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landscaping credentials and what they mean

Landscaping Credentials and What They Mean

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Landscaping is a diverse field spanning a wide range of services focused on outdoor spaces. These services vary from basic lawn and plant care to the design, installation and maintenance of highly complex soft and hard scape elements.

This diverse environment means landscapers and landscape companies come in equally varied sizes and configurations, so there’s one suited to your needs. Small or large, you want to work with a qualified provider. We’ve summarized the basic categories and criteria to help you understand the varied landscaping credentials you might encounter.

In most states:

Landscape contractors are not required to have professional certification beyond business licenses. However, many do have technical certifications and/or an associate or bachelor degree in landscaping, horticulture or business. 

Landscape designers are also not typically required to have professional certifications. However, many do have technical certifications and/or an associate or bachelor degree in art, design, landscape design, landscape architecture or horticulture.

Landscape architects must have a four-year degree in landscape architecture and meet established requirements for education, training and licensure.

Landscape engineers must have a four-year degree in landscape architecture or landscape engineering and meet established requirements for education, training and licensure.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals and some colleges offer certifications for owners and technicians. These include:

Certified Manager, which identifies certified landscape contractor business owners or managers.

Certified Technician, which identifies certified exterior technicians who handle softscape installation, hardscape installation, turf maintenance, ornamental maintenance or irrigation.

Certified Horticultural Technician, which identifies certified green industry professionals who want to develop knowledge of landscape plant life.

Certified Lawn Care Technicians, which identifies certified lawn care professionals who focus on lawn and grounds management.

The Landscape Contractors Association and some colleges offer specialized certifications such as:

Softscape Installation, which indicates knowledge and training in plan reading, horticulture, plant identification, sod installation, plant layout, equipment and irrigation systems.

Hardscape Installation, which indicates knowledge and training in hardscape principles, calculations, plan reading, grading, drainage, instruments, paver installation and equipment operation.

Turf Maintenance, which indicates knowledge and training in turf maintenance principles, calculations, irrigation principles and systems and equipment operation.

Ornamental Maintenance, which indicates knowledge and training in ornamental plants, maintenance calculations, plant identification, tree planting and staking, irrigation principles and systems, equipment operation and more.

These are the most common credentials, but there are additional certifications and subspecialties. For instance, each state has different requirements for those who handle and apply chemicals such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Some require general certification, some require specific certifications for each chemical type, and others have no certification requirement.

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