It used to be that owning lawn equipment was the only way to go, not to mention a demonstration of superiority – I can remember growing up and going to look at lawn tractors with my dad, seeing the high-end tractors with cupholders and five-figure price tags that did everything except start the engine, it seemed. Those were the ones that all lawn fanatics longed to own. In my rural area, owning every bit of lawn equipment possible seemed to be the goal of many homeowners.
That was a few decades ago, before the financial downturn, before many lawn and garden centers provided rental equipment. Now, it is more than viable to rent equipment when needed, but is it always the smart thing to do?
For basic lawn equipment, it’s not a good idea – mowers, edgers, and leaf blowers will all get consistent usage, and are better to own than to rent. A quality leaf blower costs about 6 times more to purchase than to rent for a single day – for folks who live in an area where leaf blowers are necessary, you may need to rent that equipment four to six days a year. Same goes for edgers, trimmers and mowers – you use them so often, it makes no sense to rent them in the long run.
So what about some equipment that is used less often, such as snow blowers, chainsaws, trimmers, pruners, and hedge trimmers? These are still recommended as items that you should own instead of rent. Again, this is a case where you will use these pieces of equipment too often to make renting them a worthwhile option. However, this is in a gray area where you could consider working something out with neighbors who may be close friends – borrowing and loaning equipment that is not used too often amongst neighbors is a good way to become closer to your neighbors while saving money. If you have a chainsaw and your neighbor has hedge trimmers, consider just sharing them back and forth when needed instead of both parties owning one of each.
The next category is mainly seasonal items – log splitters, lawn aerators, lawn dethatchers, trenchers, lawn overseeders, stump grinders, sod cutters and wood chippers. These items are better to rent than to own, as you will only be using them once or twice per year, while some years you may not need them at all. Again, this is something you could discuss with neighbors – two or three neighbors going in for the rental cost and use of a chipper or aerator can really help to bring the cost down.
There are, of course, plenty other types of equipment out there, all of which are difficult to group into a category of always renting or always buying. For instance, a post hole auger would be something that most of the population would rent – unless you’re putting in and maintaining miles of fence, in which case, you’d want to purchase one. Another one is a metal detector – sometimes necessary for yard work, but also falling under the realm of a hobby, so renting or buying depends on if you want to make it a hobby or not. When it comes to these types of equipment, it’s truly dependent on the individual.