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Fall clean up. A whole neighborhood

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by TPnTX, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    One thing I forgot to add. A code enforcement officer was all over us yesterday. After driving past a few dozen bags on the curb he pulls up and says, You guys better make sure you bag all of this or haul it off. I thought it was obvious what we were doing.

    Anyway I said so what do all the other companies do around here. He said they just blow into the street. He hung around the rest of the day but there was another company upgrading meters so Im not sure why he came back several times. I bet he could issue a fairly hefty fine.
  2. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    My 61" grasshopper has the 3 bag collector with blower. I use it all year for grass and it works great for leaves. I can clean pavement with it too, the deck needs to be 2" or so to creat the vaccuum without blowout. Of course different mowers may behave differently. Because of how it shreads the leaves it usually PACKS the bags tight and heavy.

    Another option, for more volume, is the Cyclone rake. They sell several versions, including a heavier commercial one. You can either dump it on the ground or use the blower that's on it to suck the leaves back out of the trailer and blow them into your dump trailer. (you would need a mesh cover on the trailer).

    I'd do anything to avoid the drudgery of shoving leaves into plastic bags... Especially if they aren't shreadded up at all. Though your this leaves you speak of may not shread much because of their already small size.
  3. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    no the bulk of them are larger ones.

    I never thought of using the hose to empty the container. Now the next problem is that most of those are 8" hose. Just like the lower end leaf loader. That seems small to me.

    Does your grass hopper have any of the add on directional pieces under the deck?
  4. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    They have a section of sheet metal that's bent and bolts onto the underside front of the deck on the right hand half of it. It just helps with some of the blowout. Usually you want to use lower lift blades or Gator blades with leaves. Too much lift = too much aif flow = more blowout.

    Yeah, I wouldn't think the small blower/loader and hose would make sucking the leaves out of the hopper go very quick, but I don't know, never used one before. I know there's guys up in the northeast that use them that are on here too...
  5. ponyboy

    ponyboy LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ny
    Messages: 1,572

    i guessed i missed this one i would love to see what he calls a finished product? It is not his fault it is the mgmt co they should have requested an equipment list. They are small lawn but still blow them into the street and suck them up, (some one here has a comm vac for sale for 2800 would save you so much time) Well you have the bid so good luck just post some finished pics so we can see. What else is in the contract chemicals,gutters,weeding???? How many full time guys do you have, do you have business insurance, workers comp are you a legall lco, what does workers force down the road mean a bunch of illegals ? would like some answers, thanks
  6. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    To be honest... I've never ever seen any LCO, large or small in the DFW area that used a leaf loader like you northern boys use up there. I don't really know why, other thn you guys do a hell of alot more leaves than we do down here.
  7. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    It might be a good niche business if you were to invest in one, I don't know. What I do know is at the rate we were blowing and raking into the street, 3-4 guys doing the bagging were keeping up with us. So at this point, I'm just going to handle it through the final clean up. I'll figure something out by next fall.

    We should be out there today but the wind is gusting at 30-35mph. Talk about chasing your tale. I called it off.

    Here is what i've managed to to piece together from this whole thing.

    As I very well know, there are 5 leaf cleanups on the contract/schedule. 3 in November and 2 in December.

    What I didn't know was the last company skipped at least 2 of the November cleanups.

    Then on Dec 2, I got an email from the HOA asking if the PMC had contracted me the prior week informing me that I'd got the contract. Which they had not.

    So it wasn't until the following week that I was able to get out there. We were able to get half of the clean up done. The other half is scheduled for today and i've pushed that out until Wednesday.

    The second and last cleanup is sheduled for the end of this year. I plan on getting it done in one day or 2 consecutive days.

    So overall if you follow the schedule, you can begin in november to keep leaves cleaned up as they fall. To some degree that will ease the 1st major cleanup in December. The final clean will be somewhat significant also as the remainder of leave should be down by then.

    Everyone understands that I was taken by surprise on this and from what they tell me. We're on track. Today really sucks though, I wanted to be out there.

    Ponyboy, those are all good questions. I will be getting my applicator license this winter. Other than a leaf loader a spray rig was the only big purchase expected.

    Mowing, trim shrubs, leaf cleanup and fert/pre-ms all for front yard and common areas only. All other services are the home owners responsibilities. That gives me 415 potential customers.

    As I mentioned earlier I have my crew lined up for next season. The labor camp is an excellent resourse. For me it will be as a backup only. It is ran by the city. You can find all the illeagals you want there. You can also find many people with a drivers license. Since you bring that up I suspect you have some bone to pick. I understand your not alone but rest assured, theres no need to be concerned.

    We are a fully insured and meet all requirements for the State of Texas. I file my taxes quartely.

