A brief debate on the pros and cons of bagging up the clippings after a mowing job.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here. We talk about grass a lot around here, but today we’re talking specifically about what to do with it. Specifically: Should you bag it?

Like many topics, bagging grass clippings can be controversial among lawn maintenance business owners. Some are all in favor, while others avoid it at all costs.

We asked a few lawn maintenance business owners to share their thoughts on the topic of bagging grass clippings. Today’s post is a little roundup of what they had to say. As always, only you can decide what’s best for your lawn maintenance business. But hopefully, their perspectives will help you decide which approach you’d like to take.

Without further ado…

Good reasons to bag your grass clippings.

There are several compelling reasons to bag up the grass clippings after every job. The first is financial. In the words of one CLIP user, “We love to bag. We make more money!” His approach is to charge per bag of debris and charge for disposal. “A $40 yard might be $10 to $18 extra in May and June and $2 to $8 extra in July and August. It varies. Spring and fall cleanup bagging is always by the hour, plus the disposal charge.” This approach has been shockingly lucrative for him. “We gross close to six figures in disposal fees in one season.”

Another way to turn those clippings into cash: Strike up a deal with another local business. Says one CLIP user, “We bag all of our residential properties because we take them to a local mulch supplier who grinds the debris. We don’t pay for dumping, and we get a great deal on their mulch.”

Another CLIP user takes a more straightforward approach: “As professionals, let’s do it right.” This business owner believes that bagging is the more appropriate thing to do. But, like our other fellas in favor of bagging, he charges for it. “If the client requests it, I’m more than happy to deliver it. But I’ll let the client know what’s involved and the cost of the work.”

Of course, you don’t always have to bag. You might only offer it for specific jobs. One CLIP user says, “The only time we even consider bagging is around a pool or if the customer has kids or pets that track clippings into the house.”

A few good reasons to skip the bag

Of course, there’s the opposite approach: “Do everything you can to persuade the customers not to bag.” Some CLIP users are totally against it for two main reasons:

  • It may be better for people’s yards. “Most studies have found it more beneficial to the lawn to return the clippings.” It’s true: Leaving the clippings is great for the grass!
  • It takes a lot of time. “I’m not sure any amount of extra charge will actually meet the required extra time it takes to bag just a few clients each week.” 

To that second point, no matter what approach you take, make sure you’re charging appropriately. One CLIP user is unapologetic about charging extra for bagging all those grass clippings. His advice?

“If you can’t get away from it, consider tracking your time both ways through CLIP—and make sure you include disposal time. Then charge accordingly. If it means that much to them, then having a qualified time cost will benefit you when it comes time to charge them.”

He also advises trusting your gut on pricing. It’s irrelevant what I or someone else would charge. You must charge what it costs you in the extra time & materials.”

Ultimately, it’s about getting paid fairly for your work and keeping the customer happy. If you’re unsure how to calculate a fair fee, check out CLIP. CLIP is a lawn maintenance business software jam-packed with pricing tools and calculators, so you can always find the right price. And your subscription includes as much training and support as you need. So you can always count on a member of our team to help you understand the numbers on your screen.

Until next time, keep clipping!

Dave Tucker

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