Choosing the Right Landscaper

Photograph Courtesy of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

As the weather warms up, I look forward to following those defensible space suggestions made by Nevada Division of Forestry’s Fire Protection Officer Chanse Hunwardsen (to view the video click here). My neighbors (who also have received defensible space inspections) and I collaboratively decided to hire a landscaper to perform work on a group of homes, which will be less costly than if I were to pay a contractor to perform work on only my house.

Since I have little experience with landscapers, I looked on the Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB) website for suggestions. There, I found a pamphlet on how individuals can choose the right landscaper at:

Here is some interesting information that I found:

Why hire a licensed landscaper contractor?

  • Licensed contractors have passed trade and business law exams.
  • They are required to keep a surety bond and carry workman’s compensation insurance.
  • If damages occur, the Residential Recovery Fund is available for homeowners who conduct business with licensed contractors and is not available to those who hire an unlicensed contractor.

The following may require a landscape contractor:

  • Installing rocks, sand or gravel, non-engineered decorative landscape ponds, landscape retaining walls no taller than 3 feet.
  • Landscape irrigation installation.
  • Planting trees, shrubs or other vegetation.
  • Laying sod or hydroseeding.

When it’s OK to NOT to use a licensed landscape contractor:

  • Mowing/edging lawns.
  • Cleaning up/hauling debris.
  • Removing and trimming trees and shrubs. (Seek assistance from a certified arborist)
  • Thatching or aerating lawns.

To ensure that a landscaper is licensed, ask to view their contractor’s pocket ID card and obtain their NSCB license number. This number can be verified on the NSCB website or by calling their office. For more information regarding payment, writing a contract and Nevada’s Residential Recovery Fund, check out this link

Keep in mind, when replacing plants in your landscape be sure to view the publication, “Choosing the Right Plants”.

As for choosing the right landscaper for our project, I’ll take this information to my neighbors and we all can make an informed decision.

Jamie Headshot

Jamie Roice-Gomes is the outreach coordinator with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living with Fire Program.  She earned her Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and a Master of Arts in Interactive Environmental Journalism. She was a public relations assistant for Conrad Communications, a public information officer intern at the Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, and a Biological Science Technician at the USDA-Agriculture Research Service. She also enjoys volleyball, the Great Basin Desert, and spending time with family. Contact Jamie at 775-336-0261 or [email protected].

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10 Responses to Choosing the Right Landscaper

  1. John says:

    My wife and I have decided that it’s about time we do something to our yard to make it look a lot better. We want to have a retaining wall installed along with a couple trees in various places around the yard. I don’t know much about tree care, so I was glad to see that the article mentions that retaining walls and planting trees are both actions that can be handled by a professional landscaper.

  2. I’ve been wanting to redo my yard and want it to be done right. It’s important that the yard looks nice for a long time and I think the initial installation and remodeling could play a big part in that. Your tips about hiring a contractor if you need to redo irrigation or lay sod are very interesting to me because the lawn is the biggest part of the remodel. Thanks for the post; I’ll have to hire a professional contractor so I don’t have any unnecessary problems with all the changes in the future.

  3. Tyler,

    I’m glad this post helped and thanks for reading the blog!


  4. John,

    It’s a good idea to seek assistance from a certified arborist when trimming trees (keep in mind that not all landscapers are certified arborists). For more information, look at the International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist: I spoke with our Master Gardener Coordinator here at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and she said that typically people utilize a landscaper for retaining walls taller than three feet. I hope this information helps!

  5. This summer, my husband and I are hoping to relandscape our backyard. We want to create a better place for the children to play and enjoy being outside. As we look for a landscaping service, we will be sure that the contractors have passed the trade and business law exams, as you explained.

  6. Thanks for the tips for choosing the right landscaper. We want to build a new home this summer, and we’ve already decided on a lot. When we start working on the landscape, I’ll be sure to find someone who is licensed and passed the exams you mentioned!

  7. I never knew that looking at your local contractor’s board can help you find a professional that has the needed insurance. My sister just purchased a new home. Hopefully, she can use this info to find a pro that can finish her backyard with beautiful water features.

  8. Afton,

    Thanks for checking out our blog and I’m glad we can help! If your sister has any other questions, please view the Nevada State Contractor’s Board website at .

  9. Ridley,
    We’re glad that this blog helped to make your landscaping process go smoother!

  10. Annika,

    I’m glad this helped! This link also has information regarding payment and writing a contract. . GooJaied luck!

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