Hiring the right landscaper in Nashville is not only a good way to boost your home's curb appeal, but also a prudent financial decision. A well-managed landscape provides you an extra 15 to 20 percent on your home's value when you decided to sell. Note, over 90 percent of Tennessee realtors believe curb appeal is important in selling a property quickly. When you are contracting a professional landscaper in the City of Nashville, asking the questions provided below can help you ensure that you hire the most suitable hand for the project:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Landscaper in the City of Nashville?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Landscapers in the City of Nashville?
- Do You Comply with the City of Nashville Landscape Ordinance?
- Will You Get the Landscaping Permit Required as per the City of Nashville Code?
- What Kind of Landscaping Services Do You Offer?
- What are the Best Types of Grass for Lawns in the City of Nashville?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Landscapers in the City of Nashville?
Landscaper licensing and regulation in the City of Nashville is handled at the state level by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance through its Board for Licensing Contractors.
Per the requirements of this board, landscapers in the city that wish to perform projects worth a total value of $3,000 - $24,999 must possess a Home Improvement License. Likewise, landscape contractors that wish to work on projects worth $25,000 or more must possess a valid BC-29 Landscaping Contractor License. Individuals that perform landscaping activities without possessing the appropriate licenses can face Class A misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by civil penalties of up to $5,000 in fines. Contractor and home improvement license applications can be completed online via the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance's CORE platform. Applicants will have to register a user account to complete the application process. The department provides contractor license and home improvement license instruction resources that interested parties can access to glean information on the application process for their required licenses.
Note that the payment of an application fee and the submission of documents like proof of insurance and letters of reference may be required during this application process. Applicants that wish to obtain a contractor license will also be required to write and pass a business and law examination. You can contact the state's Board for Licensing Contractors via phone numbers (615) 741-8307 and (800) 544-7693 or email to get more information on its licensing requirements and procedures for landscapers in Nashville. Inquiries can also be made directly to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance at (615) 741-2241.
Making sure that your intended landscaper has been duly licensed is a necessary step in ensuring the success of your project. To this end, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance provides an online License Search and Verification platform that members of the public can use to authenticate the licenses of professionals that they intend to hire. You can also consider using the search tips provided by this department when authenticating your landscaper's license to ensure that you get adequate results.
While landscapers in the Nashville area are estimated to earn an average hourly wage of $14, the actual cost of hiring one of these professionals is affected by several variables. These variables include:
- The nature of your landscaping project
- The types of landscaping materials needed for the project and their respective costs
- The size of the area that requires landscaping
- The amount of work required to prepare the area for the landscaping
In addition, not all landscape contractors in the city utilize an hourly billing structure, and some of these professionals may charge you per square foot or linear foot of area that is being landscaped or flat fees for specific services. To ensure that you get a proper estimate of the potential cost of your landscaping project, you should request bids from at least two or three landscapers and compare these bids. Getting bids from several contractors can also help you eliminate possible fraudulent contractors that inflate their rates or deliberately undercharge to deceptively get you to contract with them.
A landscaper in Nashville earns an average wage of $29,450, annually. The table below provides a cost comparison of the average hourly wages of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in Nashville against those of this category of individuals across the rest of Tennessee and other major American cities:Nashville Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.16Tennessee Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.14Los Angeles Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$19.04Chicago Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$16.89Detroit Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$15.88Houston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.69New York City Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$18.58
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Chapter 17.24 of the Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County provides standards and requirements for landscaping, buffering, and tree-related activities in Nashville. This ordinance makes provisions for several landscaping-related matters, including tree protection and replacement, scenic land easements, parking area screening and landscaping, buffer yards, street trees, streetscapes, and landscape materials. However, the requirements of this landscaping ordinance do not apply to certain types of projects, such as:
- Projects that involve the improvement or repair of interior and exterior features of existing structures. This includes the partial or total conversion of non-residential buildings to residential use, per local statutory requirements
- Projects for which a previously authorized building permit was issued or a final site plan of planned unit development was approved, provided that this permit or approval is still valid and has not expired as at the effective date of this law
- Projects that involve dealing with excessive tree damage caused by natural disasters
Hiring a landscaper that is conversant with the requirements of the city's landscaping ordinance and implements them when working on your project goes a long way in ensuring its success. You can get additional information on the city's landscaping ordinance and find out the specific provisions of this law that apply to your project by contacting the Nashville Department of Codes and Building Safety at:
- Metro Office Building
- Codes Department
- 800 2nd Avenue South
- 1st Floor
- Nashville, TN 37210
- Phone: (615) 862-6500
- Hours: 7:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
Questions can also be directed to the city's Urban Forestry Division at (615) 862-6488.
