So you want to order lawn care service. Maybe you just bought your first home, or maybe you simply decided that mowing your lawn with this Fairfax humidity isn’t for you. If it’s your first time ordering lawn care service, you’re probably wondering what lawn care service prices should be.
Before you start lawn care companies, it’s good to know exactly which services you’ll need, what goes into the pricing, and ultimately how much each service should cost. This guide will walk you through some of the standard lawn care services and their market rate prices in Fairfax County, VA, as well as other Northern Virginia towns like Herndon, Burke, and Springfield. Additionally, this guide details the factors that affect the price of each service, and some questions you should ask before hiring deciding on a lawn care provider.
First, a note on hiring a quality lawn care service
Let’s address one big, important question. Is the lawn care provider licensed and insured? Please take my advice and make sure that the company is incorporated as a legitimate business and carries liability insurance. Sure, you can save a bit of money by paying some guy cash under the table, but it comes with huge risks. Not only are you helping someone evade taxes, but if the lawn care provider damages your lawn or worse hurts somebody, he most likely will not be able to pay for the damages. Additionally, there are many cases where you might be liable for any injuries which occur on your property. Bottom line, do yourself a favor and make sure that the contractor is legit. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume you’re talking to a legitimate licensed and insured lawn care provider.
Don’t know which lawn care services are good? Book a vetted, high-quality lawn care professional through LawnStarter.
So you’re tired of mowing your lawn, and it’s time to hire a lawn care service. Well, not all lawn mowing services were created equally.
What goes into the price? First, there are the actual services performed. Is the company bagging or mulching clippings? How much attention do they pay to the edging job? Do they weedwhacker? Do they mow extra when the grass grows after rain? Keep all these things in mind before you jump to the company with the lowest price.
A big factor in the price is whether you want weekly or biweekly service. Biweekly generally costs 20% more, as the grass grows longer and it takes longer to mow.
Pro tip: Get weekly service in the Spring and Fall when the grass grows quickly, and biweekly during summer when growth slows.
Also, keep in mind that lawn mowing service prices often depend on the contractor’s own costs. One of these is drive-time. Since lawn care companies have to pay to burn gas and pay employees during the drive to your property, they may charge more for the sole fact that you live far away. It may seem unfair, but it makes sense from a business perspective. LawnStarter has solved this issue by finding the best local contractors in each zip code and providing fair, flat rate pricing.
Market Prices for Lawn Mowing:
- Townhouse: $25-35
- ¼ Acre Lot: $35-50
- 1/3 Acre Lot: $45-60
- ½ Acre Lot+: $55+
Seeding is a generic term which varies dramatically based on the area that needs seeding. Lawn care service prices for specialty jobs vary dramatically based on the area that needs seeding. Rather than attempt to cover every different scenario, let’s focus on pricing a service known as overseeding. Overseeding refers to spreading a thin layer of seed over an already-established lawn. This process, best performed in the fall, replaces grass that dies over time. If you want a full, lush lawn, overseeding is a necessity.
So what goes into the pricing? First, there’s the seed. Make sure you’re getting the right type of grass seed. Additionally, be sure to ask your lawn care provider what grade of seed he or she uses. If it’s not top-grade, you should probably request that he or she use top-grade. It will only cost a few extra bucks, and can make a huge difference. Your lawn is an integral part of your home, and can even raise it’s value. Don’t risk planting seeds with weeds in it just to save a couple bucks. Additionally, make sure your lawn care provider spreads the seed evenly throughout your lawn.
Pro tip: Overseeding is best done in combination with core aeration. Ask your lawn care provider if you can get a package deal on both if done at the same time.
Market Prices for Overseeding:
- Townhouse: $30-75
- ¼ Acre Lot: $75-120
- 1/3 Acre Lot: $110-160
- ½ Acre lot +: $150
Core aeration is a process which relieves compaction in your lawn’s soil by pulling little plugs of dirt out of the ground. This in turn allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate your soil. When getting prices for aeration this Fall (that’s when you should be doing it!), there are a couple things to keep in mind.
What goes into the price? First and foremost, a big price driver is whether your lawn care company owns its own aerator or has to rent one. If they have to rent an aerator, the price will undoubtedly be higher. Another big factor is the number of passes that they take over the yard. A good landscaper will make multiple passes over the yard with the aerator. This ensures that the lawn is less compacted and that the roots of the grass can breathe.
Market Prices for Core Aeration
- Townhouse: $40-80
- ¼ Acre Lot: $75-130
- 1/3 Acre Lot: $125-180
- ½ Acre lot +: $175+
Mulching is a service that has a whole lot of factors that come into play. The main factor to consider is the quality of mulch. Under no circumstances should you use low grade mulch; it comes from the dump, FYI. Using low quality mulch introduces all sorts of unwanted diseases and bugs to your flowerbeds. Instead, make sure that you’re getting double-shredded, hardwood mulch. Quality mulch will provide nutrients to your plants while preventing new weeds from popping up.
