By AGZA Contributor George Carrette – Owner of EcoQuiet Lawn Care
Here in the northeast, we have a tough time when it comes to doing fall cleanings. The weather can flux from frost to rain to snow on any given year. 2011’s Halloween blizzard exemplified why when blowing leaves, you need to be the best and have creative methods to be able to use electric or any blowers. EcoQuiet, a AGZA Certified Service Pro Company AGZA Service Pros – AGZA American Green Zone Alliance has evolved over the past eight years from raking then dragging leave tarps into the woods to creating dedicated dump sites on large properties and using leaf plows to move leaves with less reliance on leaf blowers gas or electric even though we only use electric.
EcoQuiet started with a 155 mph 350 cfm ryobi leaf blower that even 18 volt systems beat out now. Through that we learned to be creative. The first thing that we really tried to push our customers to do was onsite leaf disposal. A 10 x 10 foot wire fence enclosure can actually fit a whole lot of leaves if one pulls out their inner wine maker. It also reduces the number of disposal trips you need to do in any given year, which might be the difference of 1500 to 2000 dollars any given cleanup day. Also not spreading those leaves around could very well reduce trucking carbon costs and tree/plant diseases. 2nd leaf plows! These blessings on wheels attach to the front of any zero turn mower at a of cost 600 to 1000 dollars and are the hurricane blower of the electric world. If you aren’t using them and have a zero turn you are throwing money away. The blowers are used to create a plowable leaf pile then the plow rig pushes them to the disposal site or to a leaf loader. You will be able to improve your production on larger properties by possibly twice as much! Also, De-thatcher attachments. You can increase revenue for dethatching as well as loosening acorns, twigs, and locust leaves. All these methods make blowing leaves a breeze.
The next aspect might be more difficult to convince your customer to do but if you can it will save you valuable time. First leave it alone. Lawn areas need to have the leaves removed or they risk smothering the lawn, however beds aren’t as demanding. Leaves actively decompose during the fall and can insulate the ground preventing plants like hibiscus from potentially weakening in the winter. They also help the insects and can enrich the soil. That isn’t why you care you evil capitalist. You care because it is less work! Beds take a long time to blow out and if leaving the beds for spring does hurt, consider doing it anyway. Even if you do blow out the beds in spring you won’t have as much of a time crunch as summer will eventually come. And if there are a few leaves matted down throw some mulch on it with spring cleaning and what they don’t see won’t hurt them. Finally, extend the mowing season and mulch the leaves. Some electric mowers struggle to do this, and it not ideal for oak or pine lots, but seeing the ground up maple leaves either disappear or turn into bright red and orange mulch is very pleasing for both the environment, the client, and your wallet.
All these methods can be helpful for fall cleanings. The implementation of any of these will lower down time and get you in before the freak winter storm gives you a panic attack. Some are no brainers like the dethatching or using a leaf plow that will service even your most perfectionist clients. Others require a bit of a sell, but in the end they will be the savior to your leaf hell.
A word from AGZA. The author of this article and AGZA promotes:
- Leaving the leaves if there are no safety issues
- Protecting biodiversity and wildlife
- Composting and responsible mulching
- Encourage “People Powered” methods where workload and economically feasible
About the Author: George Carrette
George is an owner and operator of EcoQuiet Lawn Care, studied horticulture at the UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture before starting the company in 2014. At the time, he realized there was a significant carbon footprint associated with landscaping operations. After doing more research, he learned that 2-stroke engines contribute to noise and air pollution in the industry – but thankfully, there are battery alternatives. He recognized electric and ecological forward landscape maintenance services as an opportunity to offer a rare and valuable service to environmentally conscious consumers.
From the start, George and his company has been collaborating with the American Green Zone Alliance and Quiet Communities, both of whom have worked diligently with municipalities and landscapers on how to responsibly move forward with electric and lower impact landscape maintenance practices. George also enjoys experimenting with new electric landscaping equipment and contacting manufacturers to inform them on how to adopt greener practices.