Should I Hire a Lawn Service or Mow the Lawn Myself?

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My wife and I bought our first house in August, 2011. It was a foreclosure and it definitely needed some TLC, both inside and out. Immediately, my wife and I began to tackle the projects inside the house (since this was necessary before we could move in), but as for the exterior and the landscape, we knew that this would have to wait until the next spring. The only thing we did tend to was the lawn. Since we didn’t own a lawnmower and the end of summer was upon us, we had my father-in-law come over a couple of times to whack it down to size. It wasn’t a long-term solution, but it got us through the season.

It’s Spring Again

Well, now it’s spring time again, which meant my wife and I had to think about the lawn again. You might think that the decision is simple. Hiring a lawn service is most likely expensive and a lawn mower purchase would reduce the monthly bills, but there’s actually quite a lot of variables to consider.

How Much Would It Cost Me to Mow My Own Lawn?

First, how much would it cost for me to buy a push mower? If I got a good deal, I could probably get a new one for $150. Or, if I searched around Craigslist for a while, I could probably get a used one for $75. Tack on gas, oil, and repairs for the summer, and we might be looking at about $125 for the first season and then $50 per season after that.

Second, we have a very small one-stall garage and have absolutely no space for a mower. So, either we leave it outside (which really isn’t an option…) or we buy a shed to hold our “outdoor equipment”. This would probably cost us close to $1,000 for the build and the installation.

Third, I can’t help but think about the value of my time. In my after-work hours, I love to invest my time into this, and other, websites. When I figure out the amount of money I earn from these online ventures and divide it by the number of hours worked, I figure I make an average of $30 an hour.

Assuming that it would take 45 minutes for me to push-mow our yard and weed-whack, how much would it cost me with the expenses mentioned above?

First Season

  • $125 for mower and maintenance
  • $1,000 for shed
  • 12 mows at $22.50 (the value of my time every 45 minutes)

At the end of season one, mowing my own yard would cost me a total of $1,395, or $116.25 per mow.

Each Season After

  • $50 for mower maintenance (and shed maintenance)
  • 12 mows at $22.50 (the value of my time every 45 minutes)

In each season following, my expenses are lower since I did not need to make any large purchases, but it would still cost me a total of $320 per season, or $26.67 per mow.

How Much Would It Cost to Have a Lawn Service Mow My Yard?

After only a few minutes of searching online, I was able to find a lawn service that would mow and weed-whack our yard for only $17.50, which equates to $210 per season. Obviously, this is much cheaper than what it would cost to mow the yard ourselves, so we have decided to hire a service.

What are your opinions on this? Would you have hired a lawn service too? Why or why not?

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Derek

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

58 Comments

  1. We hired a lawn service. Tried the do-it-yourself routine for a year, but like you, had absolutely NO place to store a mower, and it ended up getting wet in all the wrong places.

    Our service is a bit more expensive (I live in a big city), but they also keep our bushes completely trimmed all around the house and clean the interior courtyard of all the leaves that drop. They pick the nut-grass that grows in the gravel area that surrounds the pool (now THERE was a mistake – buying a house with a pool!). They even come once a month between November and March, so I never have to do anything, and my husband and I are very much indoor people. It costs us $2,000 per year, though it will probably go up this year. I just pay it all at once, to be done with it.

    Despite the differences, sounds to me like you are choosing on a reasonable basis, and that’s all that matters. Evaluate the evidence, make a decision, and at any time if you feel like you are doing the wrong thing – there’s always next year! πŸ™‚
    gharkness recently posted..Results from the N=1 Experiment on the 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise

    • I still feel like I’m making the absolutely right decision, and doubt that I’ll change my mind any time soon. πŸ™‚

    • Ha, that’s a good idea to think about blogging while you mow. I think about my 20+ year plan while I jog. πŸ˜‰

  2. Economics 101- true opportunity costs – very good breakdown. $17.50 is hard to beat is hard to beat considering you can staff write one post in 30 minutes for $20.
    funancials recently posted..Why Is Online Dating Weird?

    • Very true Funancials. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I used to have an electric mower, so it saved some costs that way, but I end up on the same side of the equation as you.

    When I get no real pleasure from mowing the lawn, and hiring someone costs less than my value-per-hour, then bring in a professional!
    Searching for Happy recently posted..Happy Thoughts for Today

    • Yep. Just look for someone other than the big mowing companies. It feels good to support some neighborhood kids.

