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3 ways to mow your lawn

By Charlie Triemert
Published On: May 16 2011 04:17:29 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 01 2012 11:54:12 AM CDT
grass

Since last fall, a lot of people have started to rethink their costs. As the lawn-mowing season gets into full swing, you might be wondering if the lawn service you paid for last year is worth the investment now.

But the considerations on how to get the grass cut goes beyond cost. What about convenience? What about the quality? We'll examine three ways to mow your lawn so you can decide which option is best suited for you -- and your lawn.

Cut It Yourself

This option will save you money over the long run, but it can also eat up part of your week in the process. And depending on your experience level and the equipment you're using, the quality of the cut could be great -- or not so great.

If you plan on taking the do-it-yourself route and you're starting from scratch, the first thing you'll need is a lawnmower.

Reel-type lawnmowers are the cheapest with models beginning around $100. Reel mowers are popular because they are light, quiet and gas-free. They do a great job of cutting if you sharpen the blades yearly.

If you're not religious about cutting your grass every week, then a rotary lawnmower may be a better option. Rotary lawnmowers work better on longer grass and can cut corners more effectively than reel mowers. To run your rotary mower, you'll have to purchase gas, oil and spark plugs. There is a wide range of models with prices ranging from $100 to $700.

Electric mowers are available in both reel and rotary models. They work well on lawns up to 3,000 square feet. Electric rotary mowers are quieter and more environmentally friendly than gas-powered models. Prices range from $125 to $600.

Overall: Mowing your lawn can save you money and be a good source of exercise. But it can be inconvenient -- especially if it's a job you don't enjoy -- and you'll have to accept the fact your lawn won't look like the outfield of Wrigley Field.

Hire A Neighborhood Kid

You shouldn't have to search far and wide to find someone willing to take over your lawn-mowing duties. The best way to find a trustworthy lawn-cutter is to get a recommendation through a neighbor or friend. If networking fails to lead to a good candidate, check Craigslist.com or your local newspaper.

It's not always the case, but most lawn-cutters will provide their own mower, so you'll save yourself money on the ownership and upkeep of a lawnmower.

While this is a convenient option, reliability could be an issue. Even if your lawn-cutter shows up every week, there is no guarantee on results. The best thing do is to communicate your needs and expectations early on in the lawn-mowing relationship.

Overall: Convenience is high and prices are likely reasonable. But quality and reliability could be questionable.

Hire A Professional

If you're tired of cutting your lawn, apparently you are not alone. According to Consumer Reports, Americans spent more than $44 billion in 2006 on professional lawn and landscape services.

Most professional services have minimum fee for residential lawns at an average of $35. Estate-size lawns can typically run anywhere from $50 to $75.

A professional service will almost always be more reliable and do a better level work than a lawn-mowing novice.

The good news for consumers is that there are plenty of professional lawn care providers out there. So you can price hunt and find the best deal for your lawn.

Overall: If you have the money to spend, this is the best option for quality and convenience.

So, which option is best for you? Here's the roundup to help you decide, based on cutting your lawn once a week for 20 weeks:

1. Cut it yourself:
Cost: About $320 for the summer (including the purchase of a $300 mower and $1 a week for gasoline)
Convenience: Low
Quality: Questionable
Reliability: Questionable

2. Paying neighborhood kid:
Cost: About $600 for the summer (estimating a weekly cost of $30)
Convenience: High
Quality: Questionable
Reliability: Questionable

3. Hire a professional:
Cost: About $1,000 for the summer (estimating a weekly cost of $50)
Convenience: High
Quality: High
Reliability: High

Regardless of which factors are most important to you, this isn't a decision you can ignore. Because after all -- your lawn isn't going to cut itself.