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Licensed Landscaper in Los Angeles, CA

How to Hire a Good Landscaper in Los Angeles

Landscaping is one home improvement investment that can easily add over 10 percent to your property price in Los Angeles, and return a whopping 267 percent when accomplished by a qualified landscaper. Even when you are not selling to the roaring California housing market, a good landscaper will help qualify you for local turf replacement rebates on a new lawn.

However, before retaining the services of any landscaper in Los Angeles, always ask these questions to ensure that you pick the best hand:

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper in the City of Los Angeles

  1. Are You Licensed to Practice as a Landscaper in the City of Los Angeles?

    The California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) is the regulatory authority for landscapers in the City of Los Angeles. Per this agency's requirements, any Landscaper in the city that wishes to perform work for which the combined labor, materials, and other related costs is $500 or more must possess a C-27 - Landscaping Contractor License before doing so. Violating this licensing requirement is considered a misdemeanor offense, and first offenders can receive a statutory punishment of up to $5,000 in fines, six months in jail, or a combination of both, as well as an administrative fine of $200 - $15,000. Note that these statutory and administrative penalties increase with subsequent offenses.

    Interested parties that wish to obtain a C-27 - Landscaping Contractor License from the CSLB must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include the following:

    • They must have reached the age of 18
    • They must have attained a minimum of four years of landscaping work experience at no lower than the journeyman level within 10 years of the date the license request is being made. Note that the submission of acceptable documentation to verify this work experience is usually required
    • They must properly complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License form, along with any stipulated fees and additional documentation that the CLSB may require at the time of the application
    • They must sit for, and pass, a CSLB-administered licensing examination. It should be noted that the CSLB runs a reciprocity program that allows applicants from certain areas of the United States to waive the trade portion of its licensing examination. However, whether or not this waiver is granted is entirely dependent on the CSLB

    Applicants that meet all of the CSLB's eligibility requirements will be issued the requested contractor license, which will subsequently need to be renewed every two years. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get more information on its landscaper licensing process. It is also a good idea to confirm the licensing status of any landscaper that you intend to hire in Los Angeles. This can be done either by calling the CSLB via the aforementioned phone number or by utilizing this agency's online license check portal.

  2. How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Landscapers in the City of Los Angeles?

    Landscapers in the City of Los Angeles typically utilize either an hourly or square footage fee billing structure when charging for their services. As such, you should always get confirmation on this from any Landscaper that you intend to hire. It is also a good idea to get estimates from multiple contractors when looking to hire a landscaper in the city. This is because landscaping fees are generally influenced by factors like the specific type of landscaping work that is to be done and the labor intensity of this work. By getting multiple estimates, you can compare prices and come up with an average cost for your project.

    A landscaper in Los Angeles earns an average wage of $39,590, annually. The table below provides a cost comparison of the average hourly wages of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in Los Angeles against those of this category of individuals across the rest of California and other major American cities:

    Los Angeles Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $19.04
    California Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $18.68
    New York City Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $18.58
    Boston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $20.13
    Detroit Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $15.88
    Chicago Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $16.89
    Houston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
    $14.69

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  3. Do You Comply with the City of Los Angeles Landscape Ordinance?

    Making sure that your landscaper is conversant with the regulations and guidelines of the City of Los Angeles Landscape Ordinance is an essential step to take in ensuring a satisfactory outcome to your landscaping project. This ordinance contains stipulations and provisions that aim to bring order and certainty to the city's development process by doing the following:

    • Improving the city's physical, social, economic, and aesthetic environment by ensuring the proper design and construction of landscaping related to all land use
    • Ensuring that all landscaping work done in the city complies with relevant local and state-level mandates
    • Providing necessary regulation to ensure the safety of members of the public as regards their interactions with landscapes across the city while also allowing for design flexibility in these landscapes

    Confirming that your intended landscape contractor is familiar with and works per the requirements of the city's landscape ordinance ensures that your landscape project does not violate any of this ordinance's provisions. This in turn saves you from the penalties associated with ordinance violations and the financial, legal, and physical stress that typically comes with these penalties. You can get more information on the City of Los Angeles Landscape Ordinance and how this ordinance may specifically influence your landscaping project by contacting the Los Angeles City Planning Department at (213) 978-1271. Queries on this subject may also be directed to the city's Department of Building and Safety at (213) 482-0061.

