Operating a successful landscaping business in Louisiana requires proper licensing and insurance. This guide will provide an in-depth overview of the licensing requirements to become a landscaping contractor in Louisiana, steps to obtain a new license, license renewal process, reciprocity with other states, bond requirements, and insurance requirements.


Louisiana offers several licenses related to the landscaping industry through the Horticulture Commission of Louisiana. Obtaining the proper license ensures landscaping contractors have the qualifications, experience, and credibility to operate in the state.

The key licenses for landscapers in Louisiana include:

  • Landscape Horticulturist License – Includes planting, grass sodding, bush pruning, mulching and fertilizing. Requires passing an exam.
  • Arborist License – Includes tree surgery, trimming, pruning, cutting down, and removal. Requires passing an exam and showing proof of liability insurance.
  • Landscape Irrigation Contractor License – Allows for installation, maintenance and repair of irrigation systems. Requires passing an exam and showing proof of liability insurance.

In addition to these licenses, landscapers need a Ground Owner-Operator License from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to apply pesticides. This requires passing an exam and showing proof of financial surety.

Proper insurance coverage is also a requirement, which will be covered in detail later in this guide.

Detailed Requirements for Becoming a Licensed Landscaping Contractor

The requirements to become a licensed landscaping contractor in Louisiana include:

  • Being at least 18 years old – This is the minimum age requirement for obtaining a landscaping contractor license. Those under 18 cannot qualify.
  • Having a Social Security Number – Applicants must have a valid Social Security Number that is provided in the license application. Non-citizens can provide alternative tax identification numbers.
  • Passing the Required Exams – A core part of qualifying for a license is passing exams that test your knowledge and abilities for that landscaping profession. Details on the exams are covered next.
  • Showing Proof of General Liability Insurance – Applicants must submit valid proof of liability insurance coverage meeting the state minimum requirements. This is covered in the insurance section later.
  • Paying Licensing Fees – Fees must be paid to take required exams and then to hold the license if approved. Typical licensing fees range from $100 to $150 per year.

The exam requirements vary based on the type of license. The Landscape Horticulturist and Arborist exams are focused on knowledge of plants and trees, soils, pest control, and more. The Irrigation Contractor exam covers topics like systems, design, troubleshooting, and safety procedures.

The table below summarizes the exam requirements for the key landscaping licenses:

| License | Exam Requirements |
| Landscape Horticulturist | Pass exam on plant identification, planting, maintenance, pest and disease identification, mulching, fertilization, landscape tools, safety procedures, business practices. |
| Arborist | Pass exam on tree anatomy, selection, planting, pruning, diagnosis, cabling, safety, use of specialist equipment, laws, and business practices. |
| Irrigation Contractor | Pass exam on sprinkler types, system components, installation methods, hydraulics, troubleshooting, drainage, maintenance, design, safety procedures, and business practices. |

The Landscape Horticulturist exam covers topics like common plant identification, proper planting and digging techniques, pest and disease identification, mulching best practices, proper use of fertilizers, proper use of landscaping tools and equipment, and business standards and practices.

The Arborist exam covers topics like tree anatomy, selecting tree species, planting and staking trees, pruning techniques, diagnosing diseases and pests, cabling/bracing, safety procedures for removal and climbing, proper use of specialist equipment, tree care laws, and business practices.

The Irrigation Contractor exam covers topics like sprinkler types, system components like controllers and valves, installation and assembly methods, hydraulics and water pressure, troubleshooting common problems, drainage considerations, seasonal maintenance, designing systems, safety procedures like trenching and electrical, and business standards.

In addition to passing the required exams, license applicants must submit proof of General Liability insurance coverage meeting these minimums:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $25,000 property damage coverage per accident

This demonstrates applicants have adequate insurance to cover losses or damages that may result from their landscaping work. Detailed information on insurance requirements is provided later in this guide.

Meeting these eligibility requirements and passing the exams demonstrates applicants have the skills, knowledge, ethics, and financial resources required to safely operate as landscaping professionals in Louisiana.

Steps to Obtain a New Landscaping Contractor License in Louisiana

Follow these key steps to obtain your initial landscaping contractor license in Louisiana:

1. Establish eligibility.

  • Meet age and Social Security Number requirements.
  • Obtain General Liability insurance meeting state minimums.
  • Gain relevant experience through education courses, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training. This step helps you gain the horticulture knowledge required to pass the licensing exams. Some common ways to build experience and expertise include:
  • Complete formal education programs like degrees or certificates in horticulture, landscape design, urban forestry or related fields.
  • Participate in apprenticeship programs offered by professional associations.
  • Gain full-time employment and on-the-job training with a licensed landscaping company.
  • Take seminars offered by nurseries, universities, and industry groups.
  • Study independently using resources like reference books, online courses, videos and tutorials.

