With its abundance of native plants and mild winters, Florida can be an interesting and rewarding place to start a business as a landscape designer. But the state's problems with water shortages and water quality mean that professionals in the industry must be aware of certain issues and requirements before starting out. Only landscapers in certain fields need official Florida licenses, but all landscaping businesses must follow state requirements for opening a business, and they may be subject to specific regional requirements.
General Business Requirements
Landscaping businesses must adhere to state requirements of any business opening in Florida. This process includes registering your business with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations, registering with the Department of Revenue to collect and report taxes and obtaining a federal employer identification number.
The only Florida landscaping businesses regulated by the state government are those offering landscape architecture services. Landscape architects, who deal with land conservation and proper water use, must obtain state licenses in order to do business in Florida. The requirements for a license include a degree in landscape architecture from an accredited institution or six years of professional experience; successful completion of a state examination; and one year of practical experience. Businesses that deal exclusively with plantings and outdoor design -- not drainage and run-off -- do not need state licenses.
In addition to state regulations, municipal and county governments may set their own requirements for businesses operating within their borders. Lee County, for example, requires all professional landscaping businesses to register with the county. To obtain this certification, the business must have at least one employee complete a county-administered training course. Businesses must then display county-issued decals on company vehicles. Check with the city and county government in the region where you will open your business to determine what requirements apply to you.
Florida's limited water supply and declining water quality put additional pressures on landscaping business owners who want to help preserve the local environment. The University of Florida, working with several other public institutions, has created a program called Florida-Friendly Landscaping to train and certify professionals. While not required to open your business, completing such courses can help attract clients who are interested in conserving the state's natural beauty.