Lowes Lawn Care Program: Do It Yourself vs Lawn Service

We have all seen the TruGreen or Scotts Lawn Service van parked at the neighbors house. They get out, push a spreader or drag a hose with lawn fertilizer, knock on the door for a signature and leave. Maybe you see another guy come once a week or so and mow the lawn. Looks like it  maybe takes twenty minutes.

Paying For Lawn Service – Is It Really Worth It?

You probably wonder about that lawn service: Is it worth it?  There are certainly situations where paying others to do things for you is beneficial, and those situations depend mostly on your income, value and your time.

The more things you do for yourself, the less money you spend on overpriced services. You eat out instead of making a meal at home. You pay for an electrician to replace a switch.  You pay to have your oil changed when you could change it yourself. Bottom line is you will pay more for someone to do the service, and do it right, than to have to do it yourself.  Is lawn care one of those situations?

When it comes to lawn care, can the do it yourself  route really be less expensive, save you money and be better for your lawn?  Hiring a landscaper or lawn service to handle your mowing, weed control and  fertilization  can simplify a number of outdoor maintenance tasks at your home.

Rates for simple lawn mowing often vary with the frequency of service, but average around $25 per mowing.  In addition to basic mowing, lawn care contractors offer a number of services that can relieve the burden of yard maintenance. Weed control and fertilizer applications can run as high as $45 per application.

Between water, fertilizer, lawn care services, grass seed, lawn and garden equipment and other costs, Americans spend billions caring for their lawns every year.  We also spend an average of 75 hours a year cutting grass, pruning, watering, fertilizing and doing weed control along with all the other tasks that help keep yards beautiful.  That’s a huge investment of time and money that should be put to the best use possible. However, lawn care is something most of us can do and save money.

So, you need to ask yourself two important questions:

Should you go out and pay for a professional lawn service to treat and fertilize your lawn or can you do it yourself?

Is it really cheaper to do it yourself?

Lawn care services major benefit is taking care of the lawn so you don’t have to! Let someone else do it, right? And most do a good job mowing your lawn and controlling the weeds. Not to mention that a lawn care professional is trained to apply the product correctly which should  yield much better results. You are paying for that service.

Lawn care supplies, on the other hand are sold in every Lowes, Home Depot and big box store and garden center. Offering a variety of fertilizers, insect controls and weed control products at your fingertips. There is no shortage of supplies and brand options for those that prefer DIY lawn care.

Each product comes with detailed application and mixing instructions and a product label. Product labels are sometimes difficult to read for the average homeowner looking to apply fertilizer or weed control themselves. Applying the correct material at the correct rate, at the correct time is the difference between expected results and actual results.  It goes without saying, but after all that work, you want to see results.

Hiring a lawn care company is not cheap. They generally will want you to sign a season long or year long contract too. Grass mowing rates average $600 for 30 cuts during the season and add another $250 for six fertilizer applications to your lawn. Lets say you do your own mowing and just want the lawn care applications, you are still looking at $250.

Lets focus on the weed control and fertilization of your lawn. Buying your own fertilizer, crabgrass control, insect control or weed and feed generally can save you around  15%-20% versus hiring a professional lawn care operator. A quick breakdown will show you how much product you are getting and what it actually costs.

Need Proof?  Here’s what it costs.

1. Lets start with crabgrass control. Its generally the first application in early spring. You have several choices in brands, but Lowes is going to have Scotts and Sta Green in every store. Home Depot will carry Scotts, store brand Vigoro, and Lesco brands. Menards does not carry any national brands like Scotts, only their store brand, Menard Premium.  No matter where you buy it,  Scotts brand is going to retail for around $58 for 15000 square foot bag and $24 for a 5000 square foot bag of weed and feed with crabgrass preventer.  Store brands like Sta Green, Vigoro and Menards Premium will sell for about $10 less per bag.

At this point you either have $58 or $23 invested. Unless you didn’t have a fertilizer spreader. Add $35 for a small spreader or about $65 for a larger one.

2. Next application is the weed and feed. Scotts Turfbuilder Plus 2 sells for $49 for the larger 15000 sq. ft. bag and $21 for the smaller 5000 square foot bag. Again, store brands are about $10 a bag cheaper.  You will be applying this twice during the season, so buy the bigger bag. Keep it dry and it will be good for one year so you can use it the following spring also.

Add another $49 to your total cost so far.

3. Insect Control.  Most lawn services will provide a summer application of insect control.  This is just insect control and no fertilizer.  Most of the time it is very similar to Scotts Bug B Gon or Spectracide Triazicide granules. A ten pound bag of either brand will set you back $8.

4. Fall and Winter Fertilizer. The final application of the season, the winterizer, prepares your lawn for the colder months ahead. It sells for about the same as weed and feed, $49 or $23 a bag.

Here’s what you have invested to do your own lawn care for one season. I recommend buying the 15000 square foot bag and use the rest next year. This is assuming the average lawn service per season is about $250.00

Do It Yourself                                                                   Lawn Service

  • Crabgrass Control  $ 58.00
  • Weed Control         $ 49.00
  • Insect Control        $  8.00
  • Winterizer              $ 49.00

Total                                $ 164.00                                      $250.00

Conclusions

The total difference in cost is $86 to have a professional treat your lawn as opposed to doing it yourself. Now, let me explain the added value you get for saving $86. Remember, you will most likely have some product left over for next year. Smaller lawns could probably get two seasons worth of product for $164.  And by doing it yourself, you know exactly the quality of the product you are applying to your lawn.

lowes healthy lawnIn addition, when you do it yourself, the product is a granular weed and feed.

The professional application could be a granular fertilizer, but is probably going to be a liquid. Most lawn services will use liquid because its cheaper and honestly, it can be watered down.  Especially for the insect application. But ask if they will be using granular. If you are getting a granular product, it will be superior to liquid. And ask for references. Are your neighbors using them? What do their lawns look like? Do they arrive on time?

Now what about total costs involved. 

  • Hiring a professional saves you time.  What is your time worth? What is the cost in time driving to the store to pick up the material?
  • Does the store or brand name provide any guarantee results or money back if it doesn’t work?
  • Do you have a safe place to store any remaining product?  If you have children or pets, please be sure to store material in in a dry secure area.
  • Do you need to borrow or purchase the proper spreader to spread the product on your lawn?
  • Can you read and follow the label instructions? More is not better and in many cases can be worse to your grass and less effective. Worse case scenario? You burn your lawn!

More tips if doing your own lawn care.

  • Use the right product for the right kinds of weeds. Dont apply weed and feed if you want to get rid of crabgrass.
  • Read the label and use only as much as required.
  • Granular weed controls are more effective.
  • Try not to apply when it is very hot or when rain is in the forecast. Apply between 55 and 85 degrees.
  • Do not mow your lawn first to cut down the weeds.  Let your grass and weeds grow a little longer than usual by waiting a few extra days to mow. You will want the weeds to have some length for the weed control to stick to.

We know that a nice lawn is something you can be proud of. It’s more than just  “keeping up with the neighbors”.  The cost of services varies depending on what company you choose to work with and the level of lawn care you choose.  At least once, you should try your own lawn care. Most people can do it and save money.

There are certainly situations where paying others to do this for you is beneficial. That’s not to say that there isn’t value in doing it yourself. Unquestionably, there is. The personal and financial benefits of doing things yourself add up to an enormous benefit for the time you have invested.

By Victoria Stone

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