Well-planned and executed landscape can add up to 15 percent or more to your property's value in Houston. That is an extra $37,500 or more on a typical single-family home of $245,000 in the city for investing in the services of a good landscaper. While finding a qualified landscaper in the city may be a hard task, you can be sure you are hiring the best hand for your landscaping project if your professional understands the Houston Landscape Ordinance and by also getting answers to the questions mentioned below:
- Are You Licensed to Practice as a Landscaper in the City of Houston?
- How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Landscapers in the City of Houston?
- Do You Comply with the City of Houston Landscape Ordinance?
- Will You Get the Landscaping Permit Required as per the City of Houston Code?
- What Kind of Landscaping Services Do You Offer?
- What are the Best Types of Grass for Lawns in the City of Houston?
- Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Landscapers in the City of Houston?
There are no city-level licensing requirements for landscapers in the City of Houston. However, any landscapers that provide services that involve the application of restricted-use or state-limited-use pesticides in the city are required to obtain a state-issued Commercial Pesticide Applicator License from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Applications for this license can be made online or by mailing a properly completed Application for Commercial Pesticide Applicator License Form to:
- Texas Department of Agriculture
- P.O. Box 12076
- Austin, TX 78711-2076
You can contact this department at (512) 463-7476, toll-free number (877) 542-2474, or via email to get more information on its licensing requirements and to also verify that your landscaper has a valid applicator license where necessary.
Also, considering that landscapers in Houston are not required to possess occupational licenses, it is a good idea to look out for professional certifications amongst these individuals. Landscapers have the option of obtaining certifications from several reputable local, national, and international trade associations, and these certifications typically indicate that the contractors have attained a certain level of on-the-job experience and competence. Examples of trades associations that issue professional certifications to landscapers in Houston include the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Tree Care Industry Association, and the Professional Grounds Management Society. Note that you should always request proof from any landscaping contractor that claims to be certified and authenticate this proof with the appropriate trade association.
Landscaping costs in the City of Houston are heavily influenced by a number of factors, such as the nature and scope of the landscaping project, and the cost of seeds, sod, and other materials that may be required. The size of the area that requires landscaping and the amount of energy that would be expended on the job are also factors that affect the amount of money you would have to pay for your landscaping project. Before commencing your project, you should consider getting estimates from several contractors in the city and comparing these estimates to get a fair idea of the average charges for your specific project. This is also a good way to avoid being overcharged by a particular landscape contractor.
A landscaper in Houston earns an average wage of $30,560, annually. The table below provides a cost comparison of the average hourly wages of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in Houston against those of this category of individuals across the rest of Texas and other major American cities:Houston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.69Texas Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$15.04New York City Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$18.58Los Angeles Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$19.04Chicago Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$16.89Phoenix Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$14.91Philadelphia Landscapers Hourly Average Wage$16.87
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The planting of trees and shrubs, the installation of landscaping buffers, and the preservation and care of existing trees on private properties in Houston are regulated by the city's Tree and Shrub Ordinance. This ordinance establishes minimum planting requirements that are designed to ensure and maintain the livability of the City of Houston in relation to landscape developments and green spaces. These requirements cover the removal and replacement of protected trees, the planting of shrubs, landscape buffers, street trees, and parking lot trees, and tree protection during and after construction projects.
It should be noted that the Houston Tree and Shrub Ordinance's planting requirements apply to all new single-family residential, multi-family residential, and commercial developments. Projects that involve building additions to non-SF residential developments that exceed 1,000 square feet and new parking lots or expanded portions of old lots must also comply with these planting requirements. Failure to meet any applicable requirements of the city's Tree and Shrub Ordinance can result in potential fines of up to $500 per day for each violation. You can get more information on the requirements of the Houston Tree and Shrub Ordinance by contacting the city's Planning and Development Department at (713) 837-7701 or (832) 393-6600.
Permits are typically required before the commencement of landscape-related projects in the City of Houston. These permits include the Residential Landscaping Permit and the Commercial Landscaping Permit, which are required for installing new landscaping on residential and commercial property respectively. Likewise, individuals that wish to remove trees on city property or on a setback are required to obtain a Tree Removal/Tree Trimming Permit before doing so.
The issuance of landscaping permits is handled by the Houston Permitting Center, and applications for these permits can be made online via this center's eServices portal. The registration of a user account is required for the proper utilization of this portal, and the Permitting Center provides several guides on the portal that interested parties can use to navigate both the user registration and permit application processes. Note that the payment of a permit fee and the submission of a completed building permit application and landscape plans are generally required before the requested permits can be issued. The specific types of plans that will be required are largely dependent on the nature and scope of the landscaping project. Similarly, parties that wish to obtain Tree Removal/Tree Trimming Permits will have to submit a written notice of intent to remove protected trees via email to the Urban Forestry Division of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department before commencing the online permit application process. Also, on-site inspections are typically conducted by authorized city officials once requested landscaping permits have been issued to ensure that the permitted work complies with the Houston Tree and Shrub Ordinance and other applicable city regulations.
