Retaining the services of a qualified landscaper in New York City to handle your lawn care and landscape upgrade can fetch you an extra 15 percent on your property when you are ready to sell. Apart from improving your curb appeal with the right design, these professionals are well trained to help you pick the best grass, save resources, and mitigate hazards associated with landscaping. To make sure that the landscaper you hire has the proper skill set to complete the job safely and in line with the New York City Zoning Ordinance, you should consider asking the following questions:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Landscaper in New York City?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Landscapers in New York City?
- Do You Comply with the New York City Landscape Ordinance?
- Will You Get the Landscaping Permit Required as per the New York City Code?
- What Kind of Landscaping Services Do You Offer?
- What are the Best Types of Grass for Lawns in New York City?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Landscapers in New York City?
New York City requires all individuals that perform home improvement work within its jurisdiction to obtain a Home Improvement Contractor License from its Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP). This home improvement work includes the landscaping of any residential land in the city, and individuals that fail to obtain this license can face several city-imposed penalties, such as a $500 fine per violation. Similarly, landscape contractors in the city that specifically refer to themselves as landscape architects are also required to obtain a state-issued Landscape Architect License from the New York State Department of Education's Office of the Professions.
City-issued Home Improvement Contractor Licenses can be obtained from the DCWP online or by calling (212) 436-0441 to schedule an in-person appointment and subsequently filing for a license at any of the following locations:
- DCWP Licensing Center
- 42 Broadway
- New York, NY 10004
- NYC Small Business Support Center
- 90-27 Sutphin Boulevard
- 4th Floor
- Jamaica, NY 11435
Likewise, applicants for the state-issued Landscape Architect License will be required to complete an appropriate license application form online. Note that applicants for both city and state-issued landscaping-related licenses are typically required to meet certain eligibility requirements, which generally include the payment of licensing fees, sitting for and passing a licensing examination, and submitting any requested documentation. Queries related to city and state-issued landscaping-related licenses can be directed to the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and the New York State Department of Education at (212) 639-9675 and (518) 474-3817 respectively.
It is your responsibility to confirm that any landscaper you hire in New York City possesses a valid license. You can verify city-issued Home Improvement Contractor Licenses online via the DCWP's Online Services Portal. The New York State Department of Education also provides an online platform that can be used to verify the licensing status of landscape architects in the city.
It is always a good idea to find out how much your required landscaping services will cost you when searching for a Landscaper in the city. According to the United States Bureau of Statistics, this category of professionals earns an average wage of $18 per hour in New York City. However, the specific cost of hiring these contractors is primarily dependent on factors like the nature and scope of work that they are expected to do, and the amount of labor that this work will require. You should consider getting estimates from at least three different Landscapers in your vicinity to get a fair idea of how much your landscaping project will cost you. This is also a good way to weed out contractors that charge grossly inflated rates for their services.
A landscaper in New York City earns an average wage of $38,650, annually. The table below provides a cost comparison of the average hourly wages of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in New York City against those of this category of individuals across the rest of New York State and other major American cities:New York City Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$18.58New York State Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$18.14Boston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$20.13Chicago Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$16.89Detroit Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$15.88Houston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.69Los Angeles Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$19.04
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
New York City adopts and implements several measures that are designed to regulate landscaping activities across the city. These include the NYC Rules for Special Areas and the city's Landscape Plan Guidelines. These measures and regulations provide minimum requirements that aim to improve the city's streetscapes and benefit the environment while also leaving room for landscaping flexibility and professional judgment.
It is always a good idea to make sure that your preferred landscape contractor is not only aware of these guidelines and regulations, but that they also implement them as required when working on your landscaping project. Doing this ensures that your home's landscaping does not violate any applicable city laws, and protects you from the sanctions and penalties that typically accompany these violations. To this end, you should consider contacting the NYC Department of City Planning's Central Office at (212) 720-3300 to get information on the specific city landscaping guidelines and regulations that may apply to your intended landscaping project.
