Subbing out cleanup


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How may of you sub out the cleanup of your work? Or portions of it/ extent of it. How do you handle it?
There's been times we would live to just get the tree or trees down, chip up what we have to, and move to another job to fit 2 jobs in 1 day, but the bucking up of wood, loading it, and final cleanup take a while as we're pretty tedious and leave way site as clean as possible generally better than when we started.
At one point our insurance agent mentioned having someone we know do it, if they had the means. They'd need landscapers insurance and we wouldn't be able to direct them step by step just pretty much tell them what we want over all, and to do a great job, if we guide then the whole way, they'd be employees and we'd need WC insurance on them.
Any I do would help. I'm in Massachusetts so I don't know if they're more strict, since they're asses about everything else.


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Our WA Dept of Labor and Industries has a list of questions that point to important criteria that point to whether someone is an employee or subcontractor. You have to treat them like a business you hire, because you are hiring a business. I'd check with your state folks, directly.

They probably need to use all of their own tools.

Are you in a business partnership, so no W/C?



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We call this a "drop and leave" Put trees or pruned branches on the ground and make sure they aren't blocking right of ways etc. and peace out! If you are subbing it out than technically its still your responsibility and will likely still produce headaches. All or nothing for us. Very important to make it clear that once the mess is made the price for clean up would be far more than if done simultaneously with the work though.......


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My operation is pretty small but it means I can go from working alone on a small pruning job to running large scale projects through subcontracted work. All my chipping is subcontracted. If I can't fit it in my trailer I'll stage the brush for a chipper or I'll bring in a chipper for the day. I can tell you first hand that it can be a challenge to operate this way. I have a good relationship with most of my guys but you're still depending on someone else to complete your work and it usually gets done at the end of their workday. They may be late, they may forget, they may have equipment failure at another site, they may leave a mess, etc. I've even had a contractor get into a screaming match with a client after I've left the site. You're trusting that they conduct themselves in a professional manner but at the end of the day you're relinquishing some of the control you have on the job. It's a fine balance between finding someone you can trust and someone you can afford.

On the plus side there are no chips to dump at the end of the day, no maintenance days on the truck and chipper, no special licenses to maintain for a large vehicle, no chipping, and it's all tax deductible.

The only set up it requires in my area is to be included under each other's insurance as a subcontractor. Doesn't cost a cent.


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"Additionally Insured" on their insurance.

I just filled out my insurance renewal. They ask about percentage of work contracted, Copy of Sub's insurance, subcontractor's agreement.

Look for a grapple truck service that will come haul it all away, while you're there. Its tough to schedule, sometimes, especially during a storm.


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Just start a landscape division of your present company. Employees can work in both tree worker and landscape divisions. All you have to do it to keep good records.


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First I would love to be able to buy a mini but I want to get either a track lift or a bucket truck first. I have thought about the worry of whoever I would hire to do the cleanup not doing a good enough job because we do a very very good job right now. Yes we are a Business Partnership that doesn't have to carry workman's comp only if we have employees the two of us don't have to carry the workman's comp. Our insurance company has told us we can use subcontractors we just have to list how much of it we plan on doing and we have to get copies of their insurance I believe so we have to pick one or two exclusive companies just to avoid the hassle of constantly bringing in paperwork for our insurance company. I really would love to not have to clean everything up but I just don't know if I can trust anybody to do as good a job as we do. I may have mentioned that we always always get comments on how clean everything is the guy Saturday said you wouldn't even know there was a tree where we took the trees down it was cleaner than before we got there. I just don't know that anybody else we would bring in would do as good of a job. I guess for now we'll have to focus on getting the equipment to make it easier for us.


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Minis go way more places than bucket trucks. I started making way more money with a mini than without.

I have way more energy for climbing and life, and way less body impact with a mini.

Investing in any iron will pay off.

A new mini is way more affordable than a reasonable, used bucket truck (lots more expenses), or a used lift.

Wraptors go anywhere, for under $3k.
When I started my business I started out of a car with climbing equipment, and a groundsperson. I subbed all my chipping and cleanup. I didn't have the money to buy big trucks or chippers or any of that. I'm sure a lot of guys here can attest to that when they started their business. But the thing is is if you know what you're doing and know how to price jobs you can get away with doing this and still make money and run a successful business. I know because I've done it.