Additionally, there are several different types of colored mulches, ranching from black to red. These types of mulch usually good, but they’re almost always going to cost you more. There usually aren’t any advantages other than pure aesthetics, so if you’re willing to pay a tad more for colored mulch, go for it!
Once you know that you’re ordering quality mulch, make sure to inquire whether the company puts a bed edge on your mulch bed. This is the nice, 30 degree angle cut into the sod around your flowerbed that gives your flowerbeds that beautiful, framed look. Many companies will use an edger while some will use a shovel. An edger looks the best, but a skilled landscaper can still do a great job with a shovel.
The final factor that affects mulching prices is whether a cleanup is performed before. Your lawn care provider should clean up any leaves, sticks and debris left in the mulching bed. The more debris in your mulch bed, the more that has to be cleaned out and the higher the price. Don’t sweat it if a couple leaves are left over after the bed is all cleaned out, but pre-mulching, flower bed cleanup is good practice that most quality lawn care companies adhere to. Attention to small details like this are usually indicative of a great contractor!
Now that we’ve discussed quality issues that affect pricing, let’s discuss other factors which affect how much you’ll pay for that beautifully framed flowerbed. The cost of the mulch is big, as some companies may have access to wholesale pricing while others may not. Generally medium-sized companies will have a wholesaler, and if they do a lot of business, they may even get free delivery for over a certain amount.
Putting mulch down requires a great deal of physical labor. Typically two or more crew members will work on a mulch job. Companies whose labor is in higher demand will generally charge more for the labor. Why? They need to in order to meet their Return on Investment goals. Are companies that are in higher demand always better? Many times yes, but some are just good at mass-marketing and skimp on quality.
So now to the punchline. How much does mulching cost? Well, I can’t possibly tell you the size of your own flowerbed, but generally the price will range from $75-$130 per cubic yard of mulch laid down. This price will include labor and debris removal. If you’re wondering what is included in the mulching job, ask your lawn care provider for a proposal indicating where the money is being spent. This will help you compare one price to another.
Fertilizer is food for your lawn. It’s pretty straightforward; you higher your lawn care provider to spread the proper amounts around your yard. Make sure they’re using quality fertilizer. Additionally, if you would like organic fertilizer, it will cost a bit more. Will organic fertilizer work better? Usually you won’t be able to tell the difference to be honest. But, organic fertilizer is a good option if you want to be green and ensure that your pets don’t get sick. When paying for someone to lay down fertilizer, make sure that they have a few years of experience and are certified applicators. Otherwise you risk burning your grass, and that’s not a pretty look for your yard. Generally you want 5-7 applications of fertilizer per year, applied mostly in Spring and Fall.
Pro tip: Ask your lawn care company for a discount if you agree to a year-long fertilization package.
Market Prices for Fertilization (per application)
- Townhouse: $25-40
- ¼ Acre Lot: $35-95
- 1/3 Acre Lot: $90-105
- ½ Acre lot +: $100+
Bush trimming is another that varies so wildly that it’s hard to give a price. The price will depend on the frequency of how often the bushes need trimming and the labor rate your lawn care provider charges. Sometimes a company may charge a disposal fee to haul away the debris, other times the company may include this in the price. Generally labor rates fall between $40-65 per hour, and you’ll have to ask how much time it will take your contractor to complete the job.
Should you always go with the lowest bidder?
We’ve already established that hiring a non-licensed or non-insured lawn care service is a bad idea. But assuming you’re comparing legit companies, should you go with the lowest price? Sometimes the answer depends on the quality of work you desire.
Many times, it’s worth paying the extra dollars if you have a contractor that comes highly recommended and does perfect work. Especially if the alternative is a contractor that is not a known quantity.
On the other hand, sometimes one contractor may have greater expenses, or simply may try to charge more because he or she thinks that you’ll pay more. This is when comparing proposals and asking for references helps.
What if the price is too good to be true?
I will urge you to be careful when you find a contractor whose price is significantly lower than expected. Unless you’ve worked with this company before and trust them, you should see extremely low prices as a red flag. Here’s what happens when a company offers very low prices:
- They’re cutting corners.
- They’re avoiding taxes, or doing something sketchy.
- They’re losing money, in which case they’ll eventually skimp on the work when they realize this.
Bottom line, don’t just look for the lowest price. Find a trusted contractor who will do quality work for fair prices.
Pro tip: Ask for all lawn care service prices before you choose a provider, even if you don’t plan on ordering said services for several months.
Hopefully this guide was helpful for any Fairfax County residents seeking advice on hiring a lawn care professional. Ready to take the plunge and order lawn care service? Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you and found the best lawn care providers in each part of Fairfax County. We always ensure quality work at fair, market prices. Click here to get an instant lawn mowing quote, or contact us if you’d like to meet with a professional regarding a specialty job.