Lawn and Landscape Maintenance-Hire it Out or Do it Yourself?

Lawn and Landscape Maintenance can be a hard job. Physically taxing at the least, but there are also other issues to consider. Do you have the proper equipment to do the job right? Do you have the time to invest in the job to do it properly? Do you know how to do it, properly? Will you really save any money by doing it yourself?

Let’s examine these points.

Equipment For Lawn and Landscape Maintenance

The equipment to do Lawn and Landscape Maintenance costs thousands of dollars for professional grade equipment. Although you don’t have to have professional grade lawn and landscape equipment, you usually get what you pay for.

Some landscape jobs can be accomplished with lesser expensive equipment and if you use it properly, you can still get good results. But even with the lesser expensive equipment, you may spend hundreds more on equipment than what you could get the job done for you by a qualified Lawn and Landscape Maintenance professional.

For example, you can buy a pretty good tow-behind, core type aerator that can be used for aerating and overseeding/aerating jobs, for around $250.00. That’s not bad for a core aerator (the best kind) that will probably be good enough for home owner use. A professional walk behind type aerator will set you back over 3K.

Even mowing your own grass should be examined. Again, ask yourself the same questions about equipment, time, physical ability, and just plain old “want to”. We have people that will hire our company to cut their grass because they can pay us to mow it for a few years for the price it would cost to buy a good quality commercial style mower.

Commercial Lawn Mowers

Commercial Lawn Mower

Others have said that they only have 2 days available on the weekend, and they don’t want to spend them cutting grass or pruning shrubs. We get that, that’s why there are commercial Lawn and Landscape Maintenance Companies in business.

Some people absolutely love to mow, and plant flowers and prune shrubs and do all sorts of Lawn and Landscape Maintenance items, and that’s great! It’s good exercise, it gets you out of the house in the fresh air and gives you a sense of satisfaction. But, it’s not for everyone.

Let’s round out what it would cost to stock your garage with the equipment you would need to take care of all the Lawn and Landscape Maintenance items you would need to do throughout the year. These will be “middle of the range” in price for equipment you could buy, not the most expensive and not the cheapest. Just examples for you to evaluate.

This meager stash of Lawn and Landscape Maintenance equipment will just get your lawn mowed, trimmed, the walk and driveway blown off and your shrubs pruned. You will still have to have all of the usual shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, and miscellaneous had tools to do what you need to. These could easily add up to over another $1,000.00

So you can see that depending on the size of your property, you may be able to hire it out cheaper than you can buy all the equipment you might need. Of course, most of us have a little equipment to start with, but still, it’s expensive to buy and maintain equipment, as well as time consuming.

Buying Vs. Hiring

Should you buy equipment, or hire it done

Another cost of doing your own maintenance is the cost of fuel, oil, maintenance, grass seed, fertilizer, weed and feed products, etc. that you would buy to do your work. These items alone sometimes add up to more than you can hire the particular chore out for.

So the choice on equipment comes down to, can you afford it, how much do you want to spend, and of course, do you want to do it yourself to start with?

Should You Take the Time to do it?

Having the time to do the Lawn and Landscape Maintenance chores is another thing. Many people like to do the work themselves, but simply do not have the time. If you look at the average Family of 4, there is work, school activities, baseball, soccer, basketball, plays, dancing and all of the 100’s of other activities the kids get into that will take up your time.

Many of our customers are young business professionals who choose to spend their time honing their business skills and let someone else handle the physical work, equipment maintenance, and all the headaches that come with owning equipment. This is something that each person will have to weigh themselves to factor into this decision. Some of our young professional customers make more per hour for their own work than what it would cost them to hire it out, so for them, it’s an easy choice.

Do You Know How to Do it?

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

Knowing what you’re doing is very important for some Lawn and Landscape Maintenance and installation projects. More so on the installation side than the maintenance. Let’s face it, anyone can get on a mower and drive it around in circles until there is no more grass standing up. But there is a difference in a well manicured, freshly cut lawn, and a lawn that just got “mowed”.

