How To Get A CSLB C-27 Landscaping License

California’s landscaping industry is always flourishing –there are lots of customers and they tend to have lots of money. If you’re considering a career in this lucrative field, you’ll need to make sure you’re staying in the lines and playing by the rules – or you could get popped by the authorities.

If you are doing any sort of landscaping work that you can bill for more than $500, you need a California Contractors State License Board C-27 Landscaping License. That means anyone who is making any sort of real money in landscaping needs to have a C-27 license.

In this article, we’ll cover all the things you need to know to get your C-27 license, how to go about getting it, and some tips and tricks to make it as a landscaper in California.

Do I Need A C-27 License?

Who needs a C-27 License? Probably you!

If you’re doing any landscaping work that is valued over $500, you must have a valid C-27 contractor license.That means most landscaping jobs require a landscaping contractor license.

What Qualifies As Landscaping Work? What Does A C-27 License Holder Do?

 According to the CSLB, a C-27 Contractor is anyone who:

“…constructs, maintains, repairs, installs, or subcontracts the development of landscape systems and facilities for public and private gardens and other areas which are designed to aesthetically, architecturally, horticulturally, or functionally improve the grounds within or surrounding a structure or a tract or plot of land. In connection therewith, a landscape contractor prepares and grades plots and areas of land for the installation of any architectural, horticultural, and decorative treatment or arrangement.”

Basically, anyone who does any sort of construction work would qualify for a C-27 license. 

Remember, this only applies to jobs over $500 in value. If you do any landscaping work that is valued at over $500 (including equipment and wages), you do not need a CSLB C-27 License.

How to Get A C-27 License

Here’s a step-by-step guide to securing your license:

  1. Verify your experience: You must have at least four years of journey-level experience in landscaping within the last ten years. Journey-level experience involves working unsupervised and being capable of managing projects.
  2. Submit an application: Complete the Application for Original Contractor’s License and pay the required fees, including a non-refundable $330 application fee and a $200 initial licensing fee.
  3. Pass the exams: You must pass both the Law and Business exam and the C-27 Landscaping exam. The Law and Business exam covers topics such as contracts, financial management, and employment requirements. The C-27 Landscaping exam focuses on trade-specific knowledge.
  4. Secure a bond and provide proof to the CSLB: Obtain a $25,000 contractor’s bond as a guarantee of your financial responsibility.
  5. Provide proof of insurance: Submit workers’ compensation insurance for your employees, if applicable.
  6. Fingerprinting and background check: Complete the fingerprinting process and undergo a criminal background check.

California Landscaping Regulations

Adhering to California’s landscaping regulations is essential for the success and longevity of your business. Key regulations to consider include the following.

Irrigation Efficiency

California’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) mandates specific water efficiency requirements for new and renovated landscapes. When working on landscaping projects, it’s critical you stay within these boundaries.

Environmental Preservation

California has numerous environmental protection laws aimed at preserving the state’s natural resources. These are both local and on the state level. It’s on you as the contractor to know and to follow these environmental guidelines.

Safety Standards

This goes for ALL contractors, regardless if you’re a landscaper or not – you must always maintain safety standards by adhering to the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA) guidelines. This includes providing adequate training, safety equipment, and hazard communication for your employees.

Everyone has had heard OSHA horror stories – don’t let your landscaping site be one of them!

Additional Licensing Classifications to Consider

While the C-27 Landscaping License is the primary classification for landscaping professionals, there are additional licensing classifications that may be relevant to your business, depending on the range of services you offer1:

  1. C-8 Concrete: This classification allows you to work on projects involving concrete, such as constructing driveways, walkways, and patios.
  2. C-10 Electrical: If you plan to install outdoor lighting or other electrical components, you may need to obtain a C-10 Electrical License.
  3. C-12 Earthwork and Paving: This classification covers earthmoving, excavating, and paving projects, such as grading and preparing land for landscaping.

Obtaining multiple licensing classifications can expand your business offerings, providing additional revenue streams and increasing your appeal to clients seeking comprehensive services.

Embracing Sustainable Landscaping Practices in California

Sustainable landscaping practices are crucial in California, given the state’s ongoing water conservation efforts and commitment to environmental preservation. 

As a landscaping professional, consider incorporating the following eco-friendly strategies into your projects:

  1. Drought-tolerant plants: Utilize native and drought-tolerant plants that require less water, reducing your clients’ water usage and maintenance costs. If it’s not native, don’t plant it!
  2. Efficient irrigation systems: Design and install water-efficient irrigation systems, such as drip irrigation and smart controllers, to minimize water waste. Water is a critical resource – let’s not waste it!
  3. Recycled materials: Use recycled and locally sourced materials for hardscaping projects to reduce your environmental impact and support local businesses. Not only can you save money on materials, but you create a lasting legacy for your children.
  4. Erosion control: Implement erosion control measures, such as retaining walls and proper grading, to protect soil quality and prevent sediment runoff.

By embracing sustainable landscaping practices, you can contribute positively to California’s environment while creating visually appealing and low-maintenance outdoor spaces for your clients.


Obtaining a C-27 Landscaping License and adhering to California’s landscaping regulations are vital for launching and maintaining a successful landscaping business in the Golden State. By understanding the licensing process, C-27 classification, and essential regulations, you can establish a reputable and compliant landscaping business that thrives in this competitive industry. 

Stay up-to-date with industry trends, legal requirements, and environmental best practices to ensure your business remains at the forefront of California’s dynamic landscaping sector. With a strong foundation in licensing and regulations, you can create stunning outdoor spaces that exceed client expectations and contribute positively to the state’s environment.

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About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit and tuned for more informative posts.