Lets start planning fall cleanups.

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by shovelracer, Jun 22, 2008.

  1. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    So it is going to be real interesting to see what the rates will have to be for the fall cleanup season. Especially cause we had nothing, but moaning and groaning last year from that increase. I am looking into new ways to cut costs to the customer and save me time, but still make money. Around here almost everyone goes by the strip it down to the soil method, every leaf, every time. As you can figure out this can get real expensive when you are talking about multi acre wooded lots. Fact is a lot of people around here have their houses for sale for less than they bought them for a few years ago.

    How can we go greener, help the health of the lawn, and still save money? Obviously 4-5 guys each burning 1/2-3/4 of a gallon of 2 stroke an hour adds up. And stripping all compostable material off the lawn isnt really good. And the labor of 4-5 guys adds up real quick. What about mulching the leaves and letting them sit in the lawn to decompose? Fuel would be reduced by a gallon or two an hour, labor could be cut down to 2 guys per site, leaves would decompose adding nutrients back to the soil. Calling it a "green clean" would draw a higher premium, but still less than the old 5 man hours per hour method. How thick can you leave the leaves and not risk issues with suffocation, fungus, etc.

    Id like to hear more on this idea. I also would like to know what you guys are planning. I know some customers were not real happy about $1K cleanups last year, not sure if they would go for a $1300-1500 cleanup this year.
     
  2. jaybird24

    jaybird24 LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 623

    I'm with you on the idea. I figure I'd have to mulch weekly at least to keep up though. Since we are not typically mowing at this time and cleanups are a 1 or 2 time thing would I actually save gas when I have to mulch for 4 or 5 weeks? Right now we compost the leaves and sell it or use it in other areas, but I'm not married to this program. Possibly mulch the lawn areas as if mowing and then 1 cleanup of the beds at the end. I like the idea, but like you need some real world input.
     
  3. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    I like the idea of cleaning the beds at the end, the other option is to kick them out into the lawn first and then grind it all up. I know several people wont go for it cause they want it the old way. If I can get people to go for it, they will save money, I will spend less on labor, the result will be benificial, and I can use less fuel per job. I think that just the implication that it is better for the environment would help.
     
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    Next question is how much fuel is really used cleaning, sucking up, driving, dumping, and composting each ton of leaves. Im guessing about 10 gallons by the time you get it to the point you can call it compost.
     
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,082

    Here we have pine needles coming down in the mowing season, so those we simply bag as we mow high. By the end of the third week the pine needles are done and the oak leaves start. Small amounts I can mulch into the lawn if noone cares how it looks, but large amounts will kill the grass.
    Oak Leaves need to be removed within a few days of being pasted to the ground by rain. Maple leaves can be mulched down quite easliy but I prefer to spread them out by side shooting. Spreading sugar or molasses will give the lawn a quicker breakdown time, of the leafy material.
    All in all trying to mulch the fall leaves is risky business and careful judgement must be used to decide if any given lawn is a good candidate at any given time.

    Even with regular cleanups b4 the snow last year we had many leaf shaped dead spot after the thaw this spring.
     
  6. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    But if you are ably to get all the leaves ground down real fine and evenly dispersed throughout the lawn would it be a problem. The grass will grow through it once it starts warming up, or wont it? I saw this spring that the very first places that the grass started was on the side of the roads. These areas get leaves and lots of snow buildup. If this is a bad idea, then how else can we get cleanups to use less fuel, time, and expense?
     
  7. k911lowe

    k911lowe LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 526

    kinda tough to do when its been 110 deg for two weeks.just cant get into doing that until late Sept.
     
  8. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    We need to get our contracts out in the early summer, cause it takes everyone 3 months to get them back. Otherwise we have a route lined up, then someone is calling wanting a cleanup tomorrow, when we already have a 3 week backlog.

    K911 I love arizona your dry 110 is nothing compared to our humid 100. AZ and UT are by far the prettiest places in the 48. A lot come close, Ive been to 37 of them and plan to see a few more, but hope to retire in the southwest. Just havent figured out how you can work outside there.
     
  9. sven1277

    sven1277 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 645

    We blow the leaves out in the yard and spread them around, mulch them up, then use the vac mower to suck them up and dispose of them. Mulching alone on all but the lightest leaf jobs will damage or stress the yard.
     

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