October 29, 2009
By: Meghan Reilly, Legislative Analyst II
You asked for information on states that license landscapers, and the education, exam, and experience required to obtain such a license. You also requested samples of charges for licensing, regulations under which they are licensed, and any training required for the use of the equipment and products they use.
We identified three states that license landscapers: California, North Carolina, and Oregon. All three require an exam and some years of experience: California requires four years, North Carolina requires three years, and Oregon requires two years. None of these have an education requirement, but all allow education to substitute for a portion of the required experience. For example, Oregon requires either (1) two years of experience or (2) one year of education and one year of experience. Oregon does have continuing education requirements.
California charges a $250 application fee, North Carolina charges $75 for the application and $75 for the exam, and Oregon charges $100 for landscape construction professional applicants and $150 for landscape contracting business applicants.
Connecticut law does not license landscapers, but does require them to register as a home improvement contractor with the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP).
The law requires home improvement contractors to register with DCP. Under home improvement law, a “contractor” is someone who owns or operates a home improvement business or who makes or offers to make home improvements. A “home improvement” is defined as including the repair, replacement, remodeling, alteration, conversion, improvement, or addition to, a building or land used or designed to be used as a residence with six or fewer units costing more than $200. The law specifically includes landscaping. It also specifically includes sandblasting and installing swimming pools, porches, garages, roofs, siding, insulation, sunrooms, flooring, patios, fences, doors, and windows (CGS § 20-419).
A contractor does not have to register if the total cash price for an improvement is never more than $200 and if the total cash price for all of his or her contracts in a 12-month period is not more than $1,000 (CGS § 20-419).
The application fee for a certificate of registration as a home improvement contractor is $120 (CGS § 20-421, as amended by P.A. 09-03).
A landscape contractor constructs, maintains, repairs, installs, or subcontracts the development of landscape systems and facilities for public and private gardens and other areas which are designed to aesthetically, architecturally, horticulturally, or functionally improve the grounds within or surrounding a structure or a tract or plot of land. A landscape contractor also prepares and grades plots and areas of land for the installation of any architectural, horticultural, and decorative treatment or arrangement (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 16 §§ 7058-59).
No education is required.
California requires contractors to pass the state Business Professional Exam as well as a trade-specific exam. The landscaping examination is divided into seven major sections:
1. Landscape Design (15%), which includes hardscape and drainage designs, irrigation systems, and plant and mulch selection;
2. Job Estimation (23%), which includes scope of work, time estimation and labor cost, equipment and tool selection, drainage and irrigation materials, and softscape and hardscape materials;
3. Site Preparation (13%), which includes drainage and erosion control, underground piping installation, and soil amendment;
4. Hardscape Installation (9%), which includes concrete and masonry, retaining walls, landscaping edgings, fences, gates, screens, and steps, water features, electrical connections, and lighting;
5. Irrigation System Installation (18%), which includes controllers, main lines, lateral lines, and drip system components;
6. Plant Material Installation and Landscaping Maintenance (13%), which includes planting methods, water management, plant maintenance, and turf grass management; and
7. Job Site Safety (9%), which includes hazard identification and personal and environmental protection (http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Applicants/ExaminationStudyGuides/C27Landscaping.asp).
Applicants for a license must have four years of experience at a journey level or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. The experience must be verified by a qualified and responsible person, such as a homeowner, employer, fellow employee, journeyman, contractor, union representative, building inspector, architect, or engineer. Education, training, or apprenticeships may satisfy up to three years of practical experience.
The application fee for a license is $250.
