Do Landscapers Need A License? 2 Scenarios & Why

landscape professional trimming light green bushes on a sunny day in upscale backyard

When considering hiring any contractor, you should have a checklist you follow to make sure they meet some basic criteria.  This includes landscapers as well.  How long have they been in business?  Can they provide references for you to contact about their workmanship?  Are there any official complaints against them at the registry of contractors?  When researching that last one, you may discover you need to ask another question.  Do landscapers need a license?

Do Landscapers Need A License?

When considering whether or not to hire a landscaper, you ought to know whether or not landscapers need a license.  Like many answers to backyard improvement questions, it depends.  If you live in a state like Arizona, the answer is yes.  However, in Arizona, you only need a license if you are installing hardscape (patio, terraces, etc.) and irrigation systems, which most landscapers are.  However, if you are hiring a landscape maintenance company, they don’t need a license of any kind. If you’re interested in your state, check its landscaper licence requirements here.

In most parts of the country the example of Arizona is true.  You can go out of your way to find the best landscape maintenance companies by looking for ‘certified arborist’ designations.  However, it’s not uncommon for certified arborists to only work at tree companies specializing in removals and pruning.

landscapers showing the answer to do landscapers need a license by answering no, landscaper's work is mostly labor instead of skill

Why Maintenance Landscapers Don’t Need A License

In most parts of the country, there’s little to no regulation of landscape maintenance companies.  Landscape maintenance is a great business for those with limited skillsets but a willingness to work. You’ll find many people start by mowing or string trimming. Then they work their way up to being a crew chief. Eventually, after managing multiple crews they go out on their own and start a landscape maintenance firm.

If you find the maintenance company you are considering doesn’t speak English well, don’t be discouraged.  When in the business of landscape maintenance it’s not uncommon to work all day, every day, with other speakers of your native language.  Then, you go home at the end of the day to your family who speaks your native language. 

You hang out with your friends on the weekend who you work with all week.  Basically your whole life is in your native language.  You can live in this country for decades, and never have the need or opportunity to master English because you’re working 60 hours a week, and living the American dream.  Don’t hold that against them, and make sure to tip your landscapers well.

Landscape maintenance professionals who seek out the long days of work often prove themselves by their willingness to work, and nothing else. There’s nothing keeping you from firing them if you’re unhappy with their workmanship.  This is one of the most transparent business types. Soon after experiencing, you’ll find you understand why there’s no licensure.  

When Do Landscapers Need A License?

However, if you are installing permanent patios, irrigation, or other improvements, it’s important to find a client facing company who you can communicate with. That way you can confirm you are getting exactly what you want.  Always speak to previous clients of theirs and seek out references. Furthermore, do your due diligence on whether or not they do good work, and operate with integrity.  

do landscapers need a license shown as no while a landscaper cuts through green bushes with a mini chainsaw

Do Landscapers Need A License Summary

The answer to do landscapers need a license is usually no, but in some cases it’s yes.  Ask your local building department representative for guidance if you’re not certain. While you’re at it see if they have any recommendations, off the record of course. Our piece of advice is that if you’re looking to maintain a landscape, you don’t need to seek a landscaper with a license.

If you are planning on adding hardscapes and irrigation systems, it’s not a bad idea to seek out a landscaper with a license. These projects are usually bigger. If they’re not built properly, repairing or replacing can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Whereas maintenance landscaping can be easily replaced and is less expensive.