How to estimate a leaf removal job.

Bidding on leaf cleanup jobs can be difficult for the new start up business owner. In this discussion from the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum, we get some insight into the process. There are many questions you may have about performing such work such as how to actually remove the leaves, what to do with them once you collect them, and how long the average job should take. If you are having difficulty with an estimate, compare your property to this one as it should help you formulate a price.

One lawn care business owner wrote “today I was over at a customer’s property and doing some odd and end work when I happened to get into a conversation with a neighbor who was out taking her dog for a walk. Through the conversation she learned that I ran a lawn care business and she asked if I could give her an estimate to clean up all the leaves on her property.

Up to this point, I have never done any fall or spring yard leaf cleanups, instead I have focused on strictly mowing. Now I am at a loss as to how I should bid such a job and how long it will take me. I am not even sure what leaf clean up method would be the best to use on the property.

At my own home I have very few trees and the little bit of leaves I do get, I simple vacuum up with the mower.

Another limitation I have is the equipment I am working with.

  • I have 1 leaf rake.
  • A gas hand held 25cc blower/vac.

Now if this wasn’t bad enough for me, the customer’s home has more mulched beds than it has grass. The mulch beds seem to surround the entire property and extend at least 10 feet in from the street on the corner lot. There are a bunch of large accent rocks and shrubs, which I can only imagine are going to cause a lot of extra work as they seem to be perfectly designed to trap leaves around them.

How to bid a leaf cleanup job.

How to bid a leaf cleanup job.

I’ve used my leaf blower around my own house to gather up leaves, but that was in a fairly small area of only about 25′x25′ all on grass. I am not sure if the leaves be blown from the mulched areas with my sized blower of will I end up blowing the mulch out along with the leaves?

Is this job something that should just price really high because there is a big potential I will underbid this job. Through my inexperienced eye, it looks like it is going to be a rough job, as this is not just leaves on a lawn. How long do you think this leaf job will take me to perform? I am guessing about 4 hours to perform, but that is just a wild guess.

I was actually kind of surprised this neighbor came out to talk to me. Though I do have a small business sign on the rear window of my truck, I don’t think she saw it, as she approached me from the front of where my truck was parked.

While I was setting up a new lamp on a lamp post that had been broken near the end of the driveway she came up and said ‘welcome new neighbor.’ She must have thought I was the new homeowner. I am not in a uniform yet and I am thinking it would be better in the future if I was. After I told her that I wasn’t the new neighbor but instead working for the homeowner, I told her how this was such a nice neighborhood. I looked around and told her how much I liked all the old growth trees.

That turned into a discussion about how much work all those trees cause her in the form of leaf cleanup. I told her how I had started up a new lawn care business and felt all these trees should keep me quite busy. She then followed up with a request I give her an estimate to clean up her yard. I told her I would and gave her a business card. Two actually, as I always try to give out two at a time.

Now I gotta figuring out what to quote this job and how to actually do it. Should I bag them, or collect them by blowing them onto a tarp and then haul them away with my trailer? Then where do I get rid of them? How much will it cost me to dump them?”

A second lawn care business owner said “in general leaves are a lot lighter in weight than mulch. So you can use the blower to blow them all out of the mulch beds without disturbing the mulch. I’d suggest you start with the leaf blower further away from the beds, then you can gradually get a closer and closer to them. Once the leaves begin to blow out of the beds, you will know you are are close enough to the bed to remove the leaves.

I am usually 3 -4 feet away from the mulch area with my blower and that will still leave the mulch in place. I would say go with your gut of 3-4 hours of work. I typically charge $30+ per hour for my leaf cleanups and give an estimate reflecting how long I think the job will take.

As far as leaf disposal goes, in the neighborhoods I service, they town comes by with a big leaf vacuum and sucks up all the leaves up at the curb. All I have to do is just get them to the curb and it’s done. Check with your town and see how they handle this. If you see other homes on the street piling their leaves along the curb, that would be a good indicator on how the leaves are handled.”

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