What are your fall cleanup methods?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by r_snowrider, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. r_snowrider

    r_snowrider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    I'm just wondering what everyones leaf removal system are. I'm looking for the most efficient cleanup system. I'm looking at getting a few backpack blowers and a 16hp Lesco Leaf Loader for my 15ft dump. I'm figuring I can blow all the leaves in the front yard to the curb, then blow all the leaves in the back onto a tarp and take those to the curb, then vacuum them up into my dump trailer. What do you guys think of that method? What should I use for the edges, flower beds, etc. I don't do landscaping, I am cleanup/hauling guy. I do junk and a lot of yard debris and I think leaves could be very profitable as well as a great way to get the word out on my other services. I'm the only junk remover in my city, which is fairly large. Do you think this will be profitable with some door to door work, flyer inserts (5000 for 225 in my local paper) etc.

    Anyways, what are your methods for fall cleanup/leaf removal? And do you generate good revenue?
  2. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,163

    if getting a leaf loader, go with the blower and tarps. use the tarps for backyards and drag them to the loader. The front, just blow towards the loader. My opinion!
  3. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Do what mcw said above. One thing I can tell you after some experience with leaves and being effecient and effective with them- get the biggest backpack blower you can find. By that I don't mean Echo, Stihl, Shindaiwa, or anything like that. The biggest models those companies make are OK, but if you really seriously want to move leaves, get a couple of RedMax EBZ8000 models. They KICK BUTT in a SERIOUS WAY!!! I bought the biggest Echo backpack last summer, which was an addition to our older smaller models (various brands) and thought it was good. And it was good, till I dropped the same amount of money for a RedMax 8000, 10cc bigger engine, and WOW the power and comfort both a lot better. Bought mine from LandscapeSupply in Waco, TX. He is a member on here and will make a great deal with ya on one. Mine was $475 plus free shipping and no taxes being out of state. What an awesome machine. I'm hoping I can afford another one this fall but maybe not. We'll see.

    For flower beds, use the backpack blowers. They are the most effective machine for the price. You could also check into a used push blower, but if you do, go for no less than 10hp. The RedMax 8000 backpack outblows a 5hp Billy Goat push blower that I used to have (sold, not powerful enough). A good setup would be two RedMax 8000 backpacks and a 10hp Little Wonder push blower, and 16hp leaf loader. A dump trailer is a good way to go. Make some taller sides for it, get a mesh tarp for the top (must have good ventilation for a vac) and seal off everything else. Cut a hole in wood for the back to stick the vac through. Get a swing away hitch for the vac (they sell these or a welding shop could fabricate one).

    My setup this fall:
    Two backpack blowers (Echo 650 and RedMax 8000)
    Exmark 60" 27hp Lazer with a big leaf vac colletion system that I haven't built yet.
    Exmark 52" 17hp Turf Tracer HP walk behind (for mulching before cleaning up with the Lazer)
    Rakes, tarps, manual laborers
    11hp Billy Goat leaf loader mounted to a Chevy C60 2 ton flatbed with dump.

    We'll probably have two guys running a pickup and trailer to do cleanups, and a 3rd guy part time to run the dump truck with vac, or else i'll go around late evening and suck up piles. We don't remove all of the piles we make though, if in city limits the city picks it up free. If we can get away with it, we'll charge the extra and go ahead and remove piles in town, just for extra income. As you near the week before thanksgiving, people usually pay extra to remove the piles anyway, because they don't want to risk having a pile there when company comes :payup:
    But, we mainly have the vac and dump for old lakeside communities out of town, lots of leaves, lots of money and no free disposal :payup: :payup: :payup: :D :D :D

    Charge $40 per hour per guy for using backpack blowers, and charge $75-100 per hour for the truck, dump trailer and vac. So, if you're doing a job that takes 1 hr to clean the leaves off the yard with two guys, charge $80 for that and if it takes 15 minutes to vac the leaf pile, charge another $20 for that. The prices will vary alot depending on your area, but if you have no idea where to start, this will work till you get a feel for it. But (especially since you have little experience) charge per job, you'll lose the shirt right off of your back. 4 years in it and I still do it a few times each fall. But some people freak when ya start droppin numbers LOL... many are OK with it though.