A permit is typically required for any landscaping project in New York City that involves plumbing, electrical, or construction-related alterations to your home. Examples of this include the installation of irrigation systems and the building or demolition of fences on lawns. These permits are issued by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) and the specific permit type that will be required typically depends on the nature of the landscaping project in question.
Parties that wish to obtain a permit from the NYC Department of Buildings will be required to utilize its DOB Now: Build platform to carry out this process. Note that the registration of a user account is required for this. However, the DOB provides resources on the DOB Now: Build platform that can be used to get information on how to navigate the registration and the permit application process. Also, depending on the nature and scope of the landscaping project, the submission of plans and other additional documents may be requested during the application process. Queries related to the NYC permit issuing process can be directed to the city's Department of Buildings via phone number (212) 566-5000 or in person at any of the following DOB offices:
- Bronx Borough Office
- 1932 Arthur Avenue
- 5th Floor
- Bronx, NY 10457
- Phone: (718) 960-4720
- Brooklyn Borough Office
- 210 Joralemon Street
- 8th Floor
- Brooklyn, NY 11201
- Phone: (718) 802-3723
- Manhattan Borough Office
- 280 Broadway
- 3rd Floor
- New York, NY 10007
- Phone: (212) 323-7287
- Queens Borough Office
- 120-55 Queens Boulevard
- Kew Gardens, NY 11424
- Phone: (718) 286-8350
- Staten Island Borough Office
- Borough Hall
- 10 Richmond Terrace
- 2nd Floor
- Staten Island, NY 10301
- Phone: (718) 420-5418
It should be noted that city officials may conduct inspections of your landscaping project at various intervals of its progress and upon its completion to ensure that it complies with all relevant city laws. You can get information on regulations and requirements that may apply to your landscaping project by contacting your local DOB office via the contact information provided above. Information on landscaping guidelines and regulations can also be gotten by contacting the NYC Department of City Planning at any of its following borough offices mentioned below:
- Central Office
- 120 Broadway
- 31st Floor
- New York, NY 10271
- Phone: (212) 720-3300
- Manhattan Office
- 120 Broadway
- 31st Floor
- New York, NY 10271
- Phone: (212) 720-3480
- Brooklyn Office
- 16 Court Street
- 7th Floor
- Brooklyn, NY 11241-0103
- Phone: (718) 780-8280
- Bronx Office
- 1775 Grand Concourse
- Suite 503
- Bronx, NY 10453
- Phone: (718) 220-8500
- Queens Office
- 120-55 Queens Boulevard
- Room 201
- Kew Gardens, NY 11424
- Phone: (718) 520-2100
- Staten Island Office
- 130 Stuyvesant Place
- 6th Floor
- Staten Island, NY 10301-2511
- Phone: (718) 556-7240
Landscapers in New York City provide several types of services to interested parties. Common examples of these services include:
- Landscape design
- Landscape installation
- Landscape maintenance
It is essential to determine the area of specialization of any landscapers that you wish to employ and ascertain that they are skilled enough to perform your required landscaping task. You can do this by requesting pictures of similar work that they have completed and also requesting verifiable references of their past clients. You should consider it a red flag if any landscaper cannot provide you with this information.
Cost estimates of readily available landscaping services in New York City are provided below:Commercial landscape design$75 - $100 per square footResidential landscape design$95 - $105 per hourLandscape installation$42.50 - $55 per hour (labor only)Lawn mowing and maintenance$40 - $60 per visitLawn fertilization$85 - $140Garden Planning$80 - $100 per hourGeneral Bed Maintenance/Detailing$35 - $55Spring/Fall clean-up$100 - $300Pruning/Hedging$45 - $80 per hourLawn irrigation system installation$1,700 - $3,500Mulching$101 - 4123 per cubic yardLeaf removal$215 - $850Sodding$2.73 - $3.30 per square footWeed Control$40 - $90
New York City is prone to heatwaves, heavy rainstorms, coastal flooding, and other extreme weather conditions, and these events are projected to continue increasing in frequency and intensity given current climate change projections. As such, the best grasses for lawns in New York City are grasses that can tolerate harsh weather conditions, such as bluegrasses and fescues. Examples of these include:
- Kentucky bluegrass
- Pennlawn fescue
- Tall fescue
- Perennial ryegrass
- Roughstalk bluegrass
- Fine fescues
- Buffalo grass
It is advisable to consult a professional landscaper before deciding on a particular type of grass to use on your lawn. You can utilize online directories provided by organizations like the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the Better Business Bureau to find qualified New York City landscapers within your vicinity. Note that you should always confirm the licensing status of any contractors that you contact via these platforms.