2. Submit your exam application.

  • Download and complete the Application for Examinations.
  • Pay the exam fee. Fees range from $88 to $114 depending on license type.
  • Submit the completed exam application and fee payment to the Horticulture Commission.
  • Application fees can be paid via certified check, money order or credit card.
  • The exam application will be reviewed to verify your eligibility to take the exam(s).

3. Schedule and take your exam(s).

  • The Horticulture Commission will contact you to schedule the required exam(s) after approving your exam application.
  • Arrive at the exam site on time with acceptable identification and any approved reference materials.
  • Pass the exam(s) with a minimum score of 70% in each applicable category.
  • Results will be provided upon completion of the exam. You can re-take any failed exams after a short waiting period.

4. Submit your license application.

  • Upon passing the exam(s), download and complete the License Application.
  • Pay your licensing fee, such as $100 annually for a Landscape Horticulturist License.
  • Attach documentation of your liability insurance coverage.
  • Attach copies of any other required supplemental documents.
  • Submit the license application, attachments and fee payment to the Horticulture Commission for processing.

5. Receive your license.

  • The Commission will issue your license after verifying you met all eligibility criteria, passed the required exams, and paid fees.
  • Your license will be provided electronically.
  • Display your license number prominently in all business advertising and on your vehicles as required.

This five step process guides you through obtaining your initial Louisiana landscaping contractor license legally.

Renewing Your Louisiana Landscaping Contractor License

Landscaping contractor licenses in Louisiana must be renewed annually prior to expiration to remain valid. Follow these steps:

1. Review your renewal notice.

  • The Horticulture Commission emails renewal notices to the address on file 60 and 15 days before your expiration date.
  • Carefully review the notice for your personal user ID, password and renewal instructions.
  • The user credentials grant access to the online license renewal system.

2. Complete your continuing education.

  • Most licensees must complete continuing education seminars each year to renew their license.
  • For example, Arborists must complete approved continuing education workshops on safety and best practices annually.
  • Landscape Irrigation Contractors must take an approved seminar every three years.
  • Gather your certificates of completion for all continuing education.

3. Pay your renewal fee.

  • Pay your license renewal fee, typically $100 per year.
  • Optional multi-year renewals are available for paying more upfront.
  • Pay by credit card, money order or certified check. Cash is not accepted.

4. Complete online renewal.

  • Using the ID and password provided, log into the online renewal portal.
  • Carefully complete the online renewal application.
  • Attach electronic copies of your continuing education certificates.
  • Submit the renewal application and pay your license renewal fee.

5. Receive your renewal.

  • Your renewed license will be provided electronically upon approval.
  • You should receive your renewal within 10 business days after applying.
  • Contact the Commission if you do not receive your renewal.

You must renew within 1 year of expiration. Licenses expired for more than 1 year cannot be renewed – you must fully reapply instead. Avoid license lapses by carefully tracking renewal deadlines.

Reciprocity for Landscaping Contractors with Other States

Louisiana offers contractor license reciprocity with several other states. This allows a landscaping contractor already licensed in one of these states to obtain a Louisiana license without passing exams or meeting other typical requirements.

What is License Reciprocity?

License reciprocity refers to an agreement between two states to recognize occupational licenses issued in the other state. This includes contractor licenses.

For example, if you hold an active landscaping contractor license in Texas, and Louisiana has reciprocity with Texas, you can use that existing Texas license to apply for a Louisiana landscaping contractor license. This saves you from having to fully qualify, test, and apply as a new applicant.

Reciprocity enables licensed landscapers to legally work across state borders more easily.

States with Reciprocity for Landscaping Contractors

The Horticulture Commission maintains license reciprocity agreements for landscaping contractors with these states currently:

  • California
  • Utah
  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Alabama
  • Florida

This list is subject to change over time as state agreements evolve. Check the Commission’s website for the most up-to-date list.

Qualifying for Reciprocity

To obtain reciprocity, you must:

  • Hold an active license in your home state for the equivalent landscaping occupation.
  • Your license must have been earned through exam in your state, not through reciprocity or grandfathering.
  • Your license must be in good standing with no violations on record.

