What do you want from your lawn? Can you live with a few weeds? Are you willing to wait a year or two for your outdoor space to become Eden-like? What’s your tolerance for pesticides and other chemicals?

Let any lawn care service you deal with know your wish list. If you can be patient, you may save money and minimize chemical use by limiting treatments to key times of the year, targeting problem areas, and relying heavily on techniques like core aeration that foster a strong lawn.

More treatment—at least in the short term—isn’t always better treatment. Any company can produce a flash of green growth with quick-release fertilizer, but it’ll weaken your lawn’s root systems. An outfit that treats your entire lawn with herbicides and pesticides may be less effective than one that targets limited areas and specific problems—with the least possible chemical exposure.

Whatever pro lawn treatments you get, you still need to water properly—typically a single dousing of about an inch per week during summer dry spells. And cutting the grass correctly helps keep things lush: Use a mower with sharp blades, don’t mow too short, and remove no more than one-third of the leaf on each cutting.

To choose a lawn care service, check out our Ratings Tables. Get proposals from several businesses. Get companies to commit to meeting your expectations and to an overall cost. For average-size lawns, price differences of more than $300 per year are common.