I was wondering how everyone handles the mowing and gardening of single family homes and duplexes.  I have one gardener who is pretty good, but he charges what seems like a lot of money.  Do you use different gardeners for different neighborhoods?  Do you do the landscaping yourself?

Gardener? Are you kidding? Are your rentals in the Hamptons?

My lease says the tenant must mow the grass. If they want to have a garden, they can. However, I certainly don’t pay a gardener. I also don’t plant gardens. Maybe a cheap bush or two if it’s really needed for curb appeal, but usually nothing. It’s all about the money!

Tenants are very hard on everything: houses, plants, - everything!

Gardens are kind of a joke between landlords and tenants. If I had a dollar for every applicant that asked “Can I plant some flowers?”. Of all the dozens that asked, only a couple ever did. In fact, in my experience, someone that asks about planting flowers is usually a PIG that will not only not plant flowers, they will trash your house. They ask to try to convince you that they will be good tenants, when in fact they are PIGS.



I tried doing it myself, had landscapers do it, and tenants. Here’s what I found:

  • Doing it myself, living in the city, owning properites outside, I would need a van to haul the mower around, plus it’ll have to be done on schedule, since it’s not something that can be put off a few weeks. It’s OK if you have 2 or 3 places to do, but over 6 or 7, and you work with only weekends to do it, you can set up your own landsaping company already, and put someone on the payroll.

  • In view of the above, generally, I got landscapers, to tenants doing it. I don’t want a payroll, and yes, I didn’t get into RE to be a landsaper mowing all weekend, hauling the mower house to house.

  • I had tenants do it, but when they fall down on the job, as it will invaribaly happen, grass grows to 1-1/2 foot high, you’ll have neighbors calling me or the town. Excuses ranged from “I don’t have money to fix the mower, to the the kid I used is away for a few weeks”. The best one was “the kid’s dad said my lawn ruined their mower, repair costs too much, and he’s not allowed to mow it anymore, and I haven’t found another kid yet.” Good way to meet your neighbors, by the way, and give them my excuses. Do I need all of this?? That has happened on a a number of occasions. Plus the job quality can range from impeccable to terrible. One tenant begged to have his kids do it, I said no for a few seasons, finally relented, but specified, it’ll have to be edged right, weed controlled, in other words, not BS tenant quality lawn care.

  • In the city, where there are small patches of grass, I either cement it over, or, did it in a way to minimize any landscaping.

  • Landscapers rates tend to creep up over time, and when it gets over a certain amount, I go get myself another one.

  • As to planting flowers, I could have one tenant planting a beautiful garden one season, could be a weed garden by the next, or certainly by the next tenant who may have no intererest in gardening , and by then neighbors be yelling what’s going on. I got one place where I “landscape proof” it, putting a weedproof sheet over the area, and a few barrels of small white pebbles, only to have tenants remove it, do a garden for a year, and afterwards, got tired oif it. was full of weeds over two feet high, aftwerwards, I had to hire people once a year to remove the weeds, and packed it in over 50 garbage bags each time.

  • If the SFH is located in a neighborhood where everyone kept their lawns in impeccable condition, and values high, especially if a home down the street is up for sale, having an unkempt lawn would virtually guarantee calls to the town, code inspectors calling, and calls from neighbors that “absentee landlords are ruining the neighborhood”, and “when do you plan to sell the place”?? Keep the lawn in “tip top shape”, no one cares if I rented the place to Osama’s brother, unless he committed the other big “fax paus” in the suburbs, i.e. park your car in front of your neighbor’s beautiful 400K home, especially an ugly one.

BTW, this IS the big complaint I have to smooth over this month.

  • Once I was sick, couldn’t get to trim the bushes in front of my house, and no one complained, as it’s in the city. Yet, get complaints from the suburban town to get the lawn there starightened out. Bottomline, I’m running myself ragged to keep up a neighborhood I don’t even live in. But thinking logically, that’s how neighborhoods keep it’s value, and everyone does it’s share.

  • With a landscaper, I can count on neighbor’s complaining to the landscpaer himself, if the job is not up to par, and he would even want to do a good job just to get recommendations.

Frank Chin

work out a deal with some day laborer companies or go to the lot with all those day laborers hang out from another country begging for jobs…work out a deal,

My 2 cents

robert A. Doncaster, Jr. - “RAD”