Yard maintenance, especially for longer sits

What’s a reasonable expectation for sitters re: doing minor yard maintenance, especially for longer sits (i.e. 5 months)? Depending on the time of year some things just need to be done. I typically do these chores myself and it would be difficult to hire anyone because they’re sporadic or too small of a job. Examples include: raking leaves in the backyard and sidewalk a few times in fall; clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk if necessary (maybe a few days every other year); pulling weeds from the front yard after they burst out around May/June.

I recently was away for the entire month of June, which was especially rainy here. When I got back the front yard looked like a vacant lot – the weeds were 1-2 feet high. It took me a couple hours to clear them out. Luckily my neighbors are understanding and knew I was away, but technically if someone had complained I could’ve been cited by the city. And overgrown weeds could give the impression the house is abandoned and encourage break-ins.

Anyway, it got me wondering about how to deal with these yard chores if I go away for longer (which I’d like to do). Would appreciate others’ experiences and tips.

I would post the sit with the specific list of things that need to be done and see what kind of response you get. There are plenty of sitters out there who are willing to do those kinds of chores but it can also depend on where you live and the general desirability of the sit/area. (My husband and I enjoy it, for example).

If you don’t get enough applicants, look into hiring a company to do some of the yard work while the sitters mostly take care of the house.

(I’m curious, did you have sitters while you were away in June? And if so, did you ask them to cut the lawn?)


Thanks. I’ve previously looked into hiring a company, without success. Most are “mow and blow” outfits who deal with weeds by spraying them with herbicide, and often can’t tell the difference between weeds and valuable plants (one ‘landscaper’ pointed to my dormant raspberries one February as an example of what he proposed to clean up!) The rare real gardeners I’ve spoken with aren’t interested in sporadic or small short term projects, as it wasn’t worth their while (it’s the same thing when trying to hire building contractors… they don’t want to bid on a $8k deck when they can build one that’s $16k.). It’s a real challenge here.

I did have a TH sitter in June and she actually asked if she could do some yard work, as she missed her garden at home (she’s been travelling for a while). “Be my guest!”, I told her. Maybe it was just too rainy for her to want to do much, which was fine as I didn’t expect anything.

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I may try asking other Portland HOs who travel a lot for yard service recommendations.

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We have similar problems finding reliable landscaping companies here as well.

I would certainly recommend including that in your listing as something you would like the sitters to do. As a sitter, we’ve done a few sits where we took it upon ourselves to mow the lawn and that was no problem. It was certainly appreciated by the homeowners who said we “went beyond what they expected” in their reviews and we also appreciated that.

Thanks @Globetrotter . Guess when I’m ready to post a longer sit I’ll mention the yardwork in the listing and see how it goes.

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@pdxgal I would just list the jobs in the responsible section according to the time of year. I don’t see why you need to be searching for other people to come in carry out the tasks.
I am an avid gardener and would just automatically do those jobs but not everyone is aware of what garden tasks need to be done.
To prevent things like raspberry canes being dug up or cut back it mighy be good to have a walk around with your sitter during hand over and get them to jot down some notes. Taking notes of things themselves reinforces the detail.
I always love a sit with a garden to look after.

@pdxgal in our neighborhood growing up, there were always teenagers willing to do a bit of yard work, for some extra cash. Although, as others have suggested, adding the gardens to your sitter’s expectations list is an option, training a local teen to take on the task, may also be a solution.

Some basic gardening chores are OK if it’s a long sit, but it depends on how much is to be done and how high your expectations are (we would only apply to what we can handle and have the time for). We have only mowed the lawn once during a 1 month sit, other sits were usually too short or didn’t have a garden. Private people in your neighborhood might also be interested in such a gig, not necessarily only teenagers. PS: I forgot, once we had to water the garden twice a day manually for 3 hours (!), but that was only revealed to us after the sit had started. Communication is key, as always.


I sold my last house in 1996 and forever after resolved condo and coops as I didn’t want to shovel snow or mow lawns any more. My current sit has an automatic mower, kind of like those automatic vacuums that run themselves. I do have to water a bit and make sure that the hose is put away.
But so long as you are upfront about expectations, then the sitter can decide!

