bagging leaves and pinestraw economically

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by MSmith, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. MSmith

    MSmith LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    I am new to the business and have picked up some accounts that still have leaves and pinestraw on the ground. I have my 44 inch Toro Proline Walkbehind as a starter mower. I will buy a ZTR mower when my business justifies it. In the meantime, what is the most economical way to get rid of leaves and pinestraw? I don't have a bagger on my walk behind or mulch kit. Can you mulch pinestraw? Are there any other ideas out there?

    Those of you that don't have a $ 2,500 bagger on your ZTR, how do you deal with it? I just finished bagging 25 bags of blown pinestraw and leaves. I'm tired and looking for ideas. I have thought of a bagger for my walk behind just for that. I have also thought of getting a cheap residential used rider just for bagging pinestraw and leaves.

    Any ideas appreciated.

  2. mastercare

    mastercare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 289

    People may laugh at this, but rakes, blowers and bags work just fine. I do all of my leaf cleanups this way, and just charge per man-hour. I don't have the huge equipment for leaf cleanup yet, but that day will come. What I like about the old way is that you can get paid a good hourly rate, and keep almost all of it for a profit...little to no equipment to maintain or pay for. Also, the customers don't mind writing you checks if 2 guys spend 3 hours in their yard. They saw you working hard, and are so glad they didn't have to do it themselves. when you pull up with a $3000 leaf loader and do it in 45 minutes, they wonder why they're paying so much for such little work.
    Customers will never understand that speed is only acquired through big investments in your company, and you're not "making a killing" like they think.

    My theory is this: Even if you're inefficient, take the work, earn better profit margins, and get them as a regular customer. when you do their leaf cleanups, set aside 25% of your profits into an account, and buy the equipment when you can pay cash. This will take a long time....but in the meantime you're building your customer base. When you buy the equipment, you'll have the repeat cleanup customers already lined up, and they're used to paying a certain price. Now when you come in and do it in half the time, they won't be surprised by the price vs. time becuase they're used to paying that same price!

    1. Build your customer base,
    2. Pay cash for the equipment
    3. Enjoy a decent hourly income with little expenses (lots of work)
    4. Finally, service your repeat customers in half the time with equipment that is paid for, and recieve full price for your services..
  3. MSmith

    MSmith LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Can mulch blades do anything with pine straw?
  4. jayandlo

    jayandlo LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Messages: 35

    MSmith point your WB so the chute is facing inwards. Start on the outside and blow he leaves inward until you've created a pile in the center of the yard. Then bag.
  5. chevyman1

    chevyman1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    check it out, it holds 300 gallons of SHREDDED Leaves...just awesome. Mine paid for itself in 4 days or work!
  6. mownredneck

    mownredneck LawnSite Member
    Messages: 245

    Pine straw is a pain in the butt! I had mulching blades on my mower and baggin it this year. First mulch the pinestraw up as much as possible going over and over it then when it is at a resonable size or it is medium sized, put the bagger on there and bag it. Go slowly over it to make sure not to stop it up.
  7. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    I'm with mastercare on that too, for the old way! Good advice, btw.
    The rake, tarp, 3-wheel blower, and especially the backpack blowers!!
    Its less hours on the mowers too.

    With 3 gator blades ($20 each) on our Dixie 25 Kohler and the discharge-baffle closed we can grind lotsa dry oak leaves into a 2.5" or 3" cut, or use it as one big blower back into the beds or to the street -never needed to get the motor/chute/catcher apparatus.

    Our 48" Bobcat 17Kaw hydro with 3 ($15 each)gator blades has the power to fill a $200 Grass Gobbler at least 2/3 full of ground leaves. Grass Gobbler adaptor bracket for our Bobcat was only $20.
    here's pictures/pricing i just googled:

    We'd have to buy a curbside vac if we were doing more leaf haul-aways. We get leaves tarped out to the curbsides for the municipal vacuuming dates, or hauled to their woods, mostly.
  8. moremowing4me

    moremowing4me LawnSite Member
    from S.C.
    Messages: 148

    Pine straw is a pain but can be done best with a bagger imo. leaves can just be mulched and they will look pretty good, but in the fall when my bagger goes on it stays on and I bag everything until spring comes around and I break out the mulch kit.
  9. MSmith

    MSmith LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    So would if I go the bagging route, is a bagger on my walk behind a good alternative? Is the factory Toro the way to go? Anybody know how expensive that would be.

    thanks for all the advise.
  10. moremowing4me

    moremowing4me LawnSite Member
    from S.C.
    Messages: 148

    I dont know about the price of the factory bagger for your mower but you can try an aftermarket one like from accelerator(sp?) industries. do a search on here and you will find the link.It will prob. run you about 300$ or so, but well worth it if you do at least ten yards or more. also you might want to look into the meg-mo blades. I am going to purchase some for next fall. I do not have them yet but I hear that they will grind the stuff up finer so you will be able to fit more into your bagging unit. I hope that this helps. Oh by the way, meg-mo is a sponsor of this site and there link is at the top of the home page. If you have anymore questions I will be glad to help the best that I can :waving:

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