If you are starting a new lawn care business, or have only been in business for just a little while, it may not surprise you that there is a lot of potential for making mistakes. There are just so many factors to consider. You have to worry about purchasing the right equipment, how to charge for services, finding new clients, the best practices for mowing and the list goes on.
Amid all of the considerations, you must make for your business, you may overlook an action that may be “risky for business” until it’s too late. That is why I wanted to talk about one very common mistake that almost all folks, including myself, have made when starting a lawn care business: blowing grass onto the road.
More times than not, discharging grass toward the road is not going to cause a problem, but blowing grass on the road doesn’t just look bad, it can be deadly. There are a lot of mistakes to avoid while operating your lawn care company. Blowing grass into the road is just one of them, and it seems to often be overlooked. Today, I wanted to go over three reasons why blowing grass in the road is risky for business.
Reason 1: Blowing grass into the road looks bad
First and foremost, if you are a lawn care professional, you want to make the product of your service look as good as it can. Part of making a lawn look its best is not blowing grass into the road!
When you are using a side discharge mower, it is just something that you naturally do. However, it’s simple. Blowing grass on the road is bad for business. It lowers the value of your service, and to a homeowner, it is often a sign of inexperience.
Quick Fix: If you have must discharge grass into the road, there are two options. Make another pass along the edge of the road and blow it back into the lawn, or use a leaf blower to clean the street. Your client and their neighbors will appreciate you for it.
Reason 2: Blowing grass into the road is risky
Cutting grass into the road with a side discharge mower is risky from a liability standpoint. In fact, it is risky to use a side discharge anywhere on your client’s lawn. Think about it, a side discharge won’t just launch the grass caught up in your blades. If any rock or piece of wood gets launched from your mower deck, it can lead to some big problems. Especially if you are mowing by the road.
Any rock or piece of debris along the side of the road will get caught up in the blades and may be launched across the street. If any debris you launch happens to hit a passing car, it may damage a window, the cars paint or even cause an injury. That is not the kind of liability you want you or your new lawn care company to be facing.
Reason 3: Blowing grass into the road can cause accidents
Now, if this is your first time hearing this, I understand how crazy it may seem. Yet, it is true. Blowing grass in the roadway can cause accidents to passing motorcyclists, and some folks have even died because of it. Simply put, grass on the road can be deadly to motorcyclists.
Many will say that blowing grass into the road is not illegal. In many places, that may be true. Most states and cities do not explicitly have laws against grass in the road. Yet some do, and almost all states have laws against littering in the roadway or making any hazard for motorists. If a police officer really wanted to, he could probably issue a ticket.
Here’s the deal, law or no law, if an unsuspecting motorcyclist wrecks on your grass clippings in the road, you may be liable. A motorcyclist, or their family can sue you and your company for negligence if you leave clippings on the road.
Although there may not be a law where you are which explicitly bans you from blowing grass in the road, it is still not a good idea. Especially since you can be held accountable, and you may even lose your business as a result.
An easy solution
Fortunately, there is a very simple solution to this entire problem. If you mow lawns professionally, it is best to either bag or mulch your clippings. As bagging is impractical for most businesses and commercial bagging systems are a fortune. Mulching is often the best choice, especially for new lawn care businesses. Mulching your clippings may not always be possible when you are catching up on an overgrown lawn. But in my experience, mulching is the best method of cutting the lawn.
Not only does mulching leave all of the nutrients in the lawn itself, it reduces the likelihood that a flying rock will cause unexpected damage to your clients property. It also doesn’t create the issue of disposing of bagged grass clippings. If all else fails you could just xeriscape your clients lawn, or try an alternative lawn solution, and forget about cutting the grass altogether.
To wrap it up
As lawn care professionals, we all have to start somewhere. As with any mistake in business, it is best to acknowledge and correct any problems as soon as they occur. Simply avoiding discharging grass into the road will not only make your lawn look better, it reduces your risk of paying out for damage caused to someone else’s property.
As someone who has been in the business over a decade, I can tell you that the most costly mistake I have ever made is not learning from mistakes soon enough. It may seem silly and pointless now, but I assure you in the long run, your business will be much better off if you simply keep the grass clippings on the lawn.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Douglas Dedrick. Douglas is a landscaper with over a decade of landscaping experience, and currently operates his lawn care business Natural Landscape Designs in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter @LawnOrganic.