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To bag or not to bag


LawnSite Member
:blob2: We've been on our own for a short time. When i worked for different companies some bagged in the spring some did not. With respect that it takes longer and costs me more would i be better off bagging all season, although the lawns look better, i'm confused on the way to go.


LawnSite Senior Member
I posed a similar question recently and many experienced LCO's responded that they basically don't bag.They explain to the customer that it's really unnnecessary(even bad for the lawn because decomposed clippings add nitrogen back ) if the lawn is cut regularly with good mulching mowers.If the customer demands this service many LCO's just tell them to find someone else.THat's what I plan to do;it's just too time-consuming.
I do have a couple of commercial properties that are badly littered with cig. butts,trash and so forth.I will use the bagger on those but that's about it.Good luck.


LawnSite Senior Member
I have my crews bag when necessary. There are some properties that are just way to small not to bag. On the bigger ones the crews use their best judgment.


LawnSite Silver Member
Islandia, N.Y.
We bag all of the time. I have just found it leaves a nicer finished product. And thats what I am out to produce... a superior product. :cool:


LawnSite Member
Good post! I was just considering the same thing. The ultravac for my exmark would be over a grand and the mulching kit would be just over 100.00. So the question I would like to know is with the spring grass and fall leaves can you mulch those and leave a nice lawn in the dust of your truck?


LawnSite Senior Member
Im in the customer service business, so if a customer wants me to bag, I bag. Just charge acoordingly. I have a townhouse association where one home (they are on 1 acre lots) has a ton of pine trees with landscaping around all the individual trees. This doesnt look good with grass all over the rocks,so I bag. Yes it is a hassel to bring the ultra-vac to just on home that in the middle of the rest, but I'm the only contractor who offered to do this. I can handle the extra work for this special customer. she pays me an additional $60.00 per cut above the monthly payment form the board! Plus I dump it down a hill in her back yard. Not a bad deal. I also didnt purchase the vac for bagging all my lawns but for clean-ups! Scott


LawnSite Senior Member
I only bag when I do leaves. Anytime else, the customer will have to payup for me to do it.



LawnSite Silver Member
Morgantown, WV
To bag or not to bag, that is the question...not to bag is my answer....................................unless they accept a $ 4.00 per bag fee and 10% upcharge on the lawn price....even then, it's still a royal pain in the <a href='http://www.smileycentral.com/?partner=ZSzeb008' target='_blank'><img src='http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/10/10_1_102.gif' border=0></a>


LawnSite Platinum Member
Atlanta, GA
Bagging is expensive in terms of time and hence money. It is expensive in several ways. First, you have to invest in more equipment if you're doing anything but small lawns. Next, you will of course need more time to complete the job. You or your crew will also spend more physical energy messing with clippings, which takes its toll. You will also need to invest in larger rigs to haul all these clippings around with you during the day, since many customers will not want them dumped on site or want them put at the street for pickup. You will also need to allot drive time to dump them, pay for dumping fees, and such.

So it's a big decision. Example: Bagging on a grand scale means investing in bagger vac systems, which means more space needed on trailers, which means bigger trailers for equipment, and more space to haul clippings, you may also need more hp on mowers to run the bagging systems, which may mean bigger mowers, and certainly more expensive ones. You will then need a bigger class of truck to haul your bigger trailers. I see some small dump trucks hauling landscape trailers. And since your're appealing to high end customers who can pay for this, you're probably going to need to be a one-stop-shopping full service operation. This means you need to be expert in more things and you'll need to be able to handle that.

Some grasses produce more clippings than others, so time and money required will vary from moderate to excessive. But I have found that generally you will not find many customers other than on the high end who are willing to pay you what it really costs you to bag clippings. And if your competition is coming in with bids 20-25% lower claiming they can get a good look mulching or discharging, it will make it that much harder to win customers over.

So if you invest an extra $3,000 in equipment but only have 10% of your customers willing to pay for this high end look, you might not be making more money doing it. Different areas of the country have different grass types, growing conditions, and customer expectations. I will say that I switched to all mulching/discharge a few years back and nobody has said a word to complain. I could mulch a Bermuda lawn and mow it twice in the same amount of time it took to bag it and deal with the clippings. So even in wet or less than ideal conditions, it was still a winner for me.

Coarse or less dense grasses show clippings less than fine textured dense ones like hybrid Bermuda, where the clippings lay on top and are not an acceptable look generally. But I got good results mulching this type of grass, as well as Tall Fescue, which was always easy in comparison, whatever mode it was mowed in.

If your weather conditions warrant it (constantly wet and lush growth) you may have to bag whether you want to or not. So you might as well try to sell it as an upservice and make some money off of the equipment you'll need anyway.

Short answer: It depends on your market and what niche' you want to fill.