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Get Quotes from Top Landscapers in San Jose, CA

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Landscaper in the City of San Jose

About half of California's urban water use is attributed to landscaping. Hence, when you are designing, maintaining, or upgrading your landscape in the City of San Jose, it is recommended you leave the work to qualified professionals conversant with the city's Sustainable Landscaping Ordinance. You can be rest assured that these top-class landscapers will complete a job that will increase your curb appeal and the value of your property by up to 20 percent. To ensure you find a suitable Landscaper in San Jose, you should always ask the following questions:

Are You Licensed to Practice as a Landscaper in the City of San Jose?

Landscapers that wish to offer their services to residents of the City of San Jose must possess a C-27 - Landscaping Contractor License obtained from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) before they can legally do so. Note that this licensing requirement is not mandatory for contractors that do not perform projects worth up to $500, including the cost of labor and materials required for the project. However, any landscape contractor that bids for, or works on projects with a value of $500 and above without a valid CSLB-issued license can face misdemeanor charges, and subsequently receive statutory and administrative penalties. The penalties include statutory fines and jail time of up to $5,000 and six months respectively, as well as administrative fines of up to $15,000 for first-time offenders.

Contractors that wish to obtain the C-27 - Landscaping Contractor License from the CSLB must be at least 18 years old and provide acceptable and verifiable documentation showing that they have attained a minimum of four years' journeyman-level work experience. These contractors will also be required to complete and submit an Application for Original Contractor License Form, pay a non-refundable application fee, and provide any other information that the CSLB may request at the time of the application. Once the required documents have been submitted, reviewed, and accepted, the applicant will be invited to write a licensing examination, which they must pass before being issued the requested license. Note that the trade portion of this examination may be waived for applicants that meet the CSLB's reciprocity program eligibility requirements. Queries concerning this program and other CSLB license-related inquiries can be directed to (800) 321-2752. The CSLB also provides members of the public with access to an online Check a License portal that you can use to confirm the licensing status of Landscapers in San Jose.

How Much Do You Charge Compared to Other Landscapers in the City of San Jose?

Professional landscapers in the City of San Jose typically charge interested parties rates that are relative to the nature and scope of the services that these parties require. Other factors that influence landscaping costs in the city include the types of materials like sod, seed, and flowers that the project may require and the labor intensity of the project. Note that landscapers in San Jose may charge hourly, per square footage, or fixed fees for their services. Notwithstanding, you should always compare prices from several contractors when carrying out your search for a suitable landscape contractor for your project. This can help you get a fair assessment of the cost estimate of your project and at the same time prevent you from being overcharged by a fraudulent contractor.

A landscaper in San Jose earns an average wage of $46,990 annually. The table below provides a cost comparison of the average hourly wages of landscaping and groundskeeping workers in San Jose against those of this category of individuals across the rest of California and other major American cities:

San Jose Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$22.59
California Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$18.68
New York City Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$18.58
Los Angeles Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$19.04
San Diego Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$16.37
Houston Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$14.69
Chicago Landscapers Hourly Average Wage
$16.89
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do You Comply with the City of San Jose Landscape Ordinance?

The City of San Jose has several laws and guidelines that regulate landscaping activities that take place within its jurisdiction. These include Titles 13 and 15 of the San Jose Municipal Code, which regulates public space landscaping and provides standards for water-efficient landscapes respectively, and the San Jose Tree Policy Manual, which recommends best practices for landscaping in the city. These laws and guidelines apply to several types of landscaping and development projects in San Jose, some of which include:

  • New construction projects that have a total landscape area of 500 square feet or more and require a building permit
  • Rehabilitated landscape projects that have a total landscape area of 2,500 square feet or more and require a building permit
  • Any tree-related work performed on public right of way or private property

It is important to hire a landscape contractor that is conversant with the city's landscape laws, especially the provisions of these laws that pertain to your specific project. This is necessary because violations of any of these laws are considered unlawful and can be punished by fines of up to $1,000, jail time of up to six months, or a combination of both. Note that the severity of these penalties is usually relative to the nature of the violation. You can get more information on San Jose landscaping laws and guidelines by contacting the Planning Division of the city's Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department at (408) 535-3555 or via email. Inquiries can also be directed to this department's Code Enforcement Division via email, by calling (408) 535-7770, or in person at:

200 E. Santa Clara Street
4th Floor
San Jose, CA 95113

Will You Get the Landscaping Permit Required as per the City of San Jose Code?

