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  #1  
Old 08-06-2013, 12:30 AM
smallstripesnc smallstripesnc is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 670
leaf removal set up options

Hello everyone,

As we all know aeration season is right around the corner and then it'll be leaf removal season before we know it.

I know that leaf removals can be very profitable and can even yield more profit than regular lawn maintenance. What's some efficient set up options that aren't going to break the bank but still get the job done?

Last year doing leaf removals with a helper was a total disaster. We started by blowing/raking leaves on tarps and tying up the tarps and then making tons of trips to dump the tarps. We could only do one a day. We had two big backpack blowers going. Then we upgraded towards the end of the season and boarded up the bed of my truck and had a billy goat leaf loader. We could maybe do 2 leaf removals a day with this set up mainly because it took us an hour to get the brick wall of leaves out of my bed plus it filled up very fast. Also towards the end of the season the two back pack blowers couldn't move the HUGE piles to get them to the curb and we really needed a walk behind blower to move them faster. Keep in mind we charged $80 per leaf removal if the property was under 1/2 acre. In the Charlotte area it seems there tons of guys who will do them for $40 or so and this is usually the leaves just mulched up in the lawn to look like they were removed and I'm not sure what people charge in the area to actually do a full service leaf removal and suck them up and haul them off.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2013, 08:21 AM
CTmower CTmower is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: CT
Posts: 316
My setup has worked great for the past 5 years. This is how I do it with 2 people.
Little Wonder 11hp push blower, 2 backpack blowers, Billygoat leaf loader, EZ Dump insert.
I use the backpack and push blower while my worker uses the backpack. We either blow all the leaves if possible to the front of the yard. If the piles start to get too big to move I use my Turf Tiger with the deck all the way down to push the leaves all the way up front. I could never justify spending $450 for the JRCO leaf rake when the mower pushes them just fine. I use the push blower as a 3rd man, putting it in positions and aiming it where we can then go in with the backpack blowers and push the majority of leaves as far forward as the wind power we have will allow us. Repeat steps as many times as necessary until all the leaves are at the front curb. I have my Billy Goat loader mounted on the front of my truck with a 10' tube running into my boxed in dump insert (I built 6' high walls on each side with a top hinged back door for easy dumping). We drive right up to the pile, suck up as much as we can, move forward and repeat process until were done.
This setup/system has worked great for me over the years. I started leaf cleanups pretty much the same as you, tarping them onto a trailer and then manually dumping them at the dump. I vowed to myself I would never do that again after the first year and I didn't. Bought all the right tools and clean ups have been pretty easy ever since.
$80 per leaf removal??? In my area my prices begin at $150 and I rarely have anyone say no.... Im pulling up to customers yards with over $20k in equipment to do a professional job. If they want little Bobby from down the street to come over with a rake and leaf bags for $40 then let him do it. Your time is money, do quality professional work and people won't second guess your prices.
__________________
2004 Ford F250 Super Duty V8 4x4 w/EZ Dumper
Fisher 8' HD plow
2009 Scag Turf Tiger 61" 29DFI w/collection system
2007 Exmark 48" Turf Tracer HP 17hp
2 Shindaiwa Trimmers
Echo T755-H Backpack plower
JRCO dethatcher
6x14' Big Tex Open Trailer
Little Wonder 10hp blower
Echo T-150 Hedge Trimmer
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  #3  
Old 08-06-2013, 10:42 AM
caseysmowing caseysmowing is online now
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Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Staunton VA
Posts: 986
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTmower View Post
My setup has worked great for the past 5 years. This is how I do it with 2 people.
Little Wonder 11hp push blower, 2 backpack blowers, Billygoat leaf loader, EZ Dump insert.
I use the backpack and push blower while my worker uses the backpack. We either blow all the leaves if possible to the front of the yard. If the piles start to get too big to move I use my Turf Tiger with the deck all the way down to push the leaves all the way up front. I could never justify spending $450 for the JRCO leaf rake when the mower pushes them just fine. I use the push blower as a 3rd man, putting it in positions and aiming it where we can then go in with the backpack blowers and push the majority of leaves as far forward as the wind power we have will allow us. Repeat steps as many times as necessary until all the leaves are at the front curb. I have my Billy Goat loader mounted on the front of my truck with a 10' tube running into my boxed in dump insert (I built 6' high walls on each side with a top hinged back door for easy dumping). We drive right up to the pile, suck up as much as we can, move forward and repeat process until were done.
This setup/system has worked great for me over the years. I started leaf cleanups pretty much the same as you, tarping them onto a trailer and then manually dumping them at the dump. I vowed to myself I would never do that again after the first year and I didn't. Bought all the right tools and clean ups have been pretty easy ever since.
$80 per leaf removal??? In my area my prices begin at $150 and I rarely have anyone say no.... Im pulling up to customers yards with over $20k in equipment to do a professional job. If they want little Bobby from down the street to come over with a rake and leaf bags for $40 then let him do it. Your time is money, do quality professional work and people won't second guess your prices.
X2 almost identical. Ez dumper 4ft sides, 16hp loader, two bp, BG 13hp sp blower, jrco leaf plow. I don't haul any leaves off and most are done twice a year. I think my pricing is very fair at 60hr solo with my setup. I'm usually making 70-80 a hour but new ones I I like to charge by the hour. Most start at $200 and up.
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  #4  
Old 08-06-2013, 09:00 AM
Eric's Lawnservice's Avatar
Eric's Lawnservice Eric's Lawnservice is online now
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Charlotte N.C.
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I charge a minimum of 120.00 for a lawn with very few leaves. Now are you talking about a weekly removal rate or just a one time clean up? That definitely depends on the amount of leaves. One time clean ups I don't even schedule until the first of December. "when its slow" the charge can be any where from 200.00- 450.00 up to a half acre. Depending on depth of leaves and type of leaves. I usually don't do many over a half acre. I shoot for about 90-100.00 per hour. You gotta figure in dump fees and time to unload. Which solo can be daunting. If they don't want to pay me what I ask no big deal. I hate leaf clean ups. It always seems to be windy when I go to collect the leaves. As for methods I bought an old 55gal bagger with a pony motor vac. For 200.00 I cut it up and made a wheelbarrow type bagger that I can fit through gates for back yards. The pony motor can be removed and easily interchangeable with the collection box I made for my laser, as well as the leaf box I mount on my trailer. Normally I get the leaves to the curb,mulch them with my w/b. Then load them into my trailer.
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  #5  
Old 08-28-2013, 11:18 PM
JohnnyRocker JohnnyRocker is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric's Lawnservice View Post
I charge a minimum of 120.00 for a lawn with very few leaves. Now are you talking about a weekly removal rate or just a one time clean up? That definitely depends on the amount of leaves. One time clean ups I don't even schedule until the first of December. "when its slow" the charge can be any where from 200.00- 450.00 up to a half acre. Depending on depth of leaves and type of leaves. I usually don't do many over a half acre. I shoot for about 90-100.00 per hour. You gotta figure in dump fees and time to unload. Which solo can be daunting. If they don't want to pay me what I ask no big deal. I hate leaf clean ups. It always seems to be windy when I go to collect the leaves. As for methods I bought an old 55gal bagger with a pony motor vac. For 200.00 I cut it up and made a wheelbarrow type bagger that I can fit through gates for back yards. The pony motor can be removed and easily interchangeable with the collection box I made for my laser, as well as the leaf box I mount on my trailer. Normally I get the leaves to the curb,mulch them with my w/b. Then load them into my trailer.
Good to see your creativity! And that you charge appropriately! Good luck this fall!
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  #6  
Old 08-29-2013, 10:56 AM
Eric's Lawnservice's Avatar
Eric's Lawnservice Eric's Lawnservice is online now
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Location: Charlotte N.C.
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Originally Posted by JohnnyRocker View Post
Good to see your creativity! And that you charge appropriately! Good luck this fall!
Thank you sir, likewise I hope your leaf season is the most profitable yet. Mabye I'll see you in the field.
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  #7  
Old 08-07-2013, 08:42 AM
smallstripesnc smallstripesnc is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Charlotte, NC
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Thank you for the replies. I figured I was much too cheap at $80 for a one time leaf removal. I think my pricing needs to change along with my set up. Last year we got more calls to suck up other lco's leaves than anything.
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  #8  
Old 08-07-2013, 08:50 AM
caseysmowing caseysmowing is online now
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Location: Staunton VA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smallstripesnc View Post
Thank you for the replies. I figured I was much too cheap at $80 for a one time leaf removal. I think my pricing needs to change along with my set up. Last year we got more calls to suck up other lco's leaves than anything.
Yea when another company wants to sub out work to you that's always a red flag. In most cases.
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2013, 11:12 PM
JohnnyRocker JohnnyRocker is offline
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Location: Charlotte, NC
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[QUOTE=caseysmowing;4832770]Yea when another company wants to sub out work to you that's always a red flag. In most cases.[/QUOTE
But I would be happy to sub out my work to you.
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  #10  
Old 08-28-2013, 11:10 PM
JohnnyRocker JohnnyRocker is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 643
Quote:
Originally Posted by smallstripesnc View Post
Hello everyone,