A landscape contractor is any person, partnership, association, or corporation who, for compensation or consideration, engages in business requiring the art, experience, ability, knowledge, science, and skill to (1) install, plant, repair, and maintain gardens, lawns, shrubs, vines, bushes, trees, and other decorative vegetation, including the grading and preparation of plots and areas of land for decorative treatment and arrangement; (2) construct or install garden pools, fountains, pavilions, conservatories, hothouses, greenhouses, incidental retaining walls, fences, walks, drainage and sprinkler systems; or (3) engage in incidental construction in connection with, or in such a manner that an acceptable landscaping project can be executed (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 89D-2). The law does not prevent a person, partnership, association, or corporation from performing such acts without a certificate if the person or entity does not use the title “landscape contractor” (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 89D-3).
An applicant must provide to the Landscape Contractors' Registration Board satisfactory evidence of either (1) three years of experience in landscape contracting or (2) the completion of study or combination of study and experience in landscape contracting equivalent to three years experience under a landscape contractor (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 89D-5).
Any person who applies to the board to be registered and titled as a landscape contractor must take an oral or written examination to determine his or her qualifications for a fee not exceeding $75 (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 89D-5).
The application fee, separate from the exam fee, is $75 (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 89D-5).
A landscape construction professional is an individual who, for compensation, performs or supervises activities requiring the art, ability, experience, knowledge, science, and skill to (1) plan or install lawns, shrubs, vines, trees or nursery stock; (2) prepare property for installation of lawns, shrubs, vines, trees or nursery stock; (3) construct or repair ornamental water features, drainage systems or irrigation systems; or (4) plan or install fences, decks, arbors, patios, landscape edging, driveways, walkways, or retaining walls. A landscape contracting business is a business that contracts to provide the services of a landscape construction professional (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.520). A landscape construction professional may perform landscaping work only in the employ of a landscape contracting business. If the landscape construction professional is the sole proprietor, the landscape construction professional must also obtain a license as a landscape contracting business (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.530).
A landscape maintenance business need not be licensed as a landscape contracting business to use a form of the word “landscaping” in the business title if the title clearly indicates that the landscaping is for maintenance (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.530).
An applicant for a landscape construction professional license must, within 10 years before the day the application for a license is made, have either (1) at least 24 months of employment with a landscape contracting business or (2) at least 12 months of employment with a landscape contracting business and one full year of training in an area related to landscaping at an accredited school or college. An applicant must also be employed by, or own, a landscape contracting business if performing landscaping work (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.570).
The State Landscape Contractors Board may adopt rules allowing a person who does not meet the education and experience requirements to substitute other education and experience that demonstrate the fitness of the person for licensing as a landscape construction professional (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.570).
An applicant for a landscape contracting business license must qualify as an independent contractor to be licensed with the State Landscape Contractors Board (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.525).
Licensees must meet the State Landscape Contractors Board's continuing education requirements for landscape construction professionals, not exceeding 10 hours of continuing education every year. Continuing education programs must be designed to directly contribute to the professional competency of landscape construction professionals. Approved programs may include:
1. professional development programs and technical meetings of professional associations for landscape contracting businesses or for related industries such as pesticide application or irrigation auditing;
2. university or college courses related to landscaping or horticulture;
3. professional staff training programs by associations of landscape construction professionals; and
4. online or other forms of educational programs (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.676).
Applicants for the landscape construction professional license must pass an examination (Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.570). The exam consists of the following sections:
1. laws and rules, which includes contract law, general business, and agency involvement;
2. general, which includes plants and turf, general construction, grading, drainage, general safety, estimating, soil science, and chemicals;
3. irrigation, which includes, but is not limited to pipes and fittings, electrical, head and nozzles, hydraulics, installation and practical application, plan questions, winterizing, repair and troubleshooting, valves, plant culture, drip irrigation, design, and pumps; and
4. backflow prevention, which includes irrigation and ornamental water feature backflow assemblies, piping, valves, and related plumbing code provisions (Or. Admin. R. 808-003-0060).
For a landscape construction professional, the application fee is $100 and the annual license fee is $95. For a landscape contracting business, the application fee is $150 and the annual license fee is $260 (http://www.oregon.gov/LCB/index.shtml, Or. Rev. Stat. § 671.570).