(ANGIE'S LIST) - Yard work may be a labor of love for some people, but it's just as common for homeowners to hire professional crews to have the best looking lawn on the block.
Angie's List founder Angie Hicks says the days of cutting your own grass haven't gone away, but almost as many people are choosing to hire a professional to do the job.
"According to a recent Angie's List survey, 48 percent of the members said they're going to outsource their lawn care this year," Hicks said.
If you plan to hire someone to handle your lawn care needs, Angie's List put together the following checklist to give you a better idea of what services are available and how much you can expect to pay,
Common lawn care services:
- Lawn mowing: If you buy a lawn care package, check to see if it includes trimming, edging and fertilizing services. Companies typically mow lawns on a weekly basis. You should expect to pay about $50 to mow an average lawn.
- Mulch: Mulch keeps your plant beds looking clean and well kept. There are various qualities of mulch, and the type you choose will change the amount you pay. There will also be a delivery fee for bringing the mulch to your home. Hardwood mulches cost about $30 per bag, while premium mulches cost about $45 per bag.
- Fertilization: This service is also a common benefit of a lawn care package. Companies suggest fertilizing your lawn a few times a year to help it grow thick, but too much fertilizer can harm your lawn. A professional will know the delicate balance. Lawn care companies calculate the cost by the square foot, and the average fertilization package costs around $200 to $300 per year.
- Aeration: Typically done in the fall and spring, aeration pulls plugs of grass, thatch and soil from your lawn. These plugs leave holes that allow the lawn to breathe better. It also allows fertilizer and water easier access to the roots. Aeration costs for a typical lawn fall in the $100 range.
- Leaf removal: The biggest chore in the fall is raking leaves. Some lawn care companies also remove leaves in the fall. Leaf removal typically costs around $350 for an average home.
- General maintenance: Other general maintenance tasks like picking up sticks, pulling weeds and planting new plants are other services landscapers provide.
- Get an on-site estimate: Each lawn is different, so you can't assess its needs over the phone. A qualified lawn care service should come out and inspect your lawn before offering a service package.
- Avoid quick fixes: If your lawn is in distress, stay away from self-proclaimed magicians who claim to work miracles. Getting a damaged lawn back into healthy stages usually takes time.
- Chemical check: If you're considering a chemical treatment to be applied to your lawn, make sure the professional you hire is certified to apply such chemicals. Many states require certification to apply lawn chemicals.
- Check licensing: Make sure the company is insured, and look for someone with good recommendations from past customers. Also, be sure to check the Angie's List Licensing Tool to see if your state requires licenses for landscaping professionals.
- Potential scams: Be wary of people who knock on your door soliciting business. If they ask for all the money before work is completed, consider another option. Once they have the money, they might not return to do the work.