Lawn & Garden Landscaping

The Average Landscaper Salary, State-by-State

A career as a landscaper can be a fulfilling one for those who love the outdoors. The average landscaper salary ranges from $27,550 to $48,530 annually with a national average of $37,270.
Average Landscaper Salary

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Highlights

  • A landscaper typically makes an annual salary between $27,550 and $48,530 with a national average of $37,270.
  • The average landscaper salary varies based on geographic location, skills, experience, and specialties.
  • Landscape architects, agronomists, and botanists earn the highest average national wage for landscaping or related fields.
  • Salaries can increase for those who become a self-employed landscaper, business owner, or by obtaining a leadership position within a company, such as crew foreperson.

If spending time outdoors working with plants and other natural materials sounds like a dream job, then landscaping can make an excellent career choice. Landscaper services can include everything from lawn maintenance to tree care, but what does the average landscaper salary amount to?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an annual salary for a landscaper ranges from $27,550 to $48,530, with an average annual salary of $37,270. Because landscaping is largely based outside, landscaper salary can vary depending on geographic location, as well as years of experience, speciality skills, and education.

For those considering a career in landscaping, it’s a good idea to research the options available in their area. There may be areas of specialization they can choose to focus on, and it’s worth giving thought to whether working with an employer or going the self-employment route is preferred.

Factors in Calculating the Average Landscaper Salary

Average Landscaper Salary
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While the typical annual salary range for a landscaper job is between $27,550 and $48,530, the actual salary is based on a variety of factors. The landscaper’s experience comes into play, with years of experience leading to supervisory and senior roles, and with that, higher pay. With the exception of a few landscaper-adjacent jobs, a formal education or certification is not a requirement to earn a decent average landscaper wage; however, specialist knowledge and certifications can go a long way in securing clients and steady work. Additionally, self-employed landscapers set their own rates. Some specific jobs, such as botanist, landscape architect, and agronomist, do require college degrees and as such offer higher annual salaries.

Education Level

Unlike other industries, there is no formal education plan for becoming a landscaper. Many successful landscapers gain knowledge directly on the job. Exactly what education is required will depend on the scope of skills that the landscaper wants to obtain as well as employer requirements. Generally speaking, a high school diploma or GED certificate is the minimum requirement. However, certain jobs in the landscaping industry do require additional certification or formal education. Though there is no legal certification required to become an arborist, most tree-service companies require employed arborists to obtain certification from a reputable organization, such as the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

Landscape design typically requires a knowledge of software-based design programming as well as the ability to estimate structural aspects of hardscaping. This can be obtained on the job, be self-taught, or studied in a formal educational setting. To become a landscape architect, it’s usually necessary to obtain a degree—either a bachelor’s or a master’s—from one of the best landscape architecture schools. Botanist roles also require a formal degree in plant sciences. Similarly, agronomists are required to earn either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in the fields of soil and agricultural crop science. As a result, the jobs with degree requirements typically earn a higher wage.

Experience Level

As is the case with many industries, both the average hourly rate for landscapers and the annual landscape salary will increase with years of experience. Experienced landscapers are able to offer employers or clients a greater understanding of best landscaping practices, including how to overcome outdated landscaping trends, whether to use landscape fabric to prevent weed growth, and how to implement environmentally friendly designs. That can lead to an increase in pay. For example, a lawn care technician with 1 to 4 years of experience can earn between $29,120 and $37,440, but that salary jumps to between $35,360 and $45,760 with 4 or more years of experience. That’s a potential increase between $6,240 and $8,320 per year.

“I have seen wages increase steadily over the past 10 years. For instance, an inexperienced crew member started at about $11 per hour in 2014 compared to $18 per hour today,” says Jennifer Nichols, president of GreenWeaver Landscapes in Lenni, Pennsylvania. “And if you can drive a truck with a trailer and work well with others, you can quickly move into a crew leader position earning $24 an hour or more. Positions in design, plant purchasing, and land stewardship are also available.”

Additional Skills

Although there is no specific degree requirement for landscaping in general, some landscaping professionals obtain degrees and certifications in a variety of fields. Those who specialize in sustainability, low-maintenance landscaping, hardscaping, and landscape design may see an increase in salary. Whether a landscaper is interested in adding additional skills to increase their salary as a self-employed landscaper or adding value to potential employers, additional skills can go a long way..

“In landscaping, it’s not just about mowing lawns,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO and co-founder of GreenPal, a service that connects customers with landscape and lawn care professionals in their area. “There’s a real art and science to it. As you upskill—think design, horticulture knowledge, project management—your value goes up. It’s those skills that can really bump your salary.”

A self-employed landscaper salary can be higher than the national average because self-employed landscapers set their own wages. Being self-employed means operating a small business, and landscaping business salary often increases along with smart business practices. Taking courses in or studying business management can be advantageous to anyone considering this career path.

Geographic Location

In some states, landscaping is a year-round business, while in others it is seasonal. Some employers may hire additional workers in the spring and summer months, which means work is considered contract or temporary. A landscape contractor salary can therefore fluctuate from job to job and season to season. However, many of the best landscaping services offer snow removal and other services—such as holiday light installation—to offset the colder months in areas where work may otherwise be deemed seasonal. The BLS reports the following figures for landscaping salaries in different states.

StateMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Alabama$15.11$31,430
Alaska$21.04$43,770
Arizona$17.11$35,590
Arkansas$14.78$30,740
California$20.37$42,370
Colorado$20.27$42,170
Connecticut$20.26$42,150
Delaware$17.22$35,820
District of Columbia$23.39$48,650
Florida$16.10$33,490
Georgia$16.33$33,960
Hawaii$19.56$40,680
Idaho$17.50$36,390
Illinois$18.72$38,940
Indiana$16.60$34,530
Iowa$16.45$34,210
Kansas$16.15$33,580
Kentucky$15.12$31,450
Louisiana$14.52$30,200
Maine$19.21$39,950
Maryland$18.70$38,890
Massachusetts$21.44$44,600
Michigan$17.21$35,790
Minnesota$19.30$40,150
Mississippi$13.92$28,950
Missouri$16.62$34,560
Montana$18.48$38,440
Nebraska$16.87$35,100
Nevada$17.95$37,340
New Hampshire$19.25$40,040
New Jersey$19.44$40,440
New Mexico$16.16$33,620
New York$20.30$42,230
North Carolina$16.43$34,180
North Dakota$18.57$38,620
Ohio$16.66$34,650
Oklahoma$15.51$32,260
Oregon$19.87$41,330
Pennsylvania$17.25$35,880
Rhode Island$20.69$43,040
South Carolina$15.83$32,930
South Dakota$15.57$32,390
Tennessee$16.28$33,860
Texas$16.09$33,470
Utah$18.18$37,810
Vermont$20.14$41,890
Virginia$17.33$36,040
Washington$21.76$45,260
West Virginia$13.19$27,430
Wisconsin$17.53$36,460
Wyoming$17.77$36,970
Guam$11.05$22,980
Puerto Rico$10.33$21,490
Virgin Islands$16.74$34,830
Average Landscaper Salary
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Average Landscaper Salary by Type of Landscaper 

The average landscaper’s salary can vary quite a bit depending on the areas of expertise. Within the field of landscaping, there are a number of career paths, all of which have different skill levels or educational requirements, and as such, hourly rates and salaries reflective of those. For example, careers that focus more on plant sciences, such as agronomy, may require a college degree, but they can also have a starting salary higher than that of a landscape tech.

Agronomist

An agronomist studies the science of agricultural crop production and soil management and typically requires a college degree—either a bachelor’s or master’s in agronomy. Because of this, and the fact that employers are often large-scale agricultural operations, the average agronomist salary is significantly higher than the salary for landscaping. In fact, the average salary for an agronomist in the United States is $74,940 per year, or an average hourly wage of $36.03.

Arborist

Though an arborist is not legally required to have any special certifications, it is common for employers to require anyone they hire to go through a certification process with a reputable organization such as the International Society of Arboriculture. These certifications provide customer assurance that the person performing the work has advanced knowledge of the nature of tree growth, tree health and disease, tree trimming, and how to best perform work on a tree. The average national salary for an arborist is $49,820 per year, or an average hourly wage of $23.95.

Botanist

Botanists hold college degrees in the fields of either plant biology or botany; typically a bachelor’s or master’s degree is required, though many go on to earn a doctorate. A botanist is considered a scientist, and the salary reflects this: The average botanist salary in the U.S. is $90,431 annually, or an average hourly wage of $43.

General Lawn Care Technician

Lawn care technicians offer all of the basic lawn care services, including mowing, repair and treatment, and regular maintenance. Some lawn care technicians also provide basic landscaping services such as fertilizing and pruning. The current average annual salary for a lawn care professional is $42,000 per year, while the average hourly wage is typically around $18.

Greenhouse and Nursery Laborer

Nursery and greenhouse work can include growing crops for major agricultural industries or growing ornamentals, landscape plants, trees, and edibles for garden centers. It includes the production, care, and feeding of these crops, trees, and plants, and it may also require heavy lifting and operation of some equipment, such as forklifts. The average annual salary for a greenhouse or nursery worker in the U.S. is $34,300, with the average hourly rate of $16.49.

Grounds Maintenance Worker

Grounds maintenance workers or groundskeepers maintain the landscape of a specific property, performing regular maintenance such as pruning, fertilizing, plant installation, and irrigation. Groundskeepers are frequently employed by specific institutions or businesses including colleges, schools, golf courses, parks, corporate offices, and estates. The average wage for a landscaper holding a groundskeeper position is $36,160 per year or $17.39 per hour.

Hardscape Installer

Hardscape installers work with the hardscaping aspects of a landscape such as stone, concrete, and pavers. They create patios, retaining walls, pathways, and more. Although landscaping in general can be physically demanding, this is one of the more physically demanding landscape career paths. The national average hourly wage for a hardscape installer is $24, while the annual average income is $49,686.

Horticulturist

A horticulturalist applies plant science and research to cultivate plants, often working with farmers and agricultural industries. A horticulturalist may work directly in a nursery, aid in habitat restoration, or help farmers with cultivation techniques. No formal degree is required, though most horticulturalists have a bachelor’s degree for even entry-level jobs. The average salary for a horticulturist is $74,940 per year or $36.03 per hour.

