How would you like me, an editor, to put together licensing legislation for landscape contractors in my home state of Ohio? Not a good idea? Hey, I’ve been a part of the landscape industry for more than 20 years, albeit as a reporter and editor; cut me some slack.
OK, I don’t have 20 years “practical” experience as a landscaper, not like Tom Castronovo. Castronovo is the publisher “of New Jersey-based “Gardener News,” a nice little monthly publication that provides good information on everything from turfgrass to pumpkins. He’s also the author of legislation to license landscapers in his home state of New Jersey.
The aim of the bill, which may be considered by state legislators when they reconvene in November, is to “elevate” the profession of landscaping by weeding out low-ballers, fly-by-nighters and so forth.
If enacted it would require all owners of landscape businesses, and one in 10 employees, to be licensed. It also establishes an continuing education component.
Friends in the landscape business in New Jersey are divided on the need for yet another licensing requirement.
One told me he feels the state already has plenty of licensing requirements — for pesticide applicators, irrigation contractors and home improvers. As a certified landscape technician and a card-carrying member of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, he isn’t looking forward to having to get another license and paying more fees, which he sees as just another complication.
Others seem to feel the legislation, if enacted and enforced, will cut down on the number of “gypsy” landscapers that undercut their prices and do sub-standard work.
The basic question is: Can you legislate professional behavior?
Proponents of licensing for landscapers say their efforts will help bring the industry’s image on a par with other professionals, such as doctors and lawyers. Hey, I know doctors and lawyers that I don’t think are professional, at all. On the other hand,I have to confess, I've never met a lawyer or doctor that low-balled another lawyer or doctor, and we've got plenty of both in my neighborhood. — Ron Hall