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Landscaper Licensing Requirements by State: A Comprehensive Guide

Landscaper Licensing

 

With the landscaping industry projected to reach 79.27 million in revenue by 2020, if you’ve already done the hard work to learn the ins and outs of the industry, you’ll want to remain part of the growing trend, even if you move. As a landscaper who offers a lawn care service, your business is portable, giving you the flexibility to take it with you if you’re moving state. However, along with landscaping insurance, you might need a state license before you can begin work.

Landscaper licensing requirements vary from state-to-state and may vary depending on the type of landscaper you are and the scope of work that you do. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide of licensing requirements in each of the 50 states. Our list focuses on lawn care and landscape maintenance, as well as pesticide application. It is in alphabetical order to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. If you click on the highlighted state names, you’ll be directed to a link for the relevant government agency. If there’s no link that means there are no licensing requirements. Good luck!

Alabama

Landscaping contractors must be licensed to work in Alabama. The state license is issued by the Alabama Department of Agriculture, Division of Plant Industries. The Horticulture Professional Services license covers landscape design, tree surgery, setting of landscape plants, and ornamental and turf pest control. Applicants must pass an exam to be licensed. You will also need a commercial pesticide applicator license if you apply pesticides as a landscape horticulturist, landscape planter or ornamental and turf supervisor. You will need to pass an exam.

Alaska

Landscaping contractors are considered specialty contractors in Alaska and require a state license to work. This license includes installing grass, shrubbery, trees, and decorative plants. You’ll need a $10,000 surety bond and must show proof of general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. There is no exam requirement. You will also need pesticide applicator certification to use pesticides as part of your work. You must pass a core exam and a category exam. You must also show proof of insurance. You’ll need to complete 12 continuing education units to recertify.

Arizona

A landscaper is not required to hold a state license work in Arizona, but you must check local licensing requirements before you begin work. If you apply pesticides as part of your lawn care service, you will need an ornamental and turf license issued by the Arizona Department of Agriculture. You must pass the core exam, as well as one category-specific exam. You must have held certification as an applicator for two years out of the past ten years, or for one year out of the past ten years plus have completed 12 semester hours or a relevant degree, or you must have two years of experience in pest management.

Arkansas

Arkansas issues a Landscape Contractor license for any landscapers who plan to work in the state. This covers anyone who installs ornamental or horticultural plants. There are three levels of licenses depending on the heelyard area you’ll maintain – up to 5,000 square feet, 5,001 to 15,000 square feet, and over 15,001 square feet. The licenses are awarded by the Arkansas Agriculture Department. You will also need a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Arkansas Agriculture Department if you plan to use restricted-use pesticides as part of your landscaping service. You must pass a core exam and a category exam. You must also attend a pesticide safety training session once every three years.

California

As a landscaping contractor, you must hold a state license to work in California. You will need a C-27 Landscaping Contractor license classification, issued by the Department of Consumer Affair, Contractors State License Board. This will cover maintenance of landscape systems for public and private gardens, and other areas designed to “aesthetically, architecturally, horticulturally or functionally” improve grounds. You must show four years of experience, but can substitute three years of experience for a four-year related degree from a college or university. You must show proof of a bond, as well as general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You will also need a Maintenance Gardener Pest Control Certification from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The category Q applicator certificate covers the use of common pesticides in home landscapes. You must pass an exam. If you plan to use restricted-use pesticides, you’ll need to apply for a category B Landscape Maintenance Qualified Applicator Certificate.

Colorado

There is no state licensing requirement in Colorado for landscaping services, which includes grass cutting, tree trimming or lawn aeration. However, there may be licensing requirements on a local level so make sure to check these before you begin work. In addition, any lawn service that applies herbicides or pesticides must hold a commercial applicator license. You must employ a qualified supervisor and must show proof of insurance.

Connecticut

You do not need a state license to work as a landscaper in Connecticut. Make sure to check local licensing requirements before you begin any work. If you apply pesticides, you’ll need a commercial supervisory certificate from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. You must pass a core exam and a category exam, as well as an oral exam.