Interior Landscaper 

As the name suggests, interior landscapers install and maintain plants indoors, typically working with hotels, malls, offices, and hospitals to create and maintain indoor greenery. They focus on the installation, care and feeding, and overall health of indoor plants. For individuals living in northern cold climates, this can be a good choice to keep employment year-round, as many outdoor landscaping positions can become seasonal in winter. The current national average interior landscaping salary is $36,665 with a national average interior landscaper hourly rate of $17.63. This rate can increase with interior landscape design skills and training or certification in floriculture (growing flowers and ornamental plants, as well as flower arranging) and plant cultivation.

Irrigation Technician

Irrigation techs install, inspect, repair, and maintain irrigation systems in landscaping. They may be employed by a specific company or considered groundskeepers. In large institutions or commercial jobs, irrigation is considered part of the groundskeeping duties. The national average hourly pay for an irrigation technician is between $15.74 and $29.60 with an average hourly wage of $21.59.

Landscape Designer or Architect

Landscapers who learn the art of landscape design will likely see an increase in their average wage. Both a contract landscaper salary and a self-employed landscaper salary can increase from the national average of $37,270 to $56,402 with the addition of landscape design skills, while the hourly rate for landscaping including design skills is $27. A degree is not required to learn landscape design, however, and there are many options available to learn this skill, including the best online landscape design courses. Landscape design can be self-taught; however, it does require mastery of certain computer programs and an understanding of both hardscaping and landscaping materials. Potential clients or employers may look for these certifications before hiring.

Unlike a landscape designer, becoming a landscape architect requires a bachelor’s degree or higher. Landscape architecture takes into account construction specification, building codes, site planning, planting design, and much more. It is also significantly more lucrative than landscaping alone or even landscape design. The mean salary for a landscape architect is $77,820 with an hourly average of $37.41. However, it is common for landscape architects to make significantly more depending on the firm they work for, commercial design versus residential design, and the location.

Landscape Technician

A landscape technician is the skilled laborer who installs plants and irrigation, prunes, fertilizes, and performs regular maintenance. This type of pro can offer clients landscaping ideas for the front of the house to improve curb appeal and can put together a plan to bring those ideas to life. The pay scale is similar to that of a groundskeeper. The term “landscape technician” is sometimes interchangeable with “groundskeeper” or “grounds maintenance worker” in that landscape technicians perform many of the same duties. That salary averages $32,360 per year, and the average hourly rate for landscape technicians is $15.56 per hour.

Average Landscaper Salary
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How to Increase Your Landscaper Salary

There are several ways to increase income as a landscaper, whether you are hoping to boost your self-employed landscaper salary or become a more desirable potential hire to employers.

  • Specialize. Obtain certification in a speciality area, such as arboriculture or heavy-equipment operation.
  • Stay knowledgeable. Stay up to date on industry trends, best practices, and innovation to offer clients and employers informed services that best suit their needs, such as dynamic design and unique backyard landscaping ideas.
  • Get a degree. Consider a degree program such as landscape architecture to earn top dollar.
  • Increase your revenue. If self-employment is desired, research ways to increase revenue as a small business, such as providing solutions for issues related to climate and pest management.
  • Get into management. Obtain a leadership position such as foreman or landscape designer.

FAQs

Landscaping is a unique profession because it increases the natural beauty in people’s daily lives. However, the earning potential varies for numerous reasons. Those seeking more information on the landscaping hourly rate or landscaping wages in general may find the answers to these frequently asked questions helpful.

Q. What state pays the most for landscaping?

According to the BLS, the District of Columbia has the highest average landscaping salary ($48,650) followed by Washington state ($45,260) and then Massachusetts ($44,600).

Q. Do you need a license to do landscaping?

It depends on the state. Some states require landscapers to obtain a state license before operating, while others do not. For example, you do not need a license to practice landscaping in Arizona, but you do need an ornamental and turf license if you apply pesticides as part of a lawn care business. Other states, such as Hawaii and California, require landscapers to hold a contractor’s license. It is also frequently a requirement that businesses budget for landscaping insurance costs in order to protect them and their customers from liability.

Q. How do you start a landscaping business?

To start a landscaping business, consider what the business will offer or specialize in. Take into account such things as lawn care costs, equipment to purchase, the cost of obtaining a license and landscaping insurance, and whether there is any education to pursue (such as becoming a certified arborist or getting a degree in horticulture). Once these considerations are accounted for, then you can create a business plan. Come up with a business name, register the business, and obtain a tax ID number for the business. Consider the rates the business will charge, and research the average cost of landscaping in the area where the business will operate. It is generally wise to open up a separate business banking account as well and obtain coverage from one of the best small-business insurance companies (such as NEXT Insurance or Thimble). Once these things are in place, then it’s time to get customers through marketing the business.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6), Economic Research Institute, Learn.org (1 and 2), Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter (1 and 2), Indeed (1 and 2), LandscapeIndustryCareers.org (1 and 2), Salary.com