Gardening tools

Basic Lawn Maintenance: Hire a Professional or DIY?

By: Sarah Sheppard

The House Method team reviews and recommends lawn care service providers. In this review, we explain why TruGreen is our top pick. House Method is reader-supported. Advertiser Disclosure.

From lawn mowing to fertilizing, maintaining a healthy lawn and garden isn’t an easy job for homeowners, especially since basic lawn maintenance requires seasonal care. That’s exactly why many homeowners decide to hire a professional lawn care service. But it’s not always a straightforward decision.

Whether you choose to maintain the lawn yourself or hire a professional, it’s good to know the fundamentals. Read on to learn more about our recommended professional lawn care provider and what to consider when deciding between taking on lawn maintenance yourself or calling on an expert.

Editor's Pick: TruGreen

  • 2.3 million customers nationwide
  • America’s #1 lawn care company*
  • TruExpert® specialists visit your lawn at least seven times a year
  • Select from several lawn maintenance plans, as well as pest control plans
  • Workmanship quality guaranteed
 
Green shrub leaves in lawn

Lawn maintenance: DIY or hire?

Maintaining your lawn yourself versus hiring a professional comes down to three major things: time, money, and expertise. If you have the time and the expertise, then you can easily maintain your lawn yourself, but if you don’t, then hiring a professional would be wise. Here’s an overview of what lawn care maintenance you should do yourself and when you should hire a professional:

DIY

  • If you have time, you can mow your lawn yourself.
  • Water your lawn yourself. Whether you use a hose or an at-home sprinkler system, it requires little time or money.
  • Overseeding doesn’t have to be done, unless you have problems like bare spots or brown spots in the grass. Do the research and do it yourself.
  • Weed control can be done yourself, but if you lack the knowledge or time needed to kill the weeds and prevent them, hire a professional.

Hire

  • Hire a landscaping company to mow your lawn, unless you are prepared to purchase and upkeep a lawn mower, follow safety precautions, etc.
  • Fertilization can be tricky if you don’t know exactly what your soil needs, so we recommend hiring a professional lawn care company.
  • To save yourself the time, hassle, and costs, hire a professional to aerate your lawn.
  • Professionals have the expertise needed to remove existing weeds and prevent more from growing. If you aren’t prepared to DIY, hire a professional.
Get a quote from TruGreen

Services offered by lawn care companies

The best lawn care companies are accessible, affordable, and great time-savers.

Depending on the type of professional you want, here’s what’s typically offered by a professional company:

  • Fertilizing
  • Aeration
  • Dethatching
  • Irrigation system maintenance
  • Tree, shrub, and hedge maintenance
  • Disease treatment, including pest control
  • Weed control including pulling, killing, and prevention
  • Planting or seeding
  • Mulching

Lawn maintenance service costs

The cost of professionally maintaining your lawn depends on the services you want performed. If you simply want a landscaping company to mow and trim your lawn, you won’t be shelling out a lot of money. The national average estimate for lawn mowing and maintenance, which includes cutting, trimming, and weeding, is between $214 and $322. Depending on how often a professional comes to your home, this price could increase.

To fertilize a lawn, the average cost is $223. The average cost of lawn seeding, however, is $901, which includes seeding, re-seeding, and overseeding services. If you want the best lawn care companies to help you fertilize, overseed, aerate, and perform the more difficult lawn maintenance, you can save money with a lawn care plan instead of paying for one-off services.

With TruGreen, our recommended lawn care provider, you can pay as low as $29.95 for your first application when you purchase one of their plans. Read an overview of their lawn care plans below, then click here for a free quote.

House Method recommended provider: TruGreen

If you want your yard to look good all year long but don’t want to do it yourself, hiring a professional is always a good solution.

Here’s what TruGreen would do to solve the problem: perform a lawn analysis and evaluation to determine what problems exist and what solutions are required. In the first visit, a TruGreen TruExpert® certified specialist will visit your home and analyze your lawn to determine the next steps.