  4. Will You Get the Landscaping Permit Required as per the City of Los Angeles Code?

    Landscaping-specific permits are generally not required for residential landscaping in Los Angeles. However, the city's Landscape Ordinance stipulates that building, grading, and use of land permits for construction and home improvement projects cannot be obtained unless the projects in question have been approved by the Los Angeles City Planning Department. The first step of this approval process typically involves researching and identifying the necessary zoning regulations that may apply to the project through the city's ZIMAS mapping tool. The next step is consulting with City Planning Department staff to determine the necessary landscape plan requirements. The specific documents that will be required are primarily dependent on the nature and scope of the project in question. After this has been done, the required documents are to be submitted to the Los Angeles City Planning Department for review at any of the following locations:

    • Metro/Downtown DSC
    • 201 N. Figueroa Street
    • 4th Floor
    • Los Angeles, CA 90012
    • Phone: (213) 482-7077
    • Van Nuys DSC
    • 6262 Van Nuys Boulevard
    • Suite 251
    • Van Nuys, CA 91401
    • Phone: (818) 374-5050
    • West Los Angeles DSC
    • 1828 Sawtelle Boulevard
    • 2nd Floor
    • West Los Angeles, CA 90025
    • Phone: (310) 231-2598

    Once the submitted documents have been reviewed and approved, applicants are issued the necessary clearances for the project and can then proceed to obtain the relevant building, grading, or use of land permits from the city's Department of Building and Safety (LADBS).

    An advantage of hiring duly licensed landscapers is that these professionals are typically conversant with the permit requirements for landscaping projects in the city. Nonetheless, it is also a good idea to find out the requirements for your specific project before commencing it. You can do this by contacting any of the Los Angeles City Planning Department locations mentioned above or by contacting its executive office at:

    • Los Angeles City Hall
    • 200 N. Spring Street
    • Suite 525
    • Los Angeles, CA 90012
    • Phone: (213) 978-1271

    Information on permit requirements for landscaping-related projects can also be gotten by contacting the LADBS at (213) 473-3231.

  5. What Kind of Landscaping Services Do You Offer?

    Professional landscapers provide a wide range of services to interested parties in the City of Los Angeles. These services include residential and commercial landscaping services, landscape installation, landscape maintenance, landscape design, as well as more specialized services like hardscaping, softscaping, and xeriscaping. These services typically require varying levels of experience and knowledge of subjects like horticulture and arboriculture. As such, it is important to ensure that your preferred landscape contractor is the right fit for the job by asking them to confirm their areas of specialization. It is also advisable to go a step further by requesting pictures of landscape projects similar to yours that the contractor has recently completed. Professional landscapers will willingly provide this information, and you should be wary of any contractor that is hesitant to do so. Once this has been done, you should also request a cost estimate for your intended project. Listed below are cost estimates for common landscaping services available to residents of Los Angeles:

    Commercial landscape design
    $35 - $50 per hour
    Residential landscape design
    $80.95 - $91.75 per hour
    Residential home planting plan design
    $400 - $1,150
    Landscape installation
    $35 - $55 per hour (labor only)
    Garden Planning
    $65 - $90 per hour
    General Bed Maintenance/Detailing
    $50 - $100
    Spring/Fall clean-up
    $130 - $300
    Pruning/Hedging
    $50 - $110
    Lawn irrigation system installation
    $1,700 - $2,500
    Mulching
    $93 - $112 per cubic foot
    Leaf removal
    $75 - $270
    Sodding
    $400 - $1,200
    Weed Control
    $55 - $65
    Fertilization
    $60 - $75
  6. What are the Best Types of Grass for Lawns in the City of Los Angeles?

    According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the City of Los Angeles is categorized as having a Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by pronounced seasonal changes in rainfall. Unfortunately, this climate type has led to several severe droughts over time and subsequent state and local water conservation laws to combat the water shortage that typically accompanies these droughts. This includes California Civil Code Section 4735, which grants Los Angeles homeowners the right to use artificial turf or synthetic grasses on their lawns, and prohibits any local authorities in the area from preventing them from doing so. Nonetheless, there are several options for homeowners in the city that prefer the natural and realistic feel of real grass and wish to install these natural grasses on their lawns.