  4. Personally, I take the value of my time off the table when doing equations like this, for the simple reason that I know that I am not ‘making money’ productive for all the hours of the day. If I hired a service, it would free up time, but would I be able to use that time to directly make money, or would I just do something else with the time that would pay nothing? Likely the latter.
    Money Beagle recently posted..The Old Desktop Lives!

    • If I took the value of my time off the table, I think it would still take 5 years to make up the cost of the mower and the shed!

  5. The other thing I noticed is that these services don’t spend more than 15 minutes at my house for any one activity.

    Fifteen minutes to mow, then they will send someone in a day or two to do the hedges and the weeds in the gravel….but their cost per hour is much lower than yours or mine because they are so good at what they do.

    It’s also a great business opportunity, but requires quite a bit of admin work. Hiring contractors and all that entails. Maintenance, vehicles to move all the equipment around. Someone to answer the phone and “sell” additional services.

    My supervisor’s husband runs a mowing service in addition to his day job, and from what I hear, is quite successful at it (but he speaks Spanish and that helps more than I can even begin to say.)
    gharkness recently posted..Results from the N=1 Experiment on the 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise

    • Yep, I love supporting the college student that I hired to do our lawn too. He’s a nice kid and deserves to make what he does.

    • Haha, I don’t think it’s that expensive. I smile every time I see him mowing the lawn instead of me.

  6. You did a great job laying out your thought process. I wouldn’t have thought to consider a lot of points you made. This will be helpful to think about as we start looking at living options down the road.

    • Thanks for the comment Jessica!

    • We thought about buying a small old-school mower with no motor, but that probably would have taken me over an hour to mow the lawn! Maybe someday though. It would be good exercise.

  7. I am partial to a lawn service although I pay less per month, but have to pay 12 months a year. Are there kids in the neighborhood to do it for less. I think it is a question of time and effort.
    Krantcents recently posted..Friday Night Links: Graduation Edition

    • There might be some kids in the neighborhood, but since I don’t own a mower, it makes it a little more difficult. I found a guy that’s paying his way through college, so I don’t mind paying out the money to him.

  8. My kids are getting old enough to take the lawn-mowing responsibility away from me. I just need to be willing to let them do it. I could also invest more time in my blog so that the time I do get back from them mowing the lawn is well invested.
    Kevin recently posted..Balance

    • That’s one way to get the lawn mowed! Let your kids do it! πŸ™‚ It’s actually a good learning experience for them I bet.

  9. Wow, that sounds both lazy, and genius at the same time. But, for those of us whose time only equates $10 or less per hour (which is most of the population), we will be mowing our own lawns.

    • Haha, yes, it may be a little lazy. I just don’t always enjoy the sound of loud machines. I’d rather hear the birds and nature in general. It’s nice when I get home from work and the lawn is already done. Can’t beat it! πŸ™‚

  10. Tim is being funny by the way… πŸ˜‰
    I LOVE mowing the lawn.. but you knew that and I guess that makes me weird. It is probably good you hired out since you were once banned from mowing the lawn!! πŸ˜‰

    • Lol. I’m not sure I’d be able to mow down our massive tree in the backyard, but you never know! πŸ™‚

  11. It’s not only about the money either. In the summers, particularly when there is no cloud cover, being outside working can be brutal. Even if you are wearing a hat to protect yourself from the sun and whatever else the naysayers will tell you, it’s still a big inconvenience. Also, factor in the effects of allergies or hayfever if that applies, and you have an even easier answer.

    Even if you don’t spend the time you gain on income producing activities, that time may still provide more value than the money you would “save” by doing it yourself. People put too much emphasis on the money rather than what other activities you can be doing, especially since money can be replaced but that time cannot.

    Kind of appropriate post/answer considering my own post earlier in the day!
    Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity recently posted..Stop Being So Obsessed With Saving Every Penny

    • Very true Eric! I might not be earning money 24/7, but I might be creating a memory with my family instead.

  12. I actually enjoy cutting our lawn and I find myself becoming more obsessed over it. We were paying $600 a year in lawn care but opted to pay $200 to repair the mower we had. Even if you did have to build a shed, you’d have the investment recovered in 2 years or so and you also may have room for other items such as lawn furniture, etc too.
    Jim recently posted..The eBay Hour

    • That may be true, but then there’s still the aspect of time spent. Even if I’m not making money online, it gives me more of an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with my wife.

    • Haha. I get plenty of exercise. I just don’t need to be green after I’m done! πŸ™‚

    • Haha. I’m sure that would have happened to us to, so don’t feel bad. I just started with the lawn service right away.

