Fall cleanup jobs are becoming an increasingly important part of any commercial lawn and landscape business.
After all, the fall landscaping maintenance work now demanded by clients like businesses, parks, schools, apartment complexes, sports fields, and golf courses has gone way gone beyond traditional fall yard cleanups like the removal of fallen leaves, trimming dead branches from trees and shrubs and the occasional lawnmower once-over.
Now, commercial turf and landscape customers want a much wider variety of services to keep their property looking polished and professional until the snow flies. And as leaves continue to fall and windstorms continue to blow down debris, they want these services more and more frequently.
Meanwhile, contractors facing rapidly rising gas costs, inflation, manpower shakeups, and growing competition are looking for ways to keep their revenue stream flowing while doing more with less.
“It’s the perfect storm for profit margins, as we now have advanced, multipurpose machinery that can do more jobs with fewer personnel,” says Ted Gebhardt, a Reinders’ Landscape Territory Manager. “So this work can be a huge moneymaker because of the diversity and frequency of the services desired.”
In fact, typical fall cleanup revenue averages from $25,000 to more than $100,000 for residential and commercial landscapers surveyed by Lawn & Landscape magazine’s 2022 State of the Fall Cleanup Market. And the majority of those surveyed expected their fall cleanup jobs to increase this year.
Due to inflation, however, many contractors are having to raise prices, with 42 percent planning a 6 to 10 percent raise and another 27 percent anticipating anywhere from an 11 to 20 percent hike.
“Most customers will be expecting these increases, as they’ve seen costs rise across the board,” Gebhardt says. “Many are softening the blow of these increases by selling clients on more services, done more frequently, with each visit competitively priced. Overall, they end up charging more per season, but all the aesthetic work and preventative care can be truthfully pitched as a money-saver down the line.”
What is fall cleanup?
Historically, fall landscape work requested by commercial clients has revolved around more conventional jobs, like raking leaves, removing dead branches that have fallen, trimming trees and shrubs, and maintaining lawns with traditional mowers.
But more and more, specialized services keep getting added, as advances in commercial lawn and landscape equipment make it easier to do more jobs in less time with less equipment and personnel.
As a result, just some of today’s more specialized fall landscaping services can include:
- Composting leaves
- Updating seasonal flowers
- Lawn aeration/seeding/fertilizing
- Sports fields turf care (mowing, fertilizing, overseeding, cultivating and watering)
- Golf courses (mowing, blowing and removing leaves, etc, with a sweeper vacuum)
- Mulch removal and installation
- Planting spring bulbs,trees and shrubs
- Seasonal decorating/Christmas lighting
- Weed control
- Divide/cut back perennials
- Gutter cleaning
- Draining water from all hoses, water features and irrigation systems
- Protecting cold-sensitive plants
“Now, instead of rakes and traditional lawn mowers, our contractors are using multipurpose machines that allow them to do many different jobs, via different attachments, and do those jobs faster so they can take on more clients,” says Gebhardt.
The Toro Pro Force Blower, for instance, allows for efficient and safe removal of debris from large areas, including golf courses, sports turf areas, and more. With its remote operation capabilities and greater airflow, this piece of equipment will help you make quick work of falling leaves.
Why is fall cleanup important?
Fall landscape clean-up is important for both you and your client.
From the lawn and landscape professional’s perspective, fall is the perfect time to grow your business and keep your cash flow going strong. Getting customers on a frequent ongoing maintenance plan after an initial fall cleanup also serves as an important bridge to wintertime snow and ice removal work.
Fall maintenance is becoming essential to commercial clients, too, with market research telling them that the curb appeal of their business sends a message to customers and potential customers about how they manage their company and that it matters to them. If the landscape is clean and well-maintained throughout the year, it adds to the company’s image. It has become part of its overall marketing strategy.
It’s not all about looks, either. Fall landscaping cleanups also serve as crucial preventative maintenance that protects clients’ investments and helps them avoid more spending.
Case in point – fall lawn fertilization, aeration and overseeding give turf roots a healthy head start establishing themselves in fall. That way, they can sprout first in spring with the vigor needed to crowd out weeds and fight off pests and disease. This saves money on the amount and frequency of chemical applications like herbicides and fungicides, as well as fertilizer, seeding, or weed treatment for problem areas.
Similarly, the frequent and thorough removal of fallen debris and leaves cleanup of leaves harboring fungus and disease will prevent them from reactivating and spreading in spring.
And of course, such work prevents legal and logistical hassles – dead or dying trees and limbs aren’t just ugly but can fall, causing damage to property and harm to people. Walkways and parking lots covered with debris are unsafe for pedestrian traffic, especially for the elderly or mobility impaired. And a combination of wet leaves and icy conditions makes for hazardous walking and driving conditions.
So fall cleanup work is a win-win for everyone! And we’d love to hear your tips and ideas on this subject – how do you market your fall maintenance services to existing and potential clients? What challenges have you faced, and what solutions have worked for you? Share your thoughts below!