Choosing the Right Landscaper

Picture of  a home's landscaping in their front yard. There are rocks up against the house with a few shrubs and grass surrounding the rocks.

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: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html

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 http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html

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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43 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!

    Jamie

  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: http://www.isa-arbor.com/findanarborist. 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 http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com/ .

  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. http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html . GooJaied luck!

  11. Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are doing some landscaping in the backyard but aren’t sure if we should hire a contractor or not. I like that you mention how the Residential Recovery Fund can cover any damages that might happen during the project if you are working with a licensed contractor. Anything can happen on big projects like these so it’s better to be safe than sorry in my opinion. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I didn’t know that you needed to hire a landscaper to plant trees in your yard. My husband and I recently moved into a new house, and our project for this summer is to improve the landscaping. We want to add more trees, so that we have more shade during the summer. I’m really glad that I read this, because I was just planning on doing this myself!

  13. Brynne Jones says:

    It was helpful that you mentioned the importance of hiring a licensed landscaping contractor. I liked that you included that as you hire a licensed contractor, you can ensure that they have passed trade and business law exams. My parents have been wanting to redesign the exterior of their property. It could be helpful for them to consider these tips to find a reputable landscaper for the job.

  14. Amanda Drew says:

    That’s good to know that a landscaper should be insured when installing gravel, sand, or rocks and landscaping retaining walls. One thing that’s also nice about hiring a landscaper when you want to change up the look of your yard is that he or she will have all the correct materials for your project. Finding a good one will really help anyone with the projects they may have.

  15. Marcus Coons says:

    We are trying to get a good looking lawn in our new house and want to make sure we find the best professional to help us get it done. Thank you for talking about how choosing a landscaper that has the proper licenses for the job can help you rest assured they can help you since they have received the proper training and exams to prove their knowledge. It is important to remember that taking the time to do a little homework can help you get the best results for your lawn and make sure the type of seeds you use are put to good use.

  16. Gloria Durst says:

    I agree that you want to consider if a landscaper is properly licensed before you hire them. It would make sense to find someone who is licensed because it would show their experience. My sister is looking for someone to do some hardscaping work, so she’ll have to find someone who is licensed.

  17. Gloria Durst says:

    I agree that you want to hire a licensed landscaper because they are insured. Finding someone with these types of verifications would probably help ensure they are experienced. My sister is looking for a landscaper to help out, so she’ll have to find someone who is insured.

  18. I’m glad that we can help! Thanks for reading our blog.

  19. Maxine,

    It’s not necessary to hire a licensed landscape contractor to plant trees, but it’s recommended. Be sure to check out the Nevada State Contractors Board website for more details: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html

  20. Great news! I’m glad this post is helpful to your parents.
    Thanks for reading our blog Brynne!

  21. Amanda,

    Be sure to check out the Nevada State Contractors Board website for more information: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html .

    Thanks for reading our blog!

  22. Marcus,

    You’re welcome! Good luck on your project!

  23. Gloria,
    Have your sister look at the Nevada State Contractors Board website for more information. http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html . Good luck to her and her projects!

  24. It is the first time that I have ever owned my own home with a yard and I need to find a landscaping company to help me keep up with it. You mentioned that it is important to ask questions before hiring someone right way, which I completely agree with. My favorite question that you talked about was seeing if they are licensed since they need to know and pass the trade exams. Thank you for the great information.

  25. scott says:

    I like that you recommend to hire a landscape for laying sod. My sister is going to be tearing up her grass this year because it is all dead. I’ll have to remind her of this come next spring when she wants to put grass back in.

  26. I like how you mentioned that licensed contractors are required to have workman’s compensation insurance. My husband and I are going to be making some big changes to our landscape, and we were planning on hiring a professional to take care of that for us. Maybe it would be a good idea to make sure they’re licensed so insurance is covered if anyone were to get injured on the job.

  27. You’re welcome Barbera! Thanks for reading the blog and stay tuned for other posts.

  28. Scott,

    Be sure to give your sister the Nevada State Contractors Board website: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html . Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!

  29. Lillian,

    Most folks don’t realize that, as I never knew that too! Don’t forget to check out the Nevada State Contractors Board website: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html.

  30. I didn’t realize that licensed landscapers pass exams to obtain their licensing. Does a license usually depend on the state or area you live in? I’m looking to have some changes made to the landscape in my yard, so I’d be curious to know.