My advice is this: it can work well if you price your jobs accordingly. Know how much it is going to cost you to have someone else do your cleanup and factor that into your job quote. If you get in good with someone and have a good relationship many guys would probably come chip a pile of brush for 75 bucks or something assuming it's stacked neat and not thrown into a messy pile. If it's a huge job and you need a chipper all day or a truck to haul wood then you will be paying them for a day's work. So if it's a 2,000 dollar job and you're there for 6-7 hours I think it's fair to say you will probably be paying them at least 300 dollars if not more. Some guys may do it for less, but you also want to take care of them because then they will take care of you.

If you do it right you can still make money while doing less work and not beating up your own equipment.

I've done exactly what you're talking about where I would go to a job, do what I have to do, stack the brush and or wood neatly in a pile, then take off in my car to the next job and then someone would swing by that same day or the day after to clean it up for me. Less I have to worry about. And

The important thing here also is communication. Explain to the customer how it works, that you are coming in to take the tree down or prune and then someone will be by to clean up. Also keep track of each job...and settle with whoever is doing it sooner rather than later. You don't want charges to add up and then find you get hit with a huge bill. I would recommend taking care of the bill on a job by job basis.
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I don't own a chipper or clam either, but I know a lot of guys who do and they're generally happy to help me out and get their hourly rate or rate per load. The customer understands all these "extra" costs upfront and it all comes out of their pocket - no extra cost for me. However, I do have to stay until the end to make sure MY client gets the five star treatment they deserve, I'm usually the one blowing sawdust off hardscaping just before getting paid.

If you just cut and run then that's where you sign out, the cleanup becomes the responsibility of the next guy whoever that is, and the homeowner becomes their client too.

And yes, any subcontractors need to provide you with proof of insurance and a tax ID just like you do when you sub-climb.
I agree with staying while the cleanup is taking place, but I think it depends to on your relationship with the guys doing it. In other words is it someone you just hired or someone you have a long standing relationship with and trust.

It is good if you can coordinate stuff so the chipper / truck is there towards the end of the job or right from the beginning depending how big of a job it is.


Active Member
I can understand growing a business on a budget, as most of us can. Imo I hate bringing in subs.
1. You are constantly working around someone else's schedule. It will always lead to a PIA.
2. As you mentioned, quality of outcome is now in someone else's hands. The customer will not remember how well you climbed the tree, only that the clean up was sub par. Decline in repeat customers.
3. What happens when shit happens during clean up? (Rutts in the lawn, down spout ripped off from brush, whateva) Easy to tell the customer that the other guy is going to make it right. Customer sees passing the buck.
4. Buy a mini. Once you work with one you will never work without one. They become your right hand. WAY faster ROI. Make EVERYTHING in your life easier and more efficient.
If you need a cleanup guy PM me I'm in Bristol county and may be able to help you find someone reliable.
I've found working with higher end property maintenance companies can be beneficial. It's their main job to keep the (often absentee) clients property looking picture perfect whether I'm there or not so I'm not so worried about them doing a bad job. Usually more time/scheduling flexible than landscapers. They are a great source of leads for me and when I need a hand on a large cleanup that isn't their customer they often throw a little extra yard work in for free for the homeowner and commonly walk away with a new account.


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First I would love to be able to buy a mini but I want to get either a track lift or a bucket truck first.
That's a tough call and is probably a better move... get the bucket first, then get the loader... I personally would never do tree work without both.... So plan on getting them bang - bang... you got to decide where you want to go with your business.... and it only makes sense to have a third man sooner than later... Certainly possible to find a good sub for clean up... if you're worried about book keeping, have the client write the check to the sub directly... Of course that isn't a perfect system... your sub is bound to have break downs, or other issues that hurt reliable completion... And of course find someone with a log loader to take all the big wood.. before I got my loader I would even have my guy pick up smaller logs if I could line the work up and keep travel time down.... In the end the best thing you can do is sell work... Nothing solves problems like sales!!!!


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Have you seen Reg's Honda powered capstan (winch) videos?
Much cheaper than a mini. He has a super steep bank job video that the capstan doesn't seem to care about. Pulls the loaded AT right up.

I'm going to do a winching job. I have a chainsaw-powerhead powered Simpson Capstan. I'm thinking of upgrading to a Honda Capstan for 2.5x's the line-speed.

Reg had a swivel mount put on his chipper by a local fabricator, as shown in another video. Smart options.


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depends on the terrain, trees and customers... rare to need a winch on the flatlands of the east coast...I honestly would suggest a mid sized skid steer rather than a mini....