In the eternal race to keep up with the Joneses, a dazzling yard is key. The Joneses’ lawn is minty green, vigorous, and symbolizes their allegiance to American suburbia. Chances are, the Joneses hired a professional. They didn't make their lawn blossom as a rose by themselves.
You don't want to admit it, but they might be onto something. Landscaping is hard. Mistakes can be costly for your wallet and your pride. Professional landscapers and lawn care technicians have the green thumb you’ve always wanted. Whether you’re simply fertilizing your lawn or creating a giant topiary masterwork that reads “take that, Joneses,” stay one step ahead by hiring an expert using our handy tips below.
1. Overall cost
So you think you’re the exception. You’re going to fertilize your lawn, add a flower bed and install a water feature — and you’re going to do it yourself, goshdarnit! We like your chutzpah! Just consider: DIY seems like a good idea -- until the koi pond you spent months building drains into your neighbor's basement because of your ignorance of proper landscaping techniques.
Your neighbor hates koi and is also an attorney. That water feature just got very expensive. A landscaper, on the other hand, has the knowledge and the tools to get the job done right the first time, which will definitely save you time and could, in the end, save you money and preserve your relationship with the neighbors.
2. Job quality/tricks of the trade
Does the phrase “tuck an edge” mean anything to you? If not, it’s time to tuck your ego and hire someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s nice to feel like a thirsty celebrity on a competitive landscaping show — they make it look so easy! — but when it comes down to it, maybe you like TV a lot more than you like manual labor. There’s no shame in it. It takes a lot of expertise to bring the earth to heel, so let the experts check the pH of the loam so they can bed those corms by the Belvedere. Make sense?
3. Chemical math
Remember all that high school math you swore you’d never use again? Well, write an apology note to your retired geometry teacher, because you’ll be using everything she taught you if want to properly fertilize your lawn. It requires measuring the area and calculating the exact amount of product your lawn needs. Too little and your lawn will look scraggly and dry; too much and you can invite the EPA over for drinks and a stern lecture about excess nitrogen runoff polluting our water supply. Oh, and your lawn will be dead. So let a pro do it! They still remember the formula for finding the area of a trapezoid.
4. Product knowledge
Your mother told you to apply yourself, not to apply it yourself. Do you know the difference between a fungicide and an adjuvant and how to mix them properly? Sure, you can get by with a little advice from your friends at the hardware store, but despite what Chuck the Cashier says, they’re not necessarily pros at this stuff either. (No offense, Chuck.)
Professional landscapers have the experience with potentially toxic chemicals that you and Chuck do not. They can mix the perfect cocktail to nourish and protect all those pretty peonies. When your mom sees your yard she might stop hassling you about dropping out of night school. That’s how good the pros are.
5. Warranty support
Most landscapers are so good that they come with a satisfaction guarantee. That way, if that retaining wall fails, you can recoup your losses. But if you do your own landscaping and mess up, the only person you’ll have to blame is yourself. Try shouldering that while tackling the patio for the fifth time.
6. Calibrated equipment
You know how if NASA is .00000002 micrometers off in their measurements the space shuttle goes to Mars instead of the Moon? Well, the same idea goes for calibrating your lawn equipment — except with much more dire consequences. Failing to properly sharpen your lawn mower blades or fine tune your fertilizer spreader could result in scalped or burned grass, which is the true American tragedy. So just don’t, okay? Leave calibrating to the expert.
7. Time and labor
You could summit Everest five times with the energy it would take to properly landscape and care for your lawn for a summer. (Okay, that statistic has not been verified, but it feels right.) Landscaping is complicated and physically tiring, so you gotta want it. If, shockingly, it turns out you’re not Iron Lawn material, if your nickname isn’t the Incredible Mulch, you can always do what those dudes do on Everest: Hire someone with vast amounts of skill and knowledge to do the bulk of the work, and then take credit for the triumph.
Still here? Good. Let’s recap: landscaping is hard, lawn care is tiring, both require time, and you probably don’t have what it takes. Just kidding, just kidding, we’re sure you’re great (and competent). But before you put your shoulder to the shears, stop and think about what you really want to do with your life. If it’s something other than shaping a shrub or calculating fertilizer-to-lawn ratios, hand over your tools to an expert and go see a movie.
Ready to get started not working on your yard? Check out the list of savvy local landscapers on the Services section of KSL Classifieds.