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If you’re used to living in a managed property, one of the biggest shocks when you buy a home is how much it costs to maintain the outside of your house. Between lawn care and snow removal equipment, and recurring purchases like flowers, soil, salt and paint, the list goes on.
One thing that a lot of people forget is lawn fertilizer. If you want a healthy, good-looking lawn, it’s not enough to just cut it. You have to feed it, too. It’s a living organism. And all living organisms need nutrients to flourish. Think about how you feel if you haven’t eaten all day. Are you looking and feeling your best? Probably not.
Like just about everything else home maintenance related, when it comes to lawn fertilizer, you have two options: do it yourself, or pay someone else to do it.
Let’s compare the two methods head-to-head on three key criteria:
- DIY: Your typical do-it-yourself lawn fertilization is anywhere from three to five applications at strategic times during the year. It involves scattering store-bought fertilizer granules on your lawn using a spreader. It’s kind of like mowing your lawn, only you’re not mowing your lawn at all. You’re walking behind a less-noisy contraption spreading tiny balls of grass nutrients.
- Fertilizer company: Basically, you do some research, pick a company, schedule an appointment and let them do their thing.
- Winner: Fertilizer company
- DIY: A 14-lb. bag of the leading lawn fertilizer will cost you around $40. That will cover an area of around 5,000 sq. ft. If your lawn is smaller, you’ll have extra and won’t need to buy more next time around. You also need to buy a spreader. Typical home use spreaders will run you another $30–40, depending on which kind you get. Total cost: $200 per year (including $40 for the spreader, which is a one-time cost).
- Fertilizer company: The cost of regular fertilization service will vary depending on a number of factors. This includes the company, the size of your lawn and how many treatments you’re getting. You can expect to pay anywhere from $40–60 per application. This may be lower or higher, depending upon your individual circumstances.
- Winner: DIY (probably)
- DIY: The end result will vary depending upon how important the task is to you. Like they say, “you get out of it what you put into it.” If it’s a chore you’re just forcing yourself to do, you might not take the time to make sure you’re doing everything correctly, and the end result could suffer. On the other hand, you may put more time and attention into it than you could ever expect someone else to.
- Fertilizer company: You may read reviews of certain unscrupulous vendors claiming they treated your lawn, but not actually doing so. Those are probably the exception. Generally speaking, since you’re paying someone for a service, that service provider wants to make you happy, so they’re probably going to make sure they do a good job.
- Winner: Fertilizer company
For the average homeowner, under normal circumstances, hiring a lawn fertilization company to maintain your lawn’s luster is overall a better option. Less hassle, more expertise and surprisingly comparable prices make this one element of your home maintenance you could feel ok about outsourcing. But if you’re a budget-conscious, meticulous homeowner with a green thumb, you might want to just do it yourself.
Either way, make sure that lawn fertilization is something that you put on your home maintenance to-do list. A poorly-maintained, decrepit-looking yard is like a messy house: It doesn’t reflect well upon its owners.