As plant life springs back to life, you’ll need to find someone to do the yard work, gardening, mowing and tree-trimming this summer. Like many, your nonprofit might be weighing the pros and cons of hiring professionals for landscaping versus using volunteers. With volunteers, you could save on budget while engaging the local community. But landscaping and horticultural labor does carry the risk of injury, so it’s important to manage the risk.

Risks That Exist

The landscaping and horticultural services provided by professionals is wide-ranging. Activities vary from simple mowing and mulching, to tree trimming, line clearance, irrigation, planting, architectural design and heavy construction. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the professional industry reports about 13,025 injuries per year. Many injuries are minor such as sprains or strains, but the potential for serious injury exists. Hazards include power tools and machinery, overhead electrical lines, heavy loads, falling objects, slips and falls, exposure to the elements and vehicle traffic.

Before your nonprofit decides whether to hire pros or use volunteers, consider these factors.

Range of Services when Hiring Professionals for Landscaping

By hiring professionals, you can get an all-in-one solution for all the needs of the nonprofit. You can form a relationship with a local company, who may not only be able to take care of the lawn but also trees and shrubs, sprinklers and even the patio.

By using volunteers, you can take full advantage of all the great people who want to help at the nonprofit. For simple tasks, like mowing the grass, mulching flowerbeds, or raking leaves, volunteers may be a great solution.


Another advantage of using professionals is that most licensed professional landscapers will bring their own equipment. You won’t need to worry about the time and cost of buying and maintaining mowers, trimmers, blowers, chippers and other equipment, which can add up.

If you already have equipment or volunteers are willing to lend their own equipment, again volunteers may be a good solution. However, you may need to train and supervise on the safe and proper use of the equipment.


Experience counts when it comes to strenuous work, repetitive tasks, working outdoors and using power tools and machinery. With professionals, you can also benefit from the best advice about lawn, shrub and tree care.

Your volunteers may have less knowledge and skill than the professionals. This can impact the work and may increase the risk of injury. But if the work is simple, such as lawn care and flowerbeds, volunteers may be able to suit your needs.


Because professionals are more experienced and familiar with their own tools and safety procedures, the risk of an accident is lower. Professionals are trained in tree-climbing techniques, falling and falling object hazard safety, team communication safety systems, traffic and pedestrian traffic control for work sites and proper first aid procedures in the event of an accident.

You will need to recruit, train and manage volunteers to reduce the risk of an accident. Improper handling of lawn care tools has the potential to cause a very serious injury. There’s also a risk from overexertion on a hot sunny day. Frequent breaks, proper attire, clear instructions and a stocked first aid kit is crucial if you use volunteers.

Insurance requirements

Another benefit of hiring professionals for landscaping is insurance. All pros should be fully bonded and insured, but make sure to ask before making any hiring decisions. Insurance is key because landscapers will be on your property as they move heavy bags of grass clippings, mulch and fertilizer and operate machinery.

If you do decide to use volunteers for landscaping, be sure to check your policy. Exclusions may apply to your existing coverage and could expose you to risk in the event of an accident or injury. Having the right coverage can protect your nonprofit and your volunteers.

Review your current policy and check with your insurer to ensure any volunteer activities you are planning outdoors will be covered and that the nonprofit will be fully protected.