  31. Finley,

    On the Nevada State Contractor’s Board website they state, “Contractors are required to have landscape licenses in the state of Nevada, if a job is $1,000 or more or requires a building permit. Companies that do lawn maintenance service are usually not required to have a contracting license.” I found this information at the following link: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html. Please check out their website or contact them at: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/survey.php and they can answer some more details that I’m unable to. Thanks for reading our blog and stay tuned for more!

  32. I like how you mentioned that by hiring a licensed landscape contractor, I can be sure that my home and lawn is safe because of the recovery fund. I plan on getting my lawn landscaped soon because of a coming family reunion. I’ll be sure to hire an expert and licensed contractor to help me out with this. Thanks a lot!

  33. Tammie,
    Thanks for reading our blog and I’m glad we can help! I’ll refer you to the Nevada State Contractors Board website for more information when you do hire a licensed contractor:
    http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html . I hope you have a good family reunion!

  34. Braden Bills says:

    I want to make sure that I get my landscape figured out. I didn’t know that hiring a landscaper could be so beneficial! It would definitely be nice to have someone who could make my property look better.

  35. gloria durst says:

    I like how you say that you would want to make sure that a landscaper is properly licensed. It would be good to find someone who is experienced as well. My brother is looking for a landscape contractor, so he’ll have to find someone is licensed.

  36. Braden,
    I don’t know what you have in mind for your landscape, but don’t forget to consider choosing plants suited for your landscape. If you live in Northern Nevada, please look at our publication, “Choosing the Right Plants for Northern Nevada’s High Fire Hazard Areas” you can find that at this link: http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/nr/2007/eb0701.pdf Also, look at the Nevada State Contractor’s Board Website for more information on choosing the right landscaper: http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html

    Thanks for reading our blog!

  37. Gloria,

    As an employee of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, I can’t make a recommendation as to which landscaper to hire. However a few years ago the Living With Fire Program held a “Living With Fire Training for the Landscape Industry”. Participants completed the course and passed an exam. Here is a list of those individuals: http://www.livingwithfire.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Living-With-Fire-Training-for-the-Landscape-Industry.List_.updated8.8.14.pdf . It has been a while and I don’t know if these folks are still in the industry, and I also don’t know if they are licensed contractors. However here is a list.

    Thank you for reading our blog!

  38. Gloria Durst says:

    I like how you say that you would want to get a licensed landscaper because they are qualified. It would also be good to choose them because of their insurance. My sister needs a landscaper to help put in a retaining wall, so she’ll have to find someone who is licensed.

  39. Gloria,

    As an employee of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, I can’t make a recommendation as to which landscaper to hire. However a few years ago the Living With Fire Program held a “Living With Fire Training for the Landscape Industry”. Participants completed the course and passed an exam. Here is a list of those individuals: http://www.livingwithfire.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Living-With-Fire-Training-for-the-Landscape-Industry.List_.updated8.8.14.pdf . It has been a while and I don’t know if these folks are still in the industry, and I also don’t know if they are licensed contractors. However here is a list.

    Thank you for reading our blog!

  40. The yard that came with our new home is not very full of plant life. My fiance and I want to get a landscaper in hopes that they will help us get more vegetation in our yard. We will keep in mind that they can also plant trees as an option for our driveway path.

  41. Sonya says:

    Alexandria…planning your new landscaping is the perfect time to implement defensible space measures to help your home survive a wildfire. We have a list of landscapers and others who have taken our course on wildfire threat reduction recommendations, and passed an exam. Feel free to use this as a source for information. We are not endorsing any of them, instead letting you know about the course they took. It has been a few years, but hope it helps. You can find it at http://www.livingwithfire.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Living-With-Fire-Training-for-the-Landscape-Industry.List_.updated8.8.14.pdf

  42. Marcus says:

    Thanks a lot when you mentioned how you should only hire a landscaper that has the proper licenses for the job. It is important to understand that doing some research and comparing several landscapers can help you find the best services for your garden. I understand that doing some research and reading online reviews can help you find the best landscaping contractor that knows how to help with the type of design I want to have for my garden.

  43. You’re welcome Marcus. It’s also important to consider the Nevada State Contractors Board website for more information when you do hire a licensed contractor:
    http://www.nscb.nv.gov/landscaping_guide.html . Good luck on your garden!

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