Whether you need a Florida landscaping license depends on several factors, including your business structure and the amount of work you do.
Find out what your landscaping business requires before you start marketing to potential clients.
TL; DR (too long; didn’t read)
You will need a license for your Florida landscaping business if you plan to apply chemical pesticides.
As a sole proprietor who provides services such as lawn mowing, hedge trimming, and yard cleaning, you do not need a business license. For tax purposes, you are considered self-employed and you complete Form 1040 SE to report your income.
However, it makes sense to form a limited liability company (LLC) to separate your personal assets from your business. This way, if someone files a lawsuit against you, it can only be paid with the money of your business; your personal bank accounts are not to be touched.
Licensing and registration
If you are self-employed, your social security number is used as your tax identification number. As an LLC or other business structure with employees, you need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Get your unique number for free through the IRS website.
In Florida, you file the memorandum of association for an LLC with the Florida Department of Corporate Affairs. Visit the division’s website to complete the online application, or print the forms and mail them in. The required fee is $125, which you can pay by credit card online or by check in the mail.
You may also need to register your business locally. Visit your city or county clerk’s office for more information. You can also visit your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office for help completing the required paperwork.
Certificates for application of fertilizers and pesticides
Florida requires landscaping certification for fertilizer and pesticide applications. If you are hiring a landscaper, you must have a Limited Urban Fertilizer Certification. Each person applying fertilizer must have an individual attestation. No one can work under the auspices of an employer.
There are two options for applying pesticides depending on the application site. Application of pesticides to lawn in residential or commercial buildings requires a Commercial Lawn and Pest Control License. An active employee of the cardholder may also apply the pesticide. If you are applying pesticides to residential or commercial ornamental beds, you will need a Commercial Lawn and Ornamental Works License or Commercial Landscapers Limited Maintenance Certificate.
formal education requirements
Landscape designers and landscape contractors in Florida do not require formal education to work. However, to call yourself a landscape architect, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in landscape architecture from an accredited college or university. You must pass the Florida Licensing Exam and have a valid license to practice.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF IFAS) operates chapters throughout the state that offer a variety of educational opportunities for landscape designers. Activities, classes and online learning are offered throughout the year. Visit the UF IFAS website for the schedule.
Membership in professional organizations
Landscaping contractors in Florida are not required to have government certification other than pesticide and fertilizer applications. However, your landscaping business can benefit from membership in professional organizations. You expand your knowledge, expand your professional network, and showcase your expertise to clients with additional credentials.
Professional landscape design organizations include:
- Florida Pest Management Association (FPMA)
- Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association (FNGLA)
- Tree Care Manufacturers Association (TCA)
- International Horticultural Society (ISA)
- Florida Lawn Association (FTGA)
- National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP)
- Perennial Plant Association
Visit the websites of any of these organizations to learn about membership and benefits.