    Given the high temperatures and frequent dry periods commonly experienced in the city, the best types of natural grass for lawns in Los Angeles are grasses that are both shade and drought-tolerant. Examples of these types of grasses include:

    • Buffalo grass
    • Sand dune sedge
    • Native California bentgrass
    • Bermuda grass
    • Zoysia grass
    • St. Augustine grass
    • Bahiagrass

    Note that it is always a good idea to consult with a landscaper before planting any of these grasses on your lawn to ensure that you get optimal results. You can find qualified landscapers in Los Angeles via the CSLB's Find My Licensed Contractor portal and other reputable online organizations the Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

  7. Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Landscapers in the City of Los Angeles?

    Landscapers typically face a wide variety of on-the-job hazards, such as cuts and amputations, chemical exposure, slips, trips, falls, and equipment accidents. It is estimated that landscaping-related accidents account for at least 100 deaths and 143,000 severe injuries every year. To this end, all licensed landscapers in the City of Los Angeles are statutorily required to post a surety bond of $15,000 and carry workers' compensation insurance if they have at least one employee.

    In addition to these compulsory bonding and insurance requirements, it is also advisable to make sure that any landscaper you employ has a valid liability insurance plan. This insurance provides you with financial insulation if any detrimental on-the-job events occur during your landscaping project. Always confirm that your intended landscape contractor is duly bonded and insured before concluding any hiring arrangements with them. You can do this by requesting copies of their bonding and insurance certificates and contacting the issuing organizations to authenticate the provided documents. You can also contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get additional information on the statutory bonding and insurance requirements for landscapers in Los Angeles.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Landscaper in the City of Los Angeles

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, contractor and home improvement-related complaints were the second most common type of complaints made by homeowners in the Los Angeles area. These complaints mostly involved instances where contractors failed to complete projects that they had started, purposely failed to disclose their licensing status, or absconded with payment received for projects without providing the required services. To this end, several state and local-level regulatory authorities regularly take steps to protect homeowners in Los Angeles from the actions of these fraudulent contractors. For example, a January 2019 collaborative effort between the CSLB, the LA City Attorney's Office, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) resulted in the arrest of 16 contractors, including two landscapers, allegedly involved in illegal contracting activities in the area.

However, it is important to take personal steps to protect yourself from home improvement scams, regardless of the actions taken by these regulatory authorities. As such, you should always consider the following tips when looking for landscape contractors in Los Angeles to avoid falling for a landscaping scam:

  • Be wary of landscapers that utilize high-pressure sales or scare tactics to sell you their services
  • Make sure that the landscapers that you are considering hiring are not listed on the CSLB's Most Wanted List. You can also lookup reviews on these contractors via third-party websites like the Better Business Bureau, Google Review, and Yelp
  • Verify the licensing status of your preferred landscaper by contacting the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 or online. Also, make sure that this contractor is duly bonded and insured
  • Always request references from any landscaper that you intend to hire. Be cautious of contractors that cannot provide the names and contact details of at least three local past clients. You should also ask for pictures of the landscaper's past work
  • Get estimates for your project from at least three different landscapers, as this is a good way to avoid being overcharged by a particular contractor. It is also a good idea to ask the contractors to inspect the project site before providing these estimates, to ensure their accuracy
  • Never pay the full cost of the project upfront and make sure that you are given a well-detailed contract for the project before any work commences. If you have to make any upfront payments, limit it to a maximum of either $1,000 or 10% of the project's total cost, whichever value is less. Likewise, make sure that you properly review the contract you are given and clearly understand its terms before signing it
  • Insist on receipts for any payments that you make and store these properly along with the contract and all other documentation related to the project

The actions of fraudulent Los Angeles landscapers can be reported to the CSLB by filing a construction complaint with this agency. You can also report suspected or confirmed landscaping and home improvement scams that take place in the City of Los Angeles to the LA City Attorney's Office by calling (213) 978-8070, (877) 522-2737or via this office's online consumer complaint portal. Finally, these matters can be reported to the LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs online or via phone numbers (213) 974-1452 and (800) 593-8222, as well as to the LAPD by calling (213) 928-8223.

It should be noted that even though these agencies may take several actions to resolve matters that are reported to them, there is no guarantee that you will receive personal remedies as a result of these actions. However, you can take private steps to seek these personal remedies by consulting with a qualified attorney and filing a lawsuit against the subject of your report or complaint at an appropriate Los Angeles County Court. You can get referrals to attorneys in Los Angeles by accessing the State Bar of California's Need Legal Help webpage.