What is a landscape contractor?

October 14, 2012

Welcome to the InVision Landscape Blog.

Our goal is to provide landscape services of the highest caliber to all our projects.

Perhaps you are reading this blog because you are interested in hiring a landscape contractor and are investigating local contractors’ web sites. Thanks for visiting our site and taking a few extra moments to read our blog!

Over the next few posts I’d like to review the process for selecting a contractor as well as some of the important contractor laws as they pertain to you, the consumer.

Our first Blog is discusses the types of businesses in the landscape contracting field so that as you begin your design project you are able to select the right contractor for your job.

BEFORE you start any project understand this VERY IMPORTANT piece of information:

DO NOT under any pressure from a contractor sign a contract and give them any more than 10% down or $1,000 whichever is less.  This is The Law!

There is no reason for a solvent, legitimate contractor to ask for more than that: it’s easy for unscrupulous contractors to take a large deposit and then…adios…!

Let’s start with the type of contractors in California.

Working within California, there are several tiers of landscape professionals.

  1. Licensed Landscape Architect.  These professiongals are the top rung in the landscape industry, providing landscape plans of the highest quality. Architects have had at least 4 years of college, a degree in landscape architecture and served an apprenticeship before taking a test for the license. Many landscape architects focus on commercial projects and large scale residential designs. If your project has site difficulties or lots of special requirements for engineering, then a landscape architect could be right for you. Their fees can be quite expensive.
  2. Licensed Landscape Contractors.  A landscape contractor is licensed by the state after passing a contractor’s test [about the laws and construction]  and required to have workers’s compensation insurance, liability insurance, a bond, and a certain dollar solvency. Landscape contractors may specialize in maintenance or construction. Many contractors, including InVision Landscape, are also capable of excellent landscape designs and can provide working drawing, finished plans, irrigation plans and sketches for your project. A licensed contractor may be one that strictly works for commercial projects and in conjunction with a landscape architect; or likes custom residential homes in urban neighborhoods; or is comfortable with large estate design, such as InVision Landscape.
  3. Landscape Designer. A designer is unlicensed, but many time works for a landscape contractor to provide the design work for that company; or is a contractor/designer. Many designers have some type of additional education, such as a junior college degree. They are capable of designing planting plans, and may defer to an architect  for doing structural designs. I, Karla, do the landscape designs for InVision Landscape.
  4. Swimming Pools. This is a license unto itself. Many pool companies strictly do pools: many times a custom landscape contractor or architect can add to the pool design in terms of it’s unification into the entire site location and it may be worth consulting with a landscape contractor about integrating your pool into your backyard.
  5. Unlicensed “contractors”. They are out there, a dime a dozen.  By law, any job over $500 requires a licensed contractor.  In these tough economic times, there are more and more unlicensed contractors willing to work cheaply and undercut the licensed contractor who is operating fully within the scope of the law. If you know what you may be liable for legally, then perhaps you are willing to chance an unlicensed contractor. We can’t compete and as reputable contractors ask that you NOT use someone who is not licensed.

It is wise to check with the Contractor’s License Board to verify the active status of a contractor before you sign a contract. The contractor should have a credit-card sized wallet copy of his license number and you can verify a contractor’s license through the Contractors’ License Board via a computer by cutting/pasting this URL address:


It is against the law to provide contracting services without a license.

The October 20th Post will discuss how to select a contractor for your landscape project.

And, remember you can always contact InVision Landscape through the Contact page on this website.

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