Some tasks that you should absolutely not attempt if you don’t know how are: installing a retaining wall, installing an irrigation system, grade work on your lawn, electrical work, pesticide application including weed control, insecticide or fungicide applications. There are others, but the idea is if you are unsure about whether or not you should cut that ornamental tree in half, then don’t. Call someone in to at least advise you.

Small Retaining Wall Block, Too small for the job

This pile of small landscaping blocks is all that’s left of an 8′ tall retaining wall a contractor “thought” he was going to build with them. Needless to say, the wall didn’t survive, it never even made it to completion before it fell

Pruning ornamental shrubs and trees is an item that is best done with a little knowledge under your belt. Some shrubs need to be trimmed in Spring, some in Summer, and some in Fall. It is also a little more difficult to prune a row of American Boxwoods all to the same size than you might think.

Keeping your shrubs and trees in check is also an important issue. If you don’t cut enough off at each pruning, the shrubs will slowly grow out larger and larger to the point that they are so large that they either have to be cut down drastically or pulled out altogether and your landscape renovated.

Paying someone to prune your shrubs is less expensive than paying someone to prune and keep them in check.

The bottom line on deciding will usually fall on your own opinion, desires, and whether you consider Lawn and Landscape Maintenance a hobby or a pacifying activity that you enjoy doing, or a chore from hell.

Will it save you money, that you will also have to put a pencil to. For some of you, without a doubt, I could say you could hire it done for less than you could do the job yourself. For others, it would be less expensive to do the work yourself.

But, do you want to? Can you? Do you have a couple of kids that are sitting on the couch that need something to do? In the end, you will decide, but don’t be afraid to call a professional in for an estimate, most are happy to give you and estimate, and probably a little free advice to boot.

Happy gardening in 2017!


Lawn Care Calendar = a Great Lawn This Year

Plan Your Maintenance Schedule Out Now

You know that you will have certain lawn care items to do this year on your lawn and landscape to have a GREAT ONE! So why not sit down with a calendar now and plan it all out?

Lawn Care Calendar

Plan your lawn care calendar out now for 2017

Depending on how great you want your lawn to work, you will have a certain number of fertilizer and weed control applications to make, you will have to mow the grass a certain number of times, prune the shrubs so many times, mulch, weed the beds, clean up the leaves, aerate, overseed, apply lime and possibly much more, or less, depending on your level of Lawn Care Ninja.

Some things that you will do for your lawn won’t actually show up for weeks after it was performed, so planning gets those tasks scheduled and you get them done, before they are forgotten or it gets too late in the year.

If you want a fantastic looking lawn that is weed free and knock-out green for Memorial Day, you can’t just kick it up a notch the week before, you need fertilizer down weeks before, weed control down starting in Feb, or Mar, and the grass cut regularly. Then it all comes together at the end of May.

Fertilizer and Weed Control Applications

Depending on your type of grass, and how much of a lawn geek you are you could do anywhere from 1 to 8 applications. Some people only make one application a year, that is usually done in the Fall if you only make one application.

If you do two applications, put one down in the Fall, usually a Winterizer that will prepare the grass to over winter better and grow deeper roots so it will be hardier next Summer. A Winterizer fertilizer will have a higher ratio of Potash to Nitrogen and Phosphate. Something like a 6-12-12 or 3-10-30 are some I have seen sold. The Nitrogen isn’t needed that much in the Fall for most grasses, and for warm season grasses, you don’t want any nitrogen down. And then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the Spring. If you don’t fertilize, at least use a pre-emergent weed control to help keep out the weeds.

Applying Fertilizer and weed control products with a spreader

Applying granule fertilizer and weed control products

Then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the early Spring, around Feb in the South, or Mar. farther North,  for a two application per year program. The Spring application would be something like a 32-3-10 with pre-emergent and/or post-emergent weed control products.

