For those folks who do not want or need to do their own lawn care, hiring a lawn care service can get expensive. On the other hand, purchasing a lawn mower, edger, blower, trimmers, rake and/or a weed eater can also be expensive. Time is a valuable commodity and the value of the time it takes to do it yourself can add up very quickly. Factor in schedules, physical strain and oftentimes stifling heat doing your own lawn can take a toll on the quality of life.
The cost of one vs. the other can be easily calculated if given the right info about the real cost of each choice. Here is a guide to help determine what that is.
Hiring a Lawn Service
Determine how often your yard needs to be mowed. The frequency can change according to what season it is and the condition of your lawn. The most common frequencies are bi-weekly in the Spring, Weekly in the Summer and then back to bi-weekly for the Fall and Winter seasons. Next roughly determine the square footage of the portion of the property that needs to be serviced. This can be calculated by subtracting the first floor square footage of the house from the total square footage of the lot. These values can easily be found on sites like Zillow or the property tax records for your county.
Lawn service pricing is typically based on the average time it takes to perform the service multiplied by the company’s base service rate. A fair base rate for Fresh Lawn a Houston lawn care company would be in the $40 per hour range. The pricing is based on averages and the property may take longer or shorter periods of time depending on the amount of crew members, the crew’s expertise level and the quality of their equipment. On average a 5,000 square foot mowing area will take 1 person one hour to mow, edge & blow. If the clippings are required to be picked up and disposed of this takes extra time and the additional cost should be reflected in the price. During the fall and winter seasons the time it takes to service the yard can depend on the number of leaves that fall and need to be raked up. Most companies will adjust the rates to reflect this if the time is significantly more to perform this task or this task is in addition to the standard mow, edge & blow.
Another cost to factor in is the time it takes to weed the beds or trim the shrubs and if you want this to occur on each regular service or want to add it as an additional service as needed. The hourly rate for these services should also be in the $40 per hour range. If it is done on each service it will take a shorter amount of time but will increase your per service cost. Having these services done all at once should be priced at the hourly averages it takes to perform considering the same criteria regarding the crew variables.
Using the above information it is possible to calculate the annual cost of hiring a service. Basically estimate how many hours are needed annually to keep the yard looking it’s best including all of the services that are needed and multiply by the service rate.
Self Service Lawn Care
The most expensive cash outlay will be the purchase of the tools needed to perform the service. The cost of the equipment can be readily determined by a search on sites like Home Depot or Lowe’s. The basic tools needed are a lawn mower, an edger, a blower, trimmers, a rake and/or a weed eater.
Next determine how much time it will take to do-it-yourself using the same guidelines as if you were hiring a lawn care service and factoring in physical condition and the quality of the equipment. The hourly rate would be close to the average $ amount earned in whatever occupation is held. Multiply that rate by the number of hours annually.
There can also be costs associated with the stress and strain having to worry about and actually do the yard on a regular basis. Most homeowner associations have minimum requirements for how the yard should be kept up. This cost is arbitrary so make a good guess of how much it is worth it to not have to worry about all of this.
Using the above information the cost can be calculated by adding the cost of the equipment factored over the life expectancy of the equipment (for example if the equipment is $2,000 and will last 5 years the annual cost of the equipment would be $400) to the annual cost of the do-it-yourself labor plus whatever annual cost you have associated with the stress and pressure to get the yard done.
Using this guide is helpful in providing an estimate of the real costs associated with one or the other. The choice will become clear and there is always the option to mix the 2 or change up the game plan. Ultimately only the property owner can make this decision and it is not always scientific.