Delaware

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements to work in Delaware. You must check local licensing requirements before you begin working. To commercially apply pesticides (apply pesticide to another’s property for pay), you must have a Pesticide Business license. Certification is only required when you use restricted-use pesticides, in which case you’ll need to pass a core exam and a category exam.

Florida

You do not generally need a state license to work as a landscaper in Florida. However, there are certain circumstances in which you will need a license. If you’ll be applying restricted-use pesticides to outdoor areas, you’ll need a Commercial Pesticide Applicator license from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You’ll need to pass a core exam, as well as the Ornamental and Turf category exam.

Georgia

Landscapers in Georgia only need a state license to apply general-use or restricted-use pesticides. There are different categories of licenses awarded by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and you will need the commercial applicator license. For a commercial applicator license, you must the commercial applicator exam. These licenses are valid for five years.

Hawaii

Landscapers must hold a state license to work in Hawaii. You’ll fall under classification C as a specialty contractor and will need to hold a C-27 Landscaping Contractor license. There is also a C-27b Tree Trimming and Removal Contractor license. These licenses cover land preparation for architectural horticulture, tree trimming, decorative treatments, arrangements of gardens and plants, hydro mulching, rock scaping, pruning, tree removal, and more. You must show proof of four years of experience in the past ten years. You must pass an exam. You must show proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance. If you use restricted-use pesticides as part of your landscaping service, you’ll need to be certified by the State of Hawaii Plant Industry Division. You’ll need a commercial applicator certification in one of eleven categories, such as Ornamental and Turf Pest Control. You’ll need to pass an exam.

Idaho

There is no state license requirement for landscape contractors in Idaho; however, you will need to be registered with the State of Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses if you perform improvement to property worth more than $2,000. You must pay a fee and show proof of general liability, and worker’s compensation insurance. If you apply or supervise the application of pesticides, you’ll need a professional applicator license, in a category such as ornamental herbicide or ornamental insecticide/fungicide. You’ll need to pass a general exam and a law and safety exam.

Illinois

As a landscaper, you do not need a state license to work in Illinois unless you apply restricted or general use pesticides. In this case, you’ll need an Applicator license from the Illinois Department of Public Health. You’ll need to pass an exam.

Indiana

Landscapers in Indiana must hold a state license if they apply fertilizers or pesticides. There are different categories of licenses awarded by the Office of Indiana State Chemist. Category 3a – Ornamental Pest Management covers the use of pesticides on ornamental plants and related areas including landscape beds, driveways, residential parking areas, and more. You must pass a Core exam, as well as a Category exam. You must complete 15 continuing certification hours. Category 3b – Turf Management covers the use of fertilizers and pesticides on turf. You must pass a Core exam and a Category exam. You must also complete a training program approved by the State Chemist or work as a registered technician for 90 days or work as a licensed applicator in any category for a year or complete a two-year turf program. You must complete 20 continuing certification hours.

Iowa

As a landscaper who works in Iowa, you’ll need a commercial applicator license if you apply pesticides as part of your business. You’ll need the 3T (Turf Pest) category, the 3O (Ornamental Pest) or the 3OT (Ornamental and Turf Pest) category. You’ll need to pass an exam to be licensed.

Kansas

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements to work in Kansas. However, if you apply pesticide as part of your work, you will need to hold a business license in a specific category, such as ornamental pest control and interior landscape. You’ll also need a Commercial Certified Pesticide Applicator license. You will need to pass a general exam, as well as a category or subcategory exam.

Kentucky

As a landscaper, you do not need a state license to work in Kentucky, but you will need a license to apply fertilizers and pesticides. The license is awarded by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. You’ll need to pass an exam and attend continuing education sessions.

Louisiana

Landscapers must hold a state license to work in Louisiana. There are multiple licenses awarded by the Horticulture Commission of Louisiana, Department of Agriculture and Forestry. They include:

  • Landscape Horticulturist License – includes plant installation, grass sodding, bush pruning, mulching, fertilizing. You must pass an exam to receive your license.
  • Arborist License – includes tree surgery, trimming, pruning, cutting down, and removal. You must pass an exam and show proof of liability insurance. You also need to complete continuing education seminars every three years in order to renew your license.