In compliance with San Jose landscaping laws and guidelines, permits have to be obtained before the commencement of landscaping projects that involve the removal, pruning, or planting of trees that fall under the following classifications:

  • Street trees
  • Heritage trees
  • Live or dead ordinance-size trees
  • Trees located in common areas or on multifamily, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use properties

The San Jose Department of Transportation handles the issuance of permits for the planting, removal, or pruning of street trees, and these permits can be obtained at no cost by emailing this department. Note that this email request should include the name, email address, and property address of the applicant as well as a brief description of the intended landscaping project or the reason for requesting the permit. Queries concerning street tree permits can be directed to the Trees and Landscaping Section of the San Jose Department of Transportation at:

1404 Mabury Road
San Jose, CA 95133
Phone: (408) 794-1901
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays

Permitting for the removal of other types of trees outside the public right of way is handled by the San Jose Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department. It should be noted that permits are not needed for the planting or pruning of these types of trees. Tree removal permits can be obtained by completing a Tree Removal on Private Property Permit Application Form. This form, along with a tree description table and site plan, a color photograph of the tree in question, and any applicable fees, should be submitted to the city's Development Services Permit Center, either via email or in person at:

San Jose City Hall
200 E. Santa Clara Street
San Jose, CA 95113

Note that in some instances, you may be required to include an arborist report when applying for tree removal permits. However, you will be informed on whether or not this will be necessary after your permit application has been reviewed.

Finally, while specific permits are not issued for other types of landscaping projects in San Jose, the Planning Division of the city's Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department typically conducts development reviews for all building and construction-related projects in the city. These development reviews are done to ensure that the projects comply with applicable city regulations and design policies as they relate to architecture, site design, and landscaping, and they must be conducted before a building permit for the project can be issued. Queries concerning tree removal permits, development reviews, and all other San Jose permit-related matters can be directed to the city's Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department at (408) 535-3555.

What Kind of Landscaping Services Do You Offer?

Landscapers in San Jose typically provide several types of specialized landscaping services. These include hardscaping, which involves shaping the overall look of a landscape with heavy materials like wooden boards, bricks, and stones, and softscaping, which involves utilizing shrubs, tree care, and soil preparation to give color to a landscape. Other areas of service typically covered by landscapers in the city include lawn care and maintenance, landscape design, irrigation system installation and repair, garden art installation, and residential and commercial landscaping.

Given the wide variety of landscaping services available in the city, it is important to make sure that the contractor you hire has the proper skillset and tools to satisfactorily deliver the specific type of service that you need. To this end, you should request references of past clients for whom the contractor has completed similar projects and contact them to get their opinions on the contractor's services. You can also ask the contractor to provide you with a portfolio of completed projects that they have worked on for you to peruse.

Listed below are cost estimates for common landscaping services available in San Jose:

Residential landscape design
$89 - $100 per hour
Lawn mowing and maintenance
$50 - $57 per visit (for ¼ acre lawn)
Lawn fertilization
$84 - $92 per application (for ¼ acre lawn)
Lawn care and leaf removal
$35 - $80 per visit
Shrub and Bush trimming
$45 - $70 per visit
Lawn reseeding
$500 - $650
Lawn aeration
$80 - $120
Weed control
$60 - $75
Garden Planning
$70 - $85 per hour
General Bed Maintenance/Detailing
$80 - $105
Spring/Fall clean-up
$120 - $340
Pruning/Hedging
$40 - $100
Lawn irrigation system installation
$1,500 - $2,600
Mulching
$100 - $120 per cubic yard
Leaf removal
$95 - $255
Sodding
$380 - $1,600

What are the Best Types of Grass for Lawns in the City of San Jose?

