Mike Strain, a commissioner at the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is urging Louisiana homeowners to hire only licensed landscape contractors, landscape irrigation contractors, horticulturists, and arborists when doing major landscaping work at their homes or businesses.

"Every spring and summer, ‘yard specialists' claiming to be landscaping professionals begin making rounds in neighborhoods, offering bargain basement deals for yard work," Strain said. "Many have little or no training, and their work is often substandard.”

He continued, "All arborists, landscape horticulturists and landscape irrigation contractors must be licensed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry."

Strain advised homeowners to ask to see a license issued by LDAF before allowing any work to be done on their property. Homeowners should also ask landscape irrigation contractors, landscape horticulturists and arborists for references before engaging their services, and should follow up by checking those references.

"Licensed landscape irrigation contractors and arborists must also have current liability insurance before a license is issued," he said. "Homeowners should ask for copies of the contractor's liability insurance. They can then call the contractor's insurance company to verify that the policy is current, or they can contact our office. These are basic steps homeowners should take to be sure that they are hiring a licensed professional."

Strain said horticulture professionals must pass an exam to ensure that they have the training necessary to do the work. Landscape irrigation contractors and arborists are required to attend continuing education training to renew their licenses. In addition, licensed horticultural professionals are required to display their LDAF license number on their vehicles.