"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.
"All arborists, landscape horticulturists and landscape irrigation contractors must be licensed by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry," Strain said.
Oversight of these professionals is through the LDAF’s Horticulture and Quarantine Programs division.
Strain advised that homeowners ask to see a license issued by LDAF before allowing any work to be done on their property. Homeowners should also ask arborists, landscape horticulturists and landscape irrigation contractors for references before engaging their services and should follow up by checking those references.
"Licensed arborists and landscape irrigation contractors must also have current liability insurance before a license is issued," Strain said.
"Homeowners should ask for copies of the arborist and landscape irrigation contractor’s liability insurance," Strain added. "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. Arborists and landscape irrigation contractors 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.
Louisana maintains a list of licensed horticulture professionals at www.LDAF.la.gov.