfront.

ducnut
07-31-2014, 11:43 PM
For the trial period is all of the money due up front and then if you end up not liking it you can get a refund or how does that work?

IIRC, you have to pay the freight back to them. But, yes, you pay it all upfront.

I was mistaken, Cyclone pays all costs associated with the unit's return. There's absolutely no risk.

Mine will be here, tomorrow, from tracking info.

AMC32
07-31-2014, 11:53 PM
Let us know what you think about it! Once those leaves start to fall it would be nice to have good feedback on them. I'm interested in one myself but probably won't be getting one this year.
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Minister Bob
08-21-2014, 08:48 AM
We have a LOT of trees and leaves here in New England. Some autumns they come down fast, others much slower. Since I am still mowing into the Fall, I bag. Most of my properties here in the suburbs of New York have wooded areas around them so the leaves are dropped or blown into them. Very few need leaf removal. The only customers who need lots of leaves removed all at once are those who mow their own lawn, and call me only for their Fall Clean Up. Some of them, I have to cart the leaves away. I put sides on my trailer and blow them or plow them in.

I have backpack blowers which I use most of the time to blow the leaves out of tight areas or off the front curbs into the lawn for bagging. I use a walk behind blower on the larger jobs to supplement the backpacks. I have a leaf plow which I use on the larger jobs. Once the blowers make a line of the leaves, I use it to push away the line. I will not invest in a leaf sucker until I have more jobs that need it as the return on investment would not be quick enough.

I hope this helps. Because I have lived here all my life, I have trouble imagining you guys that have the option of just mulching the leaves. We still would bury the lawns with mulching.

pythons37
08-21-2014, 12:47 PM
I go over the yard three times. The first time, the place looks awful. The second time, it looks crummy. The third time, the leaves are all gone. At this point, you can blow it with a back pack or walk behind and you will collect very little of what was originally on the lawn. Sweep that up and move on. In theory, a mulcher will cut everything three times before it hits the ground. Do it three times and you have potentially cut it 27 times.

It is important that you do not get discouraged the first time around, because it won't look like you are doing anything but making a mess. Try it on your own yard, or the back corner of a property. It works.

ducnut
08-21-2014, 01:07 PM
I will not invest in a leaf sucker until I have more jobs that need it as the return on investment would not be quick enough.

I can't imagine you not being able to pay for a machine, in one season, where you live. I think, once you have the equipment and people see that you do, you'll get way more business than you initially may have thought. That's what happened to me and didn't even have the equipment. Once people saw I'd do the clean-ups, they started calling. If I would've had the Cyclone this spring, it would've paid for itself in one week.

I go over the yard three times. The first time, the place looks awful. The second time, it looks crummy. The third time, the leaves are all gone. At this point, you can blow it with a back pack or walk behind and you will collect very little of what was originally on the lawn. Sweep that up and move on. In theory, a mulcher will cut everything three times before it hits the ground. Do it three times and you have potentially cut it 27 times.

It is important that you do not get discouraged the first time around, because it won't look like you are doing anything but making a mess. Try it on your own yard, or the back corner of a property. It works.

The problem is you're putting a huge amount of debris into the grass. Not only does that change the pH level, it smothers the grass and roots. If all you do is this, guaranteed the grass will start thinning. Getting the debris out of the property is the best thing to do. However, blowing it off into the woods invites moles and other varmints. It's an easy place for them to reside at night and easy access to the adjacent yard for feeding.




I did get my Cyclone Rake Z-10 assembled and installed. I plan to do a full write-up on my install, at some point.

What a 10" hose opening looks like, in relation to the deck.
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h315/ducnut/Mower%20Pics/photo2_zps9673ede4.jpg

One can see their efforts in creating as little restriction possible. The vacuum is provided by a 14" impeller spun by a 10hp Vanguard.
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h315/ducnut/Mower%20Pics/photo22_zpse1157d9d.jpg

Overall.
http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h315/ducnut/Mower%20Pics/photo13_zps6fedac20.jpg

pythons37
08-21-2014, 02:46 PM
I guess these guys are wrong, then.

http://grounds-mag.com/mag/grounds_maintenance_leaves_turn_litter/

hawkfan45
08-21-2014, 05:35 PM
We use one of these...they work great! Never have to leave the seat and they do a great job picking everything up.

http://youtu.be/niBCJen2iAw

Minister Bob
08-21-2014, 05:59 PM
Dear Python,
I would like to hear comments on how the lawn grows in the next year after this type of mulching that you do. Does it not encourage acidic soil? Does it not make too much thatch for the Spring?

ducnut
08-23-2014, 10:06 PM
I guess these guys are wrong, then.

http://grounds-mag.com/mag/grounds_maintenance_leaves_turn_litter/

You're referring to a scientific study that specifically targets plots that will not see any other leaf exposure than what the researchers apply.