  13. Go with a low cost lawn service. Your time is valuable, especially so if you’re making extra money with creative ventures. This coming from someone who doesn’t like to spend money (as obvious to anyone reading my blog!), but has zero interest in mowing the lawn.
    Squirrelers recently posted..Left Out of a Will

    • I think we’re pretty similar in that way Squirrelers! I really don’t like to spend the money, but I do not enjoy mowing the lawn, and I feel like my time could be used more effectively elsewhere.

  14. Definitely makes sense to hire out in this case. In my case I already had a shed when I bought the house and my yard is small so I just got a push reel mower. No gas just sharpening of blades every once in a while and it only takes me 15 minutes to do the whole lawn so I’ll be doing it myself πŸ™‚
    Lance@MoneyLife&More recently posted..Weekly Goals, Round Up and Carnivals #5

    • Ha, makes sense! Thanks for the comments Lance.

    • That’s an idea that I haven’t thought of. Thanks for the comment Emily!

  15. I like that breakdown – I might have to factor in the value of some time outside without kids nagging me for the hour it takes to mow the lawn

    • Lol. Yeah, that “alone time” could be pretty valuable! πŸ™‚

  16. You don’t necessary have to mow the lawn yourself. You can hire your child or other youngster to do the chore. Just make sure that you do have a mower and you teach them how to properly do it.

    • I actually paid my neighbor to mow my lawn the other day, and he passed out and fell on the mower! It’s pretty safe to say that I’ll never have him mow my lawn ever again!!!

  17. I really appreciate this post, because I am trying to determine whether to hire out lawn service or continue doing it myself. This article tipped the scale for me – I am going to let someone else do it.

  18. Hiring a lawn service (even the local college kid or the friendly neighborhood lawn boy) is a definite no-no for me… IF they do not clean their equipment between clients. They can spread lawn/plant diseases. Commercially available lawn care products are just as effective as the professional, if you read the instructions, take your time and are physically able to perform the task. In the long run it’s cheaper and you get exercise in the process.

  19. Well, I prefer mowing my lawn myself. It takes me up to 2 hours to mow my lawn but I really enjoy the process.
    Daniel recently posted..How to Pick the Right Lawn Mower

  20. I mow lawn however i am 10 and might need a ride, but, I do a pretty good job please e-mail me your e-mail and I will get back via e-mail. thanks

    • Hi Travis! I love that you’re already trying to make a few bucks and you’re only 10! You have a bright future my friend. Unfortunately, I do have a service that mows my lawn at the moment. Keep up the entrepreneurial spirit though! I love it!

  21. So… I have thought about all the things brought up but I still can’t decide..mow or pay to mow. My break even point for mowing myself is 3 years. In addition to other comments, mowing myself means I can do it when I need it done (like before friends come over) and the mower mulches so I can use it for leaves too (no bagging up leaves!). On the other hand, my time is valuable with little kids. pluses and minues on both sides….im stuck!

    • Maybe you could just start the cheap service. You can always cancel if you don’t think it’s worth the money! πŸ˜‰

  22. I think you should buy a lawn mower, it helps you to be more active.

    It is not difficult to use if you read the instructions before, I have used over 3 years – no matter what

  23. We had a similar issue, I used to do all my lawn work by myself, but in the end it got too much for me and I didn’t see the results I wanted. I ended up going with a lawn care service that did an amazing job on my yard.

    Hope it helped.

    Thanks

    • But is your lawn really that important? I mean, as long as it gets cut I would call it good. I’m back to mowing the yard myself and I absolutely love saving the money and getting some exercise.

  24. I have a similar situation going on with my lawn care. I could cut it myself but I don’t have a mower and a place to put it. Another thing is that I value my free time more than the money I would spend on a lawn service. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sure Trenton. Thanks for dropping by!

  25. If you think you can cut your grass by yourselves without any hassle and if you know what you are doing, you don’t need to hire someone. But if you’re a busy person and don’t have much time to do it or has no knowledge about the mowing process, it’s best that you get a lawn professional to do it for you. They are there to help you to make your life easier and leave the yard works to them so you maybe able to focus on what you’re doing and your family.

    • It basically comes down to… 1) Do you have the money to get your grass cut and not impact your family/kids/future retirement? This truly needs to be extra money. And 2) If you don’t have the extra money, will you use the time to be productive earning more money than it costs to have your yard mowed?

      You’ve really got to be honest with yourself. For most, they should probably just mow the lawn themselves and save the money…


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