True Memoirs of a Neighborhood Lawnboy
Almost two years back, I started writing a book titled True Memoirs of a Neighborhood Lawnboy. Unfortunately, I never finished writing it. I want to show you what I wrote.
You will learn valuable lessons and motivators if you want to start mowing lawns in your neighborhood.
If your past that part of your life, just enjoy this short memoir of part of my life. The lawn mowing years.
Here is what I wrote two years back:
True Memoirs of a Neighborhood Lawnboy
I was making over one-hundred fifty dollars a month. While regularly mowing four to five lawns, once or twice per month. Life was great! I had money to buy iced coffee whenever I wanted. I bought an iPod! I paid my phone bill, and the phone on the phone bill. I had never had as much success mowing lawns until that year. How did I do it? It took years of frustration and failure.
That may not make any sense, but it will. If you want to be the neighborhood lawn boy or girl, you will feel the way I did. But trust me a year or two of struggle is worth the prize.
I started out when I was about eleven years old. I wanted to make money and babysitting was not happening. We had a green gas-powered lawn mower. So, I said to my dad I wanted to mow our lawn by myself this time: he gave me the ok. I had mowed the lawn with my dad before but never alone. I put my shoes on, popped my sunglasses on, and went to the garage. There was the mower, I grabbed it and pushed it over to the backyard. I yanked the starter handle hard, nothing. Pulling the starter handle to start the lawnmower is very difficult, especially if you a smaller person. Don’t worry it becomes easier. I had to get my dad to help me start the mower. With a few pulls the mower started chopping grass. I pushed going back and forth until the lawn was complete!
The first solo mow was a landmark in my neighborhood lawnboy career. I strongly suggest mowing your lawn or a friends lawn before attempting the neighbors lawns. Find someone who can watch you and help you the first couple times. For me that person was my dad, I learned a very valuable tip from him. He taught me to overlap your previous line of mowed grass by five or six inches, it makes a huge difference!
I was ready to get to business.
My first client
It was late spring about six o’clock when I did my first canvas (going door to door offering my services). I did eight or so doors with no success, until I got to a house about a block away from my house. It was a corner house with a large yard. I walked through his multiple construction vans and up the stairs, then rang the doorbell. A middle aged man opened the door.
I said “Hi, my name is Zach. I am mowing lawns in the neighborhood and was wondering if you needing your lawn mowed?”
He said “Ok, I have a mower you can use.” So we walked to a shed in his backyard and he rolled out a self-propelled Honda HRX. Nice! With a self-propelled lawn mower you just pull a handle and the front two wheels spin by themselves. It makes mowing a lot easier! He showed me where the gas was and to fill it whenever the mower needed gas. Then he pushed it to the front yard, I followed him. He showed me how to start it, on that lawn mower you had to disengage the choke, and then you could pull the starting handle. Remember it’s not easy to start lawnmowers; that’s most likely for enhanced safety. Take you time and be smart about it (as in stand behind the mower when you pull the starting handle). He yanked the starting handle and left me to mow the front lawn.
When I finished I rang the doorbell. He came out and looked at the lawn, inspecting it carefully. I was a little worried, but confident at the same time. He said “It looks good, you missed a few spots. You need to overlay the previous mow and with this lawn it’s better to go in circles than lines. I know because I used to run a landscaping business.”
Wow! What were the odds that my first client used to run his own landscaping business.
Reflecting what he said I realized my errors. I wanted to finish the job fast, so I ignored my dads advice and didn’t overlap each mowed line by a few inches. The advice my client gave me was something that became a staple in the majority of my future jobs. Mowing in circles means mowing the perimeter of the yard, then the next unmowed perimeter, and so on. That technique allows for a more streamlined process, making it easier on you. It also gives the lawn a very nice look!
Thankfully my first client liked me enough to make me his neighborhood lawnboy! So it was time to talk money. We decided on fifteen dollars, and I would come back in two weeks. I was thrilled!
Money talk with my cousin
I mowed my first clients lawn a few times, before going to my aunts house for dinner. My cousin who I believe to be in his thirties was there. While we were eating dinner he asked me what I have been doing lately. I told him I have been mowing lawns. To my surprise he used to be his neighborhood lawnboy! I could see in his eyes how many good memories it brought back. What really caught my attention, was when he mentioned that he made up to thirty dollars on a single lawn! At the time I didn’t even think that was possible. I was making fifteen dollars on my first lawn.
Just hearing this opening my eyes to a much more successful career as the neighborhood lawnboy. If he could make thirty dollars on a lawn more than fifteen years ago, I could make that and then some on a lawn.
Remembering back, this was a big deal. If you want to be the neighborhood lawnboy/girl remember this: pricing is important! Analyze the size of the lawn and the difficulty of getting to the lawn. Charge to much and you won’t get the job, charge too little and you’ll be ripping yourself off. But, don’t worry you’ll learn how to gauge the proper price.
Lawnrakingboy, fight for the iPod
As I am writing I realized my first lawnboy job wasn’t with a lawnmower. Before I mowed lawns, every Fall I would rake leaves. Although, it was much more difficult to rake leaves, it didn’t require a lawnmower. I also learned something called, work ethic.
I wanted the 4th Generation iPod. Fall meant Black Friday, which meant I could get about fifty dollars off retail price. I needed one-hundred fifty dollars to buy the iPod. I had about one-hundred twenty dollars from past years and monthly allowance from my parents. I was pricing my leave rake services at five dollars per wheelbarrow. Which meant I needed to rake six piles large enough to fill the wheelbarrow six times.
Across the street, there was a lawn with a lot of leaves, probably because they had a giant maple tree on their property. As I had done a few times in the past, I walked over and knocked on their door. They opened and I asked them if they wanted me to rake their leaves. I told them that it is five dollars per wheelbarrow. They agreed, so I got started. I grabbed my wheelbarrow and rake, and headed over. I worked a total of three hours that night with some help from my two sisters. I told them that if they helped me I’d let them play on my iPod from time to time.
Once I had the money, I walked over to my mom and gave it to her. In return she gave me the iPod which she had bought earlier at Target. I was so happy to see my hard work turn into something I had been saving up for for so long.
I had never saved up for something of that much money before. I was ten years old, so buying my own iPod using the money I worked so hard to earn was a major success! As hard as saving up is, higher ticket items generally bring longer lasting satisfaction then many smaller priced items.
End of Memoir
I hope you enjoyed the few tips I learned while mowing lawns in my neighborhood!
May you find success, and good memories most of all.