In addition, you may need a ground owner operator license from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. This allows your business to apply pesticide by ground. You’ll need to pass an exam and show proof of financial surety.

Maine

As a landscaper, you won’t need a state license to work in Maine, unless you apply pesticides as part of your lawn and landscape care or tree and shrub care. In this case, you’ll need a commercial applicator license from the Board of Pesticides Control, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. You’ll need to pass a Core exam as well as a Category exam. You must show proof of insurance and you must complete a continuing education course to remain licensed.

Maryland

As a landscaper in Maryland, you will need a home improvement license for landscaping and sod installation. The home improvement license covers all improvements to land adjacent to a building. You must show proof of two years of experience and proof of liability insurance. You’ll also need to pass an exam. The license is awarded by the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. In addition, to apply pesticides as part of your landscaping and lawn care service, you must hold a commercial pest control application certification and your business must hold a pesticide business license. You must have one year of practical pesticide application experience or a degree in a related field. You must pass an exam.

Massachusetts

You do not need a state license to work as a landscaper in Massachusetts unless you apply pesticides as part of your lawn care, landscape or tree care services. In this case, you’ll need an applicator license from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Pesticide Program. You must pass an exam and show proof of insurance. You’ll also need to complete six contact hours of continuing education for license renewal.

Michigan

You don’t need a state license to work as a landscaper in Michigan. However, you may need a pesticide application certification awarded by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. To become certified, you’ll need to pass a core exam, as well as a category exam.

Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation requires landscapers to hold a Landscape Specialist certification in order to install or supervise the installation and establishment of plants. You must complete a course and pass an exam. You will also need to hold a Pesticide Applicator license in order to use pesticides as part of your lawn care business. The Department of Agriculture will award a Commercial Pesticide Applicator license once you have passed a core and a category exam and have met the financial responsibility requirements.

Mississippi

If you only perform lawn maintenance (grass mowing, fertilizing etc), you don’t need a license to work in the state of Mississippi. However, you may not advertise yourself as a landscaper in this case. If you are a landscaper, you will need a state license. The Bureau of Plant Industry awards two licenses:

  • Landscape Horticulturist License – Includes anyone who sets or replaces plants. You’ll need to pass an exam and submit a surety bond of at least $1,000.
  • Tree Surgery License – Includes anyone who cares for, prunes, cables, braces, tops, trims, fertilizes, does cavity work or removes ornamental trees and shrubs. You’ll need to pass an exam and show proof of liability insurance.

You’ll also need a commercial pesticide applicator license if you apply restricted-use pesticides. You must pass a core exam and a category exam.

Missouri

There is no requirement to hold a state license to work as a landscaper in Missouri. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping service, you must have a commercial applicator certification from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. You’ll need to pass a Core exam, as well as a category exam. You’ll also need proof of financial responsibility (proof of insurance or a surety bond).

Montana

You do not need a state license to work as a landscaper in Montana. However, you will need a commercial pesticide applicator license in order to apply pesticides as part of your business. The license is awarded by the Montana Department of Agriculture. You’ll need to pass a Core exam, as well as a category exam. You must show proof of liability insurance and a surety bond.

Nebraska

There is no state landscaper licensing requirement in Nebraska. However, if you apply lawn care pesticides as part of your business, you will need a commercial pesticide applicator license, awarded by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. There are 14 categories and four sub-categories of commercial applicator certification. You’ll need to pass a general standards exam and at least one category exam.

Nevada

Landscapers must hold a state license in Nevada if they do work worth more than $1,000 or if their work requires a building permit. A lawn maintenance service may not require a license. However, a license is required for work that includes installation of rocks, sand or gravel, planting trees, shrubs or other vegetation, and laying sod or hydroseeding. You’ll need a classification C-10 Landscape Contracting license awarded by the Nevada State Contractors Board. You’ll need to show proof of four years of experience in the past ten years. You need to pass a business and law exam, as well as a trade exam. You must show proof of insurance. In addition, to apply or supervise the application of restricted-use pesticides, you must be certified by the Department of Agriculture. You will need to pass an exam.

