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blowing leaves

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by soilman, Oct 28, 2005.

  1. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    OK, I got a nice backpack blower (Echo 260i), a rake, a snow-shovel, a garden cart, lawn and leaf bags, a garbage can, a mower that converts between mulching and bagging, and I have a customer that wants me to do a fall leaf cleanup.

    So... what's the fastest way to do the leaf cleanup? I've been practicing with the blower in my backyard and even tho they call it a "leaf" blower, it doesn't save as much time, for me, gathering up leaves, over a rake, as it saves for cleaning up the sidwalk after edging it, over using a broom. It is really a terrific time saver for cleaning up after edging, but not so great for cleaning up yards of leaves.

    It is hard to blow the leaves into a pile. Once i've managed to get some scattered leaves together, I can get them into a sort-of pile, but then if I try to blow some more leaves toward the initial pile, as i approach the pile -- then the initial pile blows away! Blowing the leaves into a fence-corner -- as the leaves reach the corner, then the leaves already in the corner, scatter. Seems to be more trouble than its worth, and only slightly faster than using a rake. Certainly, much noisier, and the vibrations and smell of exhaust furmes, gets unpleasant after not too long a time. A rake remains a pleasant tool to use, except for the tired muscles you get, and fatigue you get, after using it for a real long time. But exhaust fumes, noise, vibrations, seem more debilitating and unpleasant than a few tired muscles. Wearing ear, eye, and respiratory protection, gets unpleasant too, after a while.

    Maybe it is easier to just use a rake for fal leaf cleanup? Rake the leaves into a big pile, then go over them with the bagging mower, to shred the leaves. Then empty the mower bag into a lawn and leaf bag. This seems easir than picking up unshreeded leaves wtih a snow shovel, and then trying to shovel them to a lawn and leaf bag. Or using a pitch fork hay fork thing, or garden fork, to transfer leaves from pile to bag.

    Any opinions, suggestions?

    I would prefer to compst the leaves by the way, thus having nice compost for use in the spring to add to tilled soil before seeding grass, to spread around bushes, to use in vegetable gardens. Mixing grass clippings with the leaves makes higher-nitrogen compost.
  2. uspw

    uspw LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    well, it is pretty much up to the induvidual how they want to handle their fall cleanups. i, personally would die without my Redmax!! it is pretty much impossible to get leaves into a perfect pile with only blowers. it is inevitible that you will be raking them. however, i have found the easiest way is to blow the bulk of the leaves into somewhat of a pile, use a rake to "neaten" up the pile, and then go over the lawn with the mower to get the last few leaves. what kind of collection system do you have (by hand or by loader)?

    using the blower can get very frustrating when you are contending with the wind, but if you use the wind to your advantage (whenever possible) the blower will save you time, and you will be less fatigued.
  3. ALBsun1

    ALBsun1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 114

    Leaf jobs are ten times easier when there are two people involved. One to blow and another to rake, bag, or rake onto a tarp and drag out of the yard.
    But, make no mistake, a good backpack can move a hell of a lot more material than a rake.
  4. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    thanks uspw and ALBsun1.

    Not sure what you mean. I have one of those garden cart with 26 inch wheels, lawn and leaf bags, and a garbage can with wheels that I use hold a bag while I fill it. I will try to suggest to some customers that they might like to compost their leaves. IF they want to spring for the extra time and extra cost. If they have a vegetable garden. even if not. Hauling leaves to the town compost facility is like hauling away and wasting your soil, hauling away your LAND, the deep mineral micro-nutrients that only deep tree roots can reach, and add to the surface soil when their leaves fall, and then there are the soil-aerating and soil-conditioning qualities of humus.
  5. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    There is a removable door at the rear of the (pull)-cart. You can remove the door, tilt the rear of the cart all the way down to the ground, them sweep or rake things into the cart -- sort of like its a giant dustpan. But i usually find it easier to move leaves with a snow shovel, or one of those pitch forks with the narrow round tines (as opposed to a "garden fork" with flat tines that are thicker and heavier.) From the cart to the bag in the garbage can, I often just ue my hands.

    I need to think this thru better. I don't think I'm doing this the most efficient way, at all.
  6. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    It looks like I MAY have another job, cleaning up leaves, and a little brush too. It is about 1/8 to a 1/4 acre lot with a house and I think about 4 oak trees, 1 large 2 medium. So in another week there will be a LOT of leaves.

    I compost all my own leaves. The free compost that the town gives you, from collected leaves -- it smells funny. My compost smells like soil. Plust they probably have dog urine and feces mixed in and dead squirrels, as they collect some leaves from along the road.

    I will probably not make much money on my first leaf-cleanup job as I really don't know how to do it efficiently or estimate the time. That blower is GREAT for cleaning up the sidewalk after edging, tho.
  7. uspw

    uspw LawnSite Member
    Messages: 69

    basically what i meant by what kind of collection system was if you manually loaded the leaves into your truck, or sucked them up with a leaf loader. i dont know how buisy you are now or how buisy you plan to get, but if it is within your price range, a leaf loader is the way to go.
  8. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    Right. I know what kind of collector you mean, uspw. I don't have a truck.

    I just put the leaves in a plastic bag, supported by a garbage can, usually after going over the leaves with my bagging mower. I leave the bag at the curb for collection by the town, or I'll tell the customer what night to bring the bag out for collection, plus give them a reprint of the town leaf and brush collection schedule, with my name and phone number on it.

    I also toll customers they can bring grass clippings, leaves and brush to one of 3 composting sites, at no fee, but I have no truck and am unable to offer this service. I remind them they can also pick up free compost there, and suggest that making their own compost would be better.
  9. soilman

    soilman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    ALBsun1 writes
    Do you have any suggestions as to what size tarp would be best for this particular job. Too big, and it may perhaps be too hard to drag. Too small, and perhaps it may not hold enough leaves to make its use worthwhile.
  10. ahill713

    ahill713 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    hey a good trick i learned when picking up leaves in a pile is to put a trashbag between your legs over the pile and tucking the ouside of the bag under your feet. with one hand holding the top of the bag open and with the other to pull the whole pile in. Saves a TON of time... kinda hard to explain with words too. Hope it helps though.

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