The Expense of Yard Maintenance

Steve Hughes, Chief of Operations

July 21, 2016

Growing up, working in the yard was always a chore with satisfying results. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and I loved making everything look tidy and well manicured. Many years later, I found myself growing grass for a living; first as a golf course superintendent and then as a property manager maintaining not only grass and plants but multi-million dollar infrastructures.

This job carries huge responsibilities. Being responsible for maintaining anything that belongs to someone else is a major challenge on its own, but add in other factors such as weather, fertilizers, chemicals, fuel, equipment, employee health care, benefits and taxes on top of it and it becomes something else entirely. These are just a handful of factors that influence my work and they all have one thing in common: I have little to no control over their costs. These days, thanks in part to HDTV and DIY channels on TV, most everyone thinks of themselves as a landscape expert. And who could blame them? These shows are also flush with disposable cash and they make it look so easy! The reality of this type of work is not really what viewers find entertaining and therefore plays no part in the show.

Here is something to think about, especially if you love (or don’t mind) yard work: your time is very valuable and so is your property. So let’s say you decide to do it all yourself. You estimate that you can maintain your entire yard by working in it for an average of two hours per week, and you paid yourself $10 per hour, $13 if you want to include the cost of taxes and benefits. This includes the mowing, edging, weeding, pruning and fertilizing. This works out to $1,350 per year for your labor alone. Now add the cost of fertilizers, chemicals, mulch, testing your irrigation, debris removal, gas, oil and wear and tear on your equipment… Now the cost is over $2000 per year.

My point is if you are not spending at least $2,500 or the equivalent per year on your yards (we’re talking small yards) then you are either getting the deal of a lifetime or chances are that you aren’t thrilled with the results. Many Landfall residents spend over $1,000 per month in landscape maintenance expenses (yes I said a month!). Your landscape adds value to your home, a great deal of value. It’s also the first and last impression on anyone arriving, leaving or driving by your home. There’s a reason we call it curb appeal.

Growing grass and maintaining your landscape in this area is becoming more and more of a challenge. Growing grass in the Southeast is tough, for many reasons: ground pearl, nematodes and short growing seasons to name a few. The first two are grass killers for which there are little to no products available to get rid of them. We can do our best to change the conditions of the soil in hopes of making life more difficult for them, but often they still prevail. As far as our growing season, today is June 3, and we are just now starting to get some good weather conditions for our warm season grasses. This means we now have 12 to 14 weeks of ideal growing conditions. This is not long at all when you consider that there are 52 weeks in a year. Not to mention this is the time of year when millions of new ground pearls are getting ready to hatch, ugh!

So why do this for a living? Because every day is different and a whole new challenge; what could be more fun? Around here, we may lose some battles but we will win the war. As a Great Prime Minister once said, “we will never surrender.” We continue to work with NC State staff and professors in this ongoing battle to grow the perfect turf grass.  It has many frustrations, but the positives far out weigh the negatives.

Remember, yard maintenance is not as easy as it looks on TV, and there are many day to day events that can make it even more difficult, but we stay positive and keep working hard. Here at Landfall, we have well educated, trained staff members that are eager to help you with these challenges. We are only a phone call away, 910-256-7604.

Thank you for all that you do to keep Landfall looking so beautiful, and we wish you a wonderful and safe summer season!

Author: Admin