Lawn Care - DIY or Hire a service?

swreederApril 20, 2009

Hi All,

I have a 1.5 Acre lot and there is 35,000 feet of lawn in existence. I finally decided that I have had enough with the weeds and semi good lawn that I want to put the effort into growing a nice yard. (plus a new garden tractor is also motivation)

So in looking at my yard and pricing 4 step programs at Home Depot (with Scott's), Tractor Supply and the local Agway store it is going to run me 400-500 annually based on the current prices.

My neighbor who has slightly more grass than I just recently decided to go with a lawn service and has been quoted a annual rate of 470 for 4 times a year treatment.

My question is this, is it really close to the same cost if I do it myself vs. hire a green lawn service?

Why should I do it myself vs. hire someone?

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This is a good question. The numbers will look better if you find a less expensive place to get materials than Lowes. Still my company has all the stuff you could ever want for lawn care, and my dad uses a service. Doing a little job like my dad's yard is a pain for us because all of our equipment is geared toward big areas, so we just paid a service.

That said a lot of the services do a shitty job. I saw a tru green guy today spraying in the rain, and I mean rain not sprinkle. If you do it you'll put down more active ingredent than most of the services. I'm still doing my own yard. I like doing it.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 6:20PM
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Its always a question whether, after seeing the vehicles towing trailers with the large tanks of what is supposed to be herbicides, pesticides and besides, how much is going to cost to do it yourself.

I've always thought if I hired a spray company, I'd want to take a sample of the spray and let the guy know I was going to get it checked out for effectiveness.
Would he then suggest "he's forgotten something back at the office and will be back to do your lawn shortly".

If the weed control is on a guaranteed kill or a free return spray, you might take him at his word but......
do not pay him up front.
Pay a little, with the remainder in the time specified he says the weeds will be taken care of.
There are just too many fly-by-nighters---and they don't wait for night to fly, in taking money that, when you think they do it to hundred of householders, a lot of money goes where the weeds don't.

Any reputable dealer will take a pay-as-he-kills schedule and offer some form of guaranteed results.

D I Y, you can make up your own strengths of mix but does require you getting out and doing it.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 7:00PM
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There is no need for a 'four step' program.
Fertilizer and weed control in the Fall is all that's needed.
If you have a problem with crab grass, a LOW nitrogen fertilizer and
pre-emergent herbicide could be helpful in Spring.
That's it.
It's 1/4 of the price, and you'll have a very nice lawn.

Cornell University has a typical website.
Notice what they say about when & how much to fertilize;
most University Extension websites say the same thing.

Here is a link that might be useful: cornell healthy lawn overview

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 7:39PM
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The Cornell link didn't work in first message.
I've pasted it again.
If it still doesn't work, a Google on
"cornell healthy lawn", should work.
Have fun out there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Healthy Lawn Overview

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 7:44PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

All you really have to do is just fertilize (Lesco store), water deeply every once in a while WHEN NEEDED and mow regularly (WEEKLY) and you will have decent lawn.

Personally, I think your lawn is too big. Reduce it to 1/4th acre of lawn with trees and shrubs surrounding it. It doesn't have to be expensive. Just get 5g size trees and 1g shrubs to plant around. Look for free wood chips usually by tree trimmers to spread around trees and shrubs. In 5 years. It will look very nice.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 8:25PM
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lou, When are you gonna get over the "I have a small yard so big yards are bad" thing??? I have seen your lawn and it's great esp. since you planted it on what looks like an ex chalk mine. (Ha) Geeze, different strokes for different folks. My Grandfather's extremely small yard in Metairie, Louisiana was beautiful St. Augustine and he manicured it to perfection. I also enjoy looking at large well groomed and manicured multi-acre yards of any good healthy grass. What bugs me is a yard of any size that is just abused and/or ignored. Yea I know there are alternatives but I love a large open lawn with lots of grass and a few trees here and there. The configuration of my lawn is a lot of open space for my sun addicted Bermuda and a perimeter of fifteen 100 year old Oaks, three 80 foot pines and a mixture of Cherry, Pecan, Pears, Figs, and Dogwoods scattered here and there. My pride and joy though is the gently rolling almost 3 acre Bermuda lawn I created from what was essentially a wild overgrown field of thistles and Bahia grass.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:24AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

It looks like the OP is concerned about the high cost of caring for his lawn and garden. Lou's idea to cut down on the size of the lawn would help cut costs. I'm keeping a list of alternatives to grass. While these can cost a bit to install, the maintenance will be lower than for grass. Here's what I have so far.

arbors (for vines)
bee keeping
butterfly garden
edibles (veggies)
fragrance garden
herb garden
hot tubs
hummingbird garden
Japanese garden
moon garden (plants and lights for night time viewing)
other groundcovers
out buildings (like sheds)
outdoor theater
parcours (exercise stations)
putting green
rock garden
rolling hills
rose garden
sitting or reading area
tulip garden
Zen garden

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 1:42AM
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Thanks for all the responses. To Lou, sorry you don't like big lawns, I fortunately do and will continue to have one. As far as increasing landscaping, I already have area that takes 30 yards of mulch to cover and other areas around the house that has several tons of lanscape stone. So size reduction is not an option.

I personally like taking care of the lawn. I'm just trying to determine if I can do a better job myself for similar dollars that I can get from having someone do it.

I watched a neighbor dump 700+ dollars into DIY last year and have the worst lawn I have ever seen.

I am going to stop in our county extension office tomorrow and start the process of getting my soil tested.

I have always bagged my grass. I have just purchased a new simplicity garden tractor and will be mulching only moving forward.

So plans are as follows:
Soil test
Dethatch and vac lawn (I have a cyclone rake)
Lime if necessary based on soil test
Fertilize based on soil sample with Weed prevention
Spray yard with broadleaf control (I have a 50 gallon tow sprayer)
Fertilize in fall and winter

You can see some pictures from last few summers in link.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 9:08PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Nice place. Should have put that up in the first place cuz I had the impression that it's all grass and nothing else. DIY can be cheap if you know what you're doing. Just have to do some reading and you'll be fine. It's not that difficult. The biggest issue is having enough time for it. A lot of people don't have time and would rather hire TurBurn to do it even if it won't make their lawn look spectacular. Good luck with your yard.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 10:17PM
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