Question on leaf removal:

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by OMG, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. OMG

    OMG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    I'm not really equipped for bigtime leaf removals.

    I have trucks, trailers, Z's with mulching blades, blowers, etc......but no actual leaf removal equipment.

    I am considering getting more into this line, but I have a couple questions.

    1) Does all the extra leaf equipment really save time and overall is it worth the extra expense?-----Billy Goat, etc.

    2) Are the jobs easier to get than regular lawn maintenance or harder?

    3) Do you price these jobs at your normal rate.....or Higher/Lower?

    The reason I ask is up until now we only usually do 8-10 per year for regular mowing/hedging customers. Normally with these customers, they don't have a problem paying for our regular service. However, some seem to act like leaf removal should be a $7/hour type job.....I guess they don't realize the equipment we might use saves time.....Just a guess.

    Thanks for your replies.
  2. MDLawnman

    MDLawnman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 229

    I've just ventured into leaf cleanup this year by purchasing a Billy Goat leaf loader & mounting it on the front of my dump trailer. So I'm not perhaps the "expert" that alot of the other folks here are. However-

    1. If you HAVE to pick up the leaves & remove them from the property the leaf loader for me has been a great time saver. I've seen a few businesses in my area using plastic barrels or tarps to put leaves into their pickup trucks or trailers. I just don't see how that can be an effective use of time. I'm not trying to start an argument here. I've used tarps, they take a long time to use and you have to drag them and then lift them into the vehicle. The leaf loader shreds the leaves and reduces their size at a 12 to1 ratio. That's a lot of leaves in a smaller space. The mowers that you have should be great for mulching leaves. Use that technique wherever you can convince the customer of its benefits. It seems that the older customers that I deal with want the leaves picked up and hauled away no matter what.

    2. As far as getting the job to begin with, for me it has been as if I started a brand new business and no one has heard of what I do yet. Which come to think of it is true. I did advertise in ways that work for me and thus far I have made enough money to pay for the new equipment that I purchased. So if this venture goes the way that my mowing business did, I may not make any real money for several years. And you know what? That's OK with me. I had a pretty good mowing year for a change and I'm tired! I'm looking forward to a break. My steady mowing customers for the most part do not need leaf removal. 90% of my leaf clean ups have been new clients. I'm trying to apply mowing strategies to my leaf bidding. Meaning make the best educated bid (time wise) that I can and stick to it. Walk away if they say no.

    3. Thus far I've been pricing my leaf clean ups at the same hourly rate as my mowing bids. If I can master the bid process (which is only going to come thru trial and error, so far no two jobs have been the same) I feel that I can make a profit. The work is harder physically than mowing. With that in mind I suppose that I should bid or charge more for this service than I do for mowing. Since I'm just starting in the leaf clean up business I don't want to bid myself out of business by making high bids. I refuse however to low ball.

    No one in my little neck of the woods has a leaf loader. I'm the only one (so far). I can do the job a little quicker than my competition, but as I said earlier it's going to take time to build up a customer base.

    A good money maker for me has been to offer leaf pickup if the client will rake the leaves to the curb. I just show up, vacuum up the leaves and hand them an invoice. Easier for me, cheaper for the client.

    I hope this helps answer you questions. Good luck!!
  3. lawnprosteveo

    lawnprosteveo LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tulsa
    Messages: 1,930

    Im not really set up for leaf removal either. However I am set up enough to be in the least enough for me.

    If you have a good mower with a mulching kit, you can do alot of leaf jobs that way. I have alot of customers that let me come out weekly or every two weeks. That way Im never mulching too many leaves at one time. Works great and doesnt cost the customer much. I charge $40 per man hour for that type of work. Average billiing is $45-$60.

    There are some yards that mulching just doesnt work well or look good. On those I have a good backpack blower and tarps. I haul these into my trailer and take them to a local leaf dump. I charge $30 per man hour here. That may be a little low for some of the guys/gals on this site, but its about par here in Tulsa.
  4. charmill26

    charmill26 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 369

    i only tarped this fall as its my first year but i think a leaf loader would help alot because i've foudn most of the time spent it loading and packing down the leaves. with a loader you just tarp them all to the curb and suck it up. you can get alot more leaves in. i charge more than mowing and i think most people do but im not sure. oh and i found it way easier to get customers. i put out about 40 fliers a few weeks ago and have probalby gotten 15-20 calls so far
  5. seacoastlandscape

    seacoastlandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    sounds like you have a good start on the equipment side of things. A must is a vac, put a box on one of your trucks and get atleast a 16hp leaf loader, its one of the biggest time savers.Im assuming you already have a few backpack blowers, ground blowers are extremely helpful but not completely necessary unless your working on a huge job. In the last few seasons im finding it easier to do most jobs just with backpacks. As far as pricing I bid jobs on an estimation of how long I think it will take us at 75-85 per hour depending on how many guys you have on the job. I usually have 3-4 working on each job and im finding were finishing jobs much quicker and making about 100 per hour.
  6. wahlturfcare

    wahlturfcare LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 549

    this is my 3rd year doing cleanups and this year i got me a dump and leaf loader. Both are a big helper, and the leaf plow come in handy also.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    Your equipment needs should match your actual job needs. Could be a leaf loader or could be a walk behind w/bagger. For the leaf jobs I do a loader really isn't necessary, sure from time to time I get an oddball call from someone on a large prop that wants the leaves all hauled off but I just pass those on to another LCO.

    I don't think a leaf loader or other dedicated leaf equipment would really help you land more jobs...maybe on true high-end properties but for the average homeowner I don't think they care. ZTR's certainly don't seem to help sell mowing anymore than a walk behind.
  8. jeffex

    jeffex LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,933

    waste of money. All you need is a mower with a mulch kit and double blades and another with a grass gobbler . Total investment under $500 . Grind the leaves into little pieces and make a few passes with the catcher on to give it the vacuum look. Huge piles of leaves can be ground into dust by doing a wheelie over the pile with the walkbehind to grind them up. No big expense or storage problem for equipment used just for leaves.
  9. Shawn Burns

    Shawn Burns LawnSite Member
    from N.C.
    Messages: 181

    I don't really need a leaf loader, however having one could be a time saver if you needed one. Most of my customers have natural areas where i can dump leaves. I have a good bagging system for my z (backpack on a Hustler super z) and a bagger for my toro w/b.
    When we get to a property (mostly residential) one starts blowing the hard surfaces into the yard. The other gets on the Z (used wherever possible) and gets up the leaves. Blow hard surfaces again and we're on to the next one. It really works well for us.
    I charge $40/hr per man above regular mowing prices.
  10. Lawn Simplicity LLC

    Lawn Simplicity LLC LawnSite Member
    Messages: 23

    I thought about buying a leaf loader by Giant-Vac & didn't. Instead I bagged on a weekly basis using my Exmark walk behind. If a yard normally took me 1/2 an hour start to finish then at the end of that 1/2 hour was when the $60.00 an hour leaf clean up started. Worked well on a weekly basis.
    Then came the week where dang near every leaf in the trees came down. I blew every thing into piles & used the TTHP & bagger again. I hustled & was surprised @ how quickly I was able to do it.
    I think leaf loaders would be the only way if you one was doing this for other than a regular client. Still keeping in mind you have to use the tarps to get the leaves to the loader.
    I still see a loader in my future. Check out the ones by Giant-Vac. They are right stout looking. More so than Billy Goat. The Little Wonders didn't look to bad either.
    Good Luck,

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