Author Topic: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?  (Read 1271 times)

Sparks11

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Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« on: April 17, 2018, 06:51:13 PM »
I realize the general advice here is to always DIY when you can. But I still just had to ask: In my situation, should it be an obvious choice to do my own landscaping?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

- The only experience I have in landscaping is rototilling (once), laying sod (twice), and making adjustments to existing irrigation systems.

- I have about $6,000 of realtor rebates (we used a discount realtor) and builder credits to go toward landscaping. We could put this toward raw materials and do the front and backyard ourselves, or we could use it as the down payment on outsourcing.

- I have three daughters: 7, 9, and 10. So a nice yard is very important to us.

- Our HOA requires a landscaping plan to be submitted, which I've never done before but I'm sure I can figure it out.

Here are the approximate requirements I need to meet the HOA standards. I've simply copied and pasted a landscaper's estimate. My first two quotes come in at $15,000 and $16,500.

Total landscaping of about 2,500 sq. ft.

-Prep for sod
-Install 2 of Grade B top soil
-Install 1,100 sq. ft. of Kentucky Blue grass sod (350 sq. ft. in front and 750 sq. ft. in
back)
-Prep for path, rock and mulch
-Install meriscape weed fabric under all new rock
-Install 4 rolled top edging with 12 pins around all new rock
-Install 30 wide breeze pathway from driveway to back patio
-Install 200 sq. ft. of playground mulch for Trampoline
-Install 1 Decorative rock in 60% of remaining yard and install mulch in
remaining 40% of yard
-Install one 2 ' Decorative tree in parkway
-Install one 1 ' Decorative tree in backyard
-Install two 6 Evergreen trees in yard
-Install 24 various #5 gallon shrubs
-Install 14 various #1 gallon perennials
-Install fully automatic Rainbird irrigation system with back flow preventer, valves,
ESP timer, sprinkler heads, lines, etc. and drip

Thanks!!

Daniel

dhc

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 08:40:52 PM »
What is with all these posts lately from people who think MMM is about things like building a fancy-pants house in a stupid HOA "community" where they're stuck paying extra fees FOREVER just to be told by the neighbors what they can or can't put in their yards, and then asking questions about whether it's "worth it" to put on some gloves and actually, you know, WORK a little bit instead of paying a landscaper thousands of dollars just to make the neighbors happy?

Yes, of course doing the work yourself should be an obvious choice.

Welcome to MMM. Consider yourself facepunched for even asking.

Sparks11

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 09:02:07 PM »
What is with all these posts lately from people who think MMM is about things like building a fancy-pants house in a stupid HOA "community" where they're stuck paying extra fees FOREVER just to be told by the neighbors what they can or can't put in their yards, and then asking questions about whether it's "worth it" to put on some gloves and actually, you know, WORK a little bit instead of paying a landscaper thousands of dollars just to make the neighbors happy?

Yes, of course doing the work yourself should be an obvious choice.

Welcome to MMM. Consider yourself facepunched for even asking.

It's good to hear blunt advice directly, even though it's already discussed indirectly within the blog. So, thanks for the facepunch.

As a business owner, I think I sometimes feel an uneasiness about big projects outside of work since there's some tradeoff with my business income. Of course, I can just work on these projects in my spare time. But some tradeoff is inevitable. Still, given that it's by far the most significant landscaping project I've ever taken on, it just feels like a big mental obstacle to a recent Musctachian convert.

Anyway, the fact is I would probably enjoy the work anyway. Also, I realize my puny frugality muscles are still in their infancy. And this is a great opportunity to give them a good workout.

Thanks for being straight.

PoutineLover

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 09:04:31 PM »
First of all, that's a ridiculous amount of money to spend on grass. And not even the fun kind!
Second of all, last time you posted you had a debt emergency. Did you make it all go away? Are you saving now?
There's no possible way that this is a mustachian decision unless you are FIRE already and have way more money than you know what to do with, and even then there are much better things you could spend it on.
Find out the minimum you need to meet the HOA requirements, and do it yourself. Make it as low maintenance as possible so you never have to waste more time than necessary on something as useless as a lawn. Or put in a garden so it actually becomes useful. Get your kids to help with the easy stuff, and pay them with a trampoline.

Sparks11

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 09:14:19 PM »
First of all, that's a ridiculous amount of money to spend on grass. And not even the fun kind!
Second of all, last time you posted you had a debt emergency. Did you make it all go away? Are you saving now?
There's no possible way that this is a mustachian decision unless you are FIRE already and have way more money than you know what to do with, and even then there are much better things you could spend it on.
Find out the minimum you need to meet the HOA requirements, and do it yourself. Make it as low maintenance as possible so you never have to waste more time than necessary on something as useless as a lawn. Or put in a garden so it actually becomes useful. Get your kids to help with the easy stuff, and pay them with a trampoline.


Our debt is gone! So that is very exciting for us. It's been quite a journey with tons of life changes, including becoming a one car family, cooking all our meals, slashing groceries nearly in half. But we're not even close to FIRE.

Thanks for your input! I just needed a nudge, even though I know what you all would say. Obviously, I have some deeply rooted habits that still need uprooting..