A tree removal permit is usually required before trees that are at least 6 inches in truck width can be removed from commercial property in Nashville. Parties that wish to obtain these permits may do so by contacting the city's Urban Forestry Division at (615) 862-6488 or (615) 862-6886.
Excluding commercial tree removal permits, specific landscaping permits are typically not required for landscaping activities in the City of Nashville. However, per Chapter 17.24 of the Code of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, a landscape plan must be submitted along with final site plan approval applications for the construction of permanent structures in the city. Likewise, building permits may be required for landscaping projects that involve construction-related activities like the installation or alteration of patio covers, decks, and porches. Building permit applications can be submitted online via the city's E-Permit System. Note that only licensed contractors can utilize this system. Homeowners that wish to obtain building permits themselves will have to do so in person at the Nashville Department of Codes and Building Safety's Development Services Center located at:
- Metro Office Building
- Codes Department
- 800 2nd Avenue South
- 1st Floor
- Nashville, TN 37210
In-person applicants are advised to book appointments before visiting the center, either by calling (615) 862-6500 or via email. Email bookings should include the applicant's phone number and property address. The city official assigned to process the building permit application typically acts as a contact and guide for the applicant to ensure that the permitting process is as smooth as possible. Note that the payment of fees and the submission of additional documentation like site plans and renderings may be required during the permit review process. Also, once permit applications have been reviewed, approved, and issued, the permitted work will be subject to inspections by authorized city officials to ensure that it is being done in compliance with all relevant local codes and ordinances. Questions concerning the Nashville final site plan approval, permitting, and inspection processes can be directed to (615) 862-6500.
You should always determine the area of specialization of landscapers in Nashville, and make sure that it is in line with the requirements of your project, before hiring them. Professional landscape contractors in the city are generally experienced in several kinds of landscaping services, such as landscape design and construction, lawn maintenance services, new lawn installations, hydroseeding, mulching and blowing, and shrub planting and trimming. Nevertheless, always get verbal confirmation on this from your intended landscaper and go a step further by requesting verifiable references as well as a copy of their portfolio. Doing this can help you ascertain whether or not the Landscaper actually has the right skillset and tools to professionally handle your job.
Be wary of landscapers that are unable to provide you with the requested information and strongly consider striking them off your list of potential hires. Once you have determined that a landscaper can provide your specific landscaping service, you should also ask them to provide you with a cost estimate for the job. Cost estimates for some commonly requested landscaping services in the City of Nashville are provided below:Residential landscape design$55 - $62 per hourLawn mowing and maintenance$30 - $75 per visitLawn fertilization$52 - $56 per applicationLawn treatment$60 - $80Garden Planning$40 - $60 per hourGeneral Bed Maintenance/Detailing$30 - $60Spring/Fall clean-up$120 - $380Pruning/Hedging$45 - $95Lawn irrigation system installation$950 - $1,500Mulching$61 - $75 per cubic yardLeaf removal$100 - $240Sodding$1,000 - $3,500Weed Control$55 - $65
Nashville has a transitional climate and experiences relatively cold winters, hot muggy summers, and frequent thunderstorms during these summers. According to the city's 2021 Sustainability Advisory Committee Report, there will likely be an increase in climate risks such as intense storms and tornadoes, frequent flooding, and extreme heat days in the coming years. As such, when considering grasses for your lawns, it is necessary to take the city's current climate, as well as future changes to this climate, into account. To this end, the best choices for lawn grasses in Nashville are cool-season and warm-season grasses with moderate-to-high drought tolerance like:
- Turf-type tall fescues
- Fine fescues
However, before planting any of these grasses, you should consider factors like the availability of sunlight and shade on your lawn, foot traffic, and the level of maintenance that you are willing to do. Retaining the services of a landscaper can help you ensure that you end up selecting the best type of grass that will flourish under your lawn's unique conditions. You can find good landscaping companies in Nashville by getting referrals from trusted relatives and friends or through online resources like the Better Business Bureau and the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Note that it is your responsibility to ensure that any Landscaper you hire in the city possesses a valid occupational license.