Hi @pdxgal! This is another great question here on the forum. I see many have already answered as to how they feel, but I must echo the responses regarding communication. It is key to a successful owner/sitter relationship. I would always include this information in your profile, as this is important to be read prior to any “interview”. Sometimes things are forgotten in those initial phone conversations and become “surprises” when a sitter arrives. Always make sure anything you would expect the sitter to do be listed in “responsibilities”, then follow up in conversations and welcome guides. This will alleviate any misunderstandings down the road as to what is expected.

You might also consider offering some wine or something as a thank you for the extra chores a sitter might do….just saying :smile:


Yes, totally agree. I try to be up front about things, even when they may potentially turn off some sitters, i.e. being honest about the fact that my elderly dog with dementia would poop in the house (thankfully that’s no longer an issue as he passed a few years ago). I also try to validate understanding when talking with potential sitters (“you do understand that my dog poops in the house?”) , just to be sure we’re on the same page.

Thanks Jilly. Good to know there are sitters who like gardening!


Perhaps a distinction should be made between house sitters who want to spend a holiday and do tourist things at the location of their sit and therefore are not too keen on gardening or several dog walks per day - and the full-time nomads as I am starting to be, who don’t have their own home to upkeep anymore and the rent and the bills payments, and basically save around £50 a day by living in someone else’s house.

As I now belong to the second group, I happily agreed to walk a dog twice a day for “at least one hour” and to water a hundred pot plants every second day, as well as do other gardening work. I think about 3-4 hours work per day is a fair exchange for free accommodation in a wonderful home.

Some sits are more challenging than others. For example, my next sit will involve walking 4 (four) German Shepherds separately, one by one, and just for two days - meaning that I will be a total stranger to them and most people would be afraid to do that, and over Christmas I will even be looking after a pack of 10 (ten!) dogs on a remote off-grid farm in Portugal. And I am happy with the work it requires! However, I can perfectly understand if people who do house sits only once or twice a year with the aspiration to get away from their daily responsibilities and to have a relaxing holiday, will not choose this kind of sits. So, every Jack will find his Jill. :wink:


@Romana, thanks for sharing your perspective as a sitter. You bring up an important point about there being different “market segments” of sitters (just as there are for homeowners). IME there are Fulltime Nomads, Retirees, Relocators, Vacationers, Cheap Travel Getawayers, Local Newbies gaining experience… with some sitters falling into more than one. When it comes time to post a sit that involves yardwork I’ll just trust that sitters will self-select. TH guidelines made me think twice about asking someone to do yard maintenance, but the feedback here has been reassuring.
Your upcoming sits sound really interesting. Have fun!

Good Morning,

actually we talk to the host what needs to be done and mostly we are doing more than requested. Kerstin loves to to gardening and I can’t sit on my butt all day. So I do minor repairs, greasing some doors, cleaning the pool and add chemicals, mow the lawn, pick up leaves or fix a hole in a fence. Such things. I guess that is not asked too much for. Takes us an hour a day more or less.

On longer sits we do that because we like to do it. In our actual sit the host loves it how we handle things and is quite relaxed cause they know their property in good hands and does not need to call a technician for everything. And of course we want to come back to long sits as well.

It must be on a reasonable level and everyone is happy I guess.

Kerstin and Frank

The garden is always a great draw for us. I like pottering and grass cutting isn’t too bad if it’s a sit on lawn mower or electrical. A walk round with the pet owner is always done so we know what they expect and it’s good to find out how their watering systems work!
I’ve even been known to freeze vegetables which would go to waste before the owner gets back. Although I’m a little apprehensive about weeding some of the pristine gardens, what happens if I’m pulling out their prize plants?

@ElsieDownie , my place has more of a “yard” than a “garden”. There’s no lawn or grass nor ornamental plants really. I’m trying to keep a few raspberries and blueberries going, and some herbs and maybe lettuce. There’s no longer enough sun for most veggies and flowers, alas. I’m in the process of transitioning to mostly native plants that don’t need much care or water. The biggest chore is keeping the weeds and invasive plants in check (blackberries, goatsbeard, knotweed). It’s a sisyphean struggle at times.