With TruGreen, you get the benefit of:

  • A science-based approach tailored to your lawn care services.
  • Customer satisfaction guarantee backed by TruGreen’s Healthy Lawn Guarantee®◆. If you don’t get the results you desire, a lawn care expert will return to make necessary adjustments.
  • High-quality professional equipment and products designed to best treat your lawn.
  • Customizable plans to fit your lawn and garden needs.
  • Lawn care experts available in your area.
  • A trusted, experienced provider. Having served millions of Americans across the country, you’ll be happy knowing that TruGreen uses a team of agronomic experts trained in lawn care treatment.

TruGreen lawn care plans

TruGreen offers comprehensive, customizable plans to best fit your lawn needs. In addition to their basic plans, they also offer pest control, mosquito treatment, and commercial lawn care services. Here is a comparison of three of their best lawn care plans:

TruHealth® Lawn Plan TruComplete® Lawn Plan TruSignature® Lawn Plan
Affordable Basic Plan Best Value Most Comprehensive
Lime
Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
Fertilization
Healthy Lawn Guarantee
Healthy Lawn Analysis®✦
Lime
Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
Fertilization
Healthy Lawn Guarantee
Healthy Lawn Analysis
Aeration
Lime
Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
Fertilization
Healthy Lawn Guarantee
Healthy Lawn Analysis
Aeration
Tree and shrub plan

TruGreen has more than 200 branches nationwide and serves over 2.3 million customers. It’s likely they have a branch near you.

DIY may sound like a more affordable option, but a professional lawn care company knows all about lawn maintenance and proper lawn care. With TruGreen, you can be sure you’re getting the best treatment for your lawn.

Learn more about TruGreen’s lawn maintenance services and get a free quote by calling 888.535.3193.

Why hire a professional?

Threats to your lawns and their solutions differ based on a number of variables, such as climate, region, and season. Like the problems it faces, lawn care services must be flexible. Learning to care for your lawn’s changing needs correctly and efficiently can be a burden if  you don’t have a lot of free time or want to spend what time you do have simply enjoying a beautiful lawn.

Anyone can practice the basics of lawn maintenance, like lawn mowing and watering, but some more comprehensive care tactics take time and continued effort.

That’s why you should consider a professional lawn care company when your lawn needs more specialized care, like aeration or grub control. When you hire a professional company, you could end up helping yourself in a number of ways.

Save money

At first, it may seem a little counterintuitive to think that you might be able to save money by hiring a company to care for your lawn, but it’s true. If you want your lawn looking beautiful and healthy, you need the tools to give it complete, comprehensive care. Once you start to consider the retail tags attached to many of the lawn maintenance tools and equipment you’ll need, it starts to make a lot more sense to hire a professional lawn care company.

Learning to effectively use these tools by trial-and-error can actually cost you money by causing long-lasting damage to your lawn. Hiring a professional takes these worries away. TruGreen professionals are trained to be experts in lawn care and have both the knowledge and the tools needed for a flourishing lawn.

Even if you don’t have as much time to spend outdoors as you’d like, and don’t intend on tending to your lawn yourself, improving the quality of your lawn can still be a money helper. A beautiful, healthy lawn can significantly increase the curb appeal of your home if you ever look to sell.

Save time

Even if you’re normally a do-it-yourself type, hiring a professional can be an efficient choice. Lawn care is a science—developing your own comprehensive care system through trial and error leaves many homeowners frustrated, exhausted, and with a lawn that’s worse off than before. This can lead to even more wasted time if the lawn is damaged in the process and requires a long, drawn-out recovery.

Trust in the scientific approach

Your lawn faces problems that are unique based on several significant factors, like climate, weather, and region. Aeration, for example, is an issue that needs to be considered in the context of your region and grass type. Combating these problems requires services that are both flexible and versatile to adjust to these factors.

TruGreen knows your lawn requires specialized care, which is why they take a science-based approach to lawn maintenance. The specialists are TruGreen PhD-certified through the TruExpert® Certification Program to diagnose your lawn with the Healthy Lawn Analysis. It allows them to tailor your service plan with science-based solutions to meet your lawn’s unique needs. An expert lawn care company like TruGreen can remove the guesswork and get your lawn on the right path, right away.

