How to Select a Landscape Professional

Certified Professionals

Listing of Certified Professionals

Selecting a Landscape Professional

The Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association is the states oldest and largest green industry trade association and has more than 1,000 member companies.
MNLA members are committed to professional improvement through education, certification, and networking.
MNLA member companies can be located on-line. See the Locate an Expert page.

What type of professional do I need?

Landscape Designer: A person trained (most often with a degree from a university or technical college) in the design of residential and commercial landscapes. Designs usually include plantings, walkways, walls, water features, landscape lighting and other similar features.

Landscape Contractor: A firm that implements plans prepared by a landscape designer or architect. A landscape contractor prepares the site, then installs plants and hardscapes as described in the landscape plan. The company may bid on a job or work with the designer throughout the design process.

Design-Build Firm: A firm that has both landscape designers and landscape contractors on staff. The company works with the property owner to develop a landscape plan and then implements that plan.

Lawn and Landscape Management Firm: A company that specializes is either lawn mowing/maintenance or lawn fertilization and pest control. Some companies do both.

Professional Gardening Services: A firm that specializes in the design, installation, and/or care of residential or commercial-site gardens.

What criteria should I use in selecting a landscape professional?

  • If the company is installing plant materials, does it have a nursery inspection certificate from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture? This ensures that the materials are nursery grown and not dug from the wild.
  • Does the firm have a federal identification number that designates them as a real business?
  • Do they have a sales tax license?
  • Are they insured?
  • Professionals arrive on time, then take photographs or draw sketches of your property while there.
  • How many years has the company been in business?
  • Ask for customer references and then phone those referrals.
  • Ask for an itemized list of plant materials and plant sizes.
  • Who is responsible for clean-up?
  • Does the company provide a contract specifying starting and completion dates? Allowances should be made for weather.
  • Firms that have a Minnesota Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional on staff have gone an extra step to assure the professionalism of their staff members.

What other steps should the homeowner take to ensure a positive experience with a landscape professional?

  • Be upfront about the amount of money you intend to invest.
  • Interview several professionals. Ask to see their before and after portfolio.
  • Go see one of the companys finished projects.
  • Check references.
  • Keep in mind that newly finished landscapes may look sparse. A good landscape professional will not overcrowd plant materials, but will have planned to give plants a chance to grow. The end result will begin to show in two or three years.

Certified Professionals

Since 1978, the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association has sponsored a Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional (CNLP) program for individuals in the nursery and landscape industry. Over 825 individuals have achieved the certified status.

Prerequisites for attaining the CNLP standing include two years of study in an accredited post-secondary program of nursery and/or landscape education, or one year of full-time employment in the nursery and landscape industry.

The objective of the MNLA/U of M Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional program is to uphold, improve, and promote standards of professionalism and excellence within the industry. By focusing on individuals rather than companies, the program encourages self-improvement among industry professionals.

Consumers who work with Minnesota Certified Nursery and Landscape Professionals, and with businesses that employ certified professionals, are assured that they are working with the finest businesses and individuals that Minnesota has to offer.

To locate an MNLA member business near you that employs certified and nursery landscape professionals, click on Locate an Expert and look for an asterisk (*) by the company listings. Consumers can then click on a link to view the names of professionals, organized by company. Click here to view the entire list of Certified Professionals.

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