Creative, unexpected solutions for the most difficult-to-access lawns, from experienced lawn maintenance professionals.
In the lawn maintenance business, the smallest yard can be the biggest pain in the neck. You’re bound to encounter tiny lots with tiny gates and have no idea how you’ll get your mower back there. And even if you do figure it out, you encounter more problems! Your mower might be too big to turn around or do a clean cut in the corners.
The frustrations are endless. It can be tempting to just give up. But don’t turn down those jobs just yet.
Many CLIP users have found creative solutions for dealing with small, inaccessible lots. We rounded up a few of their go-to strategies for making it work. Some of their ideas may surprise you.
Buy a vinyl carpet runner and bring the mower through the house.
Let’s say you have a customer whose backyard is simply inaccessible. It might be a big fence with a tiny gate, poorly planned landscaping, or some other obstacle. Regardless of why, you may find yourself unable to get your mower to the grass—unless you go through the house.
This may sound nuts, but I promise you, it works. Buy one of those clear vinyl carpet runners with the spikes on the bottom. Make sure it’s at least 36 inches wide so it’ll accommodate your walk-behind mower. Run from the front door to the back door, and then roll your mower through the house to the yard. The runner will protect carpets and flooring from dirt and grass. It’s unconventional, to be sure. But it works like a charm when there’s no other option.
Don’t want to haul a forty-foot vinyl runner around in your truck? Have your customer pay for it. Add it to their bill and store it at their place—maybe a closet or the garage.
Convince the homeowner to build a new fence with a bigger gate.
In some cases, the issue at hand is a tiny gate. With a little convincing, this can be remedied. Talk to the homeowner and see if they’re interested in installing a bigger gate—or a new fence entirely. It can be surprisingly easy to sell someone on a home improvement project!
There’s a little risk here to be mindful of. The homeowner might hire a contractor and not tell them about the problem at hand. The contractor might sell them on a pretty little gate that’s no bigger than the one one. Then they’ve spent money on a brand-new fence around a yard you still can’t access!
It’s best to hire a subcontractor or do the work yourself. That way, you can be sure that the final product solves your problem.
Get your customer their own lawnmower.
I’m a big fan of a 36-inch walk-behind mower. But those big machines are simply too wide for some yards. In some cases, a push mower really is your best option.
But you don’t need to add a push mower to every crew’s trailer. Instead, tell your customer that they need to rent one from you and store it at their house.
Some customers might give you a hard time about this. You might hear, “If I’m paying for the mower, I might as well do the mowing myself.” Remind the customer that you’ll handle all the maintenance, including oil changes and blade replacements. And assure them that you’ll still mow the lawn if the mower breaks. You’ll find this is usually enough to convince them. After all, most folks don’t particularly enjoy mower maintenance—that’s why they hired you!
Some customers may also ask to buy their own mower rather than buying one from you. In this case, you need to drive home the importance of quality. They hired you because they want a professional look on their lawn. A cheap mower isn’t going to cut it—pun intended—especially if it’s not getting weekly maintenance.
One CLIP user rents a brand-new mower to these customers every year. At the end of the season, those mowers come back to the shop for a tune-up. Then he adds them to his regular crew itinerary. Next season, he buys new mowers for those customers and adds it to their bill.
Calculate the dollars per man-hour.
These tiny lots can be inconvenient, but they can be very, very lucrative. One CLIP user brings home $50 to $100 per man-hour on these jobs! Do some job costing and figure out what you’d need to charge to make it worth your while. You might be surprised by how much people are willing to pay.
Offer to redo the lawn instead.
There will be times when there is simply no way you can mow that lawn. But don’t give up just yet! You’ve got one more offer you can make.
You can sell a total lawn makeover instead. Replace that little patch of grass with pavers. Throw in some lawn chairs, potted plants, and maybe a small pond. Your customer no longer has to worry about mowing, and you’ve still made a sale.
Bottom line: Don’t walk away from a tiny, inaccessible lot without exploring all the possibilities. I’m a big believer in the power of creative problem solving. An idea that works is not a silly idea. So put on your thinking cap and see what you can come up with. Your lawn maintenance business will be better for it.