Consumers - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

You may contact the Landscape Architects Technical Committee (LATC) with your question(s).

  • How do I verify the status of a landscape architect license?
  • How can I file a complaint against a landscape architect or unlicensed individual?

    Complaints against landscape architects and unlicensed individuals can be submitted to the LATC by filling out a Consumer Complaint Form (PDF, 342K). Consumers wishing to recover monies can seek recourse through the small claims or civil court systems.

  • Can an architect provide "landscape architectural" services?

    Architects may provide "landscape architectural" services but may not use the protected title of "landscape architect", as specified in Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 5641.3.

  • Can a landscape contractor (Class C-27) provide landscape design/construction services for work performed and supervised by that contractor?

    A California licensed landscape contractor may design systems and facilities for work to be performed and supervised by that landscape contractor, as stated in BPC section 5641.4.

  • What services can an unlicensed person provide?

    An unlicensed landscape professional can prepare drawings for the conceptual design and placement of tangible objects and landscape features or plans, drawings, and specifications for the selection, placement or use of plants for a single family dwelling (BPC section 5641).

    An unlicensed landscape professional cannot prepare construction documents, details, or specifications for the placement of tangible objects or landscape features for any site, including single family dwellings. In addition, unlicensed persons cannot prepare plans, drawings, or specifications of any kind that require grading or drainage of a site (BPC section 5641).

    It is a misdemeanor for any unlicensed person to engage in landscape architecture or to use any titles, words, or abbreviations that would imply he or she is a landscape architect (BPC section 5640).

    For more information on exceptions and exemptions, please refer to Article 3 of the Landscape Architects Practice Act (Act).

  • What is a design-build contract and can a landscape architect perform one?

    A design-build contract is an agreement between a design-build entity and a client for both the design and building of a specified project. In the State of California, landscape architects are licensed to design landscape projects and develop instruments for their completion. However, a landscape architect’s license does not authorize the license holder to contract with clients for the construction and installation of landscape features. For all construction contracts where the total cost of labor and materials is valued at more than $500.00, a licensed contractor is needed (BPC section 7048).

  • What is the difference between a landscape architect and a landscape designer?

    A landscape architect is an individual who holds a professional license to practice landscape architecture as defined under BPC section 5615. Under BPC section 5615, a landscape architect is a person who offers or performs professional services, for the purpose of landscape preservation, development and enhancement, such as consultation, investigation, reconnaissance, research, planning, design, preparation of drawings, construction documents and specifications, and responsible construction observation. Landscape preservation, development and enhancement are the dominant purpose of services provided by landscape architects. For more information about the practice of landscape architecture, please refer to BPC section 5615 in the Landscape Architects Practice Act (Act).

    Engaging in the practice of landscape architecture or using the title or terms "landscape architect", "landscape architecture", or "landscape architectural" without having a current and valid California landscape architect license is a violation of BPC section 5640.

    Landscape architects who are initially licensed in California are required to have six years of combined training and educational credit, pass the national licensing examination, known as the Landscape Architect Registration Examination (LARE), as well as the California Supplemental Examination (CSE). Once licensed, landscape architects are required to comply with the laws and regulations governing the practice.

    Landscape designers are not licensed or regulated by the State of California. Unlicensed persons can legally engage in activities that do not conflict with BPC section 5641, which states:

    “This chapter shall not be deemed to prohibit any person from preparing drawings for the conceptual design and placement of tangible objects and landscape features or plans, drawings, and specifications for the selection, placement, or use of plants for a single family dwelling. Construction documents, details, or specifications for the tangible objects or landscape features, and alteration of site requiring grading and drainage plans shall be prepared by a licensed professional as required by law.”

    For a general description of the permitted practice for various landscape professionals/practitioners, please see the Permitted Practices in California (PDF, 25K).