Leaves: Customer vs Landscaper Discussion

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Darryl G, Oct 19, 2012.

  1. Groomer

    Groomer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,681

    you have to remember too that each year is a little different. I'm seing a greatly reduced leaf volume this season due to the extreme drought, I think, not to mention the decimation from the ash borer. I have whole stands of ash trees that are leafless and dead. On one property alone I counted 23 dead ash trees, no cleanup there! I haven't tarped anything yet, but will next week. I get it to the curb and another local landscape guy swings by with his vac crew. So glad I don't have to fool with pickup and disposal anymore.
  2. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    I guess the point of my original post was to point out that there is a difference between how we see things and how the customer sees them. Most of them think that a one-time cleanup is the way to go, not understanding that by the time that would occur the lawn would have been smothered for weeks, the grass will be long and the leaves will be thick, wet and matted. Not to mention that if you have multiple properties to service, there is just not enough time to get all the cleanups done at that point before winter sets in without having to call in the National Guard for help.
  3. LawnScapers of Dayton

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

    We take both trucks.....one pulling the dump one....pulling the enclosed with mowers and blowers......

    I just sold my flatbed dump and bought another pickup. I had the vac mounted on the dumptruck plowmount and a 16yd box on the dump pulling the mowers and blowers..... It was a great fall set up......but the dumptruck was not good for the rest of the year because it was a 454 gas hog.....and with hiring 2 employees this year I had to make a change......running around town in the 454 was very expensive......

    So for the fall I have to take both trucks....not a huge problem. I need the vac system for my curbside pickup service....
  4. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,647

    Most of my customers want the yard kept clean even if the grass isnt growing. Ill do leaves until Christmas then the business gets real slow.
  5. MOW ED

    MOW ED LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,028

    Darryl I am with you on the way you do the cleans. As a matter of fact your original post here sounded just like what I did this Wednesday. Our method of clean is different but our philosophy with the customer is exactly the same.
    My customers don't question either. I tell them I work until Thanksgiving (that historically has been the day for me over 17 years) so I will stop by to either cut or clean or both depending on the property. I do have some leaf clean only customers and they just get the clean when needed. I don't cut their lawn just do the clean.
    They don't have a problem of when or how I do the job, it just gets done and I bill accordingly. Our billing philosophy is a little different as I do track time on each property and then bill additionally at the end of the season for a "Fall Clean" showing dates of service on the invoice but only a total for the customer.
    I do have one long time customer who is an older lady and it appears that she wants every leaf off all day long. She would probably pay me to be there 7 days a week. I will not take advantage of this lady as she is very nice and I enjoy working there so I sometimes show up and do a quick clean of about 20 minutes twice a week. I could spend hours there. She understands that it takes time for all the trees ( and there are huge maples that wait until late november to dump) to let go and I do my best to keep her place up.
    Otherwise I just plug away according to the hand mother nature deals. I have been sitting for 4 days now with no work because of rain. I hope next week gets better.
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    One aspect of the job that doesn't seem to get much airplay and that is suffocation... I typically cleanup after a rain so that allows a greater time period before the next rain causes leaves to suffocate the grass and perhaps,,,actually cause death...

    I've started my second round of cleanup since it has been over 2 weeks ago that I started... before that , suffocation wasn't an issue becuz it was so dry... also the dryness created dust and the subsequent removal of topsoil...

    LCOs need to prevent people from killing their turf by allowing wet leaves stick to,,, and suffocate,,, the grass...
  7. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Smallaxe - I totally agree. A common thing I see when homeowners do their own leaves is a very clumpy growth habit to their lawn. What happens is leaves settle and stick to any bare spots, suffocating the lawn there and increasing the size of the bare spots. This perpetuates the cycle. Couple that with the grass getting long and laying over and choking itself out and you can destroy a nice lawn in no time.

    Trying to renovate this kind of lawn can also be difficult because a slit seeder doesn't get into the hollows very well, so you almost need to topdress the whole lawn. I had a lawn like this that I renovated only to have it return to it's clumpy growth habit. The customer was doing the mowing and cleanups themself. It was only after making multiple follow-up visits did I realize they were letting the leaves sit for extended periods and mowing high with a mulching mower, which never stood the grass up.

    THIESSENS TLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 892

    I decided to try the leaf cleanup this year. one of my customers wants to wait until they are all down....and i pretty much told them the exact same thing, but they insist i wait. More money for me! As long as we advise them on what is best for them then i guess we've done our job and can only give them what they ask for after that! my other customers understand except for the one.

    THIESSENS TLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 892

    just read your post, makes perfect sense. maybe i'll have to have a talk with one of my customers.
  10. jrs.landscaping

    jrs.landscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 2,764

    We do two rounds of cleanups. We do one in the fall to keep most of the leaves off the lawn, we are done around Thanksgiving as well. Then we blow out the beds, and clean all the leaves in the spring. We tell customers not to panic, we'll be back in the Spring to take care of the leaves that are still on the trees. One property we do still had leaves in Feb. That would have been a long cold wait for the leaves to come off those trees.

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