As the winter snows melt away and spring emerges across our beautiful Wisconsin landscapes, our thoughts naturally turn to our lawns and gardens. Will this be the year you finally achieve the lush, vibrant lawn you’ve always imagined? Or are you content to let a few weeds peek through the grass? Deciding whether or not to hire professional lawn care services is a dilemma many homeowners face. There are good arguments on both sides of the question. In this article, we’ll walk through the factors to consider when weighing the pros and cons of DIY lawn care vs leaving it to the experts.
- 1 Understanding Lawn Care Needs
- 2 The Benefits of Professional Lawn Care
- 3 Cost Considerations
- 4 DIY Lawn Care: Pros and Cons
- 5 Environmental Considerations
- 6 How to Choose a Lawn Care Service
- 7 Making the Decision For Your Situation
Understanding Lawn Care Needs
Before deciding how to care for your lawn, it’s essential to understand what a healthy property requires. Lawn care involves a variety of maintenance tasks aimed at keeping your grass green and thriving. These include:
- Mowing: Cutting your grass regularly at the ideal height for your turfgrass type promotes dense, vigorous growth and prevents weeds.
- Fertilizing: Applying nutrients either organically or synthetically provides food for the grass to flourish. Different grass varieties have different nutritional needs.
- Weed control: Eliminating competition from weeds allows your desired turfgrass room to grow. This can be done manually or with herbicides.
- Aeration: Punching holes in the soil reduces compaction and allows air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the roots better.
- Dethatching: Removing accumulated dead grass helps the lawn breathe and absorb nutrients.
- Overseeding: Adding grass seed to bare or thin spots in the lawn helps fill it in.
The specific needs of your lawn depend on factors like your grass type, soil, sunlight exposure, and climate. For example, slow-growing fescues common in Wisconsin require less frequent mowing and fertilization than fast-growing ryegrass. Managing a lawn with multiple grass types presents unique challenges since their needs vary.
Lawn care requirements also change with the seasons:
- Spring: Raking debris, reseeding bare areas, applying pre-emergent weed control, and fertilizing to boost growth after winter dormancy.
- Summer: More frequent mowing, adequate watering, grub control, and monitoring for disease.
- Fall: Overseeding, aeration, dethatching, and final fertilizer application to prepare for winter.
- Winter: Reduced watering, remove leaves/debris, drain irrigation systems to prevent freezing damage.
Understanding the specific maintenance needs of your lawn type and how they fluctuate through the seasons is vital to keeping your grass healthy year-round.
The Benefits of Professional Lawn Care
Hiring a professional lawn care service offers several advantages over tackling all the maintenance yourself:
Expertise and Knowledge
Professionals have the expertise to identify your specific lawn issues and choose the right treatments. They know the ideal mowing heights, fertilizers, and weed/pest control methods for the grass varieties in your yard. You benefit from their specialized training and experience.
Doing all your lawn care takes a significant time commitment. Professionals handle the work efficiently, freeing up weekends for you to relax or tend to other projects around your home and garden. No more dreading mowing day all summer long!
Quality and Consistency
Professionals have top-of-the-line commercial equipment to provide superior results compared to consumer lawnmowers and essential tools. They develop customized schedules to give your lawn the consistent care it needs throughout the growing season for optimal health and beauty.
Access to Professional Products
Companies can access professional-grade fertilizers, herbicides, and other lawn products you can’t purchase as a homeowner. Higher concentrations and advanced formulations work faster and more effectively than basic DIY products.
Paying for professional lawn care services buys you expertise, convenience, and consistently exceptional results. For many homeowners, those benefits outweigh the costs.
Of course, cost is a significant factor when deciding between DIY lawn care and hiring a pro. Let’s break down the typical costs of professional lawn services and compare them to doing it yourself.
Breakdown of Professional Lawn Care Service Fees
Professional lawn care companies typically charge based on the square footage of your lot and which services you want included. Here are the average price ranges:
- Lawn mowing: $35-$70 per hour
- Fertilizer application: $75-$200 per treatment
- Aeration: $100-$200
- Dethatching: $100-$250
- Overseeding: $200-$500
They may offer weekly, biweekly, or monthly maintenance plans with prices ranging from $100-$500 per month, depending on your lawn’s size and needs. Many companies offer discounts if you pay for the entire season upfront.
