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How to Hire a Landscape Professional

By: Jack LeCroy, Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, jml0003@auburn.eduor

EDITOR’S NOTE: With COVID-19 keeping us all close to home, are you noticing more people working in their yards and gardens? So, as you lean into that, look at the end of Jack’s column for the “social-distancing” method of supporting the Mobile Botanical Garden’s Plantasia plant sale. Order the plants you want online at and MBG staff and volunteers will arrange a quick and safe pick-up of your purchased plants. Thank you for supporting our beautiful MBG!

As an Extension Agent, one of the questions that I get asked most often is, "Do you know anybody I could hire to work in my yard?" Although answering this question is not easy, my response is usually “Ask for credentials depending on what the job is." There are many considerations when hiring someone.

Many homeowners search for credentialed or licensed roofers or electricians to make sure a job completed on their home is done correctly. Hiring someone to work in your landscape is no different. Professionals will successfully prune or plant a tree, apply lawn chemicals, and design a landscape with plants well-chosen for the site. If done correctly, you can have amazing results in your landscape. Yet, if done incorrectly, the results could be very disappointing as well as costly.

Here are a few examples to help you become well-prepared for hiring someone to work around your yard. First, when considering a landscape design, ask if the company has a landscape designer licensed by the Alabama Department of Agriculture (ADAI), or if they are a state-registered landscape architect. Several individual factors must be considered when planning out a landscape for one's home. You want to make sure the individual has the knowledge, skill, and experience to design a landscape specific to your home's site conditions and your expectations.

When planning to have plants installed in a settled landscape, a customer would be wise to ask to see the company’s Landscape Professional Services Permit from ADAI. Installing plants incorrectly can mean added stress for a plant or even its death. Also, when chemicals are being applied on ornamentals or turf, you can ask to see the Professional Services Permit from ADAI and their applicator's Ornamental and Turf Pest Control license card. Unfortunately, I have seen, more than once, the effect of the wrong chemical sprayed on a lawn which ended up killing all the grass in the entire yard. It is a costly mistake with a long recovery time.

Does the company have employees who are part of state or national organizations such as the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association, Alabama Turfgrass Association, International Society of Arboriculture or the National Association of Landscape Professionals? These entities offer credentials which can only be obtained by passing written and/or hands-on practical exams. In turn, these credentials assure the customer that a landscape job is done correctly with the knowledge and understanding proven in the credentialing process.

Safety is a large part of working in the Green Industry. Ask about safety when hiring someone to work on your property: Do they have a certificate of insurance, a business license, and verifiable safety training through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? Does their company have a safety program? Whether it is heavy machinery or chemicals which are being applied, you always want to make sure safety precautions are being kept with the use of training and personal protective equipment.

If you have any questions, please call your local Alabama Cooperative Extension Office at (251) 574-8445 or the Green Industry Training Center (205) 981-2326.

Spring Gardening Events for Your Calendar

What: Plantasia Spring Plant Sale 2020

When: A little change-up to buy the best plants and practice social distancing.

Spend time in your garden, planning improvements.

Go to online

Enjoy the wide selection of available plants

Place your order.

Stop by MBG to pick them up!

Where: Mobile Botanical Gardens, 5151 Museum Dr, Mobile

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