We’re Mowing It Old School-ish

Among the many responsibilities a home-owner can have is a lawn. For us, we’ve been pushing that responsibility on a landscaper who comes by once a week to mow the lawn, trim the edges, and weed the garden.  But this will be the last week he comes because next week we’re going DIY – We’re going to do our lawn and garden ourselves!

Why take care of the lawn ourselves?

When we started with the landscaper we had just moved in and it was enough that we knew which way was up no less take care of a lawn.  I was still working on the best way to water the darn thing!  We didn’t have the time or energy to shop for equipment and do it ourselves (in our co-op there was a maintenance team that took care of the grass and when we rented it just didn’t apply so we own zero equipment).  Now that we’re settled in we think we’re ready to handle this ourselves.

And of course it will save us money in the long run. Let’s face it, if someone would take care of our lawn for free we would probably take them up on it but things just aren’t like that.  So in order to save money we decided to take care of the lawn ourselves.

Here’s the estimated breakdown of equipment costs:

Reel Mower (the kind you have to push)$140
Weed Trimmer (battery operated)$120
Blower/Vacuum (electric)$75
Extension Cord$25

The cost to have a landscaper take care of everything: $80/month.

You can see that it will take about four and a half months to break even.  That’s not too bad considering we’ll be living here well past that amount of time!  We could save some by getting different equipment but I want to make sure I have the best pieces for the work that will last.  Keep in mind too that the prices are for new equipment.  If we looked around we could possibly find used equipment.

And did I mention the gift cards? We usually use our American Express Blue card when we need to use credit (which we pay off every month).  This earns up points.  We’ll we’ve racked up enough points to get about $200 in gift cards to use towards the lawn equipment.  You can say that with the gift cards our equipment costs drop to $160 which makes our break even point only two months.

There are other costs though, the biggest of which is time. I’ll have to take time out every week to learn the equipment and take care of the lawn (and take care of the equipment).  It will take me much more work and effort for me to do the lawn than it will for the landscaper, who finishes the job in less than an hour.  There will also be upkeep for the equipment (one of the reasons we’re going with a manual mower – no gas, oil, tune-ups, etc…).  I understand this.  I’m actually pretty psyched to do the work myself and take care of my land with my own two hands (let’s hope I feel this way in a few weeks!).

There are some added benefits (or savings) to doing the yardwork myself. The blower I’ve been looking at is also a vacuum that can pick up and mulch the leaves.  Come Fall this will be handy and will also save from having someone else do this work.  You can argue that this will be a good workout too.  And when the kids are older you can be sure I’m getting them involved (our oldest is ten already).

There’s a part of my back that isn’t looking forward to this but the rest of me is gung-ho to doing the lawn myself! Once I get the hang of things I think it will be fun taking care of the yard.  And it will save us money down the line, which always feels good.

Who takes care of your lawn?  Any good tips?

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Published or updated March 28, 2013.


  1. We also bought an edger to keep clean edges around the driveway and sidewalk. I think that was an extra $40 and is running on its fourth year so far with no issues whatsoever.

    We have a gas mower and we use that for keeping up on the leaves. Just set it to the mulch setting and run it over the leaves and it grinds it up and creates natural fertilizer for the spring!

    • The trimmer I want is also an edger as well.

      Hmm, I guess that is an added bonus to a gas mower. Still, I’m not ready for the upkeep of gas just yet.

  2. “I’m actually pretty psyched to do the work myself and take care of my land with my own two hands (let’s hope I feel this way in a few weeks)”

    Good luck with that! 🙂

    Self-propelled mowers are a beautiful thing if you have a big yard like me. I got one for under $300 6 years ago and its still going with almost no maintenance. Worth the investment in my opinion.

    • Haha, thanks! I actually just used the mower for the first time and it wasn’t bad at all! The edging and blowing was more difficult than the mowing.

  3. We had a lawn service for a while because my husband’s allergies were just killing him. However, as soon as my son was old enough, we gave the chore to him. We pay him, but it is a good way for him to earn some money and have some responsibility.

    • Allergies can be killer! If mine bugged me that much we’d definitely use a service. Guess we’ll have to wait until next Spring to see how it is (I’m crossing my fingers my allergy shots really take effect by then).

      Can’t wait until we can get our kids safely involved.

  4. The biggest question is how big is the yard? The weed trimmer you picked seems quite expensive. I always liked electric for regular duty.
    My pick would be yard work over housework any day of the week.

    • It’s not too large. The reviews I read for the electric ones were pretty bad across the board. I’d rather pay a little more and not deal with the cord and a spinning wire in the same place.

      Also, the battery pack that the trimmer uses works with my tools as well.

