Lawn Care – Cut the Grass or Hire It Out?

by Ryan Yates on April 20, 2012

Mow the Lawn and Cut the Grass or Hire it Out

Would you hire the "Cut Away Debt" lawn service?

Real men mow their own lawn, right?

Sure we do . . . and we change our own oil and we hunt our own food.

Of course, I’m trying to be funny. There are plenty of reasons why people hire lawn services to manicure their little slice of America. But is it really worth it, financially?

Being the money conscious crazy man that I am, I thought it would be interesting to figure out how much it costs to receive this “time saving” service.

Background

I live in an old school neighborhood that is divided into “blocks”. There are no winding streets that connect to other winding streets. Just perfectly spaced streets that contain the same number of lots, street after street.

The lot sizes are all pretty similar, yet the homeowner split is about 50/50 when it comes to hiring a lawn service vs. mowing your grass yourself.

A Quote to Cut the Grass

My neighbor uses a lawn service and has the same lot dimensions as I do. Instead of wasting a company’s time with a quote, I ask her what she pays. $25 per cut, but to get that price you have too sign up for 8 weeks of service, having your grass cut twice a month. Great, you can’t even hire a guy to mow your lawn without subscribing!

Another neighbor pays $15 a visit for a lawn service to edge his grass. He cuts the lawn himself, but likes to have someone else edge the lawn. Seems a little crazy to me, but to each their own. I watched the “edging” crew (2 guys) take a total of 4 minutes to edge and blow his yard yesterday.

The Cost of Mowing the Lawn

In Texas, especially with this past winter’s mild temperatures, keeping your grass cut short is almost a year-round job – unless you quit watering in the summer.

Even with an conservative estimate of 32 weeks out of the year, you’re still looking at $800 annually. Let me repeat that – $800. That’s a ton of money!

If we break the cost into square feet, the cost for my yard would be about a penny per square foot. Meaning that it will cost a dollar for someone to cut the equivalent of a small bedroom (10×10).

The point is that getting a lawn service is a lot of money. I can cut and trim my lawn in 30 minutes. That would be like making $75 per hour at the going rate for a lawn service. No wonder so many people are starting their own business.

Sure, the startup costs of mowing your own lawn are $400 to $500 (including the weed eater), but my pawpaw has been using the same equipment for 12 years. So equipment costs are pretty much negated as a possible argument for hiring out a service.

Now I just need to convince my neighbors to use my “Cut Away Debt” lawn service to handle their lawn manicuring needs and I’ll have another income stream. Of course I can undercut the competition and charge $20 and still make out like a bandit.

So, Is It Really Worth It?

If you hire it out, unless you’re using the time saved to make extra money (greater than what you’re paying the guy cutting the grass), I would say it’s not really worth it – financially speaking.

Even with bargain basement prices, it’s still cheaper to cut your own grass.

You don’t have to be a horticulturist to mow your own lawn. And you don’t have to know how to make those cool grass designs like the guys at the baseball park.

So get out there and take back ownership of your front yard!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Reasons June 11, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I’ve been thinking of going into this myself. It might be a great way to earn some additional coin while getting a decent workout at the same time!!!

Kudos to you for going that route!

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Jeffrey Kosola June 11, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I think it’s a great way to make some scratch. Go for it. I haven’t started it yet, but picking up some work from the neighbors should be easy :-)

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Derek Clark June 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

This is indeed a great way to make some money. I used to make quite a bit, but I haven’t done it recently. (Don’t have a garage right now so I don’t really have anywhere to store a mower). My brother in-law (who is still in college) is on track to bring in around 100k of revenue with his lawn business this year. (By the way, $25 is actually fairly cheap. I think his average is closer to $45)

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Miss Thrifty June 12, 2010 at 9:41 am

Do you think you’ll do it? It sounds like a great idea! You definitely have an eagle eye for these sorts of opportunities…

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Hank June 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I pay someone $40 to cut and weed eat my yard. They quoted that price for any lawn under one acre. I try and go every other week between cuts though in order to save a little bit of money. There would be no way that I could afford $40 per week.

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Financialbondage June 12, 2010 at 2:59 pm

We cut our own. We have a pretty big lawn, it would cost a fortune I’m guessing if someone cut ours.

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Ted June 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm

My father in law mows the neighbors lawns. Once a week usually. Some folks pay him $75 a lawn! Not bad.

But you do have to factor in cost of gas, maintenance of the lawn mower, yearly blade sharpening, etc into the costs. it can get pretty high.

But I would still mow my own lawn if I could. We live in a townhouse complex with a $151 a month dues…. that is crazy high to me. Can’t wait to move out.

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richard s June 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Using your math, the equivalent of $75/hr is indeed a nice income. However, you should also account for the costs involved – time spent traveling between jobs, the vehicle costs to do so (fuel, insurance, oil changes, tires, licensing, registration, perhaps a trailer, etc), and perhaps a business license and related business insurances.

