Hiring A Landscaper – Is It Worth It?

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Hiring A Landscaper - Is It Worth It?


Hiring a landscaper can remove a major headache from both ongoing lawn maintenance and one-time makeover projects in your yard. Depending on your budget and schedule (not to mention your definition of a fun weekend), it may be worth outsourcing some, or all, of your yard projects.

At my house, my husband and I typically outsource mowing and weed whacking because it’s a fairly low-cost service compared to the amount of free time we gain back each week. On the other hand, I love gardening, and we regularly tackle projects that involve growing flowers and vegetables without the help of a professional. 

If you’re considering getting professional help with your landscaping, think about the types of projects you plan to undertake, plus the time, tools, and skill level involved. Here’s a breakdown of both ongoing and one-time landscape projects, plus how to determine if professional help is worth the cost.

Average landscaping costs: an overview

Service Average cost
Lawn mowing $49 to $218
Bedding plants (selection and installation) $1,366 to $5,641
Disease and insect control Less than $100
Tree trimming $460
Landscape design $1,954 to $6,971
Deck construction $7,300
Exterior light installation (10 lights) $2,000 and $2,500
Drip irrigation system (per acre) $2,150
Sprinkler system $2,500

Ongoing services

Hiring A Landscaper - Is It Worth It? - Ongoing services

Having consistent professional help can keep your yard clean and healthy. A well-maintained yard is good for wildlife and also motivates you to get outside more often and enjoy it, so it is a big deal!

Lawn maintenance

Ongoing lawn maintenance involves mowing your grass and weed whacking the edges of any hardscaping, like the sidewalk, driveway, and flower beds. The lawn maintenance company provides their own equipment, as well as any products that may be needed. In the fall, you can also add leaf removal services and have the collected leaves taken off-site by your maintenance crew.

Costs vary depending on the size of your lawn and how intricate any weed whacking may be. According to HomeAdvisor, average prices range between $49 and $218. Depending on your weather, you may opt for weekly or bi-weekly service. The rainier it is in your area, the more frequent mowing may be needed.

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Seasonal expense in many areas. During cooler-weather months you may not need to pay for lawn maintenance.
  • Get on a schedule. Avoid tall grass by scheduling recurring services from your maintenance crew.
  • Avoid paying for and maintaining lawn equipment. Upfront and ongoing maintenance costs for lawn mowers and weed whackers can quickly add up, especially compared to the relatively low cost of professional lawn maintenance.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Extra cost added to your monthly budget. Go the DIY path if your budget is already tight or you’re focused on important financial goals like debt payoff. 
  • A fixed schedule may not meet your lawn’s needs. Low rain could mean you’re paying for service even without tall grass. On the flip side, your lawn may be ready for a trim after heavy rain, days before your next mowing is scheduled.

Bedding plants and installation

Spending time in a yard filled with beautiful plants can give you countless hours of joy throughout the year. Plus, you’ll create a haven for all types of important insects, including pollinators.

A professional landscaper can pick out plants that thrive in your area and in specific spots in your yard. You can also get advice on plants that work best for your preferred level of care, whether you want to invest the time to water and weed, pay to outsource those tasks, or focus entirely on low-maintenance plants in your landscape.

The cost of getting a landscaper to choose and install plants ranges from $1,366 and $5,641. If your landscaped beds have become extremely overgrown, this expense may be worth the cost, but if you simply need to pop in some annuals to fill up space, this might be a better DIY project.

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Create year-round interest. A landscaper’s expertise ensures your flower beds aren’t dull three out of the four seasons of the year.
  • Choose the right plants based on water and sunlight needs. Avoid killing plants and wasting money by picking the right options for your yard’s conditions.
  • Pick colors and textures that complement each other. A landscaper creates an overall theme, whereas a DIY approach may create competing colors, heights, and textures.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Can be costly. The expertise of a landscaper definitely comes at a price.
  • You have less control over designs and colors. A DIY approach may be better if you have a very specific aesthetic you want to achieve in your yard.

Disease and insect control

Insects are a natural part of the garden’s ecosystem, but some bugs and diseases can actually harm your plants. There are many ways to mitigate these issues on your own, like promoting healthy soil and encouraging beneficial bugs that prey on the damaging types. For instance, ladybugs eat aphids, an insect that can cause major damage to vegetables, fruit, roses, and other flowers. 

But if you need help, a professional landscaper can manage these issues as well. Just be sure to ask about the products they use and the ingredients, especially if you grow edibles in your garden. Non-organic ingredients can be harmful to you, your plants, and beneficial insects. A standard pest treatment typically costs under $100, according to Thumbtack.

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Fast and easy service. Outsource the work rather than trying to figure out what products and treatment you need.
  • The expertise of specific disease and pest issues. Make sure you’re treating the right problem, so you don’t waste money on DIY “solutions” that just don’t work.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • May use harmful ingredients. Ask what products the landscaper uses and check to see if the ingredients align with your needs, especially if you grow an organic garden or have outdoor pets.
  • Less control over products and processes used. You need to trust the professional you hire.

Tree services

It’s important to regularly care for any trees near your house since they can cause damage to your home as they grow larger. The biggest issues are trees extending over your roofline and dead trees eventually falling. Regular tree maintenance includes pruning your trees to keep them disease-free and trimming away dead branches. Your trees will stay healthy, and you don’t have to worry about branches falling and hurting someone or something on your property.

