What’s the simplest way to describe people who design, install, and maintain outdoor environments? Well, they’re “landscapers,” of course!

But that one word doesn’t quite fit all.

In the general arena of landcare professionals, there are a lot of specific types of work to be done: landscape design, landscape maintenance, backyard farming, edible landscaping, landscape architecture, outdoor construction, coaching and consulting, building edible gardens… It can get a little confusing, so it can be easier to use one word to describe us all! However, specific rules, regs, and professional standards apply to each of these fields, and determine what types of work practitioners can do.

For instance, even those who know our business well frequently refer to Independence Gardens as a “landscaping business”. But since we don’t have our Landscape Contractors Board (LCB) license, we make very sure that our work respects the rules set by that body: among other things, we don’t call ourselves landscapers, and we try to explain the differences to others who use that word as shorthand to describe what we do.

So, what is the difference? Landscape contractors are registered with, and regulated by, the LCB. We got our Construction Contractors license (CCB#186008) so that we could build garden infrastructure, which helps people get comfortable working in their own garden spaces. We don’t recommend or install any plants that don’t have an edible use, since we think food-producing plants are beautiful and productive. In the end, our contribution to healthy outdoor environments is that we help people grow their own food: we don’t do it for them, but we empower them to do it themselves.

If you are in the market for help in your outdoor space, we recommend checking out businesses listed under Oregon Tilth’s Organic Landcare Certification, the City of Portland’s EcoBiz Program, and/or the ReDirect Guide. When you call up to tell them what you want, in case they’re not a good fit, they should be able to refer you to a professional who’s better suited to do the work you need done.