Let’s Get Growing with Julie: Hiring a Landscape Professional


Julie Mcconnell Uf Ext 1By Julie McConnell, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County

In my role as horticulture agent, I get a lot of requests for recommendations for landscape installation, maintenance, and pest control. To remain objective and avoid any conflict of interest, I cannot provide referrals. However, I can educate callers on how to be informed consumers by sharing Florida Friendly Landscaping™ Principles and explaining certifications to verify when hiring a company.

Unlike many other skilled trades, landscape and grounds maintenance is mostly unregulated by the State of Florida, except for commercial (for-hire) pesticide and fertilizer applications. Any person applying fertilizer or pesticide in a landscape setting for hire must hold the appropriate certifications required by Florida Statute Chapter 482 and Administrative Rules 5E-14, which are enforced by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).

Lawn MowerLet’s start out by defining fertilizers and pesticides. A fertilizer is any substance that contains at least one recognized plant nutrient which promotes plant growth, affects soil acidity/alkalinity, or enriches the soil. This includes synthetic or organic fertilizers, lime, or sulfur applications. A pesticide is any substance that repels, kills, or inhibits the growth of a pest (weed, pathogen, arthropod, animal) which includes herbicides, insecticides, miticides, fungicides, rodenticides, disinfectants, etc. Combination products such as “weed-n-feed” are both a fertilizer and a pesticide and require both certifications when applied by a green industry professional.

How do you know if the person you want to hire is certified? FDACS maintains a public database online that anyone can access here https://aessearch.fdacs.gov/ Each individual applying pesticides or fertilizers in a landscape must be certified, but there are many types of certifications in Florida so below is a quick reference guide for certifications relevant to home and business landscapes:

Fertilizer applications to landscape plants (lawn, ornamentals, flowers, trees) at a home or businesses not owned by the applicator require the Limited Urban Commercial Fertilizer certification. The license number for this certificate starts with “LF”. Each person making applications must have their own certificate, there is no “working under” someone else’s license allowed.

Pesticide applications to lawns (excludes sports turf) and/or ornamental beds requires an ID Card/Pest Control license. This license number will start with “JE”.

Pesticide applications to ornamental beds only (lawns applications not permitted with this certification) must hold the Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance certification. This number will start with “LC”.

Whether or not your landscape maintenance will require chemical applications it is a good idea to also verify the company has Workers’ Compensation https://dwcdataportal.fldfs.com/ProofOfCoverage.aspx and liability insurance (request proof of insurance).

Other certifications that are not required but indicate voluntary advanced training by the individual include:

• Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Certified Professional (FFLCP) https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/ffl-and-you/ffl-professional-certification/fflcp-list/
• Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) certifications https://profile.fngla.org/verify-a-certification
• Certified Horticulture Professional (FCHP)
• Certified Landscape Technician (FCLT)
• Certified Landscape Designer (FCLD)
• Certified Landscape Contractor (FCLD)
• Certified Landscape Irrigation Service Technician (FCLIST)
• Registered Landscape Architect (RLA) License https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp?mode=0&SID=
International Society of Arborists (ISA) certification http://www.isa-arbor.com/findanarborist/arboristsearch.aspx

For more detailed Guidelines for Hiring a Florida-Friendly Landscape Professional visit https://go.ufl.edu/56mt8xu.

An Equal Opportunity Institution. UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Andra Johnson, Dean. Single copies of UF/IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free to Florida residents from county UF/IFAS Extension offices.