The Lawn Lover’s Dilemma: Trust a Yard Service or Not?

Outsourcing your grass cutting could be a dream come true or a nightmare.

A lush green lawn and a white house
Image: Alexandre Zveiger/Shutterstock

Yard work: a Zen-like weed-pulling session or sweaty nightmare?

Work schedules, yard sizes, and comfort levels all affect whether you’re willing to cut that grass yourself or outsource the task to a local lawn care service. 

Here, homeowners from both sides of the picket fence give their two cents to help you make up your own mind.

Related: Season-by-Season Lawn Care Guide

4 Good Reasons to Hire a Lawn-Care Professional

#1 You’ll probably make mistakes a pro never would 

Going Michelangelo on your hedges can result in an end product more akin to Picasso. One such mishap convinced Olga Alvarez of Elmwood Park, N.J., 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.

#2 Creepy crawlers might get you

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.

#3 You’ll never be able to tidy up as well as the pros do

It’s a chore to wield those heavy pruning loppers, but hauling the trimmings away can be a downright burden. Alvarez relishes the freedom — and tidiness — that all-in-one outsourcing brings. 

“Landscapers do a much better job of cleaning up after trimmings,” she says. They’ve got it down to an easy routine because they do it every day, and it’s part of their job.

You, the homeowner, however, may be tempted to procrastinate the cleanup once the cutting and trimming are done.

#4 You’ll have time for things that are a lot more fun

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.

3 Reasons You’ll be Happy to Do the Yard Work Yourself

#1 You’ll relieve a LOT of stress

Post-gardening peace is a legit phenomenon. A study in the Netherlands found that people who did yard work 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.”

#2 You’ll save money

Duh. But when you see how quickly those little payments add up, you might find some strong motivation to DIY your lawn. 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.

#3 You’ll build a 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!’”

And the #1 Reason Why You Might Opt Out of a Lawn Service Is . . .

They can show up at the most inconvenient times. Sometimes professionals can inadvertently cause problems because they don’t know the ins and outs of your particular property.

They don’t know your family’s schedule, so baby’s nap time might conflict with lawn-mowing time. 

Especially when it comes to pets. 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 (scary!).

Landscapers’ specialty is making yards beautiful, not remembering the ins and outs of how your household operates. And sometimes that means they need to cut the lawn now  (before the weather turns gnarly) regardless of what you’re trying to do, or where your dogs are.

Whether you choose to DIY or sit back and hire a service, the point is to enjoy your yard. Here’s to happy days barefooting on a lush lawn!

Related: Tips for the Greenest, Barefoot-Worthy Grass

Elizabeth Lilly
Elizabeth Lilly

Elizabeth Lilly is the site editor for “This Old House," where she’s written about paint colors, chicken coops, and nearly every home improvement project in between. She uses her New York City apartment as a laboratory for executing her latest DIY ideas.