How Much Does Lawn Care Cost? Enough to Turn You Green.
| Jul 7, 2017
How much does lawn care cost? That’s a question few home buyers consider as carefully as they should when they first lay eyes on that gorgeous spread of grass (which tends to look all the greener when you don’t own it). Still, once those weeds creep knee-high, you’ll want to know: How deeply do you need to dig in your pocketbook to trim things down to size?
Lawn care expenses will depend, of course, on how much lawn you have, your willingness to do some of the work yourself, and (let’s be honest) just how jealous you want your neighbors to be. But there are some general rules of thumb to help you anticipate how much you’ll have to spend—and how to trim those costs.
How much it costs to mow your own lawn
At the very least, your lawn needs to be mowed. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need a lawnmower, which can range in price from less than $100 for a steel-blade push mower ($69.99 on Amazon for this snazzy green mower with a catcher) to $500 to $1,000 (or more) for a gas-powered push mower or rider. You can also get a basic smart lawn mower like the Robomow for $699, which uses GPS to mow the lawn by itself—which sounds dreamy, although you’ll have to set up perimeters (so it won’t mow your neighbor’s lawn) and it might not do so well on tricky landscapes containing rocks or depressions.
- 9 Jaw-Dropping Lawn Decorations for the Yard That Has Everything
- How to Clean a Lawn Mower: An Essential Step to Getting Your Backyard Spring-Ready
- 5 Lawn Care Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Yard
If you choose a gas model, you’ll also need to shell out for fuel. According to the University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Services, each year a family with one-third of an acre of lawn will use an average of 5 gallons of gas for mowing and trimming. With gas currently sitting at about $2.25, that’s about $11.25 per year on average.
How much it costs to hire a professional lawn service
If the thought of cutting your own grass makes you itchy, you’ll want to hire someone to do it for you.
Ryan Farley, co-founder of LawnStarter.com, says the average lawn mowing service runs $30 to $45 per mow. That’s based on the median lawn size in the U.S., which is currently one-fifth of an acre and typically includes trimming, edging, and blowing.
On average, lawns need to be mowed once a week in the summer and every other week in the spring and fall. So all told, that would amount to about $1,170 to $1,755 a year. If your yard is overgrown, don’t be surprised if companies charge a “long grass fee” for the first mowing, which can range from 50% to 100% more than the regular mowing price.
Other additional mowing charges might apply in the fall for work associated with removing leaves along with the lawn mowing, as the lawn care provider has to spend more time and pay for dumping fees. Also, if you want your grass clippings bagged, there will likely be a charge (typically an additional 15% of the mowing cost).
Beyond the cost, however, there are other intangible things to weigh when considering whether to mow yourself or hire someone—namely, time. The average homeowner doesn’t have commercial-grade equipment, so what a lawn care crew can do in 20 minutes will typically take an individual 1.5 to 2 hours. So be sure to ask yourself if you’d rather spend your weekends on lawn care or lounging.
How much it costs to water a lawn
Aside from mowing, your lawn will also need watering. A general guideline is 1 inch of water per week for grass (whether that’s from rain or you watering it). Based on the national average cost of $1.50 for 1,000 gallons of water, it will cost roughly $8.15 per watering session to provide one inch of water to one-fifth of an acre.
Your yard also will likely need some other services to keep it in top shape. Farley offers the following guidelines for the services most commonly needed to keep grass healthy (prices are based on the average one-fifth of an acre):
- Lawn treatment, including fertilization and weed and disease control: $70 per service, five to eight times a year
- Aeration: $137 per service, once a year
- Overseeding to fill in thinning turf: $110 per service, once a year
- Grub treatment: $99 per service, as needed
- Topdressing to improve soil health: $293 per service, once a year
Sure, you can do so some research and try to do these things yourself in an attempt to save a few bucks, but you’d better make sure you know what you’re doing.
“When applying the wrong products—let’s say, fertilizer not specific to the type of grass you have, or an herbicide that’s for the wrong weed—you run the risk of doing more damage to your lawn than good,” warns Rachel Betterbid, a marketing specialist at Tailor Made Lawns.
How to save on lawn care
To save money, Farley suggests banding together with your neighbors to hire one lawn care company.
“You can often get a group discount since the lawn pro can save on drive time,” he says. He also recommends that you make sure whoever you hire has insurance. “It’s not uncommon to have a mower kick up a rock and crack a window, so you’ll want to make sure you’re not responsible for that cost.”
Other ways to save include getting rid of grass all together and planting drought-resistant shrubs and installing artificial grass or other low- or no-maintenance alternatives.
The worst thing you can do when it comes to your lawn is nothing.
“If you don’t care for your lawn, it will inevitably die and/or get overrun with weeds,” Farley says. “Once that happens, you have to replace your lawn, which is extremely expensive, usually a minimum of $2,000 for a fifth-of-an-acre lot. Caring for your lawn requires either hard work on your part or paying for someone else to do the hard work—there are no silver bullets.”
Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from politics to pop culture and beyond. She loves running, reading, cold wine, and hot weather.
Photo Credits karamysh/iStock; smagilov/iStock; realtor.com