Mowing your own includes your time spent getting the mower out from wherever it is stored, fueling it (including remembering to get fuel from the station with your jerry can), changing oil occasionally, bagging the clippings, cost of the bags, and probably the other biggest cost – the time spent actually mowing.

Part of the equation involves calculating what YOUR time is worth to you, which includes whether there is something else that you would prefer to be doing. As with most project, you are swapping time (and, depending on your perspective, headache) for money.

If DIY is still your preference, sharing the costs of one mower with your neighbor (or several) may be an even better RIO, especially if one of the sharees is handy with repairs to the machine for which you can trade for some costs.

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Jeffrey Kosola June 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hey Richard S,

I agree that my calculations are anything but perfect. When you are in debt and clawing your way out, extra cash becomes the goal. If you are focused on destroying debt then your time really doesn’t factor into the equation. 30 minutes of web surfing or watching TV are just dumb if you can make some money. The cost of gas is so small that a few dollars will net you many more. Even if gas was a $5 for three yards, it would still be worth it to bring in the extra cash. That cash is what gives people the traction they need to get their debt snowballs rolling.

Nice idea about the sharing a mower.

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Little House July 21, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I hate to admit it, but I also have a gardener who cuts our lawn once a week. However, in my own defense, he’s our friend too. My husband’s been helping him secure more clients and over time, we’ve built a friendship. I’d feel too guilty letting him go! Although the next rental house that is destined in our future, the rent needs to include gardening. I’m kind of tired paying to take care of someone else’s lawn!

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Matthew July 11, 2011 at 12:19 am

Trust me, some of us companies get much cheaper than $25 a cut. And to buy something reliable costs a bit more than $300-$400. Also, unless you’re magically going to have your phone blow up with people wanting YOU to cut their yard, you’re going to spend either (a) a lot of time finding/marketing those customers or (b) a lot of money getting that stuff visible. Also, you’re driving to/from these places, and working around weather, and that makes it hard to work around a full time job. All in all, I’m in lawn care myself so I say… go for it, but you might want to consider how many different places that $20 cut gets chopped up before you get to thinking you’re going to be making $75 an hour. Ha.

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Bumpy Jenkins November 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

people always forget to add in all aspects of time. I’m sure you you can cut edge and blow in twenty minutes, your probably not considering landscaping services. So let’s take a realistic approach – 1 hour every four days in the first 2 1/2 months of the season. That’s anywhere from 15 to 20 cuts. so by hiring someone you’ve just picked up 20 hours in 75 days. could you do something to earn more money with that time that you have saved.

What about gas? there is gas for your mower, weedwacker and blower. (it cost) there is cost involved in getting the gas for these things. these items need oil and upkeep or repair(blade sharpening or rplacement, Line for the whacker) as well as storage. do you need hooks to hang things on the wall? maybe you need a shed because the garage is already full.

But my initial point is all aspects of time to do things are never counted. Also, if you go out in March and buy those three items plus gas and then spend the time to do the job, that first year will cost you approx. $1200 – $1500. if you hire someone to do ityou can spread that money out over 2 years.

It boils down to how valuable is your time.

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Bill Arning May 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

Using the economies of scale that we have as a medium sized lawn care company, it costs us roughly $8 in equipment, repairs, gas, oil, filters, string, blades, etc for an average sized lawn. I would be willing to bet that a homeowner using “throwaway” equipment from Wal-Mart would have a higher “per cutting” cost. Let’s say it’s $10. So, you’re really only saving $15, and if it really only takes you 30 minutes to put on sunscreen, get gas, check the oil and filters, mow, edge, weedeat, blow, shower, change your clothes, then you’re looking at $30 per hour. One trip to the mower repair shop will have you down 2 weeks during the peak season. I still think it’s smart to mow your own lawn, but we need to be realistic in expectations. Another added benefit of mowing your own is the exercise. Less time at the gym!

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kim August 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I don’t have time to maintain my yard. I have a very busy life, I am off to office early in the morning and I do not want to have to work in my yard on weekends. I found a company called Houston Yard Service. They gave me a Free Estimate, showed up on time, did a beautiful job on my yard, beds and trimmed my trees. And, they were the lowest bid I got for the work. They are a family owned business. Check out their website at http://www.HoustonYardService.com.

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Jean March 22, 2013 at 8:45 am

I too dont have time to mow our lawn at our apt complex which i own. We have a tractor, but the time to send my son or myself out to do this task weekly far exceeds the cost of services from a professional. We have a great local family company Alternative Landscaping do our property and looks fantastic every week. If in Michigan, check them at http://www.alternativeland.com
Great service, profession staff.

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proper tree cutting technique August 9, 2013 at 5:26 pm

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