    So what about you PonyBoy. are a legal and ligit company? Insured? Pay your taxes? Are you a lowballer? or do you charge what others in your area charge? Alls fair and I too would like some answers :)
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  8. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    Yeah, it's pretty cold and windy outside today. Not a great time to be doing leaves. I know, I know... all you northern guys think 30 degrees is a warm front.
  9. ponyboy

    ponyboy LawnSite Bronze Member
    from ny
    Messages: 1,572

    yes have been incorpated sine 1986 (my father i tooh over 15 years ago) i have 10 trucks on the road all my workers have paper work all my drivers have valid liscens i am certified for chemicals low baller no i lost $100,000 contract to a low baller this year he was 20% cheaper then my price 5 years ago. There is a huge difference in skilled labor to unskilled labores weeding out the good ones take a while but they will make you more money in the long run. we service app 300 proprities from some cut and runs up to a few multi million dollar estates and several small comm places. yes up here we use leaf loaders and i have taken on contracts that i was not set up for but once signed i went out and bought the necessary equipment and did not worry about a few thousand because i made i back and worst case i did not i could sell it. so good luck lets see some finished products, and if you are doing the roofs make sure the worker is insured for your sake. anything else feel free to ask
  10. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,775

    wow, thats a good sized op you got there. I'll say this once again because this thread has gotten a little long and isn't interesting enough to read all the way through.

    No one big or small in this whole metroplex area called DFW uses a loader. No one.

    Dealers do not have a clue as well. Anytime I went to a dealer, and I've talked to a few, I have had to explain to them what a loader is. We're talking major equipment dealers. The lesco/JD guy... he's never sold one. Invariably they try to sell me a Billy Goat. MV walk behind @ 2k lol. Those are a complete waste of money.

    Additionally and kind of a side note, no one that I know of except for the dealer around the corner has heard of Lawnsite. So I've got tons of LCO's that I know big and small and not one of them has heard of this website. Now there are plenty of guys on here from DFW, but not that many. If they did know about lawnsite, they would know about loaders, as I do.

    So I come here and ask for advice and everyone in the know graciously gives me very sound advice. Get a loader.

    I know everyone is right but consider this. I got two sides of the coin, advice from experts who manage more leaf cleanups each year than anyone around here will see in a lifetime. I get different advice from experts in this area who don't use them and none of the local dealers carry them or ever sell them. There is no used market for it so if I buy it it's mine to keep. You cannot rent one.

    I know you guys are right but I didn't at the time feel I would be making a prudent decision to rush out and buy one. Because it's not just the loader itself. I figured my out of pocket would be over 3500.00 by the time I tooled up. And I still have to have guys on the ground. So I made a decision to do what every single other company in the huge town does. Bagging.

    Bad decision? maybe I guess it depends who you ask. You keep asking to see the end result and I just laugh to myself. No way! :) screw that, I ain't sticking my head in that lions mouth. I'm only joking.

    Here is the way the leaf situation works around here at least in this particular neighborhood;
    in mid to late november leaves begin to turn and some fall, so you have very light cleanup which is about the same in terms of labor as mowing.

    The first two weeks of December you get a pretty good amount on the ground with a lot more to come.

    As of right now the remaining leaves are starting to drop at much faster rate. Ive got 14 acres half of which is solid oak trees. There very few leaves left on them as we speak.
    We've had usually high winds this year so this has had to affect it some.

    To put this into perspective a total season of leaves here is probably close to a first good drop for most of you guys.

    We were sheduled to do a clean up yesterday. I pulled the plug because the forecast called for 35mph gusts. Sunday we had 30 sustained most of the day.

    Today a lot of schools are closed because of winter weather. Another thing you guys would probably laugh at. There is very little precip.

    So we're on for wednesday.

    Over the weekend I made a bucket extension for my front end loader tractor. It's a Kubota HST7500. Again it's small but a really agile 4x4 tractor. You can do pretty significant work with it but at the same you can zip around as easily as a ZTR. So using light gage expanded metal and a square tube frame I made a big funnel shaped extension. I can lower it to street level and haul butt scoping up a bunch of leaves at a time. I put sides on a trailer and dumped onto it. It worked excellent.

    Since we're behind a lot of the leaves in the streets have matted down. I got a lot done yesterday but since it doesn't compress or mulch I filled up the trailer pretty quick. It is still and excellent setup in a pinch.

    They question was now my trailer of full, my tractor needs a ride home. So I just raised the bucket up high and drove right into the leaves??? It worked so I tarped it and drove home.

    That may sound red neck but I picked up a lot of wet leaves which in itself is worth it.

    More importantly what I learned is how I can make use of a loader where before I didn't think a loader was going to work out for me. When we blew the leaves into the street, the only way I saw a truck, a trailer and a loader being useful was if you raked it into big piles. A WB blower was out of the question. By the time you did that you could have bagged them from smaller piles.

    So...problem solved. This bucket along with a 5' scraper blade made short business of getting long shallow rows of leaves pushed into a big pile at the end of the street.

    So I am just going to ride out this year with what I got. By next fall, I'll have a loader of some sort and this will be much much easier to knock out.

    At this point I have to stay with what I know will work for this year. There is no time to shop, ship, assemble, learn how to use via trial and error a loader/hauler setup.

    I don't have a problem buying the equipment I need. But honestly I don't have resources to waste so Im overly cautious. I want to put as much of Dec, Jan and Feb receivables into the bank as I can. That way I'm looking good for next season. I won't have to worry as much about outstanding invoices and payroll which as many of you know is a problem that can take you down if you aren't prepared.

    "PonyBoy" isn't that from a CF Hutton book?
    my fingers are tired.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008

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