High Productivity Leaf Cleanup
Fall maintenance and cleanup can be a highly profitable season depending upon how efficiently landscape companies service multiple accounts in a tight window of time. It also requires convincing customers of the importance of weekly service because leaves deprive grass of sun and oxygen. Both of which are absolutely necessary for healthy, growing grass.
LEAF PICKUP METHODS
Traditionally, for large areas of the yard, backpack blowers and tarps have been the mainstay tools for fall cleanup because of their relatively low cost. However, they are also labor and time intensive – barriers to profit. Add in the additional weight of wet leaves, and this approach becomes fatiguing, slow and even more challenging to the bottom line.
In response, manufacturers have tried to make operators more productive with machinery that has higher productivity and power along with better ergonomics than heavy backpack blowers.
For example, wheeled leaf blowers have the capability of moving a large amount of leaves and debris much more quickly than standard backpack blowers. With advanced fan technology and lightweight composite materials (i.e. composite housing vs. steel and single shot 16-blade fan), this new breed of leaf blowers has also become lighter, more durable and is capable of operating more efficiently and quieter. In fact, some larger wheeled blowers can now do the equivalent work of 7 backpacks and even offer self-propelled options that further eliminate pushing and operator fatigue. Add in an air flow of more than 200 MPH and high CFM capabilities, these units produce the most work and can move wet or matted leaves most effectively.
For smaller areas of the yard – play areas, dog runs, pool and patio areas, and some beds, outdoor vacuums are another consideration. These units make for efficient cleaning, shredding and bagging in tight areas vs. raking by hand and tarping. A hose kit can be used for reaching leaves quickly in tight to reach utilities, under shrubs and deck areas. Vacuums with easy slide out bags and no zippers also help make loading and unloading quick and convenient.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LOADING OPTION IS CRITICAL TO PRODUCTIVITY
Once leaves have been blown into place, the traditional method has been to carry full tarps to a trailer or dump truck. This typically takes more time, requires at least two workers, and results in messes. To cut down on the size of the load and to reduce labor costs and mishaps, debris loaders offer economies of scale. By shredding the debris to be hauled, trailer space is maximized, allowing professionals to service multiple properties before dumping, saving on time and dump fees. Debris loaders with dual shred technology are especially effective because they offer the best debris reduction.
Loaders that can be customized to the truck provide even more efficiencies. Most loaders can be tailgate mounted with an optional hanger kit, truck hitch mounted with a swing away hitch, or skid mounted to a trailer or truck.
HAULING AND DUMPING DEBRIS
A final consideration is hauling. How to approach it really depends on the size of the business, mix of equipment and how many crews are servicing lawns. With a dump trailer, it is easy to scoop materials out as needed. With a dump truck, it is necessary to dump materials on the ground. Trailers tend to be more convenient as they can be left on site until all materials have been loaded. Dump trucks typically offer less convenience but have larger weight load capacities.
Another option is a dump insert for pick-up trucks. Designed to fit most truck bed sizes, there are numerous options available. Dump inserts can be very cost-effective for a business in the long run as they are much less expensive than a dump truck, they work with the existing fleet of pick-ups and they set-up and tear down very quickly.
Once debris has been collected, it can be loaded or unloaded with a shift of the gear that moves the dump inserts. Most dump loaders will come equipped with mesh tarp tops to keep leaves in place during transport.
Dump inserts also offer the advantage of a professional appearance, especially when contrasted to plywood and tarp construction. They can also offer promotional and advertising capabilities to attract new business with ample room for company signage.
“Time is money. Work smarter, not harder.” While some sayings are cliché, it is true when making decisions regarding capital purchases. Since the window for fall cleanup is often short, it is important to make the most of the opportunity and in turn, secure the profits before the long winter.
-Pierre Pereira, Billy Goat
Pierre Pereira is Director of Sales at Billy Goat Industries. He came to the company in August of 2007. Pierre's background in lawn and garden power equipment not only encompasses deep understanding and knowledge of customer needs across multiple markets, but also includes his own experience as a Landscaper in his earlier days, earning his way through college.