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Pasadena, CA area, is my gardener too expensive? $200/mo
January 28, 2013 3:53 PM   Subscribe

We pay $200 a month for weekly service that includes all trimming, upkeep, lawn service for 3 lawns, significant pruning and leaf cleanup from 12 trees (citrus, pine, chinese elms, japanese maple, coastal oak, liquid ambars). Is this too much? What do you pay and what do you get for it?

When we bought our house a year ago, we kept the gardener that the previous owner used. The house is a corner house, so that means lawn on front, side and back. In addition there are about 20 azaleas, 15 camelias, 13 rose bushes and several wall like hedges that are all maintained beautifully. In addition, there are leaves from 12 trees of various sizes. My lot is not that big, it is just all packed in there, including on the front lawn. Also, there is boston ivy covering the exterior of the house.

The previous owner was a master gardener and collected a ton of gorgeous plants and trees that we have no idea how to maintain. The gardener keeps it looking very neat and pretty and worked with the previous owner for many years.

He comes once a week and stays for 30 minutes to an hour and half depending on what is needed. Other than mowing and blowing, he does all the trimming and maintenance. He keeps the sprinkler system happy and blows the leaves off the roof as needed. I don't have to ask him to do much, he does what is needed most of the time without prompting. That said, sometimes when I do ask for something, he can seem overwhelmed and just forgets to do it before he leaves.

This is my first house and I've never had a gardener before.

I live in the Pasadena Area. My gardener charges $200 a month. I can afford this but I have been told by many people that it is much too high. I am happy with my level of service but my husband wants to switch if we can get comparable service for a better price.

Do you live in the LA or Pasadena area? What do you pay and what services do you get for that amount? Just curious, would love to compare with others. Also, please message me if you have a service that you love!
posted by dottiechang to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
 
It sounds like you're getting a sweet deal.

We're paying $70/month for our modest place in La Crescenta - small front and back lawns, some hedgework and three small fruitless trees.

My last house was in Glendale and had a bigger front lawn, huge back yard w/ plants and I was paying $100.
posted by shino-boy at 3:59 PM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


Forgot to add:

At my current place they also sweep/clean my driveway.

At both houses the fee was for once a week.
posted by shino-boy at 4:01 PM on January 28, 2013


My parents live in your area. $50 a week for that much upkeep is a very reasonable price.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 4:04 PM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


I pay $300/month in San Marino (not in a huge library estate, mind you-- I'm a block south of Huntington). We are "master gardeners" ourselves and our gardener does not touch our plants: just lawn, leaves, and occasional other labor. He also works at three other homes on our street and brings us their unwanted grass clippings.
posted by acidic at 4:06 PM on January 28, 2013


I live in OC, but I doubt the rates vary that much from LA. That sounds like it's in the ballpark, maybe a bit on the high side. We pay quite a bit less than that, but our yard also is somewhat smaller and simpler than yours sounds. When they come (once a week), we usually have two or three guys, but they are only there for maybe 15-30 minutes. I don't think they've ever been there for anywhere near an hour and a half, but since it's multiple people, things go faster...
posted by primethyme at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2013


If the previous owner was a master gardener and this gardener was their choice for taking care of their beloved garden, I'd stick with it. You could end up with an outfit that charges less, but that damages some of your plants due to lack of expertise with your garden's particulars. $50 a week doesn't seem excessive for someone who keeps the plants so happy and healthy and also maintains the sprinkler system and does roof blowing when needed.

If you find that the gardener forgets verbal instructions, maybe put a note in with your payment so that he has a physical reminder and can plan it in (unless it's an urgent request).
posted by quince at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


The next time someone tells you you're paying too much, ask THEM to do it for you for that price. This is more than reasonable. I'm not griping at YOU, but Jesus Christ that is a lot of specialized work. The guy comes to you, he probably brings his own equipment, you aren't paying his insurance or or or.
posted by cyndigo at 4:07 PM on January 28, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ya I am in Colorado so all may not be the same but Mr bebrave! runs a small landscaping business and says he'd charge you at leasst $135.00 for just the lawns.
Someone who knows what and when all these specialty plants need their trims/feedings is a gold-mine, IMO.
Keep him!
posted by bebrave! at 4:11 PM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


You're getting a good deal. Make sure the comparisons other people have told you about are for a comparative amount of work and garden size. I live in the SFV and pay $85 a month for a mow and blow crew. I have a very small front lawn, a medium sized back lawn. All they do is mow and blow. No trimming or maintenance of the plants unless I specifically schedule them to come back and do that (hedge or tree trimming for example). They are here for probably 15 minutes a week.
posted by Joh at 4:11 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I live in Altadena and pay $50 for twice a month. We don't have a particularly large lot, it's not on a corner, and part of it is taken up by a swimming pool. We don't have a lot of trees, but the ones we do have are really big and drop a lot. We also don't have a lot of flowers or plantings, yet.
posted by pizzazz at 4:52 PM on January 28, 2013


You will likely never find someone less expensive who actually knows their way around a garden like yours.

A great gardener at a great price (which you have) is almost harder to find in LA than a decent and affordable handyman. They're both so rare, they're almost like unicorns!

You have a great deal with someone trustworthy. Count your blessings.
posted by jbenben at 4:56 PM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seems like a good deal to me. I pay $30 every 10 days for lawn and edging and autumn leaf cleanup. I think its a pretty decent rate for my area (just outside Manhattan). Also a corner house, so we're responsible for the bits of lawn along the sidewalks too. I'd gladly pay more for the extras you're getting but my service doesn't offer any of that.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2013


Thanks everyone! I am happy to keep the same gardener and it sounds like I'm getting a very fair price.

A few of my husband's friends told him he was getting majorly ripped off and that we should be paying less than half as much and so on. He suddenly wanted to find a bargain elsewhere. I'm so glad to be able to show him that what we pay is fair.

Unicorn! Lol, I'll make sure to tell him that too.

Still looking for a good handyman, we have had some bad experiences with very simple tasks. Angie's list seems to be zero help--the companies that focus on slick marketing all have great reviews on there but not so great service.
posted by dottiechang at 6:19 PM on January 28, 2013


It would be really sad to see you lose your plants. Already knowing how things work is a definite added value. Even if you could find someone who would do the work for less, it wouldn't be worth it.

I live close by, and when I was looking for gardeners that was about the price range for anyone who didn't just come in and do straight yard clearance.

Also, Hire My Handyman does really amazing work. (Full disclosure: he's my handyman)
posted by Vaike at 6:43 PM on January 28, 2013


We live in Texas, and have a postage-stamp-sized yard and pay a service $20/week for mowing and blowing only, and consider that well worth it--we'd pay a neighborhood kid that, if there were any in the area willing to mow! I'd consider $200/month a bargain for how large your property seems and for all the work that's done.
posted by telophase at 10:53 AM on January 29, 2013


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