  5. From personal experience, mowing the lawn quickly becomes a not fun task. My sister likes to hire neighborhood kids to do their lawn. It’s cheaper than a professional and you’re supporting the “local economy.” Although, once your kids are old enough, you can just push the job onto them!

    • Hmm, haven’t seen any kids doing that work around here other wise we would have considered it. I hope it doesn’t become too much of a chore for me.

  6. You can also get a cheap (free) lawn mower at garage sales or on craigslist.

  7. Mr. Not Made of Money does all the yard work. It is a pretty time consuming task – especially since the grass grows like crazy in the summer time. He uses a self-propelled mower, edger, weed trimmer, and blower. Takes about 2- 3 hours from start to finish. I must say he does a fabulous job and we always have the lawn on the street that everyone notices 🙂

  8. I love doin’ the lawn myself….it’s my way to work out the week’s aggressions every Friday evening.

    One tip: I saw you’re getting a weed wacker/edger. Consider one with a trimmer attachment for bushes too (if you have any). And gas trimming is so much easier than running an extension cord.

    Also, think about cost of fertilizer. I was buying the Home Depot bag of Scotts weed/feed four times a year at I think around $50/pop. This year I hired a service for that (who does a better job than me) and is actually cheaper per treatment.

    • The weed wacker I got is battery operated. For trimming the hedges we decided to use a manual trimmer (you know, the big scissor looking things). It wasn’t too bad!

      The gas trimmers do have some nice attachments but the costs were too high for us right now.

      We’ve considered using a service for end of the season work. Thanks for the heads up on the costs!

  9. We have a lawn guy even though we have a small front and back yard. He comes biweekly from April to October for $25 a pop. That covers mowing, edging, weeding the flower beds, and cleanup. I consider less than $400 a year an awesome use of our money. We factored it in to the cost of home ownership as well since Mr. BFS and I knew it wasn’t our cup of tea a few years before we bought a house. I just maintain the plants, which is fun to me. 🙂

    • Every person has to consider what they are willing to do and if you have factored that cost in then that’s awesome. We could afford a service if we wanted to but we think, for us, the money will be better used elsewhere (not that you aren’t doing what’s right for you; hate to think I’m coming off as preachy; having a service is totally cool).

  10. Jimmy @ Run, Jimmy, Run says:

    Don’t forget to factor in the value of your time. Sure, your upfront costs may not be much, but you’re also going to have to invest the necessary man hours that you’d otherwise have for other pursuits if you elected to keep the landscaping crew.

    Either way, best of luck with your decision!


    • Totally agree! Right now I have any day I want basically to do the lawn. If I only had the weekends to do it then I might re-consider.

  11. Kudos for going such a green environmentally friendly route with your lawncare!

    A reel mower is okay, I have had problems with tall weeds before with them. But still at least you won’t have to deal with exhause fumes and the expense of gas. You’ll just need to occasionally sharpen the blades…

    Have fun, use your mp3 player to play music or a nice audiobook 🙂

    • Our setup is so much quieter than gas equipment! And not worrying about storing gas or mixing it with other things is real nice.

  12. I have always taken care of the yard work myself. Sure it takes some time, certainly in the fall with all the leafs but much better then paying someone else to do it.

    • Hopefully the Fall won’t be too bad. There aren’t too many trees nearby but it probably doesn’t take too many to drop a lot of leaves. That’s also why I spent a little more to get a blower that will also vacuum and mulch.

  13. I don’t have a lawn myself, but I think we would do it ourselves. It doesn’t really take that much time and you’re saving so much money in the long run.


  14. We do our own lawns here but I have to say it’s an awful lot of hard work if you want to be the yard that everyone notices. That said, if you achieve that, it’s certainly worth it!

  15. My husband actually enjoys maintaining our lawn. The funny thing about it is that he found it to be cheaper to have it fertilized by a national company, but after they started doing it our yard did not look as green and vibrant. It actually costs more for him to fertilize, but the curb appeal is worth the extra dollars and effort. 🙂

    • Interesting. Haven’t fertilized yet. We have some brown patches that need some help. I’m considering keeping the lawn dropping on the lawn for the next mow to help out the lawn.

  16. We have teenagers so they do the work. Have a gas mower we got at a garage sale and haven’t had any maintenance issues for over 3-years. (Also self-propelled, but our lawn isn’t that big)

    We still have plenty of kids that can do the work, so it will be a long while before I have to. I actually enjoyed it though. Gave me a chance to be a loan with my thoughts (and the noise of a purring lawn-mower) and the smell of fresh cut grass.

    cd :O)

  17. For the first time ever, including when I had several acres to take care of, I’ve hired a neighborhood kid to cut the tiny yard I have here. I just couldn’t seem to get it done. Stupid but totally worth it!

    • You totally have to weigh the space you have and the time versus the cost. For many people it will be better to hire someone.

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