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thinking about fall already

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Detroitdan, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    Need some help here. Last fall, my first full season mowing, I ran into a huge problem. My biggest account is a sort of a gentlemen's farm. I don't have to hay the fields or anything, just mow all around the house and outbuilding. It's about an hour and a half of mowing with my WB. Problem is, being a 200 y/o farmhouse, it is surrounded by 200 y/o elms and maples. Which produce more leaves than I ever would have thought possible. Literally ankle deep when I got there every week. Started taking me longer and longer to deal with the leaves before I could cut. Around that time the growing slowed up to where I could only cut every other week, so I told him I would blow the leaves off every week, and mow every other week, and I needed $25 more on the mowing weeks. The last 2 or 3 times I was there I was into it for more hours than I care to admit. Then he wasn't real happy that I didn't have his beds cleaned out
    This year I want to have a plan before taking on the leaves again. I don't want to be doing a full fall cleanup for nearly free every single week. I have a pretty good backpack blower, wasn't enough, borrowed a WB blower, better but still not enough. I made truck sized piles and raked them onto a tarp and dragged them into the woods. That's a plus, they don't need to be hauled away, lots of land to dump them.
    How much can you pick up with a bagger/vac system on a rider? I don't really want to mow the leaves up into shreds, and have pieces stuck in the grass looking crappy. But if they pick up leaves pretty well, I'll buy one. Or maybe a tow-behind vac wagon my lawn tractor can pull??
    I think the guy can afford more, but I'm not sure how to go about getting him to pay me more for the leaf hassle. Probably needs to be hourly, but I don't know really what to do.
    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for any tips.
  2. Frue

    Frue LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,472

    Most charge hourly for leaf clean ups. Blow rake tarp. Bagging systems work well but also fill up really fast. I blow them and suck them up in a leaf sucker.
  3. newtostone

    newtostone LawnSite Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 681

    you may want to try a leaf plow, you can set that down and get a pretty clean sweep of the areas, as well as push them all to one spot. then come in with a blower and it will take much less time, once hte pile in front of the blower stacks up use the leaf plow on the mower and go to down. Also a truck loader will save time. Just the other day i thought whats the big deal just going to load a few homes. well about 3 hours later i went back and got my leaf loader and checked the oil and got it going, so much faster mulches everything up. But thats what i would do. best of luck
  4. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    Yeah, the leaf plow is definitely something I've been thinking about. I made long rows with my blower up and down until I couldn't move anymore. So I think the leaf plow would have moved those big piles.
  5. bruno_rs

    bruno_rs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 195

    hey detriot, i agree the way to go IS a leaf plow. years ago i put one on my walk behind... it saved me at least 33% on time and 70% physically!!! now, i would NEVER do a fall cleanup without one. they can also be adapted to riders. i have mine on a toro groundsmaster (hydraulic/front mount deck) and i do cleanups all day long by myself. the smallest property i take care of is 2 acres. you have to see the looks i get from passing traffic and especially other lco's with their "crews"... it's priceless! a decent plow will cost 250-300 but, in my opinion, pay themselves off the very 1st cleanup you do. i think the co. i got mine from is a sponsor on this site... landscape supply. sounds like you may not realize fall cleanups are far more time consuming and/or costly than weekly lawn maintenance. check your billing and don't undersell yourself. good luck. have a good one.
  6. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    Funny thing is, I have a buddy who made a sort of half-assed plow out of plywood for his WB. I thought about it and decided I could make one myself out of aluminum, with some simple attachment to the front wheel arms, and the cool part would be I'd make the bottom part like a rake so it would grab more leaves and not ride up over. So while I was mulling this brilliant idea over in my head, I stopped by a local lawn equipment dealer and saw the exact thing I had designed in my head! Oh well, stands to reason if I can think of something, then somebody else already has a long time ago.

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