As we all know aeration season is right around the corner and then it'll be leaf removal season before we know it.

I know that leaf removals can be very profitable and can even yield more profit than regular lawn maintenance. What's some efficient set up options that aren't going to break the bank but still get the job done?

Last year doing leaf removals with a helper was a total disaster. We started by blowing/raking leaves on tarps and tying up the tarps and then making tons of trips to dump the tarps. We could only do one a day. We had two big backpack blowers going. Then we upgraded towards the end of the season and boarded up the bed of my truck and had a billy goat leaf loader. We could maybe do 2 leaf removals a day with this set up mainly because it took us an hour to get the brick wall of leaves out of my bed plus it filled up very fast. Also towards the end of the season the two back pack blowers couldn't move the HUGE piles to get them to the curb and we really needed a walk behind blower to move them faster. Keep in mind we charged $80 per leaf removal if the property was under 1/2 acre. In the Charlotte area it seems there tons of guys who will do them for $40 or so and this is usually the leaves just mulched up in the lawn to look like they were removed and I'm not sure what people charge in the area to actually do a full service leaf removal and suck them up and haul them off.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I work in Charlotte as well. Don't worry about the cheap guys. They are here today and gone tomorrow. In the long run, you'll kill yourself for very little...I'm talking over years...trust me. Anyways, I find that if you compete with the cheap guys...you become a "cheap guy". Anyone can sell a price. While they are working 7 days to make(they think it's "profit", lol) 1,000 bucks, I prefer to make 2,000...or work 3.5 days to make 1,000. Anyways, it can take years to get...some never do. I hope for your sake, you aren't working more than an hour for that 80 bucks(which isn't profit), with two guys. Not busting your chops, just my two cents(no pun).
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