Landscapers in the City of Nashville are required to meet certain mandatory insurance requirements before they can legally offer their services to interested parties in the city. These requirements include obtaining workers' compensation insurance for their employees and carrying general liability insurance. The minimum coverage amount for this general liability insurance typically depends on the type of license that the landscaper possesses as well as the monetary limit on the license, and it ranges from $100,000 to $1,000,000. In addition, landscapers that possess a home improvement license are also required to provide proof of financial responsibility in the form of a $10,000 surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit.
Always make sure that your intended landscaper is duly insured and bonded where necessary, as this provides you with financial and legal protection in the event of unforeseen situations like property damage or on-the-job accidents during your project. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 100 fatal and 10,000 non-fatal work-related injuries occurred amongst landscapers in 2020 alone. Working with uninsured professionals makes you liable for these injuries, leading to avoidable out-of-pocket expenses. Confirm the insurance and bonding status of your intended landscaping contractor by requesting and authenticating proof of this insurance and bonding with the relevant issuing organizations. You can also contact the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance's Board for Licensing Contractors at (615) 741-8307 or (800) 544-7693 to get additional information on the mandatory insurance requirements for Nashville landscape contractors.
Being on the lookout for deceptive and fraudulent contractors that carry out landscaping and home improvement scams is a necessary action to take in ensuring the success of your landscaping project. According to the Tennessee Attorney General's Office's Division of Consumer Affairs, nearly 500 home improvement-related complaints were made by homeowners in 2020, making it the top complaint category in the state. A majority of these scams involve contractors providing shoddy service, not completing work after receiving payment, or causing significant damage to the home and property of the consumer during the course of the job. To protect yourself against scams when searching for landscapers in Nashville, you should consider the following tips:
- Beware of door-to-door contractors that offer landscaping services
- Always verify the licensing status of landscapers before hiring them
- Contact the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance's Board for Licensing Contractors at (615) 532-3996 or (800) 544-7693 to check the contractor's complaint and disciplinary history
- Get bids for your project from no less than two to three landscapers
- Request references and make sure you check out these references. You can also look up third-party reviews on the Landscaper via platforms like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review
- Avoid verbal agreements. Insist on a written contract for your project and make sure that you read and properly understand this contract before signing it
- Make sure that the landscaper pulls any building permits that may be required for the job
- Request and authenticate proof of insurance and bonding where necessary from the contractor
- Avoid cash payments
- Do not make any down payments that exceed one-third of the total value of your project. Never pay the complete cost of your project before work commences
In December 2021, the Tennessee Attorney General's Office's Division of Consumer Affairs issued a scam alert warning consumers in the area of a spike in home improvement scams and urging them to remain vigilant against these scams. You can report landscaping, and other types of home improvement scams that occur in the City of Nashville to this office, either online or by completing and submitting a printable complaint form via email or mail-in to:
- Division of Consumer Affairs
- Tennessee Attorney General's Office
- P.O. Box 20207
- Nashville, TN 37202-0207
Complaints concerning the actions of landscapers in Nashville can also be reported to the Board for Licensing Contractors of the state's Department of Commerce and Insurance online via the CORE platform. Note that complainants that wish to track the progress of their complaints will be required to create a user account on this platform.