New Hampshire

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements in New Hampshire. However, to apply pesticides as part of your landscaping business, you will need a Pesticide Applicator License from the Division of Pesticide Control, New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food. You’ll need to complete a 16-hour training course and pass a written and oral exam. You must show proof of liability insurance.

New Jersey

As a landscaper, if you’re a tree expert or tree care operator, you’ll need a state license in New Jersey. This license covers tree pruning, repairing, brush cutting or removal, tree removal, stump grinding or removal, tree establishment, fertilization, cabling and bracing, and more. The license is awarded by the New Jersey Board of Tree Experts. You must have completed a four-year related college degree and have one year of experience, or have three years of experience (five years for a tree care operators) immediately preceding your application or have completed a two-year college course and have three years of experience. You must pass an exam. If you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping or lawn care business, you’ll need a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Department of Environmental Protection. You must pass a core exam, as well as a category exam and must complete 40 hours of on-the-job training for each category you apply for.

New Mexico

As a landscaper, you won’t need a state license to work in New Mexico, although you may need a local license. However, you will need a commercial applicator license if you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping or lawn care business. The license is awarded by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. You must show two years of experience in applying pesticides or 20 hours of college credits plus one year of experience. You must pass the core exam, as well as at least one category exam. You must also show proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance or a surety bond).

New York

You do not need a state license to work as a landscaper in New York; however, you may need a local license so make sure to check this. You will need a commercial pesticide applicator certification from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. You must show proof of experience, meeting one of the following requirements in the past five years:

  • One year of experience as a pesticide technician with 12 hours of category-specific training
  • Two years of experience as a pesticide technician
  • Three years of experience as an apprentice
  • Three years of experience in the sale of pesticides with appropriate technical knowledge

The certified commercial pesticide technician application requires one of the following:

  • Completion of a 30-hour approved course
  • Associate degree
  • Two years of experience as an apprentice

For both licensees, you must pass a core and category exam.

North Carolina

A landscaper is required to hold a state contract in North Carolina for any work that includes planting, repairing, and managing gardens, lawns, shrubs, vines, trees, and other decorative vegetation. A license is not required for clearing and grading land, arboriculture, installation of sod, lawn mowing, turf management, and lawn care. You must show proof of a surety bond and pass an exam. In addition, if you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping service, you must hold a commercial pesticide applicator license issued by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You must pass an exam.

North Dakota

You won’t need a state license to work as a landscaper in North Dakota, but you will need a commercial pesticide applicator license if you apply pesticides as part of your services. You must pass a core exam and at least one category exam. You must also show proof of financial responsibility.

Ohio

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements in Ohio. However, if you apply pesticides (including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and rodenticides), you’ll need a commercial applicator license. You’ll need to pass an exam in the specific category in which you plan to apply pesticides, for example, category 6 for ornamental plant and shade tree pest control or category 8 for turf.

Oklahoma

As a landscaper in Oklahoma, you won’t need a state license to work unless you’ll be applying pesticides as part of your service. In this case, you’ll need a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. You’ll need to pass a core exam, as well as at least one category exam.

Oregon

To work as a landscaper in Oregon, you must hold a state license called a landscape construction professional license. This allows you to plan and install lawns, shrubs, vines, trees, or nursery stock, including preparing the property for the planting. If your business undertakes only lawn care or landscape maintenance to existing landscapes, you will not need a license. If you require a license, you’ll need to pass a business and law exam, as well as a general trade exam. You must show proof of liability insurance, workers compensation insurance, and a surety bond. In addition, if you’ll be applying pesticide as part of your service, you must hold a commercial applicator license. You’ll need to pass a law and safety test, as well as at least one category test.

 

Landscaper Licensing Requirements by State

Pennsylvania

You do not need a state license to work as a landscaper in Pennsylvania. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your service, you may be required to hold a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. You must pass a core exam, as well as at least one category exam. There are 25 categories. You must attend update training programmes to maintain your certification.