About 2 months later, April/May,  if only applying 4 applications, use a fertilizer and broadleaf weed control to control dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds. This will have an analysis of something like the 32-3-10 or similar again. The first number is nitrogen and provides the majority of your green in the grass.

A lot of people that use the four application program each year will schedule them like this. Using the major Holidays for reminders, apply around Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

If you want a little more green, and fewer weeds, and you don’t mind mowing a little more often, plan for 6 applications. You will take the 4 application program I just described, but move the dates around so you start earlier in the year with your first fertilizer and weed control application, end the year with your winterizer application a little later in the year, and then scoot the dates closer together to have an equal amount of time between them.

Your Lawn Care Calendar will look something like this:

  1. February Pre-emergent weed control and Fertilizer for cool season grasses. Pre-emergent only for warm season grasses
  2. March 15 Pre-emergent weed control for Southern areas where the weed germination period is longer, with fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Northern climates will get broadleaf weed control and fertilizer.

    fertilizer and insect control

    Fertilizer with insect control added

  3. April 30 Broadleaf weed control and fertilizer for both cool season and warm season grasses. If you have an insect problem with army worms, fleas, and ticks, or a mole problem that is exacerbated by grub worms, you might want to use a fertilizer with insect control in it.  If you have Fescue grass and you live in the transition zone or further South, be watching for fungus. Mainly Brown Patch fungus. It starts at the end of April to early May and continues during hot and humid weather. If you see spots that look like the picture to the right, you could have a fungus. A fungicide will need to be applied
    Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

    Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

    immediately.

  4. June 15th Fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Monitor for insects, apply insecticide as needed
  5. July 30th Fertilizer and Broadleaf weed control, again monitor the lawn for insects. Armyworms can attack in the Summer and move quickly across the lawn causing a lot of damage in just a
    Army Worms in lawn

    Armyworms invading lawn

    week or so. If you see mysterious dead or yellowing spots on the lawn that look like the picture to the right, you may have armyworms.

  6. September 15th apply the Winterizer fertilizer with weed control if you like or if you are still having broadleaf weed problems. Some people will apply a Fall Pre-emergent weed control which will control any Fall and early Winter weeds that may germinate.

Mowing, Edging, and Trimming

Depending on a few things like if you water or not, how much fertilizer you are using, and where you live and what type of grass you have, you will have to mow anywhere from every 5 days to 10 days.

This is one of the harder things to keep on a set schedule due to things like rain,

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

equipment issues, and life. But it’s important to keep the mowing on a close enough schedule that you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass off in one cutting. Cutting more than that off at one time will yellow the grass off, and possibly stunt it. I prefer to cut more often and cut just a little off. But then again, I enjoy mowing, it’s my “quite time”.

Edging of the hard edges, sidewalks, concrete drives, patios and anything with a hard, straight edge will need to be done at least once a month with a stick or blade edger. Normal string trimming (weed eating) is done each week as you mow. Some people are good enough with a string trimmer that they can turn it up on it’s edge and clean up the edging without having to get the blade edger out. If you don’t own a stick edger or blade edger, they do a fantastic job of keeping a nice straight and clean edge on your hard edges.

Other Lawn Care Items needed

Aeration and overseeding, if needed for cool season grasses will need to be scheduled for late August or early September. The earlier you get the seed in the ground, the faster it can get germinated, start growing and be tall enough to be mowed a couple of times before Fall sets in.

Lime applications are best done in the Fall and are usually helpful for most lawns. Very seldom do we find a lawn that does NOT need lime. One bag of lime per thousand square feet of lawn area is what we apply. This is a general rule of thumb for lawns that are on the clay side of the soil structure spectrum. Better quality soils wouldn’t need as much, and a soil test will tell you exactly what you need. With a little experience, you will know what to apply without repeated soil tests.

These are not all of the lawn and landscape chores that will need to be done on your property over the year, but this article is meant to be more of a scheduling primer to get a lawn care calendar set up for your lawn.

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