Almost nothing is as gratifying as a well-maintained lawn. Fortunately, a lush and beautiful yard no longer requires endless hours of lawn mowing and trimming by the entire family. You can have a beautiful lawn and still save your weekends for play with the help of a lawn service professional. Lawn care professionals have all their own lawn mowers and trimming equipment, so you don't even need to spend money on a mower of your own. Hiring a professional gives you back the space you would have used to store bulky lawn equipment in the garage or shed. You also won't have to worry about keeping gas in the tank or a charge in the battery, or finding an extension cord long enough to let you weed-whack your entire yard.
Lawn maintenance is available for your front, back and side yards at home. Pro lawn care is also a great resource for your office, rental or commercial properties. It's crucial for a business to maintain a polished image, and nothing looks less professional than a dead or weedy grass patch in front of the office. Professionals will help take care of lawns from under 1,000 square feet to well over 10,000 square feet. No matter how poorly maintained your lawn has been in the past, the pros can help bring a dried-up lawn back to life or tame an overgrown mess. Pros can manage maintained lawns that average 3 inches in height or wild jungle lawns that are 9 inches or taller.
Lawn care rates will depend on the size of your yard and how often you desire care. The total cost will be higher for bigger lawns, but the average price per square foot will be lower for larger lawns than for smaller ones. This means you will pay more per square foot for a half-acre lawn than for a three-acre lawn. Many lawn care professionals prefer to give in-person estimates as opposed to advertising set prices because so many factors affect the cost of services. Factors that can influence cost estimates are the type of grass you have, the landscaping and size of lawn, the frequency of your lawn care, and your choice of additional services such as yard maintenance, leaf blowing, lawn aeration, fertilizer or weed control.
Here are the factors that affect the average cost for professional lawn services.
A regularly maintained lawn takes less time and labor to mow than one that has been neglected for months. For this reason, a first-time mow can cost more than a visit that's part of regular maintenance. This is a good reason to book ongoing lawn care instead of hiring a company on a case-by-case basis. Your lawn will look better over time and you'll have a consistently lower price.
Often lawn companies charge by the square foot or quarter-acre (one acre is 43,560 square feet). Most pros offer a free estimate based on a visual inspection or a calculation made using a wheeled measuring device. If a company charges per square foot, the price per square foot will often decrease for larger lawns, since it's more efficient to bring equipment and workers and do prep work for a single large lawn than for several smaller ones. For example, a Texas-based lawn care company shares typical costs for their mow package — which includes mowing, weed-eating, edging and blowing — for three lawn sizes:
- Smaller lots in subdivisions: $35
- Half-acre lot: $50
- One-acre lot: $100
Weekly and monthly pricing
What lawns do best is grow, which means you need to keep your lawn regularly mowed. Depending on the climate where you live and the type of grass you have, you'll need more frequent mowing at different times of the year. Cool-season grasses grow more during early spring and fall, while warm-season grasses grow faster during late spring and summer. Lawn care service providers typically offer their customers tiered pricing based on the frequency of mowing. The more often they mow, the lower the cost. Some companies offer more competitive rates if you commit to a contract for six months or a year of service. You may want to schedule weekly mows during your heavy growth season, and bi-monthly mows during the dormant season. Here is an example of how frequency can affect lawn mowing and trimming costs:
- Up to 8,000 square foot property: $30 per week/$120 per month
- Bimonthly: $40 per service/$80 per month
- One time only: $45 per service.
- Prices include mowing all turf grass areas; trimming grass away from fences, structures, trees, and lawn edges; and clearing or blowing all grass trimmings from driveways, sidewalks, curbs, etc.
Because lawn service professionals have to come to you, the cost to arrive at your location is built into their pricing to a certain degree. However, if you live outside of the company's defined service range, there may be an additional travel charge to account for the time spent traveling to a job site as well as gas and other vehicle expenses. A company should inform you if they have a flat rate travel fee (such as $10) or if they charge a certain amount per mile (such as 50 cents) for each mile beyond their service range.
Lawn care companies that have newer equipment, company trucks, employee uniforms and formalized business practices, such as insurance and liability coverage, may charge higher rates than less formalized service providers. You will often pay lower rates for independent workers who are not affiliated with a larger organization, but they may have fewer resources, such as backup workers if someone is out sick.
