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DIY or Pay for a Lawn Service?

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DIY or Pay for a Lawn Service

We’re still taming our overgrown yard. Honestly, I really like it. I find the time spent mowing and trimming and planting to be really therapeutic and satisfying. My parents always had us work in the yard together, so it just seems normal to spend time mowing and raking each week. We are DIY lawn care people, not pay for a lawn service people.

My husband does the fertilizing and edging, and I cut the lawn and manage the garden. The kids and I weed, and we all rake.

Raking and Raking

However, we’ve raked so. many. friggin’ leaves these past few weeks. When the lawn is dry, I can use the mower to mulch them. But it’s been pouring rain, so whenever there is a break in the rain or just a light drizzle I run out to rake. I try to time it with virtual school breaks and off-work hours. It’s tricky. The wet leaves are heavy, and my hands are calloused, blistered, and dyed orange from the wet leaves. It looks like I got a bad spray tan.

DIY or Pay for a Lawn Service

I wish this picture did the orange-ness justice

But I get to listen to podcasts and be outside. The kids help off and on, and frankly I treasure the few moments of solitude when they wander off. My muscles are sore, but I really do enjoy it. Plus, I know the leaves are almost (!) done falling and I’ll be done for a year.

All that doesn’t mean I don’t notice when my neighbor’s lawn service teams pull up. Big, strong guys hop out with industrial-strength leaf blowers strapped to their backs. They pile up the leaves (even the soaking wet ones!) crazy quick. Then they fill bags and bins with leaves, and drive away, leaving these yards looking neat and trimmed. All while I’m still out there raking and raking and raking…

So while I’ve been out there for hours and hours, I’ve started to think, “Is it worth it to pay for a lawn service??”

The Cost of Paying the Pros

I started researching how much it costs. According to HomeAdvisor, the average national cost for basic lawn care is $135 a month (or about $33 a week), and for leaf blowing $30 per hour. It’s more if you have them come twice a week, and everything else is extra: towing away leaves, weeding, fertilizing, and more.

I bet this past week alone I’ve done 7 hours of raking, trimming, and bagging. I’ve spent $8 on several big paper leaf bags from Lowes that we fill and drop off to our city for free.

So is a lawn service worth it? It depends.

  • PROS: Saves you time, saves you from injury, uses higher quality tools, and involves expertise and experience.
  • CONS: Costly each month, takes away your chance to exercise and be outside, and means you’re not always in charge of how the job is done.

Will We Stick with DIY?

Are we going to pay for a lawn service? Nope. People in this much debt just can’t justify hiring pros. We’re physically able to do the work, and it’s not worth it to me to budget for it right now.

Am I actively looking for a $30 leaf blower on Facebook Marketplace? Yep. And I’ll still notice every time a big, industrial leaf blower interrupts a Zoom call, and I’ll marvel at just how fast those teams can get the work done.


18 Comments

  • Reply Erin |

    I also grew up doing yard care, and love the smell of the wet leaves in the fall. It is therapeutic, as you mention at the beginning of your post. Good for thinking, listening to your choice of books or music or podcasts, and exercise. And as you found when you researched the cost of paying someone else to do it, you are saving money! When my father passed away, I spent about 6 hours each session of cleaning up his leaves from four large oak trees. He had a 1 acre yard. Good memories. Keep on saving money and getting exercise and mental health time.

    • Reply Sara S |

      It’s amazing how much each tree can drop! I’m glad you enjoy the outside time too. Thanks for commenting!

    • Reply Sara S |

      The hilarious thing is that I do wear gloves. So I think the key word here is a “good” pair… mine keep soaking through!

  • Reply Lisa |

    Leave the leaves, they will break down over the winter. It’s good for the soil and ecosystem.

    • Reply Cwaltz |

      You had the same thought I did. I always leave the leaves because it protects the ground underneath and its ecosystem from extreme cold.

      • Reply Sara S |

        So I’ve noticed when I’ve left some leaves (like in areas I missed or just hadn’t gotten to yet) that the grass looks yellow and the ground is really mushy. If we left thick layers of leaves would it kill the lawn?