San Jose faces severe drought conditions, resulting in city-imposed restrictions that limit the watering or irrigation of lawns, landscapes, turfs, and outside plants across the city. When these water use restrictions are considered alongside the city's generally warm weather, water-efficient grasses become the best option for planting on San Jose lawns. Examples of these types of grasses include:

  • Tall fescue
  • Zoysiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Buffalo grass

Note that factors like your soil type and availability of sunlight or shade may affect the growth and appearance of these grasses when planted on your lawn. As such, it is advisable to consult with landscapers in the city before planting any grasses to determine the best type of grass that can give you your desired outcome for your lawn and home's landscape in general. You can get referrals to landscapers in San Jose via online directories provided by organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the California Landscape Contractors Association.

Do You Carry the Necessary Insurance Policy for Landscapers in the City of San Jose?

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4,000 fatal work-related injuries were recorded in 2020, with 116 of these injuries occurring amongst landscaping and groundskeeping workers. Approximately 10,170 nonfatal work-related injuries were also recorded amongst this category of workers during the same period. These statistics serve to underscore the importance of hiring only landscapers that have an active liability insurance policy. This insurance protects you from financial responsibilities and possible legal repercussions if work-related injuries, property damage, and other unforeseen situations occur during your project. As such, before hiring any contractor in San Jose, request a copy of their insurance certificate and contact the insurance provider to make sure that their insurance plan is not only active but also sufficient enough to cover the scope of your project.

Note that general liability insurance is not mandatory for landscapers in San Jose and across the State of California. However, these contractors are required to inform consumers on whether or not they carry this insurance. Likewise, all licensed contractors in California must maintain a surety bond of $15,000 during the validity period of their licenses and also carry workers' compensation insurance for any individuals that they employ. You can contact the CSLB at (800) 321-2752 to get information on state-mandated contractor bonding and insurance requirements.

How to File a Complaint Against a Bad Landscaper in the City of San Jose

In 2019, it was reported that a month-long series of sweeps and undercover sting operations conducted by the CSLB across the State of California had resulted in the arrest of 169 allegedly fraudulent contractors. According to the 2019 annual report published by this agency, it was able to recover more than $49 million as restitution for consumers in the state that had been victimized by shady or fraudulent contractors during the fiscal year of 2018-19. Unfortunately, not everyone that falls victim to a contractor-related scam is guaranteed restitution. Common scam methods utilized by shady landscapers include requesting full payment before providing their services and subsequently not getting the job done as agreed-upon, inflating the costs of materials required for the job, and misrepresenting their licensing status. As such, it is important to recognize signs of these scams and also take steps to prevent falling victim to one when searching for Landscapers in San Jose. These steps include:

  • Be wary of unsolicited landscapers, especially ones that offer free lawn inspections or relatively cheap landscaping deals and offers
  • Always confirm the licensing status of any landscaper whose services you plan to retain. You can do this by contacting the CSLB online or via phone number (800) 321-2752
  • Make sure that you get bids for your landscaping project from at least three different contractors
  • Always request references and reach out to them to get reviews on the contractor. You can also lookup reviews on your preferred contractor online via third-party websites like the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review
  • Make sure that the contractor issues you a written contract for the project before any work starts. This contract should include all expectations for the project, the project cost, and an estimated timeline for its completion. Also, ensure to properly read and understand this contract before signing it
  • Confirm that the landscaper is duly insured and bonded
  • Never pay the full cost of the project upfront. Payments should correspond to the project's level of completion. If you have to make an initial payment before work starts, this should not exceed 10% of the project's value or $1,000, whichever figure is less
  • Keep copies of all paperwork related to the project

If you suspect that you are dealing with a fraudulent contractor, or if you or a loved one happens to fall victim to a landscaping scam, you can file a complaint concerning the matter with the CSLB. Alternatively, these types of matters can be reported to the Consumer Protection Unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office online or by completing and submitting a Consumer Complaint Form to:

Santa Clara County
Office of the District Attorney
Mediation Services
Consumer Protection Unit
70 West Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110

Finally, you can take private legal action against the contractor by filing a lawsuit against them at an appropriate division of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. For example, if you wish to seek damages to the tune of $10,000 or less, you can file a lawsuit with this court's Small Claims Division. Note that you should always get legal advice from a licensed attorney before taking court-related actions.