Choosing the right landscape professional for your project. Have you ever wondered of all if those titles and abbreviations after someone’s name actually make them more credible? They do. The landscape industry is no different than any other facet of corporate America in accrediting individuals based upon education, knowledge and experience. It is these select few who have invested in themselves and their companies to be better suited to service their clientele and provide the highest quality product. The following are three certifications commonly seen in the landscape realm which should be considered by any homeowner anticipating having a landscape/hardscape project completed.

CNLP. Certified Nursery Landscape Professionals must initially demonstrate a required body of knowledge about the nursery and landscape businesses. This must include having acquired an education degree or certifications in horticulture, and/or having worked or managed in such businesses as landscaping, a nursery or garden center. A CNLP prep course is offered to strengthen one’s knowledge of plants (biology and management), landscaping (design and management), garden centers (sales and operations) and plant identification. The exam itself consists of 100-120 multiple choice questions and 25 plant identifications. Upon passing the exam, recertification is necessary every two years in conjunction with obtaining 24 continuing education credits within the same time frame.

APLD. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers bases its certification not off educational curriculum or exams, but rather actual projects and experience. An applicant must be practicing for at least two years and submit drawings, plant lists, photographs and design objectives from three completed projects for evaluation. APLD certified members need to go through a recertification process every three years in addition to receiving 30 continuing education credits. Founded in 1989, this is the only international certification program for landscape designers.


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT. This individual has completed a multi-year program at an accredited university/college receiving a degree in landscape architecture. By definition, “Landscape architecture is a multi-disciplinary field, incorporating aspects of botany, horticulture, the fine arts, industrial design, geography and ecology.” Landscape architects practice in a wide array of professions from design of private residences/ estates, public parks, civil infrastructure and ecological restoration. Depending on the state in which they practice, they are regulated with either a certification or licensure exam followed by yearly continuing education credits as well. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the main organization these professionals are members of.

As seen by all of the above, much goes into being able to list that title or acronym at the end of one’s name in the landscape industry. There are many individuals out there who take great pride in being able to continually educate themselves so as to pass this through to their projects. So before jumping into your next outdoor endeavor look into the credentials (and experience) your potential landscape professional has to offer.

Michael Pasquarello is a degreed landscape architect with Elite Landscaping. Email him at or call (856) 753-1944. Visit for more information.