Backyard Budget: 2024 Yard Cleanup Cost Revealed

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Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here I am, a solo mom with a yard that’s more wilderness than wonderland, seriously considering casting calls for the next dino blockbuster. And yes, that includes potential cameo appearances by my imaginary backyard velociraptor. But let’s focus on what really matters here: yard cleanup costs.

We’re in 2024, and let’s just say the days of bargain-bin prices for pretty much anything, especially yard work, are long gone. Thanks to 2023’s budget-busting trend, waving goodbye to anything less than $500 for a decent cleanup job is our new reality.

But don’t despair just yet. With Mr. Ex’s 25 years as a landscape contractor, I’ve learned a few insider secrets, and I’m not one to keep them under wraps. This article isn’t just a read; it’s a goldmine of savvy negotiating tips. So, stick with me, and let’s uncover how to handle these spring clean-up costs without breaking the bank or losing our cool.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ ) Spring cleanup service

Q. How much does spring clean-up cost?

Well, it’s a bit like asking how much a car costs. In my area, New Jersey, prices can range from $500 to $2,000, with the average homeowner spending around $600.

Q. What services are included in spring cleanup?

Think of it as a spa package for your yard. It can include everything from a basic trim (lawn mowing) to a full makeover (new turf installation).

Full-service Spring clean-up services can include debris removal, leaf cleanup, weeding, lawn mowing, tree trimming, landscaping maintenance, lawn aeration, and new turf installation.

 Q. Can I save money on professional yard work services ?

Yes, you can save money on professional yard cleanup services by: 

    1. Understanding how and when you have the most leverage.
    2. Getting multiple estimates
    3. Hiring during the off-season
    4. Hiring for the next season. If you book it in the off-season to be the first or last customer on the books for the peak season, you can usually score a good deal.
    5. Opting for a regular maintenance contract: It might be cheaper to have regular maintenance rather than a once-a-year overhaul.
    6. Negotiating bundle of services
    7. Looking for “free” junk removal. Look to your town first for bulk pickup. 
    8. Staying diligent and not ignoring plant issues: If you see a problem, deal with it. It’s like ignoring a toothache; it’s only going to get worse (and more expensive).
    9. Composting: Remember that hipster fertilizer? It’s not only good for the environment but also for your wallet.


The Whole Shebang of Yard Cleanup Services: What You Can and Should Expect? 

So, what’s included in backyard cleanup services?

Yard and garden cleanup services typically include (not always): Mulching services

    • Tree trimming
    • Removing debris (small branches, dead shrubs)
    • Weeding: basic removal, usually not through, nor does it include treatments without a maintenance contract or lawn treatment services added on.
    • Leaf cleanup
    • Mow the lawn at time of service

Some landscaping service providers may or may not include:

    • Debris, larger fallen branches, and other debris, both organic and non-organic,. Pricing ranges from $75 to $150 per hour
    • Tree and Shrub Trimming
    • Leaf Cleanup
    • Weeding Control: preventer, treatment, or killer
    • Garden bed edging
    • Fertilizers and/or biostimulant treatmentsGarden bed edging services

Common Bundles:

    • Mowing and/or season mowing contracts: In NJ, maintenance contract pricing ranges from $40–$65 per week with 28–30 mows per season.
      • Bonus Tip: Use this as a negotiating tool. Pay cash for all of it, and if possible, the whole season (28–30 mows per year in New Jersey) to have the best possible negotiation leverage. Many seasonal service providers struggle with operating cash come season opening.  Mr. Ex was one of them, so I do know firsthand how much leverage that could provide. 
    • Mulching: Some higher-end landscape services won’t do yard clean-up unless it’s bundled with mulch, but this is also how to get a good bang for your buck. We spoke to Eric, the owner of Precision Landscape Contractors, in Middletown, NJ, who said they don’t do cleanup but will provide the service free of charge with mulch, which is usually $100-$150 per yard of mulch. I have large garden beds all around my 1/3 acre  corner property and usually get around 6 yards in the spring.  If Eric wants to throw in those limelight hydrangeas I butchered this fall, he may have himself a deal because I am busy writing this damn blog.

I mean, who knew yards were so high-maintenance? I’ve seen less pampering on a Real Housewives episode.

Calculating Spring Clean-Up Cost: The Price of Beauty

Now, onto the nitty-gritty. How much is this going to cost me? Well, that’s like asking how long a piece of string is. It depends on a few things:

  Yard Size

  • Overgrown backyard with abandoned house turn on screen reader support

    • The size of the yard is one of the biggest factors that influences the cost of spring cleanup. Larger yards take more time and effort to maintain, so the overall cost will be higher than for a smaller property. If your yard is the size of a postage stamp, you’re in luck. The bigger the yard, the bigger the bill. It’s like ordering a pizza—the larger the size, the more you pay.

