How long to trim a privit hedge?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by 32vld, Jul 8, 2011.

  1. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Thank's to all that shared their knowledge. Yes I meant 5', typo on my part.

    An elderly lady owns the place and lives alone. The one son that use to do things for her has passed away. The other son lives out west.

    This past winter she was refered to me for snow removal. So I approached her about landscaping. She wasn't happy with her current guy and has given me a shot. Her lawn was being over taken by moss and weeds with many bare spots.

    She complained I was charging to much to weed and feed. She said I show you my bill from last year. She had been billed at a lower rate per application but was charged for 6 apps, but her total bill was more then I was going to charge for her for this lawn season.

    Then I had to point out that not only did they charge more they did not use enough product that is why her lawn had deteriorated.

    At the start of the season she said her lawn doesn't grow and only wanted it cut ever other week, I agreed as long as her lawn didn't grow. Since April I got her lawn turned around and she told me her lawn never looked so good. Yet she asked why are clippings being left on the lawn. I told her she needs to have it cut every week because it's growing like it should now.

    Her response is you need to cut the lawn short, like the old (hispanic) guy did her place for the last few years. I pointed out that to cut her lawn short will only contribute to her lawn going down hill again. That at the proper height a lawn will not burn as easy, will set better roots, will choke out weeds.

    Then she tells me that one of the previous guy's employee (another hispanic)
    just came by and said your lawn looks awfull, it's too high, I cut it short for you for $25 every other week.

    I told her that if that was the way she wanted to go she could with the new guy but I was not going to do it for less then the $35 for the 11,236 sf lot that I charge now.

    So I mowed her lawn at the same height 3.5" as I always do. Told my friend (to cold to call some one that has been a good friend for a long time just an employee). Go extra slow today to help reduce clippings.

    When done she comes out and says the lawn looks real good today did you cut it shorter? I told her no same height as always then restate the importance of cutting at the right height.

    Then she said the new guy gave her a price to trim her hedge. She asked me how much I would charge. I told her 4 hours. So it would cost her $200.

    She then told me the new guy would do it for $30. I said no way that I can do that job for $30 and not lose money. So she said is it ok for him to do the hedge and I said sure.

    Even though I was not due to cut her lawn this week, on this past Wednesday my route takes me pass her house so I went to see if the hedges were done.

    From the driver seat of my vehicle they were not cut down enough to reach 5' and the top was cut like a rolling wave with about a 6" variation about every 3' lenght on the top.

    I wonder what she will have to say next week.

  2. 2 words-DROP HER
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I would but I don't have a lot of customers at this point.
  4. capetrees

    capetrees LawnSite Member
    from ma
    Messages: 221

    For the time you're putting into this one client, feeling that you need to keep her is a wrong idea. She's playing you and while you're cutting her lawn at a low rate, you could be making more on a different lawn with less headaches. Once she pays up in full to you, walk. If she's going to compare every price to some low baller that you then have to come back in to fix while feeling guilty giving her a new and higher bill considering she just paid a guy, it's not worth your while. Believe me, I've been there. Get rid of the dead wood. If she has no faith in you, why work there?
  5. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,136

    32vid, It could be that she is going to learn that she cannot rely on hacks and that thirty bucks does not buy much landscaping. It is up to her to decide if she wants a dead lawn and scraggly shrubs, or if she is willing to spend what it takes to do the job right.

    Stick to your prices and do not waste time trying to keep her, but if she comes around you could have a good customer when she gets tired of her landscape looking fubar.

    I have been through this many times and it seems that if the prospect is living in a nice home and has all the other expensive things in life, then she will likely come to the conclusion that saving money on landscape services is not consistent with her lifestyle and image. On the other hand if this prospect is living in a moderate or low budget property, then likely she will keep bargain shopping.

    What part of Long Island is this job? I used to live in Roslyn Hts.
  6. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    I stuck to my price. After I mowed her lawn a few more times on 8/10/11 she called me a few days later and said her son was moving back home from Vegas and he would be doing her lawn.

    Nesconset. Roslyn Hts, how did you get to St Louis?
  7. ny scaper

    ny scaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 171

    Call me a jerk or wahtever, but this is why I rarely take on customers that are older than the babyboomer era. I like little old ladies and men as much as anyone, but it has been my experience that they nickel and dime alot of things and it really isnt worth it to me. They want more for waaaayyyyy less. I dont know if thats just how things were back then, but I feel that many of the senior folk do not understand what it costs these days to run a landscaping company.
    IE: Had a $30 lawn I started in the middle of the year (RED FLAG!) few years back. I specifically explained the lawn would need weekly cuts (nice full healthy lawn). Lady agrees. I show up for the second cut and get asked to not mow the lawn and only cut every two weeks or when she called me. I explained I could not do that as her lawn needed weekly cuts in order for proper maintenance. She said her last guy did it and at that point rather than get into the "where is he now?" debate, I bowed out. Jst rather not haggle over the small stuff.
  8. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,136

    Good for you sticking to your price, good for her and her son, I guess...

    Started in Brooklyn, then Ohio, then St. Louis, where I had my Daughter. Then Florida, then back to NY, and then Back to St. Louis to be with my Daughter and friends. I still miss Long Island after twenty years back here!
  9. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Thing is I have learnt not to take on customers that only want every other week cuts.

    I kept her because I had been away from landcare for many years. Not having enough customers her money made me willing to put up with her. Now I know different.

    The best thing her lawn was going down hill, bare spots all over, moss everywhere. Treated her lawn, reseeded bad spots. End of June she is gushing how nice her lawn looks. Never looked this good in years. But always complaining also. Why you charge so much to weed and feed. National company was charging me less I show you the bill. She showed me the bill and I showed the national was costing her more then I was I pointed out that they had not been putting enough of, or the right stuff down because her lawn was not healthy before I started.

    Then I agreed to mow every other week in the beginning but once/if her lawn took off it would need weekly mowing. She said ok. Well her lawn took off and needed to be cut every week she would not agree, saying wait till next week yet she would complain that there was too much grass clipping left behind.

    Would tell her the lawn needs to be cut every week if she didn't need want to see grass clippings.

    Her solution was to cut it at 2". I would not because it was unheathy for the lawn. If this is what your last guy did this is why your lawn went bad.

    As usual when faced with facts she would ignore them.


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