Licensees should pay close attention to what they are agreeing to do when entering into contracts. While a licensed landscape contractor * is not required to have a general contractor’s license for landscape projects of $30,000 or more, per site, in a 12 month period, the landscape contractors’ license does not permit a licensed landscape contractor to enter into contracts for projects that fall within the definition of general contracting.

Unless the services provided by a person, firm, corporation, etc. are considered to be decorative utilitarian treatment as defined in the NC Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Law (N.C.G.S. §89D-11) a general contractor’s license would be required for the construction of any building, highway, public utilities, grading or any improvement or structure where the cost of the undertaking is $30,000 or more.

For example:  Assuming the cost of the project is $30,000 or more, a licensed landscape contractor may install a walkway (a decorative utilitarian treatment), but not a sidewalk without first obtaining a general contractor’s license.  Sidewalks are not defined as a decorative utilitarian treatment in the landscape contractors’ licensing law.

* Definition of “Landscape Contractor” (N.C.G.S.§89D-11 (3)):  Any person who, for compensation or other consideration, does any of the following: a. Engages in the business requiring the art, experience, ability, knowledge, science, and skill to prepare contracts and bid for the performance of landscape services, including installing, planting, repairing, and managing gardens, lawns, shrubs, vines, trees, or other decorative vegetation, including the finish grading and preparation of plots and areas of land for decorative utilitarian treatment and arrangement.

Exemptions for the requirement of a Landscape License:

Any federal, State, or local governmental agency performing landscaping on public property.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). However, for landscape installations or establishment periods for any project that exceeds the current contract amount requiring performance and payment bonds according to State law, NCDOT shall require a licensed landscape contractor to perform the work. NCDOT, at its discretion, may require a licensed landscape contractor for landscape projects of any cost.

Any property owner performing landscape work on his or her own property.

Any person or business owning or operating a golf course.

Any landscaping work where the price of all contracts for labor, material, and other items for a given job site during any consecutive 12-month period is less than thirty thousand dollars ($30,000). A local governmental unit shall not enact a local ordinance or regulation requiring licensure for landscaping work performed pursuant to this subdivision.

A general contractor licensed under Article 1 of Chapter 87 of the General Statutes who possesses a classification under G.S. 87-10(b) as a building contractor, a residential contractor, or a public utilities contractor.

Any person or business licensed as an electrical contractor under Article 4 of Chapter 87 of the General Statutes who is designing, installing, or maintaining any electric work, wiring, devices, appliances, or equipment.

Any person or business licensed as a plumbing contractor under Article 2 of Chapter 87 of the General Statutes who is installing pipes, fixtures, apparatus, or appurtenances to supply water thereto or convey sewage or other waste therefrom, including the installation, repair, or maintenance of water mains, water taps, services lines, water meters, or backflow prevention assemblies supplying water for irrigation systems or repairs to an irrigation system.

A professional engineer licensed pursuant to Chapter 89C of the General Statutes.

A professional landscape architect licensed under Chapter 89A of the General Statutes.

An individual or a business engaged in any of the following activities while performing that activity:

  1. Clearing and grading plots and areas of land.
  2. Erosion control.
  3. Arboriculture, including consultations on pruning and removal of trees.
  4. The installation of sod, seed, or plugs by sod producers certified by the Plant Industry Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
  5. Landscape construction performed by utilities contractors for the purpose of grading and erosion control.
  6. Lawn mowing, turf edging, and debris removal services.
  7. Turf management or lawn care services only, including fertilization, aeration, weed control, or other turf management or lawn care practices other than mowing or edging.
  8. Design, installation, and maintenance of on-site wastewater disposal or reuse systems within the on-site wastewater permit specifications.

Any person performing landscaping work on a farm for use in agriculture production, farming, or ranching.