Comparison to DIY Costs
Professional fees seem far higher than simply doing it yourself. But adding up the costs of buying (or renting) equipment, purchasing lawn products, and the value of your time and labor, DIY costs are higher than you might assume.
Let’s compare costs for a basic DIY lawn care program on a 5,000 sq ft suburban lawn vs hiring a professional service:
|Lawn mower purchase
|String trimmer purchase
|Fertilizer for season
|Seed for overseeding
|$500 per season
This simple example doesn’t even factor in expenses like fuel for the mower or your valuable free time spent mowing and edging on weekends. When calculating the entire cost difference, professional services are often only 50% more expensive than DIY care.
Long-Term Cost Benefits
There are also long-term cost benefits to professional lawn care versus the DIY route. Regular professional maintenance prevents costly problems from developing in your lawn that are expensive to remedy:
- Weed takeovers requiring extensive chemical controls or re-sodding
- Grub damage necessitating reseeding or new turf
- Disease outbreaks needing professional fungicide applications
- Neglect leading to total renovations
Professionals provide preventative care that keeps your lawn healthy and avoids the need for such costly interventions down the road. It’s a “pay me now or pay me later” scenario.
DIY Lawn Care: Pros and Cons
For the many folks who enjoy gardening and lawn maintenance, DIY care has its pros and cons distinct from the benefits of hiring professionals:
Pros of DIY Lawn Care
Satisfaction and Enjoyment as a Hobby
For me, mowing, fertilizing, and caring for my lawn is relaxing and rewarding. The sense of accomplishment from nurturing a thriving lawn with my hands can’t be matched. Gardening brings me closer to nature and is a lovely exercise, too!
Professionals offer great value for their services, but doing it yourself is still cheaper in most cases. The cost of DIY equipment and products is generally half or less than hiring someone. For homeowners on tight budgets, that cost savings can be significant.
Cons of DIY Lawn Care
People often underestimate the time required for proper DIY lawn maintenance. Mowing alone takes 1-2 hours per week in summer. And then there’s edging, trimming, fertilizing, aerating, seeding…it adds up quickly! That time could be spent on family, hobbies, career goals, or other priorities.
There’s a learning curve when you start caring for a lawn yourself. Understanding your grass type, seasonal needs, proper mowing heights, and fertilizer ratios…it takes commitment. Without prior experience, your lawn will likely be damaged from mistakes as part of the education process.
Potential for Costly Errors
Improper mowing, fertilizing, weed control – these common DIY mistakes can lead to long-term issues. Persistent weed invasions, heavy thatch buildup, diseased grass, pest damage, and dead spots – repairing these problems can be expensive if they get out of control. Professionals know to avoid such issues proactively.
As a gardening buff, I find immense joy and satisfaction in caring for my lawn. But I also acknowledge there are substantial time demands along with a learning curve. Weigh your tolerance for investing those personal resources against your available budget when deciding on DIY vs. professional care.
The impact of lawn maintenance practices on the surrounding environment is another critical factor as we become better stewards of our planet. Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to make lawn care greener, regardless of whether it is DIY or professional care.
Impacts of Lawn Care on the Environment
Certain traditional lawn care practices come with significant environmental drawbacks:
- Gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers generate as much as 5% of U.S. air pollution.
- Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can leach into groundwater and runoff into streams, polluting local ecosystems when overapplied.
- Maintaining the ideal grass lawn requires supplemental watering, increasing drought vulnerability.
- Removing fallen leaves and grass clippings robs the lawn of natural nutrients and organic matter.
But lawns aren’t all bad news for the environment! Studies show that properly maintained turfgrass helps filter water and air pollutants and soak up significant carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Eco-Friendly Lawn Care Practices
The good news is that both DIYers and professional lawn care services are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices that benefit the environment:
- Switching to all-electric or manual-powered equipment reduces emissions.