PoutineLover

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 09:17:47 PM »
First of all, that's a ridiculous amount of money to spend on grass. And not even the fun kind!
Second of all, last time you posted you had a debt emergency. Did you make it all go away? Are you saving now?
There's no possible way that this is a mustachian decision unless you are FIRE already and have way more money than you know what to do with, and even then there are much better things you could spend it on.
Find out the minimum you need to meet the HOA requirements, and do it yourself. Make it as low maintenance as possible so you never have to waste more time than necessary on something as useless as a lawn. Or put in a garden so it actually becomes useful. Get your kids to help with the easy stuff, and pay them with a trampoline.


Our debt is gone! So that is very exciting for us. It's been quite a journey with tons of life changes, including becoming a one car family, cooking all our meals, slashing groceries nearly in half. But we're not even close to FIRE.

Thanks for your input! I just needed a nudge, even though I know what you all would say. Obviously, I have some deeply rooted habits that still need uprooting..
Congrats on killing the debt and all the lifestyle changes. You're making good progress, just don't blow it all on a lawn ;)

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 09:22:30 PM »
Congrats on killing the debt and all the lifestyle changes. You're making good progress, just don't blow it all on a lawn ;)

What they said.

I can live for an entire year on $15,000. Keep that money!

lhamo

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 09:25:45 PM »
Does it have to be sod for the lawn? Because I dug out  my entire lawn patch (about 600 sq ft) to a depth of 8-12" (it was riddled with blackberry, salal and bindweed roots), amended the soil with about 4 cu yds of compost (hauled up a steep hillside with buckets), and planted new grass.  It isn't perfect, but the grass seed only cost about $50.  I'll manually de-weed and then top with more seed when it gets a little warmer.  I got a huge crop of morels that I'm gradually harvesting (spores must have been in the compost).

Sparks11

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2018, 09:29:04 PM »
Does it have to be sod for the lawn? Because I dug out  my entire lawn patch (about 600 sq ft) to a depth of 8-12" (it was riddled with blackberry, salal and bindweed roots), amended the soil with about 4 cu yds of compost (hauled up a steep hillside with buckets), and planted new grass.  It isn't perfect, but the grass seed only cost about $50.  I'll manually de-weed and then top with more seed when it gets a little warmer.  I got a huge crop of morels that I'm gradually harvesting (spores must have been in the compost).

I don't think it has to be sod. I've done seed before with a lot of success. I'll look into it.

Thanks for the details on what you did. Sounds like a smart plan.

SunnyDays

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2018, 10:22:08 PM »
As someone with a bunch of evergreens planted by the previous owner, I would suggest you think twice about them.  (Unless you live in a cold climate and want a wind buffer on the north side of the house - the only reason I would even consider planting them.)  Mine have grown huge, shed sharp needles all over the lawn, which are hard to rake and kill the grass and HURT, dang it, plus the interior of the branches eventually die and look awful.  Give me deciduous trees any day!

redbird

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Re: Outsource or insource landscaping on new house?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 10:30:46 PM »
I don't know how hard it is to do irrigation, because I've never done that before. But everything else you listed is super easy to do. Sure, you'll get dirty. Sure, it's a lot of work and not something you can get done in one day.

I bought a 1 acre (non-HOA!) lot last year that I'm going to build a house on. I am having a wood chipper guy come in to mulch everything up tomorrow actually. I am NOT doing this by hand because it would take forever and would require buying a bunch of things I don't own like chainsaws to cut up dead trees. He's a super good price and the price vs time difference means it's best to pay for it. But once all of that old crap is out of the way? I will be starting some basic landscaping so the trees far away from the house get a couple of years to grow up. When the house is built the remainder of the land will be landscaped myself. Honestly, I'm looking forward to it. Should feel pretty rewarding!

I've done sod before on a previous house and it was super easy. The most complicated part was remembering to water it every day for a while to make sure the roots could get themselves established into the ground. After that it was just like the rest of the grass in my yard. Actually, I take that back. It was healthier - thicker and grew faster - than the grass that was growing naturally in the rest of the yard. It'll be good that you have to sod the whole thing for your house - it'll be more consistent.

Edging/weed fabric/rocks/trees/shrubs/mulch... that's all pretty easy too. The hardest part is figuring out exactly what you want. Of course, you have to make sure it's something the HOA would approve of too. If it were up to me, I'd dig up all of the terrible builder-installed grass in my front yard and plant a whole bunch of trees and shrubs, put pinestraw all around and make it look super woodsy - but the HOA would never go for that. That would make my yard look different, and everyone's gotta look the same in their eyes.

As someone with a bunch of evergreens planted by the previous owner, I would suggest you think twice about them.  (Unless you live in a cold climate and want a wind buffer on the north side of the house - the only reason I would even consider planting them.)  Mine have grown huge, shed sharp needles all over the lawn, which are hard to rake and kill the grass and HURT, dang it, plus the interior of the branches eventually die and look awful.  Give me deciduous trees any day!

If you cut off the branches that start to turn brown right when you notice it, it helps the tree. That is generally a sign the tree has some sickness there. If you cut it off, the tree will be healthier in the long term. You can also get evergreens that don't have needles. I've got Leyland Cypress planted right behind my back fence (HOA doesn't care if it's not in the front yard) and those don't drop anything. The green parts are kinda soft to the touch, not pokey. The only downside of Leylands is that they can get pretty massive - both in height and girth - so you can't just put them anywhere, and you have to give them enough space inbetween each other if you're planting multiples.