You can certainly buy the tools needed to care for your trees and take a DIY route, but you also need to learn about how pruning affects each tree and what time of year is best for curbing tree growth. Hiring a landscaper to do the job could very well keep your trees in better shape, not to mention help you avoid the risk of injuring yourself. Just be sure your tree service landscaper is licensed and insured in case they sustain an injury while on the job. 

The cost of having tree work done is dependent on how many trees are on your property, their size, and whether or not they need to be felled.

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Trees safely pruned. Landscapers have the knowledge and experience to keep people safe.
  • Avoid damage to surrounding property. Falling trees can cause damage to nearby houses, cars, or fences. A professional knows how to cut strategically so the tree lands where it should. 
  • Pick the best season for pruning. Pruning in some seasons spurs new growth, while other seasons are best for managing size. 
  • Utilize the right equipment for hard-to-reach places. Tall trees could require heavy equipment, like a cherry picker or scissor lift.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Can be costly for tall trees. Tree trimming is important but will take a pretty big bite out of your budget.
  • Unlicensed landscapers could be an insurance liability. An uninsured contractor who gets injured on your property could require you to file a claim with your homeowners insurance policy

One-time landscaping services

Hiring A Landscaper - Is It Worth It? - One time landscaping services?

In addition to ongoing lawn care, weigh the pros and cons of hiring a landscaper for one-time landscaping projects.

Hardscape design and installation

No matter what size your yard may be, a professional landscaper can help you design hardscaping to maximize its usability. This could be with decking, a stone patio, pergola, or other hardscape features. The design and installation are typically two different services. A professional landscape design for your outdoor space could range from $1,954 to $6,971. For the actual labor and materials, your costs vary greatly depending on the size, scope, and materials.

These projects are typically better left to the professionals instead of a weekend warrior project, unless you have above-average DIY skills. For a homeowner with limited experience, you run the risk of unlevel patio stones or structurally unsound hardscaping if you attempt large-scale projects on your own. Plus, projects like decking typically require city or county permits and approvals. 

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Quality craftsmanship. Avoid the DIY “look” by using a detail-oriented landscaper. 
  • Faster results. Get your project completed all at once, rather than fitting it into your own busy schedule here and there.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Expensive costs. Expect to spend several thousand dollars for hardscaping projects.
  • Potential need to manage multiple professionals. You may have to manage the landscape designer and installer separately.

Landscape lighting

Incorporating lighting into your landscape can add a magical nighttime ambiance to your yard. There are different levels of service depending on the property features you want to highlight in the evening. You could add uplighting towards the home to draw attention to unique architectural features or illuminate walking paths to see where you’re going in the dark. String lights for garden parties are also a popular upgrade when it comes to landscape lighting.

Some of these projects are fairly simple to DIY and if you opt for solar-powered lights, you can especially save money since you won’t have to plan on an electrician having to wire anything. For bigger projects that do require re-wiring, you may want to hire a professional so you don’t hurt yourself. Electricity is not something that you should play around with.

Costs vary on the type of lighting and how far your cables need to go from existing electric lines. 

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • Safer than DIY. This is especially true if new electric cables are involved. You don’t want to set yourself up for a fire hazard.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Solar projects may be easier. In some cases, DIY projects may be simple if no new electrical cables are needed.

Lawn and garden bed irrigation

If your summers are marked by dry conditions or inconsistent rain, you might consider installing a sprinkler system for your grass and irrigation lines for your garden beds. Irrigation can keep your plants healthy all year long.

If you’ve already invested in lawn seed and garden plants, this could be an important project. Plus, while the average drip irrigation system costs upwards of $2,000 for an entire acre, there are plenty of online DIY tutorials that can help you spend even less. In fact, if you’re willing to do some digging and connect some PVC pipes and soaker hoses, you could knock out this project for around $100 (depending on your garden size).

A new sprinkler system might be pricy, but you can purchase a DIY kit if you feel confident in marking zones and digging trenches throughout your entire yard. Based on the mechanics involved, this would definitely be a project for more seasoned DIYers.

Pros of hiring a landscaper:

  • A quick process with limited mistakes. A landscaper can quickly get irrigation or sprinklers in place without digging into buried power lines or pipes.
  • Minimal disruption to grass and other plants. Landscapers have tools to limit the disruption to your lawn, especially compared to you digging trenches by hand with a spade.

Cons of hiring a landscaper:

  • Small irrigation projects may be simple and inexpensive. You could certainly DIY raised bed irrigation or other areas that aren’t intrusive.

Saving with a DIY approach

When deciding which projects to complete on your own, start by evaluating your safety and skills. Selecting and planting plants takes a little research, that way you can make sure that you are planting them in the right place. That said, it can be a fun experience and much less expensive to tackle by yourself. Consult the staff at your local garden center to get ideas of what plants perform well in your area. If you make mistakes, you can always plant something new.

For projects that have an element of danger involved, like trimming trees or building a deck, consider shelling out the money for the professional. You don’t want to risk building a faulty structure or mistakenly estimating where a tree could fall. 

Project DIY cost Professional cost
Planting Cost of plants $1,366 to $5,641
Lawn maintenance Average cost of lawn mower: $363 for push mower; $2,450 for rider mower
Plus gas and maintenance costs
$49 to $218 per visit
Deck construction $8 to $10 per square foot ~$25 per square foot

Summary

Some landscaping projects are easy to do by yourself over the course of a few hours, but others take a lot of time, effort, and skill. For some homeowners, it isn’t worth it to take the DIY route.

At a minimum, hire out landscaping projects that may seem dangerous without the right tools or talent. From there, you can gauge how each project cost compares to your budget and timeline to find out if hiring a landscaper is, in fact, worth it for you.

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