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How do you folks get by charging for leaf cleanups?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by QualityLawnCare4u, Sep 16, 2005.

  1. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    Alright, don't blast me for this one, but since Ive been on lawn site Ive been amazed about all the talk on leaf cleanup. All my yards have pecan, magnolia, dog woods, oaks and pines not counting many others. I have never charged for a leaf cleanup in 8 years. What I do is take my blower and blow the leaves away from house and flower beds (by this time of the year weed eating is about done with) and the time comes out about the same. I then use the mower to mulch them up and that is it. I actually done a yard today like this (lots of pecan leaves) and finished 15 minutes faster than what it usually takes because the grass had hardly grown and no weed eating.
    Yesterday did 2 with pine straw and both yards took me about 10 minutes longer to mulch than mow (straw is a b--ch). Other LCO I talked to in my area don't charge extra for it either unless its hauling them off. Now if I have to bag them and take them off I would charge extra for it but 90% of my clients are happy with mulching. I keep reading on here about all the $$$ in leaf cleanup but I wished it would go over here, would like to get extra for it.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Birds of a feather fly together... usually! What I mean by that is the different ways you read about to service accounts is a regional thing. What works and is considered normal in one area just won't work in another. For example a lot of the guys in New England bag every lawn that they cut and then they get all huffy when someone suggests that they could maybe trying discharging instead. "It's not good for the lawns, it builds up the thatch layer and looks bad". In my area it's extremely rare to see someone bagging. There are just too many clippings to bag on a large scale.

    What I have done is convert my heavy leaf jobs from mulching to leaf cleanup. Through most of the fall season I do just charge the regular mowing fee when the leaves are slowly falling. We get to a point when the leaves come off of the trees rapidly and all at once. A few years back I changed the billing title for the big fall from "lawn service" to "leaf cleanup" and changed the billing from flat rate to hourly. I made sure though that for the first year the price came out exactly the same for the leaf cleanup as it did for the lawn service. The customer could now recognize that lawn servicing and leaf cleanup were 2 different things. The next year I just bumped the hourly rate up for the leaf cleanup by 5 bucks an hour and continued to bump it each year until I got the rate to where I wanted it to be. New customers just pay for a leaf cleanup when the big fall comes.

    I also think you are seeing big prices for leaf cleanup because a lot of guys wait until all of the leaves have fallen before they do anything. At that point it takes a good bit of time to do and you should charge accordingly.
  3. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    i agree with RM that each area is different . In Catonsville there are areas with old growth trees and larger lots that can't be mulched into the lawn . They have to be removed, They are just too thick. Where I cut the houses usuall are 1/4 acre with less trees even though it is just one neighborhood over. I sell "leaf maintenance" I typically charge $15 to $20 more when I cut to mulch up the leaves in the yard by riding around and around grinding the leaves into fine pieces. Not a full cleanup but make it look good. This was a technique i learned here on lawnsite by the late great Eric ELM!! I have a mulch kit on one mower with double blades and a grass gobbler on the other. The leaf MAINTENANCE concept gets the customer to pay for several small cleanups in the fall rather than one big final. I sold them on this idea to make their props look good each week and keep their neighbors from complaining about them not keeping up with their leaves and to prevent the leaves from choaking out their lawn. Now when I do the final cleanup and clean out the gutters and beds the job is more managable and better to judge the time it takes.
  4. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    I agree, it must be a regional thing. In my area bagging is not real popular except for the over 70 folks. I continue doing yards right up till thanksgiving when most of the leaves have fallen. Now pine trees are a horse of another color, they fall year round and really put it down in the fall and winter.
  5. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,686

    I have a few that are 60 man-hours for one estate obviously I need to charge for that. I expect to make 40k this fall on clean ups and that is nothing when you add in my costs and my time and the huge amount of extra labor we need at this time of year. But if we do not do them and we risk losing the accounts and its not like I have something better to do in Nov and Dec so breaking a little over even is still better then nothing. Basically it will pay for my new truck I am getting next week I found me a 99 ram 3500 quad cab rack dump body fully loaded even leather seats and she’s a diesel with only 82000 miles so I will suffer through fall for that. Wont tell you how hard it is to find a dump truck with a larger cab put it this way the truck trader mag up here has 10000 listings each week in 4 weeks I found none I could afford only listings were new. And of the new ones that still added up to less then 10 in 4 weeks out of 40000 listings.
  6. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Leaves make nothing here either. Well save for the ocassional 5 to 10 bucks a week I may add on for extra time spent blowing out landscapes.

    Mulching leaves works good early in the fall when things are just beginning to drop. After that, the mulcher is only good for grinding up the leaves to reduce the number of times I have to dump the catcher while bagging them.

    You are so right about edging and trimming. Won't be long and most properties won't need it at all anymore! The trade off of lugging around a blower is not a great one tho... lol!
  7. kc2006

    kc2006 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    In NE ohio leaves are HUGE money makers.

    Most companies will get backed up right when the leaves start to fall and alot of customers are on waiting lists. I speak with 5 other companies local and all agree that right when the leaves fall they get tons of calls and normally have to schedule a couple weeks full of clean ups. This was true when I worked for a company, we were out morning until after dark with leaves and the list would grow and grow. One year we were still out in early January sucking up piles that had snow on them because these were not priority jobs and had to wait.

    If all goes as planed and all my advertising works I will profit alot more from just Oct-Nov doing leaves then I did all summer mowing.
  8. LawnScapers of Dayton

    LawnScapers of Dayton LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Dayton, OH
    Messages: 2,572

    I wish I could just mow weekly until Dec 1. But as of the first of October I change to bi-weekly visits at 2x (and sometimes a little more) the normal mowing fee. I can still mulch the leaves and I have less overhead per lawn since I make 2 trips a month instead of 4 or 5. Most lawn will get 5 visits for leaves. I Usually finish up the first 2 weeks of December.
  9. Likestomow

    Likestomow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 997

    For me it depends on where I am with the price of mowing on each property. If I am bare-bones, I charge extra for mulching leaves. But on many properties I am a good bit above so I just charge the same rate each visit as I would for mowing. I actually prefer this way of charging as it is much easier for a client to pay the same rate all year. Then some properties get a year-end clean-up and I charge enough to make a good profit on each one.
  10. dlandscaping

    dlandscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from mass
    Messages: 835

    Here lawns can be 4k sq feet of turf, and surrounded on all sides by shrubs. Then there are trees all over. This equates to 6" of leaves on some yards. Also, a lot of clients trees drop branches which are too thick to mulch. If its possible to charge for cleanups, why do it for free.

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