In some of the areas I work, there is year-around leaf exposure. Continual mulching leads to a build-up of debris. Soil tests, on multiple properties, show high acidity. Plus, it's what I call timber soil (high clay content). Year after year of mulching will eventually kill off the grass. These areas are very delicate and have to be cared for with sympathy toward the earth. That means not doing anything to compromise whatever growth there is. It's easy to spot hack properties, because they'll have rings burned around the trees from a ZTR and string trimmer use, not to mention they're usually scalped. Using a Cyclone Rake in these areas will be beneficial to the overall health of the properties I service. I only have to get the debris to the street in one area, because the community owns a tri-axle vac and offer free pickup. I've done a couple where I had so much accumulation they brought it straight to me and I manned the vac hose.

In addition, excessive leaf accumulation leads to the propagation of moles, as the ground cover provides easy shelter. I've went onto properties and blown back the leaves to find a network of footpaths they'd been using. I almost always find their tunnels begin right at the edge of the yard, but, clear of the leaf cover. I usually have them killed, by the next day, once I find their entry/exit holes. Once I educate property owners on moles and how to be rid of them, they usually step up for leaf service.

Minister Bob
08-24-2014, 12:38 AM
Thank You so much ducnut. I suspected as much and this confirms my fears. I tell all my customers that bagging is best with the later mowings which of course are spread out more. As here in Ct. it takes away the leaves before they can smother the grass. When taken away with our fall mowings, the sun can also warm the grass and it's roots more. This helps to prevent bacteria and fungus diseases in the lawn from those low and moist overnight temperatures. Lowering the blade height also contributes to the day time sunny warmth getting through to the grass roots. The advantage to me is a longer growing season for the grass. The advantage to the customer is Fall Clean Up costs spread out over a longer period and usually at or less than what a one or two time Fall Clean Up would cost. Of course their grass is in better health also.

Yes, some leaf fragments are left behind as no bagger is 100% efficient. But there is much less of a chance for a thatch problem in the Spring where harmful insects can nest and spread. And there is less of an acidic soil problem which is more common here from Evergreens, Oaks, Water Springs, Acid Rain and Acid Snow etc. etc. The solution for those willing to correct of course is lime with regular fertilizing.

I really appreciate that you spent the time sharing your experience with Acidic Soil and leaf mulching.

ducnut
08-26-2014, 10:59 PM
Thank You so much ducnut. I suspected as much and this confirms my fears. I tell all my customers that bagging is best with the later mowings which of course are spread out more. As here in Ct. it takes away the leaves before they can smother the grass. When taken away with our fall mowings, the sun can also warm the grass and it's roots more. This helps to prevent bacteria and fungus diseases in the lawn from those low and moist overnight temperatures. Lowering the blade height also contributes to the day time sunny warmth getting through to the grass roots. The advantage to me is a longer growing season for the grass. The advantage to the customer is Fall Clean Up costs spread out over a longer period and usually at or less than what a one or two time Fall Clean Up would cost. Of course their grass is in better health also.

Yes, some leaf fragments are left behind as no bagger is 100% efficient. But there is much less of a chance for a thatch problem in the Spring where harmful insects can nest and spread. And there is less of an acidic soil problem which is more common here from Evergreens, Oaks, Water Springs, Acid Rain and Acid Snow etc. etc. The solution for those willing to correct of course is lime with regular fertilizing.

Sounds like a pretty good plan, to me.

The biggest issue I see with homeowners in these areas is not keeping up with fert apps. I've picked up several properties, do just their apps, and the results show it.


I really appreciate that you spent the time sharing your experience with Acidic Soil and leaf mulching.

You're welcome.

I'm no expert or scientist. However, I spend a lot of time in these areas and talk to everyone I can. The story is almost always the same, regardless of which timber area I'm in.