That yard seemed like a big plus when you bought your house. Now you sometimes want it dead—an end to continual mowing, weeding, and watering. But the responsible part of you—the part your neighbors prefer—says you want your lawn lush and green.

To get it that way and keep it that way, you have the option of doing the work yourself—as most homeowners do—or you can hire a Mr. or Ms. Green to turn your blades to glory. Here’s how to hire (or be) a lawn care hero.

Start by thinking about what you want from your lawn. Can you live with some weeds and bare spots? 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. Tell them what you expect your lawn to look like and how soon you want it that way. 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.

Ask the company to guarantee in writing that it will refund your money for an entire year if you are not satisfied that it has met its commitments; we found many companies will offer this guarantee.