Service Type

    • Are we talking a quick trim or a full-on yard makeover? The more services you need, the more you’ll have to pay. It’s like adding all the extras at the car wash.
    • Overgrown yard cleanup service costs depend on the type of service that’s needed for the space. Spring cleanup can mean anything from hiring one of the best leaf removal services to hiring a tree pruning service, and each service is typically charged as a separate task.
    • Are you bundling this service with other contract services or committing to spring and fall cleanup services in the same contract?

Service Frequency

    • How often does your yard need a spruce-up? If it’s more often than you get a haircut, you might need to budget for that.
    • How often a yard needs to be cleaned up hinges on a few factors. These can include the number of trees on the property, the homeowner’s preference, and the state of the yard.Mowing service

Geographic Location

    • Geographic location also influences the cost of yard clean-up. Labor prices are typically more expensive in densely populated urban areas that have a higher cost of living compared to more rural areas.
    • However, I can’t imagine my spring clean-up estimate would be much work in NYC unless maybe I’m Rockefeller, but even then, that’s only one tree, so everything is relative, right?


    • Think of spring and fall with a mindset as if it were the yard version of New York Fashion Week. In fashion, designers are inundated with orders and they get a bit cocky, which causes prices to be at their peak and it’s the same scenerio. However, the money eventually starts to dry up. So, while you should expect to pay more during these peak times, you can also seize the opportunity to pre-negotiate with a deposit for a contract for the following season when they are at their slowest. This is ideal!
      • Whistleblower Alert: In New Jersey, Mr. Ex starts feeling the pain around November before they start plowing, then again around mid-February, depending on the snowfall that year. Those are the optimal times to crush them on price, when they are weak and pathetic, just trying desperately to show something on the books for investors, partners, etc.
    • Keeping up with yard maintenance in the spring and fall is important to the health of the plants, trees, and lawn. Spring cleanup removes debris from winter storms and prepares the area for new growth and flowers. Fall cleanup is typically performed when all the leaves have fallen to get ready for the winter and hibernation periods for perennial plants and trees.
    • Regardless of in-season or off-season If you have an overgrown yard, you will pay more, so regular maintenance is worth a few minutes here and there.


Calculating: There is Actually a Method to Their Madness! 

Let’s unravel the mystery of how these services put a price tag on tidying up your green space. Understanding the common pricing methods can save you from a wallet surprise as pleasant as finding out your mother-in-law just announced she’s moving in… permanently.

  1. Hourly Rates: Think of it like a parking meter for your lawn. Services charge anywhere from $15 to $60 per hour. The clock’s ticking, and so is the work on your yard.
  2. Per Square Foot: This one’s all about real estate—the size of your yard. Larger lawns might mean a bigger bill, but it’s all proportional to the expanse of your personal great outdoors.
  3. Per yard: Mulch is priced per yard, as I explained previously in a section above. I have a 1/3-acre corner lot with a significant number of  garden beds that aren’t small and I get about 6 yards. I pay between $100 and $150 per yard of mulch installed, which does  include a basic yard clean-up, so you do the calculations. It’s a good deal to do it that way. 
  4. Flat Rate: Like ordering a set menu at a restaurant, a flat rate gives you a full course of services for a single price. It’s tailored to the size of your yard and the list of tasks, offering a clear, upfront cost.
  5. Per-bag pricing: Finally, some services charge based on how many bags of yard waste they fill. It’s a tangible, you-can-see-what-you-pay-for approach, where each bag is a notch on your yard’s belt of cleanliness.
  6. Per Weight: There are ways to pay per weight, but unless you are taking a ride with them to the dump, you have to trust they’re not stopping by Grandma’s house on the way there to clean out the house because she was a hoarder all of her life.

With these methods in mind, you can pick the one that suits your yard (and your budget) just right. Let the spring cleaning commence!


The Bells and WhistlesBulk pickup services

Many homeowners decide to tackle other outside projects when hiring for a yard clean-up. Below are some common additional services to complete at the same time or negotiate into your service agreement.


    • After cleaning up their yard, many homeowners will compost. Composting aids in the growth of plants to produce healthy vegetables and improves soil fertility.
    • This is like making your own organic fertilizer. It’s good for the environment and your wallet.

Deck pressure washing

    • Pressure washing a deck can get rid of years of dirt, grime, and grease and make it look new again.
    • This is like giving your deck a good scrub in the shower. It gets rid of all the dirt and grime and leaves it looking fresh and clean.

