How To Hire A Landscape Contractor

Key Things You Should Look For To Ensure Your Landscaping Experience Is Professional & Positive.

CLCA Membership

What CLCA Membership Means For You

The California Landscape Contractors Association is the nation's oldest and largest organization of licensed landscape and landscape speciality contractors.

Formally incorporated in 1952, CLCA's 17 chapters foster professional development and further the industry.

CLCA membership demonstrates a commitment by the landscaper to promote the professionalism and creativity of their company and their industry.

References & Portfolio

Expect to be provided with a reference list and examples of completed projects. Ask to tour projects similar to yours. Visiting a project in progress can be instructive as well. A "track record" of accomplishments can be demonstrated using:

  • Photos of completed projects,
  • Letters of appreciation,
  • Examples of community work,
  • A biography, and
  • Articles the contractor has written.

Some professionals take great pride in awards for excellence in landscaping. Awards encourage interest in landscaping, recognize artisans who produce outstanding landscapes, create pride in superior workmanship and bestow public recognition on companies and residents for their role in creating a more beautiful California.

Professional Services

A landscape firm may coordinate many specialties to create your landscape, including:

  • Clearing /grading the land,
  • Ensuring that there is proper and adequate drainage,
  • Creating decks, patios, masonry walls, rockscapes, water features, paving and other creative effects,
  • Installing and managing irrigation systems,
  • Crafting interiorscapes and specialty gardens,
  • Installing lighting for safety and enjoyment,
  • Selecting and planting everything from the most delicate of flowers to massive trees,
  • Managing your garden to promote environmental health, and
  • Auditing water use to eliminate waste.


The California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) and the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) are two of the leading professional associations that test and certify members of the green industry.

CLCA Certified Water Managers must pass a written test and complete a rigorous year-long field performance test that documents their ability to use water wisely.

In California, CLCA administers PLANET's Landscape Industry Certified Technician test. Applicants must pass a rigorous written & "hands-on" examination demonstrating a thorough knowledge of installation, maintenance and irrigation.CLCA also administers PLANET's Landscape Industry Certified Manager program. Applicants must pass an examination focusing on horticulture practices as well as business and professional development.

If your project costs more than $500, the contractor must be licensed by the state. To verify a license, contact the California State License Board by phone at (800) 321-2752 or visit them online at

Contractors must demonstrate a minimum level of competency and financial responsibility to be licensed. All CLCA member-contractors meet this requirement.

California's cities and counties require business licenses.

The Department of Agriculture requires landscape firms applying pesticides in California to have a pest control license.

Workers' compensation insurance protects you in case a worker employed by a contractor is injured on your property.

General liability insurance protects against not-so-natural disasters.

These policies typically offer a minimum coverage of $300,000 to $1 million for residential and at least $1 million for commercial work. Automobile insurance provides additional protection when a contractor's vehicle is involved in an accident on your property.