- Opting for organic fertilizers builds soil health naturally.
- Letting grass clippings decompose returns nutrients to the lawn.
- Adding native plants increases biodiversity for pollinators.
- Using rain barrels, smart irrigation systems, and drought-tolerant grass varieties reduces water usage.
- Choosing organic pest control and minimum use of safer pesticides prevents pollinator losses.
As a conscientious gardener, implementing eco-friendly strategies in your lawn care helps protect the planet for future generations. I’m happy to see many professional companies like TruGreen now offer all-organic lawn care programs, too.
How to Choose a Lawn Care Service
If you decide to hire professional lawn care this season, put as much thought into choosing the right company as you would any major home service provider. Here are tips for selecting a top-notch team:
Key Factors to Consider
- Reputation and reviews: Search ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Talk to neighbors about their experiences.
- Services offered: Choose a company that provides all the services your lawn requires.
- Eco-friendly options: Ask about their use of organic fertilizers, electric equipment, water conservation practices, etc.
- Staff expertise: Ask about training and average tenure with the company. Knowledgeable staff provide better service.
- Cost: Get multiple estimates and compare pricing for your desired services.
The Importance of Service Contracts
Before hiring any lawn care professional, understand and formally agree upon the services, schedules, prices, billing practices, and other policies by signing a service contract. Verbal agreements often lead to misunderstandings and disagreements later. Protect yourself and the company with a thorough written contract.
Key Questions to Ask Providers
Here are some great questions to ask prospective lawn care companies:
- How long have you been in business?
- Are your technicians trained and certified?
- Can I see a sample service calendar/schedule?
- Do you offer a satisfaction guarantee?
- What are your prices for the services I’m requesting?
- Do you provide free estimates?
- Can I read over a service contract before committing?
- What are your payment terms and billing cycle?
- Will the same team service my lawn each visit?
- Do you carry liability insurance?
Vetting companies thoroughly on the front end ensure you choose a reputable lawn care professional committed to delivering quality service and results.
Making the Decision For Your Situation
As we’ve explored in this article, deciding whether or not to pay for lawn care depends on several personal factors:
Balance Lifestyle, Budget, and Goals
Your lifestyle constraints play a big role – lots of leisure time lends itself to DIY, while a packed calendar favors hiring a pro. Available financial resources must be weighed against the benefits of your ideal lawn. If you’re striving for flawless show-worthy turf, professional care gives better results.
Consider Pros and Cons for Your Priorities
Make a list of your must-have lawn features and which choice – DIY or pro – offers the best means to achieving them. For instance, if environmental impact is a priority, professional companies with all-organic services might be the right fit. But if cost savings are most important, doing the work yourself will likely be more budget-friendly.
Learn from Others’ Experiences
Talk to friends and neighbors who care for their lawns and those who use pros to gather experiences from both camps. Seeing real-world examples in local lawns can provide a helpful perspective on the outcomes.
There’s no universal right or wrong answer to the DIY versus professional lawn care question. Assess your personal lifestyle constraints, financial considerations, and lawn goals to make the choice that’s in your best interest this season. I hope reviewing the pros, cons, and costs above provides helpful guidance in making that decision for your lovely Wisconsin lawn. Let me know if you have any other questions – I’m always happy to chat about gardening! Wishing you the absolute best as we dive into another lush, green spring.
Caring for a healthy, thriving lawn while minimizing environmental impact takes knowledge, effort, and commitment. In this article, we explored the factors influencing the decision between DIY lawn maintenance and hiring professionals. Understanding your grass type, seasonal care needs, budget considerations, and goals for your lawn allows you to make the ideal choice for your situation.
I hope reviewing both perspectives gives you clarity and confidence as you consider your options for this year’s lawn care. Regardless if you take the DIY route or hire help, always look for opportunities to incorporate eco-friendly practices. Our lawns play a small but meaningful role in protecting the planet, and every bit of effort counts.
As your friendly neighborhood garden guru, I’m always happy to offer more tips and advice for your lawn care questions. The Wisconsin gardening season awaits! Let’s make this the year we grow our healthiest, most vibrant lawns yet.