Landscaping is a potentially dangerous activity, and landscapers are routinely exposed to hazards like cuts and amputations, hand injuries, chemical injuries, lifting-related injuries, slips, trips, and falls. More than 100 fatal occupational injuries and 10,000 nonfatal occupational injuries were reported amongst landscaping and groundskeeping workers in the United States in 2020 alone. Situations where these injuries, or any other unforeseen negative events, occur during your project can lead to out-of-pocket expenses and possible legal problems. As such, it is necessary to ensure that you always employ landscape contractors that are not only licensed but are also properly insured. Doing this absolves you of the financial and legal liabilities associated with unexpected and detrimental work-related events.
New York City does not have any insurance requirements that are specific to landscapers. However, these individuals are typically required to provide workers' compensation insurance information before they can obtain a DCWP-issued Home Improvement Contractor License. Landscapers that wish to pull permits from the City's Department of Buildings are also generally expected to meet certain insurance requirements, which are typically determined by the nature and scope of the job for which the permit is required. You can get more information on these insurance requirements by contacting the NYC DOB and DCWP at (212) 566-5000 and (212) 639-9675 respectively. You should also always confirm that all applicable requirements have been duly met by your preferred landscapers by requesting copies of their insurance certificates and authenticating these documents with the appropriate insurance providers.
Home improvement scams are an unfortunate, and yet common occurrence in New York City. These scams generally involve fraudulent contractors obtaining money from unsuspecting New Yorkers through various deceptive methods. Examples include contractors receiving money for specific types of landscaping materials and then providing subpar or low-quality materials, intentionally misrepresenting their licensing status, and leaving jobs uncompleted after receiving payment. In April 2019, the New York Attorney General announced that a contractor had been banned from providing home improvement services to residents of the state after being found guilty of scamming consumers out of thousands of dollars. According to a press release by the Attorney General's Office, home improvement related-complaints ranked eighth amongst the top ten categories of consumer complaints it received in 2019.
The following tips can help you can spot fraudulent contractors and avoid falling victim to a landscaping scam in New York City:
- Be cautious of unsolicited contractors or contractors that try to pressure you to retain their services
- Get and compare estimates from several contractors before settling on one best suited to your budget
- Confirm that the contractor possesses a valid DCWP-issued Home Improvement Contractor License. If the contractor claims to also be a state-licensed landscape architect, then you should equally verify this
- Get reviews and testimonials on the contractor by asking for references and contacting them or by utilizing third-party review platforms like the Better Business Bureau
- Always get a written and detailed contract for the project that spells out the responsibilities of the contractor, an estimated timeline for the project, and the types of materials to be used for the job
- Avoid cash payments or requests for full upfront payments. Upfront payments should never exceed 20% of the project's total cost and subsequent payments should be based on the project's level of completion
- Keep copies of your signed contract, receipts, invoices, and all other important project-related documents
Complaints concerning landscaping or other types of home improvement scams can be filed with the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection by submitting two copies of a complaint form, along with copies of any relevant documentation, via fax to (212) 487-4482 or by mail-in to:
- NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection
- Consumer Services Division
- 42 Broadway
- 9th Floor
- New York, NY 10004
Complaints can also be made to this department online. Depending on the outcome of the complaint resolution process, you may seek damages against the parties involved in the scam by filing a lawsuit against them in a New York City Court. However, you should always get proper legal advice before taking this step. You can do this by searching for licensed attorneys within your vicinity via the New York City Bar's Legal Referral Service. This service can also be contacted at (212) 626-7373.