Many independent lawn professionals have set rates and charge by the hour. For example, a professional may charge $25 per hour, which will include travel costs, equipment considerations and actual labor. When hiring a lawn pro who charges by the hour, make sure you communicate and set clear expectations about the anticipated scope of work and estimated total for the work you want done.
Lawn care companies often have all-inclusive mow packages that include mowing, weed-eating, edging, and either blowing, mulching or bagging clippings. You often have the opportunity to add on other services, such as fertilization or weed control. In one example of average pricing for fertilization and weed control, HortiCare in Fort Worth, Texas, charges:
- For lawns that are 5,000-7,000 square feet (about ⅛ of an acre): $49
- For lawns that are 44,000 square feet (around 1 acre): $175
Other companies, such as Panda Landscape Services, offer a la carte basic mowing services starting at $22.
Cost of gas
Fluctuating gas prices will have an affect on the cost of your lawn mowing and trimming services. Some companies will reflect those prices in their cost per service each time, while other companies may update their pricing yearly. For example, a company may increase prices by $5-$10 after a year if gas prices have continued to climb, but they won't change their prices on a week-by-week basis.
Some companies use only electrical mowers and trimmers, so fluctuations in gas prices don't affect them. Their lawn care equipment runs from pre-charged batteries or through extension cords plugged into your electrical outlets.
Depending on where you live and the look and feel you want for your lawn, you can plant different types of grass. You'll get best results if you choose one that is suited to your climate and region. There are two main categories of lawn grass: cool-season grasses, which typically grow during early spring and fall, and warm-season grasses, which flourish during late spring and summer. Popular cool-season grasses include rye, Kentucky bluegrass and fescues. Two examples of warm-season grasses include bermuda and zoysia grass. Your grass type will determine your lawn care regimen. For example, lawn care pros will typically cut Kentucky bluegrass shorter during warm weather than bermuda grass. The different types of grasses have different sun and shade needs, different needs for fertilization and watering, and even different needs for how often to cut during cool or warm months. All these factors are compounded by your geographic region and local climate. By working with a lawn care professional you can be sure your grass will get the proper attention and treatment to allow it to flourish.
Seasonal lawn care
As the seasons change, so do the tasks you need to do to keep your lawn healthy and thriving. Hiring a lawn care professional means that the nuances of seasonal lawn care are handled by a pro. For those times you do need to DIY, here are seasonal tasks for your best possible lawn:
- Year-round: Keep your mower blades sharp. Sharp blades cleanly cut through grass tops, leaving the grass stem and root undisturbed. A dull mower blade will tear or rip the grass, potentially damaging the remaining grass stem or tugging the root out entirely. This can lead to an unhealthy and patchy-looking lawn. You should also alternate lawn mowing patterns each time you mow. This keeps the soil from becoming compacted by your mower wheels and the grass from being "pushed" down over time in one direction.
- Summer: Let your lawn grow a bit longer. This allows the grass roots to dig in deeper, absorb water better and fend off summer weeds. Horticulturists at Iowa State University recommend not cutting more than 1/3 of the lawn length at any one time. Depending on the type of grass you have, set your mower blade from 3 to 4 inches in height. Cut back the use of herbicides and fertilizers in the month before truly hot temperatures arrive. Water late in the evening or early in the morning, when the temperatures are coolest, to allow for the greatest possible water absorption.
- Spring: Be gentle with a lawn after it thaws out from winter. Avoid trampling tender grasses and lawns waterlogged with rain. Spring is when weeds really take root, so plan for your herbicides during this season. Create a mowing plan based on your grass type.
- Winter: Cut your grass low and take the time to fertilize your lawn before winter sets in. Over the course of the winter, keep your lawn clear of debris, fallen branches, toys and anything else that can stunt the grass underneath. This will help ensure your lawn emerges healthy when the spring begins.
If you love the idea of professional lawn care but are balking at the added household expense, think strategically about signing on for the long term with a lawn company. Lawn mowing is a competitive business, says one lawn care pro. As a result, many companies will negotiate discounts and deals based on frequency of visits. If you are planning to become a regular customer, ask about package rates and bundling lawn mowing and trimming with other lawn care services such as landscaping and fertilization. Lawn care pros benefit by providing you with multiple services, your pocketbook benefits from the discounts, and your lawn benefits from the holistic care.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right lawn care professional for your project. For more, check out these tips for smart hiring.