Lawn Care Services vs. DIY: Real-Life Stories About Making the Wrong Choice

Do-it-yourself lawn care can be a way to de-stress, or it could be the bane of your day. Here are the joys and woes of both options.

Image: Alexandre Zveiger/Shutterstock

One homeowner’s Zen-like weed pulling session is another’s sweaty nightmare. Work schedules, yard sizes, and comfort levels can all affect whether you’re willing to cut that grass yourself or outsource the task to a local lawn care service. 

Here, some real-life joys and woes of handling yard work from both sides of the picket fence to help you make up your own mind.

Related: Season-by-Season Lawn Care Guide

DIY Joy: Outlet for Stress

Post-gardening peace is a legit phenomenon. A study in the Netherlands found that people who gardened outside for 30 minutes felt less stressed than those who read indoors. “You get out there and you kind of forget about all of your problems,” says Timothy Roller of Lexington, N.C. “You get wrapped up in what you’re doing. It’s not a job. It’s a joy.”

Pro Joy: Outsourced Cleanups

It’s a chore to wield those heavy pruning loppers, but hauling the trimmings away can be a downright burden. Olga Alvarez of Elmwood Park, N.J., relishes the freedom — and tidiness — that all-in-one outsourcing brings. “Landscapers do a much better job of cleaning up after trimmings,” she says.

DIY Woe: Lack of Homeowner Experience

Going Michelangelo on your hedges can result in an end product more akin to Picasso. One such mishap convinced Alvarez to turn trimming duties over to the pros.

“We have a few evergreen bushes in the front of the house that are shaped in a curly design,” she says. “When my husband tried to upkeep by doing a trim, he butchered [the] tree.” They’ve been hiring out yard work ever since. And funky-looking bushes can be the best case scenario when it comes to mishaps. More serious DIY yard debacles can lead to expensive repairs and injuries.

DIY Joy: Spending Less Green on Your Green

Let’s not forget the most obvious joy of doing your own lawn care: saving money. According to professional services website Angie’s List, basic lawn care services can cost $160 to $200 per month on average. While maintaining your own yard requires purchasing supplies, your hourly rate is measured only in effort. For the budget-minded, that’s hard to beat.

Pro Joy: More Time for Other Tasks

The average American adult spent more than an hour a week on gardening and lawn care, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found in 2014.

“We’ve had lawn care since we moved into our home back in 1999, so approximately 17 years,” says Alvarez. “Everything from grass treatments to landscaping.” As a result, they’ve freed up about 58 hours each year, or 994 hours overall for other pursuits. In other words, ample time for a rewarding hobby.

DIY Woe: Coming Face-to-Face with Pests

Creepy crawly critters can be a deal breaker for homeowners unaccustomed to close encounters of the slithery kind. Ellen Robinson of Norwood, N.C., is still scarred from an unexpected meeting with a snake that crawled out of a pile of mulch.

“So needless to say,” Robinson says, “I didn’t put out any more of that mulch.” For many homeowners, allowing the pros to deal with such potential surprise appearances is more than enough reason to farm out the task.

Pro Woe: Lack of Property Knowledge

Sometimes professionals can inadvertently cause problems because they don’t know the ins and outs of your particular property. On a few occasions, pros have left Alvarez’s fence gate open after their work was finished, which allowed the beloved family dogs to run into the street. Dog-wrangling usually isn’t a line item for yard services.

And every property comes with features as unique as its owners, like the location of a subtly marked pet grave. And the pros don’t know your family’s schedule, so baby’s nap time might conflict with leaf-blowing time. Landscapers’ specialty is making lawns beautiful, not remembering the ins and outs of how your household operates.

DIY Joy: Sense of Pride

From a windowsill herb garden to sprawling acreage, doing your own work creates a sense of accomplishment. “When you’re successful, the pride, it’s unbelievable,” says Roller. “It’s like when you have the biggest vegetable in town, it’s like, ‘Look at the size of my tomato!’”

Related: Low-Maintenance Lawn Alternative: Ground Cover