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Old 06-20-2009, 08:51 PM
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Leaf Clean up

I know its early but its good to be prepared. Anyway I plan on doing some leaf cleanups this fall. Is there anything special I should have? I plan on making sides for my trailer to hold more. I have a BR600, BG86, Ryobi shredder/vac, and rakes. I cant afford a WB blower or vac, as I am saving for a ZTR w/ Bagger. How do you charge?
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:58 PM
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For the yards I cut, I just upcharge maybe $15, depending on the yard. Go around with the blower and a rake, blow out all the beds. Cut and bag with the 21", which is a PITA, but next year, it'll be easier for me.

For yards I don't cut, I'd estimate how much I'd charge to cut the yard, and kinda play around with that figure, depending on size and how many trees, etc.

With a BR600, you'll be set. My Echo 755 is a beast with leaves. I've heard the 600 is more powerful, so you'll be better off than me. There's no need for a WB blower or truck loader until you can justify the cost from just leaf cleanups.

And tarp!!!! your load!
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:01 PM
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And since you're still in school, buy 2 or 3 Surefire G2 Nitrolon flashlights. Tape one to your BR600, and carry another in the truck. Not only are they great flashlights for general use, but they really lights up the working area after dark.
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:04 PM
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Ya I forgot the 22' bagging method.
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:22 PM
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You could charge per hour. It is hard to tell you exactly how to charge since each yard is different and will have different amounts of leaves. After doing this for years I am pretty good at estimating the amount of time it will take me and the amount I will need to charge for it. Remember that clean-ups usually take a little longer than you originally expect.
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Old 06-20-2009, 09:51 PM
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I will probably charge by the hour. At $15 an hour?
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:11 PM
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$40/hr for me. If they can't afford that, then I can't afford the time. In the fall, I'm a fulltime college student. If they pay well, then I can afford the time. If not, then too bad.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:17 PM
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Good point there Tim. Busy w/ school and other mowing. I will say about $40/hr.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:21 PM
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I mean, it's not like we have the equipment or crew to knock a yard out in under an hour, lol. Milk it while you can.
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Old 06-20-2009, 10:32 PM
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It's never too early to think about fall clean-up!

Here's what I do. I work alone so take that under consideration.
Equipment:
Back Pack Blower (Echo750)
Tarp
Rake+Spare
Small Flower Bed Rake
Small house broom
ZTR with bagger/blower+mulching blades

Routine:
Check wind. The wind can work with you, or against. It can sometmes be as good as a second guy if you work it right.
Start around foundations, trees, and shrubs getting leaves into lawn. I use backpack blower for most of this but for those shrubs that hang on to the leaves, there is no beating a rake. The smaller, flower bed rake (rake with very narrow head) works well when bushes are tight.
Once the leaves are in the lawn, I start picking them up with the bagger. There are times I take the blower off, mulch the leaves up a bit and then put the blower back on and pick them up. The problem with this is it can leave some leaf "litter" on the lawn. The types of leaves or needles also dictate how I do things. Oak leaves don't mulch as well as maple leaves so I just go ahead and bag them. If it makes more sense to put them on the tarp, then I go that route...but not often. It's sort of like playing pool, you have to look ahead as things progress, change your strategy as conditions dictate. Then it's just a matter of dumping them. Some clients allow dumping on site, some I just take to the curb or pick-up.
Since I work alone, I network with some of the other guys in the area and pay them to pick up my leaves. Obviously passing this cost along to the customers.
Pricing. Pricing is based upon what I bid the job at the beginning. I give them a quote and 24hrs to decide. There are two reasons for the 24 hour stipulation. 1-It gets them to decide quicker( I don't tell them this part). 2-It covers my rear in case weather changes and changes the characteristics of the yard. Wind, rain or snow( I do tell them about this part). What it boils down to is $90/hr for the machine if I'm on it, and $45hr for me if I'm not. Some lawns are "Jackpot" Lawns that I can spend an hour or two just blowing leaves into the woods and pocketing $200. Most lawns end up around the $280 with leaves removed. I can usually do 2-3 a day depending on the light. As long as I can get the leaves into the lawn, I can bag well after dark since I installed a light kit about 3 years ago.
The last couple of seasons I was busy right up to first snow. Good $$$!

Something I learned last year. I had to do this leaf job for a property before a certain date. The only time I could do it was when there was a steady drizzle. The leaves were 90% oak 10% white pine needles. Everything was damp/wet. The oak leaves mulched and packed like I've never seen before. I think I reduced my turn/dump time by at least 200%! The bags were packed tight, I only had to clean the blower once.
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