Choosing a Landscape Professional

Choosing a Landscape Professional

Finding professional landscape services for your home or business can be difficult. Unlike many skilled trades in Florida, landscapers/groundskeepers are mostly unregulated. No state exams exist to determine mastery of the basic skills required to perform lawn or landscape maintenance. Ultimately, consumers are left on their own to determine who to hire.

As UF/IFAS Extension Agents, we cannot endorse or provide referrals to companies; however, we can offer some guidance to help you with your search for qualified professionals.

  • Be an informed consumer. You don’t have to be an expert in landscapes. Instead you should have an idea of what you envision for your landscape. Familiarize yourself with the type of turf grass and plants you want and learn what the basic maintenance is for their upkeep.

The Florida Friendly Landscaping™ program is a great place to start. Most Extension offices have free books on how to care for Florida landscapes. Or you can find online resources at

  • Fertilizer and pesticide applications DO require state certifications.
    Gardener fertilizing yard

    Commercial landscape fertilizer applicators must obtain state certification.

    • Fertilizer applicators for hire must maintain the Limited Urban Fertilizer Applicator Certification (Chapter 482.1562, Florida Statutes). Each applicator must have an individual certification. No one can “work under” another applicator’s certificate.
    • Pesticide applicators (any substance applied with the intent to kill or inhibit growth of weeds, insects, nematodes, fungi, bacteria, etc.) have two options depending on application site and qualifications.
      • Residential or commercial building turf pesticide applicators must hold the Commercial Lawn & Ornamental Pest Control License or be a current Employee Cardholder of the Certified Pest Control Operator
      • Residential or commercial ornamental beds (trees, shrubs, flowers) pesticide applicators can hold either Commercial Lawn & Ornamental, as above, or Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance Certification
    • You can check to see if the applicator has a current certification by visiting You must enter the applicator’s legal name (name listed on his driver’s license, no nicknames) or their certification number (this will start with two letters)
  • Ask about affiliations with professional organizations. Although landscapers are not required to obtain state certifications (excluding fertilizer and pesticide applicators), many take the extra steps to increase knowledge and keep up with industry standards and trends. Voluntary participation in organizations such as Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA), Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA), Florida Turfgrass Association (FTGA), Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), International Association of Arboriculture (ISA), etc. Some of these groups offer certification programs for professionals to help them increase knowledge.
  • Word of mouth/observation. If you see a landscape that looks good, ask who they use and if they are pleased with their service. Talk to friends and colleagues for recommendations.
  • Check references. Always ask for references and contact them. Yes, they may only give you the names of happy clients, but you can still ask questions to get a feel for the type of service offered and assess the longevity of the company.

Landscape professionals looking for certification classes should visit Green Industries in the Panhandle Upcoming Events page. Books

Limited Pesticide Certification Class – Tuesday April 22 – Washington County

pesticide-3UF IFAS Washington County Extension is offering a class for the  Limited Commercial Landscape Maintenance Pesticide license and the Limited Lawn and Ornamental license.

Click here to download flyer In PDF

Is it the license you need?

If part of your business is applying herbicides (including Roundup) or certain pesticides to plant beds, the State of Florida requires that you have a limited pesticide license.  Operating without one could mean a $5,000 fine.  Even more, it could increase your liability in case of an accident.


To become licensed, you need to take a 6-hour course and a written exam.  If you are like many people, taking the time and money to go through the course, especially if you are uncomfortable with taking the exam, is really difficult.  Therefore, you put it off, again and again.


CountyExtension can help

Because we have access to all the University’s resources, we can give you the very best instructors and programs.Extension will make the 6-hour limited pesticide course easy, interesting and useful.

If you already have your license, the following CEU’s can be earned:

2 CEU in L&O, LCLM, O&T, Private Ag.,Commercial Lawn and Ornamental or Limited Urban Fertilizer, plus 2 core.

Class details:

Tuesday, April 22, 8am-4pm
CEU Renewal 8am-2pm

Washington County Agricultural Center

UF IFAS Washington County Extension Office

East Wing Conference Room

1424 Jackson Ave. Chipley Fl. 32428

For information call:

Matthew Orwat

UF/IFAS-Washington County

Horticulture Agent


(850) 638-6180 

To Register Call Matt or Cynthia at (850) 638-6180