Leaf cleanup is one of the main fall services that landscape contractors offer to their clients. Gathering all the leaves isn’t an easy task as far as labor is concerned, but then there is the question of what to do with the leaves. Some towns handle leaf pickups similar to trash services and other contractors have to haul the leaves off the property. These LawnSite members discuss how to dispose of leaves and how to charge the customer for this popular fall service.

Androyy: I’m curious as to what some of you do to manage leaves in the fall on residential properties? Do you keep coming every week until the leaves are finished? My township does two or three pickups in fall, depending on weather. I usually mow until the second week of November. And will probably be putting the bagger on the mower soon. Then after the second week of November, I start blowing piles for the town to pick up. I’m trying to think of a different way to handle the leaves this year.

Grassholes: Another guy said they just blow them into the street. But you can’t empty the bagger in the street, can you, if it has leaves I mean?

weeze: Empty the bagger at the street or just mulch them up.

ArTurf: What do you want to accomplish? Less work on your part? Better appearance for customers?

Androyy: Well part of it is I think I should be charging a bit more for bagging leaves, especially if I have to empty the bagger more than once. An average property size for me is 10k to 15k. Also appearance is important because last season a house I did cleanups for in mid-November was covered in leaves again by the end of November (from oak trees), and the customers weren’t thrilled to pay a second cleanup charge. But it was after the town was done picking up leaves for that area.

Arl250: Some customers we do every week until leaves are done, others every two weeks and some only two or three times at most. Just depends on the customer and what they want. Mostly, we blow beds out and bag everything and then dump on the street or in the wooded area. A lot of my customers are rural so there are plenty of woods.

ArTurf: Yes, bagging leaves is more work than normal grass mowing. You should be charging more. Looking back, you should have made that clear up front, but we all make that mistake in the beginning. I’ll tell you what I do as far as leaves go … maybe it will work for you, maybe not. During leaf season, I continue to service the landscape similar to a mowing schedule. I may vary some, according to how fast the leaves are falling. I usually charge slightly more, depending on how much longer it takes me. I’ll do this until all the leaves are off. Benefits to this: You aren’t dealing with super thick, wet, hard-to-deal-with leaves. The problem you might be dealing with is the piles of leaves blowing around until the city picks them up. But leaves that have gone through the blades and bagged are shredded to some degree and tend to blow less.

Groomer: Here in my city they stopped the leaf pickup years ago. We all freaked; what were we going to do without leaf pickup? Way too many leaves to bag or mulch. A local landscaper I know converted a truck, built a leaf box and vac, and now a quick call to his guys gets me a quick leaf pickup. They keep a running tab and bill me at the end of season. It’s decent pricing that goes onto my final billing cycle. It works way better for us than trying to work around city pickup schedules.

On a call: We let them build up, then blow them and collect them and charge for pickup. Charge by the hour or minute.

flybynite: I mulch until the leaves get bad then bag until they stop falling.

JRI Landscaping: It sounds nice to have the city come and pick the leaves up. I make trips back to our shop unloading the dump trailer.

JTK Property: I would recommend pulling the blades up and bagging the leaves. You want to remove the leaves from the property so they don’t blow back onto the property, which will keep it looking great. Don’t lose money on this; when bagging always charge by the bag. Hope this helps.