LANDSCAPER TRAILERS: STOW AND TOW
Storage and organization for lawn-care company equipment trailers
by Larry D. Walton
Most landscapers appreciate the value of having their tools properly organized and secure on both pickup and trailer.
When you have a place for everything and everything in its place, it makes any job more efficient.
How often have you thought of the money you could have if time spent searching for (or digging for) a tool was actually spent on the project?
Good tool storage not only organizes, but protects tools from damage, secures the tools from theft and allows you to see at a glance if something is missing so tools don’t get left on the job site
As a landscaper, you’ve probably paid attention to lots of landscaping trucks and trailers. You can tell instantly if it’s a maintenance crew or installation crew and probably what type of install they are working on.
You’ve also noticed many of ways of doing the same types of things. You pay the most attention when you are considering improving your system or setting up a new truck or trailer.
WORKS FOR ME
When it comes to cargo management for the landscaping trailer, it’s a good idea to step back and consider what goes into your design.
While tools you have (or plan to get) play a big role, often it’s more about your own personal style or the style of the crew leader using the truck that determines the approach you want to use.
A layout can look good on paper, but getting too locked into very specific locations for small tools and supplies can frustrate some guys. It can also hinder the flexibility needed to move from one job type or season to the next.
The composition of the crew makes a big difference, too. Making tools accessible from both sides or having the ability to roll a machine off the ramp while other crew members are grabbing their tools from the side racks can really add up to time savings and make the crew more productive. Identify potential bottle necks for both unloading and loading gear.
Another consideration is the number of trips required to transport small tools and supplies to the corners of the project.
It may be cute to have a bin for each pair of cutters and type of connector, but it often makes more sense to have a tool box or bag with related items ready to go for a quick grab and a brisk walk to the exact spot where it is needed.
Sometimes the best planning approach is to spread out everything needed on a particular truck or trailer and think through the process of loading and accessing.
Do these locations require a mower to be moved every time you want to grab a blower? Are fuel cans in locations that can be used once during the morning or are they in the way at every stop? What are the limitations for street side loading and unloading? Will this work on hilly terrain?
Get some crew members involved in the organization process. Another set of eyes can be helpful and they will also be on board with the final results
Once you know the relative positions of the main tools and supplies, you can decide how to get them secured, stacked, packed and racked.
Often you can get some of the needed organizational components during negotiations when you are ordering you trailer. Anything you can get with your trailer in terms of ramps and racks will put you ahead
We cover cargo management for pickups regularly in ProPickup. While your truck racks and tool boxes need to compliment your trailer, many of the products designed for trucks can be used on trailers as well.
CUSTOM TOOL CARRIERS
You can work with a local welder or fab shop to build what you need or you can do it in house with your own mechanic or do it yourself.
If you’re using an enclosed trailer rather than an open trailer it can give you move opportunities to mount equipment not only from the walls but the ceiling of the trailer as well. Make sure to follow any safety guidelines regarding transporting fuel in an enclosed space.
In an enclosed trailer consider designing rail mounted components that can be changed with the season, accommodate changes in gear or reorganize for a different type of job.
Brackets or racks can be good places to give each specific tool a place to live. Make sure you have rubber (or some other solution) to isolate the tools from vibration and friction. Expensive handles and switches can be knocked or worn off in over-the-road movement.
Repeatedly removing and replacing the tool in its rack can also wear on the tool without proper protection from such subtle abuse.
When planning storage for your landscaping trailer, you need to take into account what type of security you’re looking for and how much weather protection you want your storage solutions to offer for your equipment.
Sometimes it’s your parking space that tips the scale on your decision. Is it covered or open? Is it behind locked gates or easily accessible?
If your storage is on an open trailer or in the bed of your pickup it is probably a good idea to secure your tools and lock them into place not just for travel purposes but also to prevent potential theft. Ideally, both of these goals will be met with the same mechanism.
If you haven’t already experienced it, thieves can be very brazen about grabbing expensive tools when your guys have just stopped for drinks or for lunch or worse yet, when they are in a back yard working. Better to lock them down as a matter of policy.
Open trailers can have some advantages like lower initial cost and tool access for multiple workers who can get right to work. You can accommodate this process by tool placement in your planning.
With either type of trailer the locks for your tools are only as good as the security for your trailer itself so make sure you have a good ball lock if you’re going to unhook your vehicle from the trailer. All the locks in the world won’t do any good if someone simply steals your entire trailer.
If you’re going to purchase an alternative body or build a rack for the bed of your pickup, consider extra storage above the cab of the pickup as well. You can also find headache rack designs that include over cab racks that are handy for extra storage.
If you’re looking to create your own storage solutions, material choices will probably be dictated by your own skills and the tools you have available.
Welding tubing vertically – whether round or square – can be an effective method of storing long handled tools.
If you can’t weld or don’t have access to a welder, you can use PVC pipe and hose clamps or other types of straps to give you virtually the same result. Flat black paint can be easily touched up and is good camouflage for a variety of materials.
OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
We saw some custom trailer setups with some unique features. One had a pair of ramps (one on the back and one at the front of the trailer) allowing the owner to load a mower through the trailer right into the back of the pickup while the trailer was attached. With some thought, you can come up with a solution that fits your budget and your crew.
Here are some of the common storage solutions you might want to include on your trailer or pickup:
– Cabinets – whether they’re a more standard toolbox or integrated into the body or underside of the trailer itself.
– Cages – provide security of a cabinet or toolbox but with ventilation and visibility.
- Trimmer racks (how many trimmers?)
- Long handle tool racks
- Fuel Can rack
- Blower rack
- Ladder rack
– Water cooler mounting – easy access to stay hydrated during work
– Hand wash/clean-up station
– Trimmer line spool mount