    Good luck and keep us updated how ya make out.
  4. r_snowrider

    r_snowrider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    Man, that was a kick-ass reply. It's people like you that make this site so useful. I was looking at the blowers lesco sells but I have been steered in the way of Redmax. I have been calling around on the 62cc model 7001. Do you think that will do well, or should I spend a little extra on the 8000? The lesco truck loader I'm probably gonna buy is a lot cheaper than the competition and I like their financing. But the blowers they sell are just as expensive as the Redmax. So the Redmax is the way I'm sure I'll go. Do you get a lot of work doing this particular stuff in the fall? I sure hope my investment pays off. Also my 15ft dump has 4 ft walls and is 6.5 feet wide. Should I put an extension on? I was thinking about installing some snaps across the sides like the ones they use for boat covers, and then getting a heavy duty tarp with snaps on it. So I can take it off easy when I need to load other waste and junk. I think I'll mount a swing-mount on the side-rear of the trailerof the trailer connected to the frame the dump bed sits on, then I can just swing it around to the rear when loading and driving, and swing it to the side when dumping Do you think that would be a good setup? Also, do you think i need a push vac, I would use a mower but I'm not into the landscaping portion and I don't want to mow their lawn. I just do a lot of cleanup and hauling. Maybe I'll move into the landscaping portion in the future. Thanks for all your help
  5. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Spend the extra on the 8000 blower. The 7001 is slightly more power than my Echo 650 but only a tiny bit (probably no noticable difference). You won't spend much more for the 8000 but trust me it plows right past the Echo 650 in the tallest and deepest and wettest stuff.

    What you are saying on the dump trailer/vac hitch is a good idea. On the leaf loader, Lesco should be good. I don't think any one brand outblows the others. 13hp will work but if you can swing the money, go for 16hp on the vac. Mine's just 11hp but i got it used for $300 and it works fine, but if you can swing it, go 16hp. They're much more power.
    Yeah i'd put 4' side extensions on the trailer. You can use plywood if you want. You'd have to have 6 sheets for sides front and back, plus various 2x4's or steel for a frame to hold it. Even 2' extensions would be alot better than nothing. No matter what you do, use a mesh tarp to cover it to ventilate and hold in the leaves. You must have proper ventilation or the vac clogs up. Being a "junker" you may already have a mesh tarp, or if not you may find other uses for one than leaves. Northerntool.com has some of the best prices on mesh tarps that i've seen. I got one of theirs and it holds up fine so far no complaints. When hauling junk/trash its nice cuz your load "breathes" and the tarp doesn't flap around but it holds your stuff in.

    Don't waste your money on a push vac, their good for hard surface areas but are useless for leaf cleanup on lawn areas. You'll be fine with a big backpack blower, tarps, rakes and a vac on a dump. If you can find a used 10hp push blower get that too or else just two backpack blowers.

    Have a good one and feel free to ask for more help or Private message me if you want.

  6. mountain man

    mountain man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 141

    Be very careful bidding a lot of leaf jobs without at least one season under you belt. it is very easy to loose your hide cleaning up leaves. I agree you need to go with the Red Max blowers. We use the 7001s and they do great, the 8000s have even more power. We also have a leaf loader, but alot of times we have found it more efficient to rake the pile on a tarp and then 2 guys throw it into the truck or trailer. For example with a three man crew, we begin blowing out the beds and blow everything straight to the street. Once we have a pile one guy starts the billy goat while the other 2 tarp leaves onto the trailer. As the pile gets smaller one guy tarping starts blowing the remaining debris on the street while the second helps rake leaves into the goat. if there are alot of leaves by the house we will blow them into a pile and then 2 guys will carry them via tarps to the trailer and drop them directly into the trailer so we do not handle twice. It is very easy for guys to get lost in "blower art" so make sure they are moving piles the most efficient way and not just blowing them because they can.

    one other thing we do that works great. We took one of our 18' trailers and fabricated 8 foot sides we put on just for leaf season. The billy goat blows leaves into the trailer from the front, but when we are tarping leaves, we just sling them in from the back. We can put approximately 42 cubic yards of leaves on the trailer before we have to go to the dump. At the dump we have a "sled" in front that is hooked up to chains that stretch to the back. We hook up to the post drive forward unload the leaves throw the sled into the trailer and then wait on our dump truck to finish dumping. The only thing is you need to use a 3/4 or 1 ton truck and you can't fill it to the top if the leaves are wet. The cool thing is it is very rare that a crew can fill it up and need to go to the dump before the end of the day, which saves tons of drive time.