Cleaning Pavers

    • I don’t recommend power-washing pavers. You can easily do damage to the grout.
    • The grout is made of extremely fine sand and you are likely to wash the grout away.
    • Instead, use a solution of bleach (1 part), dish soap (.01 parts), or water (5 parts)

Gutter cleaning

    • This is like cleaning out your purse. It’s frightening what you may find in there, but it’s important to avoid any potential damage.
    • Gutter cleaning is important to avoid clogged gutters that can result in flooding and water damage to the roof and walls.
    • Typically, gutter cleaning services range from $115 to $230, with rates per linear foot hovering around $0.90 to $2

Lawn aerationLawn aerating

    • Aerating a lawn encourages healthy and strong roots. This is an excellent way to ensure a lush, vibrantly green lawn.
    • However, I must warn the DIY’ers here, like me, always looking to save a buck: I purchased a manual plug aerator this past year and it’s a lot harder than it looks. Next time this task comes up, I’m opting for a pro-machine rental or service. The damn tool gets clogged every single time you poke a hole in the ground, which is the point of the tool itself. No, just no.
    • Pricing ranges from $120 to $140 to have someone run their machine over a 1/4- to 1/3-acre lot, which takes about 5 minutes of their time. However, it took five sweaty hours to do about half of my lot with my not-so-handy plug aerator tool. 

Re-seeding and/or overseeding

    • This is like your lawn’s version of hair plugs. It fills in the bald spots and makes it look lush and full.
    • The cost of seeding a lawn depends on the square footage of the yard and the type of grass seed.
      • However, it’s important to do this as early as possible, immediately after the last frost, because this is typically most effective when done in the fall. 

Sod installation

    • Ah, that price of beauty again. It’s instant green and looks great, but it can be pricey.
    • Sod installation for a 5,000-square-foot area can cost from $5,800 to $7,200, or $0.90 to $2.49 per square foot for installation and sod.
    • If you do get sod, you should have or get a sprinkler. You will need to water it a lot at the beginning.
      • Once a day for 30 minutes for at least two weeks, then every third day for 45 minutes, depending on the rainfall that year.

Tree removalTree stump removal

    • Tree removal can cost from $400 to $900 or as much as $2,000, with the national average at $435.

Stump removal and stump grinding (NO, it’s not part of tree removal service)

    • Stump removal is typically more expensive than stump grinding since removal involves removing the entire stump and roots from below the surface of the ground.
    •  The national average cost of stump removal is about $340, with typical jobs ranging from $75 to $500.
    • On the other hand, the national average cost of stump grinding is $140 to $450, with the average cost being around $295.


Are Pro Backyard Cleaning Services Worth the Money?

Well, that depends. If you have an overgrown yard that is starting to look like a scene from Jumanji, then yes, you probably do. But if you’re just dealing with a few leaves and some overgrown grass, you might be able to tackle it yourself. Also, how much time will it actually take you? Factoring in a realistic number on your “hourly rate” can shed a bright light on the value of hiring a pro—or not.

How Can I Save Money on Backyard Clean-Up Cost? 

Depending on the size of the yard and how much work it needs, the cost of hiring a professional to come and tackle backyard clean-up can quickly add up. Below are some money-saving tips to save money on spring cleanup costs.

  • Get multiple estimates; don’t just go with the first quote you get. Shop around and see who can give you the best deal.
  • Get at least three estimates from reputable yard clean-up contractors in your area to find a rate that works with your budget.
  • Hire during the off-season
  • Schedule the service to clean up your yard during the off-season or in-season, but sign a contract and pay a deposit during the off-season to negotiate.
  • Opt for a maintenance service contract, like spring and fall cleanup, annual mowing services, or edging and mulching. 
  • Waiting to clean up a yard just once a year can be more expensive than hiring a team to come and maintain the area a few times a year.
  • Look for free junk removal or bulk pickup dates from your local town.
  • Do online research to find services that will remove junk and debris from your yard for free. This can save on removal and hauling costs.
    • However, you may want to ask yourself why. For example, aluminum is going for big bucks right now. Don’t be a sucker. 
  • Don’t ignore plant issues
  • If shrubs and trees need to be trimmed, dead branches need to be removed, and mulch needs to be replaced, don’t put off calling in a professional to take care of it for you. The longer you wait, the more expensive the cleanup will be.
  • Start composting
    • Composting is a cost-effective way of using yard debris to create nutrient-rich soil. I spent a whole lot of money on soil last year that came nowhere close to the quality of fresh compost in the soil. 


Yard clean-up is an essential part of maintaining a healthy and attractive outdoor space. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, understanding the costs involved can help you budget effectively and ensure that your yard gets the care it needs.