Rhode Island

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements in Rhode Island. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your business, you’ll need a commercial pesticide applicator license. This license is awarded by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Agriculture. You must complete a 12-hour Core training course and pass the core exam, as well as at least one category exam. You must show proof of insurance.

South Carolina

To work as a landscaper in South Carolina, you won’t need a state license; however, you may need a local license so check these with your county before you begin work. You will; however, need a commercial pesticide applicator license if you use pesticides as part of your service. You will need to pass a core exam and at least one category exam, and show proof of insurance. The license is awarded by the Department of Pesticide Regulation.

South Dakota

You don’t need a state license to work as a landscaper in South Dakota. Check local licensing requirements before you begin any work. You will need a commercial pesticide applicator certification if you apply pesticides as part of your service. The license will be awarded by the State Department of Agriculture. You must pass an exam to be eligible for the license.

Tennessee

A landscaper must hold a specialty state license to work In Tennessee. The Landscaping (HRA-E.2) license covers seeding, sodding, planting, and chemical weed and brush control. There is no trade exam requirement, but you will need to pass a business and law exam. You must show proof of insurance. There is a separate category for landscaping contractors which falls under the building classification. If you apply restricted-use pesticides as part of your service, you’ll need a commercial pesticide applicator license. You must pass a core exam and at least one category exam. You need to accumulate recertification points in order to qualify for recertification. If you’re applying for the HLT (Horticulture, Lawn and Turf) category, you’ll need to pass an oral examination in front of the TN Pest Control Board before you can take the two licensing exams.

Texas

There is no state license for landscapers working in Texas. However, if you’ll be applying restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticides as part of your lawn care or landscaping service, you must hold a commercial pesticide applicator license. This is awarded by the Texas Department of Agriculture. You’ll need to pass the general standards exam, as well as at least one category exam, such as 3A – Lawn and Ornamental Pest Control, Landscape Maintenance.

Utah

To work as a landscaper in Utah, you will need an S-330 Landscaping Contractor license. This classification will allow you to prepare land for horticultural or decorative treatment and arrange and plant gardens, lawns, shrubs, vines, bushes, trees or other decorative vegetation. Since 2017, there is no longer an exam requirement. In addition, if you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping or lawn care business, you must have a commercial pesticide applicator license. You will need to complete the Utah Commercial Pesticide Applicator License course and pass a test.

Vermont

There are no state landscaper licensing requirements in Vermont. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping or lawn care business, you must hold a commercial pesticide applicator license. You’ll need to pass an exam set by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

Virginia

Landscapers who do not do construction, excavation or grading work, but who offer maintenance and lawn care services do not need a state license to work in Virginia. If you apply pesticides as part of your landscaping or lawn care service, you must have a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. You’ll need to pass an exam and complete category-specific recertification sessions every two years to maintain your license.

Washington

You won’t need a state license to work as a landscaper in Washington; however, if you apply pesticides as part of your business, you will need a commercial applicator pesticide license. The license is awarded by the Washington State Department of Agriculture. You must pass an exam and must show financial coverage in the form of liability insurance or a surety bond.

West Virginia

As a landscaper, you do not need a license in West Virginia to offer lawn care services or landscape maintenance. The landscape specialty contractor license is only required for preparation and alteration of land and the installation of concrete, brick, gravel, and stone. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your lawn care service, you will need a commercial pesticide applicator license. You’ll need to pass a written exam and undertake training for recertification.

Wisconsin

You don’t need a state license to work as a landscaper in Wisconsin. However, if you apply pesticides as part of your lawn care services, you must hold a commercial pesticide applicator license from the State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. You must pass an exam.

Wyoming

There is no state landscaper licensing requirement in Wyoming; however, if you apply restricted-use pesticides as part of your business, you must have a commercial pesticide applicator license from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. You must pass an exam to be licensed.

This information is provided as a service. To the best of our knowledge, it is correct and up-to-date; however, it is not expected to be taken as legal advice and you must always check the requirements on both a state level and a local government level before you start any work.

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