We’ve discussed surveys, designs and hardscape certifications in this series — now comes landscape. And, just like designs and patios, a great deal of unseen time and effort goes into selling and installing plants. From having inspected plants, certified nurserymen, applicator’s licenses and more, these certifications contribute to a successful project.

Plants are my favorite part of bringing any project together. Kentucky’s Office of the State Entomologist provides a license any nursery or anyone selling plants should have. It means the plant materials are inspected and healthy. With many invasive, damaging pests, this is a critical part of a professional installer or dealer’s credentials.

The inspectors look for pests, such as ash borer, gypsy moth, walnut twig beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid and many others. By purchasing plants from a reputable company, you help reduce the spread of these unwanted pests. You can find out if your landscaper, dealer or grower is on the list at uky.edu/Ag/NurseryInspection.

People and plants get licenses. Nearly every state has a certified nurseryman’s exam, and the same is true for Kentucky. When it’s time to install your landscape, it’s important to know that the contractor has these qualifications. The Kentucky Certified Nurseryman’s Exam demonstrates knowledge of plants, pests, weeds and design. It’s administered through Kentucky Nursery and Landscape Association.

A quality landscaper will belong to and hopefully be involved in the state or national level landscape associations — or both! Our national landscape association is American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA). There are also other nationally recognized landscape certifications such as National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

During installation or maintenance, the project may require herbicides or pesticides, and you guessed it — there’s a license for that too. Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Agriculture Division of Environmental Services provides the necessary licensing for any person or company applying herbicides or pesticides.

This is imperative to protect the health of the environment, the applicator and you and your family. All herbicide and pesticide sales, registrations, distribution, storage, disposal and application are regulated. The license is acquired by passing general standards of competency of the License Pest Control Exam, which can be foud at kyagr.com/consumer/division-of-environmental-services.html.

Use of herbicides or pesticides should be minimal, but is sometimes necessary to rid your property of noxious weeds and to maintain plant and tree health.

Trees are significant to our community and provide many benefits. Taking proper care of them by hiring a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture (isa-arbor.com) is the only way to go.

“Arborists are knowledgeable in the care needed to sustain a tree’s life and long-term benefits,” according to isa.org.

Certified arborists are properly equipped to safely and effectively care for your trees and skilled in diagnosing and treating diseased trees. Poorly maintained trees can be a liability, while proper tree care is an investment. Certified arborists have obtained a minimum of three additional years of work experience managing the establishment and maintenance of urban trees, or an associate’s degree and two years of experience.

As with any professional certification, those certifications must be maintained with CEU’s, or continuing education units or credits, which means a certified professional is constantly immersed in knowledge and innovation in their field.

And, of course, your chosen professional should have worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Hiring a professional with certifications and the right credentials comes at a cost, but has incomparable value!

Andrea Wilson Mueller, APLD is the owner at Inside Out Design, LLC and first and only APLD certified landscape designer in KY. www.insideout-design.org. This article is the third part of a series. The first and second articles can be found at www.frankthemagazine.com.