  7. r_snowrider

    r_snowrider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    Our city has a 1 pickup that goes a couple days in october. All the leaves have to be bagged and the bags cannot exceed 50lbs (Probably apiece). I'm sure a lot of people use this pickup service, but I'm sure many would rather pay someone to come in and do it for them. I mean bagging that many leaves couldn't be too much fun. And I'm sure people are probably gonna want to clean their yards more than once, and those people aren't gonna want to save all those leaves till pickup I would imagine.
    The truck loader maybe good because if people don't wanna pay the extra $ for me to blow the leaves to the loading point, they can just call me and I'll vacuum them up for a smaller fee (though I'm not sure how much) I can do regular pickups throughout the day. And it may actually be more profitable to me. The only downfall to that is the people that may leave things that could damage my loader in the pile. I'll have to specify that in the flyers. My dump fees are only $3 per load for residents of my city, and I have made good friends with the workers, so they often charge me the same price as a resident rather than business. I think that I could make a pretty decent amount doing that. Curbside pickup just a call away. That's gotta be appealing to some people. I'll just have to figure it out so I can do them all in a row. I will definately have to build up some sides if I do that, but I'll wait to see how much business it will bring in. Then I can also have a crew running at homes doing cleanups, and when they are done they can call me while I'm doing pickups and I'll stop buy and pickup, and send the people an invoice.
    You really have to work hard and long, try to get your name out there if your gonna make enough to survive through the winter.
    Also, I looked at the specs on the redmaxes and the 7001 has a slightly higher wind speed than the 8000, but the 8000 puts more air out per minute. Does that make a pretty big difference. I am willing to spend the money to get the best tools for the job. I am taking a risk forking out $3500 to try this fall cleanup after just spending $8200 on my new dump trailer, but I have faith that it will pay off, especially because I can make some more customers for spring cleanup as well a throughout the year. You really have to take a few risks to be successful, what's the worst that could happen, I just have to sell my stuff, take the loss and move on knowing I tried.
  8. freddyc

    freddyc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 578

    as a side note,,,,,, where do you guys dump the leaves and how much per load??? We have a compost facility in town, but its expensive.
  9. r_snowrider

    r_snowrider LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    My city landfill takes it. They make mulch out of all the greenery disposed and then sell it in the spring. People love that stuff. $3 a load sometimes $6 depending on who's at the window.
  10. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    With a blower you want CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute), the speed doesn't matter much when you're pointing the nozzle at an ocean of leaves. The speed makes little difference. Trust me when I say, you NEED at least one 8000 if you really want to do leaves.

    Mountain Man is correct about guys doing "blower art", those blowers can save lots of tarping and raking, but you have to know when you're spending too much effort to continue to blow a pile that should be tarped.
    I sort of disagree with the idea of putting loose leaves in the trailer though. It would work fine but takes a large container to dump in. Thats where the leaf loaders are great, they shred the debris and pack it tight, so you can fit realistically at least 5 times the amount of loose leaves into a truck.
    Our city runs about 6 Giant Vac 30 yard 60hp diesel vacuum dump trailer rigs, and they are out there everday (pulled by our city single axle dump trucks). They hit each street once a week just like the trash man. They vac loose piles. These vacs are humongous. They could swallow a pitbull easily. They're 60hp+ diesels with 18" diameter intake hoses. I mean they leave it at almost idle unless the pile is real big, you just wave the hose about 2' above the pile and it vanishes, really awesome setup, and their trailers are 2 or 3 axle setups with a 30 yard capacity, they dump and everything. Really sweet setups but they take away alot of potential money for me. Most customers say to just leave the leaves at the curb for city pickup, their tax dollars already pay for pickup, why pay me? Makes sense but hurts my pocket nonetheless....

    We can dump yard waste at the city recycling center for free (this is where the city dumps them too) there they compost it into organic soil. Brush/tree debris/etc. is chipped into mulch which is free if you load it yourself. Organic soil is free for self loading too, and sometimes they have a loader out there they load for free or $5.

    Go get two RedMax 8000 backpacks (new).
    Get two rakes.
    Get two large tarps and one smaller one (sometimes works easier for a smaller pile and easier to handle than a huge tarp).
    Get a vac
    Make sides for the trailer.
    Make fliers
    Distribute fliers.
    Wait for phone to ring off of hook.
    If you can, quote hourly rates on the phone. If you don't feel this would be an acceptable practice, then go give quotes but overestimate by 50% cuz trust me you'll underestimate a lot of jobs. Figure how long it will take and add 50%. If you are wrong then you just made a bonus!

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