You can direct queries related to Houston landscaping permits or get more information on the city's permitting process by contacting the Houston Permitting Center at:
- 1002 Washington Avenue
- Houston, TX 77002
- Phone: (832) 394-9000
Landscapers in Houston provide several services, including, but not limited to, lawn care and maintenance, lawn aeration and fertilization, mulching services, grass planting, and leaf and tree removal services. To ensure that you get the best available service, you need to confirm that your intended landscaper specializes in the area or type of landscaping that you need for your project. You can do this by getting verbal confirmation from the contractor and also requesting proof in the form of pictures of completed jobs and references of past clients. Professional landscapers that are properly equipped to get the job done will readily provide you with this information, while contractors that cannot guarantee proper service delivery will be hesitant to do so. Once you have ascertained that your intended landscaper is duly qualified for your specific type of landscaping project, you should find out how much this contractor will charge you for the job. Provided below are cost estimates for some landscaping services commonly offered by landscapers in the City of Houston:Landscape installation$38 - $68 per hour (labor only)Lawn mowing and maintenance$29 - $90 per visitLawn fertilization$53 - $125Residential landscape design$55 - $77 per hourCommercial landscape design$50 - $150 per hourGarden Planning$50 - $75 per hourGeneral Bed Maintenance/DetailingSpring/Fall cleanup - $50 - $550Pruning/Hedging$60 - $140Lawn irrigation system installation$900 - $2,500Mulching$64 - $78 per cubic yardLeaf removal$92 - $450Sodding$950 - $1,450Weed Control$65 - $95
According to the Houston Climate Impact Assessment, there have been significant increases in the city's annual average temperature as well as the number of hot days and warm nights with temperatures above 100 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit respectively. Per this assessment, the city is also expected to face greater variability in day-to-day precipitation and an increased risk of drought over the rest of this century. Given these present and expected climate conditions, the best types of grasses for lawns in Houston are:
- Bermuda grass
- St. Augustine grass
- Zoysia grass
These grasses are warm-season and drought-tolerant grasses that can withstand the city's climate. However, it should be noted that the results you will get from planting these grasses may be affected by factors like watering frequency, soil composition, and the amount of shade on your lawn. To get optimal results, you should always consult a professional landscaper. You can find these contractors in Houston online via platforms provided by reputable organizations like the Better Business Bureau, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, and the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
There are no mandatory insurance requirements for landscape contractors in the City of Houston. Regardless of this, it is of utmost importance to make sure that any contractor you hire is properly insured. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a total of 4,764 fatal work injuries and 2.7 million nonfatal work injuries occurred across the United States in 2020. Landscaping is a particularly risky occupation, with lawnmowers alone causing an estimated 87,600 emergency room visits annually. Hiring a landscape contractor that has adequate liability insurance prevents you from making out-of-pocket payments to cover any potential injuries that may occur during your landscaping project. This insurance also typically covers the cost of any property damage caused by the contractor during the execution of this project.
Always request proof of liability insurance from landscape contractors that you wish to hire. If the contractors have any employees that will be involved in the project, then they should also provide proof of workers' compensation insurance that covers these employees. Contact the relevant insurance organizations to validate the provided proof and to also confirm that the insurance coverage is adequate for the scope of your project.
Over 30,000 consumer protection-related cases are handled annually by the Texas Attorney General's Office. These cases include complaints of home improvement scams and other forms of consumer fraud. When searching for landscape contractors in Houston, it is necessary to be on the lookout for nefarious individuals that prey on unsuspecting homeowners through various scam activities. These scams typically involve the contractors targeting these homeowners via unsolicited visits, ads, or calls, and utilizing high-pressure sales tactics to get them to pay for unneeded or highly inflated landscaping services. Sometimes, these scammers may request upfront payment and disappear without getting any work done or not properly completing the work and leaving the homeowner's lawn in disarray.
You can avoid these types of scams by taking the following steps:
- Be wary of unsolicited contractors, especially ones that show up on your doorstep uninvited. Note that not all door-to-door contractors are scammers. Nonetheless, it is in your best interest to exercise a great deal of caution when dealing with these individuals
- Take your time to select your landscape contractor. Get referrals from trusted sources like friends, family, or reputable online directories like the Better Business Bureau website. This website also allows you lookup reviews and testimonials on landscape contractors that you are considering hiring
- Get estimates from at least three different landscape contractors. Be wary of contractors with quotes that are either significantly lower or higher than those of other contractors
- Request references from your preferred landscape contractor and contact these individuals to get first-hand reviews on the contractor
- Make sure that the landscape contractor is duly insured
- Insist on getting a written contract for the project that contains all agreements made by the contractor as well as your expectations for the project
- Take your time to properly read and understand contracts before signing them. Never rush into signing a contract and never sign contracts that have blank spaces in them. These spaces can be filled in later with terms that may not be favorable to you
- Never make full payments in advance. Limit any upfront payments that you have to make to a fraction of the project's total cost and make sure that the project has been done to your satisfaction before completing your payment
In February 2020, the Harris County District Attorney announced that a fraudulent contractor had been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being found guilty of stealing $180,000 from homeowners across the Houston area in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. You can report suspected or confirmed landscaping and home improvement-related scams that occur in the City of Houston to the Harris County District Attorney's Office by calling its Consumer Fraud Section at (713) 274-5555.
Alternatively, you can file consumer complaints with the Texas Attorney General's Office online, by calling its consumer protection hotline at (800) 621-0508, or by completing and mailing a pdf complaint form to:
- Office of the Attorney General
- Consumer Protection Division
- P.O. Box 12548
- Austin, TX 78711-2548
Note that neither the Harris County District Attorney's Office nor the Texas Attorney General's Office can serve as your lawyer or file lawsuits on your behalf. As such, if you wish to take private legal action against the subject of your complaint, you should consult with a licensed lawyer to get advice on the proper course of action to take. You can get referrals to licensed lawyers in Houston via the Lawyer Referral and Information Service provided by the State Bar of Texas.