  • Reply Reen |

    Like many things whether you pay for lawn care depends your situation, etc. Hubby and I have owned 3 homes in our 21-year marriage. The first 2 homes had huge yards (1 acre each and much of it sodded). In our first home we did EVERYTHING ourselves including redoing the year and many projects. Our splurge was a good riding lawn mower. Oh, the hours spent in the year. In our second home I did the weekly and seasonal (bush trimming, leaves, etc.) work myself-hubby travels 200 days a year and at the time I owned my own law firm but had some flexibility in timing to get stuff done. We did hire out some bigger jobs in house #2 including fertilizer spreading and some patio work, fence, etc. In house #3 we moved states and now our yard is really small (less that 0.2 acres). For the first few years I continued the weekly lawn care but we hired out fertilizing and some upgraded planting/rock spreading. After spreading ALOT of rock (like 20 cubic tons or more) at the first 2 houses we hired this out at new house. Four years ago I finally hired a weekly lawn service but continue to trim my own bushes and a few odd things. We pay about $100 a month and for us its worth it. It costs $ to haul away the grass each week and we just don’t have the time now. I transitioned into a corporate law and hubby has a demanding job requiring 60+ hours a week (by choice). Also, we have garter snakes here and I am AFRAID so I moved out of the lawn care business. They just did our fall leaf clean up this week (in the Midwest) and it was $75. At this season in our life it is worth for us to hire out the lawn care. We are mid-40s and just had our first child. For us right now, it works.

    • Reply Sara S |

      That makes total sense. You really have to weigh the cost and the benefits, and I don’t blame you for choosing to hire it out.

  • Reply Cynthia |

    I live in the desert where xeriscaping is necessary so it blows my mind to read these yard posts. It costs me $80 per year to have a weed deterrent applied and the guy comes back and picks any weeds that come up. (If it’s just a few I will usually pull them myself.). I think my neighbor pays slightly more to have her (1) tree trimmed from time to time. He does multiple homes on my street and seems to run a pretty brisk business.

    • Reply Sara S |

      Such a different world! My mom lives in Colorado now and her yard maintenance is sooo different than ours.

  • Reply Katie |

    If you enjoy it and have the time, I say DIY. If you don’t and that time could be spent making more money than you’re paying out, then hire the pros.

  • Reply Deb |

    I met a guy two years ago who was going around the neighbor hood asking if folks would like their grass taken care of. I had a push mower at the time and it was desperately hot outside in Central Florida. I was sweating, hot, thirsty, and my body ached. He asked and I accepted. Two years later we still have the same agreement. He comes every week during the “spring and summer” and once every two weeks in the “fall or winter” to my home in Central Florida. He charges me 25 dollars for each visit. It takes him fifteen or twently minutes. He cuts grass, uses a weed whacker to trim, and blows anything needed back into the yard for the critters out back. We also get to have a great conversation during each visit too. It benefits both of us.

  • Reply Marcy |

    My DH had major back surgery 2 months ago, so for the 1st time in many, many years, we hired a person to do a long-overdue lawn mowing, weeding, edging, and to trim back a hedgerow. Cost us $140 (we live in a mid-Atlantic area), but worth the $$ to have it all done and the lawn looking presentable while my DH convalesced. He’s back to doing the yard work now, just in time for all the leaf raking!

    • Reply Sara S |

      I’m glad he’s on the mend! But I’m not glad he healed just in time for the leaves. 😉

  • Reply Katie |

    My neighbor (mid-80s) had someone come and do his leaves and it cost $800! We have similar sized lots (about .66 acre), although I honestly have more trees and leaves. Last year, I got a quote and it was about that and I thought no way. I ended up buying a cordless leaf blower. We back up to wetlands and have some woods on one side, so I’ve spent the past several weekends blowing as many as I can off the lawn. The one year we raked a bunch and didn’t get them bagged before the snow came, it killed our lawn, so I’m trying to avoid that. The only thing is that the leaf blower dies after about an hour. I’m thinking about buying a second battery because I actually don’t mind it. I listen to podcasts and it’s kind of relaxing! I hate bagging the leaves though, so I need to come up with a better solution for the front yard or the side near my neighbor because I feel bad having all our leaves blow in our yard.

So, what do you think ?