Reliable results

Trying to care for your lawn on your own through trial-and-error can be exhausting, and you might finish disappointed with the end result. If you don’t know exactly how to care for your lawn, it can be difficult to get the whole process right. Hiring a professional lawn care company ensures that your lawn is getting exactly what it needs at key stages throughout the year. Their work is backed by the TruGreen Healthy Lawn Guarantee, meaning they’ll visit your property as often as needed between scheduled visits to make necessary changes and ensure your lawn’s health.

Lawn Care Worker Sprays Crabgrass

Basic lawn maintenance

There are essential lawn care treatments that every lawn needs to thrive. Do you know you’d like to outsource some tasks to a professional lawn service but aren’t sure which ones? Below, we’ve explained what’s required for each job and what to consider when deciding between yourself and an expert.

Mowing

Easily, the most known part of lawn maintenance is mowing. Whether you use a gas or electric lawn mower, this task is a crucial part of lawn care.

How often you need to mow the lawn depends on the season. During peak growing seasons (summer for warm-season grasses and spring and fall for cool-season grasses), you should increase how often you cut your grass, but you should never cut more than one-third of the grass blade. Keep it even higher during the summer months.

DIY or hire a professional? Hire a professional, if you can afford it. If you use safety precautions and can do an effective job without damaging your grass, do it yourself.

Watering

When it comes to watering your grass, you have to be careful to water just the right amount. Stick to one inch per week, as a rule, but pay attention to your grass and make adjustments as needed. Watering less often but for longer periods is best, so the water can soak into the root zone. The best time to water is in the early morning or late evening. If you want to install a sprinkler system to regulate the watering, you can, but consider that the average cost is $2,429 for installation.

DIY or hire a professional? Do it yourself. You can set up a basic do-it-yourself sprinkler system. It’s easy and it works.

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is an important step in lawn care. Once you determine your soil needs and your grass type, you can determine what type of fertilizer is needed for your lawn. Grass clippings, for example, can be used to fertilize, but you may want to add a nitrogen fertilizer. The hold up is that using the wrong type of fertilizer can do serious damage to your turf.

You should only need to fertilize once or twice per year. If you have cool-season grass, it’s best to fertilize in the fall. If you have warm-season grass, you should to fertilize in the late spring or early summer.

DIY or hire a professional? Hire a professional. Lawn care companies like TruGreen have the knowledge and expertise needed. They take into account effective products, temperature, season, soil, and type of grass.

Overseeding

Overseeding isn’t always required for a lawn, but if you have bare or dead spots, then you can overseed to make up for that. The type of seeds you use depends on your grass type and what you aim to fix. For example, if you have warm-season grass, you could use cool-season seeds to maintain a healthy lawn in the cooler months. For cool-season grass, it is best to overseed in the early fall.

DIY or hire a professional? Do it yourself, but do enough research to learn what seeds work best for your grass.

Aerating

Aeration has many benefits. It can break up soil compaction, reduce thatch buildup, and prepare your lawn for overseeding or fertilizing. If you have healthy, green grass, it may not be necessary, but for many, it can fix problem areas like bare spots or dying grass. On average, lawn aeration only costs $124 and isn’t always required.

DIY or hire a professional? Hire a professional. The process is time-consuming and is best left to the experts. A lawn care company knows how to determine the best time and conditions to aerate for optimal lawn care health. If you hire a professional, you also don’t need to buy or store an aerator. Aeration is often included in some lawn care service plans, such as TruGreen’s TruComplete® or TruSignature® lawn plans.

Weeding

The best lawn care services from professional companies include weed control. Sometimes it’s hard to determine what’s a weed and what’s a plant. If you’re not careful, weeds can take over and wreak havoc on your lawn. The key to weeding is knowing what products to buy, what applications to use, and how much is required for your lawn.

DIY or hire a professional? Trying going over it yourself using a natural weed killer. If this doesn’t work or if you don’t have the time required, then hire a professional.

Soil testing and analysis

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lawn or growing healthy plants, our biggest lawn care tip is to check your soil’s pH levels to make sure your grass is getting the right amount of nutrients. Healthy soil, afterall, is the key to a beautiful lawn.

When checking the the soil, you’re looking to see how much acidity and alkalinity is present. You want to aim for a level of about 6.5 (between 6 and 7) on a scale of 0 to 14. If the levels are too low, you can use lime to raise them. If you want to lower the levels, you can use sulfur. Both ingredients are available in powder form and can be applied through a lawn spreader (either a broadcast or drop spreader).

