Do it Yourself, or Hire it Out?

Your landscape needs help. You want to make improvements and you know what needs to be done, but you can’t decide if you want to take it on yourself, or if you should hire a professional. If this scenario is familiar to you, here are a few things to consider:

Equipment and Materials

Landscaping is hard work! Contractors are likely to have tools and heavy equipment that will help accomplish the job quicker and easier. They are also likely to have accounts at various sprinkler supply stores and nurseries where they can get good prices on landscape materials. As a homeowner, you can rent the same kinds of equipment and purchase materials from the same supply stores, but you will likely pay more than the contractor pays. Plus, there’s the issue of delivery. Some vendors deliver for free, but more often than not, there’s a cost to have equipment and materials delivered to your home. If you want to avoid those costs, you will need access to a vehicle capable of pulling a loader or a trencher, carrying a ton of sand or rock, a load of plants, or a bundle of twenty-foot long PVC pipe.


Landscaping work can be downright dangerous. Pruning or removal of large trees is extremely risky and should only be done by professionals. Grading or trenching on a steep slope is another job that might be better for someone else to tackle. Even just working outside in extreme temperatures can be a concern for people not accustomed to it.

Building Codes

Along with safety, you don’t want to compromise when it comes to meeting local building codes and inspection requirements. Generally, a permit is only required for structures larger than a certain square footage, so if your project includes a large shed or other structure, it’s always best to check with your city prior to construction. If you hire a contractor for a building project, make sure they understand building codes and have included necessary permits and inspections in their scope of work.

Type of Project

What type of landscaping work are you best suited for? If you’re OK getting dirty, maybe you can tackle some of the more labor-intensive landscape jobs yourself. Here are some common tasks for a do-it-yourselfer: Raking, laying sod, trenching, minor sprinkler repairs, small concrete jobs, general pruning, spreading wood mulch or gravel, planting, and installing stone or pavers.

Size of Project

In addition to labor-intensive tasks, small projects also fall into the do-it-yourself category. You may have no choice but to do small jobs like yard clean-up or minor sprinkler repairs because a contractor might spend more time traveling to your home than actually doing the job.

Time vs. Money

After considering which landscaping tasks you are capable of doing on your own, and which tasks definitely would require a contractor, it really comes down to asking yourself this question, “Do I have more time than money, or do I have more money than time?”