Spring Cleanup?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Jlin428, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Jlin428

    Jlin428 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    :waving:Hello everyone! I am starting up a lawn care business this year. It will basically be a one-man operation until I can get enough business to require me to start hiring people. I have mowed lawns growing up for some side cash and know the basics, but I want get serious about it and grow a business.

    I created another thread (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=396391) seeking general information and tips on how to go about doing so, but this thread is specifically for info on spring clean ups. All I know about the topic is that it requires general cleanup of the yard and the first mow of the season.

    I'm looking for all the information I can get on this topic:

    -What exactly does a "spring cleanup" consist of?
    -What should I charge for a spring cleanup in comparison to a regular service?
    -When should I start doing spring cleanups? (I am from Connecticut if this helps)
    -Fertilizer...? I am not licensed and have little knowledge on the topic. Is it something that is expected in a spring cleanup service? Is it hard to do or lean? Does it pose as an issue in regards to not being licensed?
    -Any and all other tips/information/advise will be greatly appreciated!

  2. rppaving

    rppaving LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    Yes, I would also like to know what it takes and how to fertilize lawns.
  3. GravelyWoman

    GravelyWoman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    I have always said, if there is one thing I could do over again it would be to have worked for someone else prior to starting my own business. This would give you the opportunity to learn the business and pick up on tips that you would not learn on your own! Just something to consider! However, one spring clean up job could be completely different than another, therefore it is hard to give you a "cookie cutter" answer.

    I wish you the best and good luck!

  4. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    A spring cleanup happens here in CNY starting about mid april when the chance of snow is gone. Every spring cleanup is different, so walk the property and learn the expectation of the clients. Most of my customers ask for the following:

    1. Trim all dead and diseased branches on shrubs/trees.
    2. Prune out all dead plant material (annuals/perennials) and rake out of bed.
    3. Blow out all leaves and debris that has accumulated in the bushes as they act like velcro, (yes get in there with your hands and pull leaves out!).
    4. Pull all weeds/debris
    5. Edge all the beds with a nice sharp v shaped edge made by my brown bed edger.
    6. Use a weed whipper and trim the edge short near the newly created v edge for a crisp look.
    7. Apply a fresh coat of mulch usually 2-3" in depth over entire bed areas and smooth till a glass like finish. (use the back of a plastic rake)
    8. Smooth mulch bumps out near foundation.
    9. Rake up, clean up, sweep street areas and collect check.

    I only use organic fert as I am unlicensed to apply chemical fertilizers so I upsell clients on a compost application under the mulch or I apply an organic fertilizer called sustain which is a 4-6-4 on the turf and ornamentals.

    My cleanups cost $200-1000 on average. My larger properties require 8+ yards of mulch. I would say my average cleanup is 4 yards of mulch and about 4-500 dollars. I usually am there for 4-6 hours if by myself.


    Buy a backpack blower when you can to simplify cleanup.
    Rent a bed edger for larger properties until you can afford a brown or similar.
    Charge for haul away of debris.
    Make your cleanups downright perfect, every clipping taken, every stick picked up etc, this will lead to tremendous amounts of work.
    Get a small dump trailer when you can to unload debris and bring soils and mulches.
    Talk to the customer, get to know them, their kids names, what they do. Be genuinely interested. Ask them about themselves, let them talk 80% of the time. Listen to them and you will have a customer forever.
    Don't leave mulch on driveways, it will stain.
    Always try to upsell clients on fall cleanup and pruning.
    Look for areas of their landscape that needs work. I always offer 2-3 suggestions for next time on my invoice.
    Some clients will ask you to plant annuals, repair plow damage, etc. so be sure to walk with them on their property and write down everything they want and produce a contract spelling out exactly what they want. Learn their preferences and don't waste time doing something they don't notice or appreciate.

    PM me if you have further questions. Spring cleanups are bread and butter for us because they get us out and in constant contact with clients. Spring cleanups lead to more landscaping and hardscaping jobs than any form of advertising.

    I have an elderly woman and I have done her cleanups for 10 years almost and she has sent me referrals to many others and I bet if I connected the dots she is almost responsible for 70,000 in gross sales just from her referring people to me. Never under estimate the power of a customer!

  5. jrs.landscaping

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

    I wouldn't adivse using fertilizer/pre em on your cleanups unless you are licensed. Average fines (in my state) run from $100 to $3k. Not sure on organics though :confused:

    I do agree with the outline Steiner presented, it is a general idea of what is involved in a Spring cleanup
  6. Steiner

    Steiner LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 409

    Certified organic ferts like sustain at 4-6-4 are perfectly ok without a license. Must be OMRI listed though. at least thats what the state ag center said when I called. Same as compost.
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Be careful about spending too much time,,, doing too good a job... Know the client and be clear about what they want... start clearing the lawn as soon as the ground thaws and DO NOT remove mulch from the beds...
  8. Jlin428

    Jlin428 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Thanks everyone! From what I read here, it seems that a Spring Cleanup is approached differently by everyone. I am looking for more information on what services I should offer people, and how I should go about doing them. Thank you!:waving:

    Thanks, but I am pretty certain that I want to do it myself and learn it that way. I understand where you are coming from with the advice to work for someone else first, but its not something that I am interested in right now.

    Yeah, I would imagine each spring cleanup job to be different, i was just looking for some ideas for how to approach a spring cleanup. I have little knowledge in the field and dont just want to show up at someones house with nothing to say other than tell me what you want me to do. I want to be the one offering the different services and be the one guiding the customer, not the customer guiding me on what to do.

    This is exactly the kind of info that I was looking for. Thank you! I definently have some questions that I will pm you with (need to figure out how to do that on this site first lol) :laugh:

    Good idea on the fertilizer tips. Im not trying to mess around with fines and all that other stuff especially with where I am at now with starting up my business. I will look into organic fertilizer though, if its legal to do it cant be that hard to do. Thanks!

    The term "sustain at 4-6-4" might as well be chinese to me now, but I will do some research in the field. I assume OMRI has something to do with use without a license. I know little to nothing about fertilizer currently, but it is something that I will do a good amount of research on. (My father also worked for the Scott's company and was incharge of stocking fertilizers throughout my region, so he might have a bit to tell me as well). Thanks for your input!

    Can you explain what you mean by "too much time not doing too good a job"? I think you mean don't do more work than what the person wants kinda-thing? I suppose I can agree with this to an extent, but at the same time I look at this as an opportunity to really impress the customer and get the word out about my quality of service.

    Also, can you elaborate on why I shouldn't remove mulch from the beds? I thought that playing new much is almost a standard when it comes to spring cleaning from what I have read?

    Thank you for your input though!
  9. nylesedwards

    nylesedwards LawnSite Member
    Messages: 86

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  10. Set Apart Lawn Care

    Set Apart Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 192

    Yea they are really different. In Memphis you need to mulch, remove leftover leaves, weed beds, trim hedges, sometimes scalp bermuda grass. On our flyers we offer a list of services on that back that include most of those things.

    For me chemicals are out of the question and not expected. In tennessee you have to have worked under a liscensed company for two years before you can get a liscense. Ill never do that so no chemicals here. I do have an ongoing relationship with a fertilizer/chemical company that I refer everyone too.

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