Applying for Reciprocity

Follow this process to obtain your Louisiana landscaper license by reciprocity:

  • Complete and submit the standard Louisiana License Application
  • Pay the standard licensing fee for that license. For example, $100 for a Landscape Horticulturist.
  • Provide a license verification letter from your home state. This proves you hold an active license there.
  • The Commission then issues a reciprocal Louisiana license. No testing required!

Using reciprocity allows properly licensed landscapers to legally operate in Louisiana more quickly and easily. You avoid the need for separate testing and full qualification processes.

Check carefully that your home state has a current reciprocity agreement before applying through reciprocity. License verification letters typically must be requested from your home state’s licensing board or authority.

License Bonds for Landscaping Contractors

While Louisiana does not require general license bonds for landscaping contractor licensing, bonds may be needed for pesticide application licenses or local permits.

What are License Bonds?

License bonds are a form of financial surety you provide to demonstrate your capability to carry out work properly. They protect the public if issues like the following occur:

  • Contractor performs substandard or faulty work.
  • Contractor fails to pay permit fees or fines.
  • Contractor causes damages.
  • Contractor fails to replace or repair defective materials/work.

If any of these issues arise, the state or other entity can make a claim on the bond to recover losses. Having bond coverage demonstrates financial accountability.

Bonds are not the same as insurance. Bonds help guarantee a specific project or license requirement. Insurance covers broader risks affecting your overall business.

Landscaping License Bond Requirements

While most landscaping contractor licenses do not require a bond, there are two cases where they are mandated:

  • Pesticide Applicator License – If applying pesticides commercially, you need a Ground Owner-Operator license. This requires either proof of insurance or a surety bond for financial surety.
  • Local Permit Bonds – Parishes or municipalities may mandate license bonds to issue local landscaping work permits. Verify local requirements.

Aside from these scenarios, liability insurance (discussed next) meets state financial surety requirements. Carefully confirm bonding requirements for pesticide and local permits.

Bonds for landscaping contractors typically range from $5,000 to $10,000 in coverage. Reputable insurance agents can help secure required license bonds.

Detailed Insurance Requirements

Louisiana requires all landscaping contractors to carry adequate insurance coverage. This protects your business in the event of claims, losses or damages.

Required insurance includes:

General Liability Insurance

This covers third-party bodily injury and third-party property damage claims arising from your operations. Required limits:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $25,000 property damage coverage per accident

Why it’s Required: Protects if a third-party is injured on a property you maintain or claims you damaged their property.

Workers Compensation Insurance

Covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees injured on the job. This is required if you have one or more employees.

Why it’s Required: Protects employees if injured performing work.

Commercial Auto Insurance

Covers liability and damage involving vehicles used for business purposes. Required minimum limits:

  • $30,000 bodily injury per person
  • $60,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $25,000 property damage per accident

Add comprehensice/collision coverage for vehicle damage if financing or leasing vehicles.

Why it’s Required: Protects if you or employees damage vehicles/property while driving for work purposes. Non-owned coverage also protects for employee personal vehicle use for work.

Pesticide Application Insurance

If applying pesticides commercially, requires showing proof of financial capability through insurance. Can be satisfied with General Liability insurance.

Why it’s Required: Provides coverage for losses caused by improper pesticide handling or application. Satisfies financial requirements for obtaining pesticide applicator licensing.

Professional Liability Insurance

Recommended but not legally required. Covers financial harm to a client if you fail to provide professional services properly.

Why it’s Recommended: Adds protection if an error in landscape design, tree care advice, or other professional services negatively impacts a client.

Work closely with qualified insurance agents to obtain complete and adequate insurance protection. They can ensure you meet Louisiana’s state insurance requirements for contractors. Consider higher limits above legal minimums for added protection.


This comprehensive guide provided detailed information on licenses, exams, insurance, reciprocity, and bonds for landscaping contractors in Louisiana. Key takeaways include:

  • Obtaining the proper license demonstrates you meet Louisiana’s qualifications and standards for landscaping professionals.
  • Passing certification exams on topics like plant care, tree maintenance, irrigation, and business practices are required to demonstrate competency.
  • General liability, workers compensation, auto, and pesticide insurance provides crucial financial protection for your business.
  • Reciprocity allows properly licensed landscapers in states like Texas, Georgia and South Carolina to obtain Louisiana licenses more easily.
  • License bonds are only required for certain pesticide and local permitting scenarios.

Ensuring proper licensing, insurance coverage, and bonding protects your business reputation, finances, and legal right to operate in Louisiana. This allows you to build a reputable landscaping company that complies with state regulations. Use this guide as a key reference for meeting Louisiana’s requirements.