DIY or hire a professional? You can purchase an at-home test and do it yourself or call a professional to perform a soil analysis. One of the benefits of working with a professional lawn care company like TruGreen, for instance, is they will test the soil levels and make the necessary adjustments to your lawn as part of their basic lawn care services.

Seasonal lawn care maintenance

Each season requires different maintenance procedures. What works in the summer may not work in the fall, so you have to be diligent about treating your lawn year-round. For cool-season grasses, lawn maintenance is especially important leading up to the first frost.

Feel like you can’t keep up? Make a checklist of must-dos for each season (for example, see our fall list). If you choose to hire a lawn care professional to perform your lawn care services, make sure they offer seasonal care. You don’t want your lawn ignored for the majority of the year.

To achieve a reliable lawn, our recommended provider is TruGreen. Not only do they have a team of specialists who are trained in analyzing soil and grass, but they offer lawn care plans that include eight lawn visits per year, so you get the year-round treatment you need.

11 lawn maintenance tips

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, 84% of Americans believe it is important to have a well-maintained yard—and we agree. So here are 11 basic tips for maintaining a healthy lawn:

  1. Stick to a schedule—When you cut grass, water, fertilize, and aerate matters. Pay attention to the season, time of day, and temperatures before you perform basic lawn maintenance.
  2. Test your soil—A pH balance is a measure that denotes the acidity or alkalinity of your lawn’s soil. Make sure your pH levels are balanced before you make any significant changes to your lawn care treatment. Proper pH maximizes the effectiveness of your other lawn maintenance practices, all by simply maintaining a rich, healthy soil base. If your lawn’s soil pH is unbalanced, you may find yourself running into a number of new problems brought up by symptoms of lawn disease, like dry soil or overly brown patches of grass.
  3. Don’t cut your grass too low—Scalping grass can weaken, stress, or expose your grass to weeds, insects, and diseases.
  4. Buy fertilizer right before you use it—If you choose to apply fertilize yourself, make sure you buy fresh fertilizer.
  5. Don’t forget to rake your lawn—It can be tempting to desert your lawn in the cool-weather months, but make sure you rake in advance of snowfall to avoid thatch buildup.
  6. Water less often for longer periods—This will encourage better grass growth.
  7. Leave the grass clippings—When you mow the lawn, you can leave the clippings, which act as a nutrient-rich mulch. Make sure the clippings aren’t too large, however.
  8. Tune up your equipment—When you pull out your lawn mower and other lawn equipment, make sure they are ready to use. Replace the filters, check the oil, sharpen the blades, and change the spark plugs.
  9. Know your grass type—By learning more about your grass type, what it needs, and when it grows best, you can properly care for your lawn throughout the year.
  10. Keep a lookout for signs of grubs—These pests can devastate otherwise healthy lawns. They damage the integrity of your lawn’s soil by burrowing and feeding on grass roots. Professional lawn care companies sometimes include grub prevention services to preemptively combat larvae and protect the integrity of your lawn, but you can also keep an eye out for some symptoms of grub damage on your own, like brown patches.
  11. Test for soil compaction—Does your lawn pass the screwdriver test? Try driving a screwdriver into the ground of your lawn. If it’s difficult to do, it’s probably time for dethatching and aeration.
Gardening tools

Professional Lawn Maintenance

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*America’s #1 lawn care company based on U.S. market share of professional lawn care companies. 2016 NorthStar Partners U.S. Share Tracker ★Requires purchase of annual plan. Special price of $29.95 is for first application only, for new residential EasyPay or PrePay customers only, and applies to lawns up to 5,000 square feet. For lawns more than 5,000 square feet or for the regular lawn application price for a lawn of any size, please call for estimate. Valid at participating TruGreen locations. Availability of services may vary by geography. Not to be combined with or used in conjunction with any other offer or discount. Additional restrictions may apply. Consumer responsible for all sales tax. ◆Guarantee applies to full plan customers only. ✦Purchase of full lawn plan required for Healthy Lawn Analysis, which is performed at the first visit.
Sarah Sheppard

About the author

Sarah Sheppard writes on home services, including home and lawn maintenance, for House Method.

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