Landscape Contracting Major

Art, science, and entrepreneurship meet outside.

Landscape Contracting is a hands-on, science-based education in plants and soils fused with design, technology, business, and practical engineering. Grads take leadership roles in landscape design-and-build companies or start and run successful businesses of their own.

Transform the very ground we walk on.

If you want a rewarding career affecting people’s lives by doing work that is enduring and beautiful, you’ve found it. Penn State Landscape Contracting grads have unmatchable career opportunities. In fact, there are MANY more jobs than trained professionals ready to fill them.

Our faculty and staff are driven to help ensure you are career ready. They have the academic credentials, but more important, they have industry experience under their belts as landscape designers, builders, managers, and entrepreneurs.

Landscape Contracting is the right major if you’re: 

  • aspiring to see the product of your skill and imagination come to life
  • a hands-on learner
  • happiest outside
  • seeking a career with potential for high reward, right away
  • entrepreneurial
  • someone who loves to make things of beauty that others can appreciate
Landscape Contracting majors study the art and technology of the landscape industry.

One major. Two options. Infinite destinations.

Landscape contracting majors develop skills in the planning and implementation of landscape projects.

Design/Build Option

This path emphasizes the skill sets involved in creating landscapes first in the design studio and then building them out in the world.

Example Courses

  • CAD Applications in Landscape Contracting
  • Cultural History of Designed Places
  • Landscape Construction
  • Landscape Planting Design
  • Ornamental Plant Materials
  • Residential Landscape Planning
For the management option, employment opportunities include positions with landscape management companies and golf courses.

(Landscape) Management Option

Focus on taking leadership in business large and small.

Example Courses

  • Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision Making
  • Introduction to Selling Techniques
  • Issues in Landscape Contracting
  • Landscape Contstruction
  • Small Business Management

Ag Journeys

“I was down in the weeds, laboring for hours and hours on a design. Then, at the end, I pushed away from the table and my jaw dropped. It was beautiful. It was perfect. I did that.”

– Kamsi Gerry-Ofor

The syllabus is just the beginning.

Grads let us know that what they learned outside the curriculum has a huge impact. We have a constant stream of alumni who come back to campus to mentor future landscape contractors—always with an eye open for promising future hires.

Same goes with our internship opportunities. Companies compete to bring Penn Staters onboard for the summer, and many students return to campus with a summer of practical experience and a job offer waiting in the wings. There are research opportunities, foreign travel opportunities, and more to gain experience and academic credit.

Craft your experience.

Related clubs and teams

  • Horticulture Club
  • Flower Judging Team
  • Soil Judging Team
  • Turf Club
  • Weed Science Team
  • Woodsmen Teams
  • See all clubs and teams

Recent internships  

  • Aboriculturist at landscape contracting company
  • Marketing and sales at landscape design-and-build firm
  • Designer at landscape contracting company
  • Landscape maintenance at commercial landscaping business

Popular study abroad

  • Gardens, Villas, and Landscapes of Northern Italy
  • An Irish Odyssey: A Sojourn through Irish History and Culture
Landscaping internships and study abroad programs take students to exciting places. Arborists maintain trees and shrubs, improving the appearance, health, and value of trees. Landscaping contractor majors might enjoy a visit to the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

A practical, workforce-ready degree—and a college experience you’ll love.

Penn State Landscape Contracting grads are in the boardroom, out on the job, and all over the world, right now. You can harness the awesome power of a truly unique education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Our alumni out in the world

  • Arboretums
  • Garden centers
  • Landscape design/build firms
  • Municipalities
  • Nurseries
  • Park systems
  • Public gardens

Landscape Contracting Career Options

What can I do with a Landscape Contracting degree? Here are just a few career examples:

Landscape manager

Landscapes managers oversee all aspects of installing and maintaining landscaped and natural spaces.

What will I do?

  • Train, schedule, and supervise work crews
  • Work closely with clients to develop or refine plans
  • Negotiate and purchase plants and equipment

Landscape designer

A landscape designer designs attractive and functional outdoor spaces for homes, small businesses, corporate spaces, schools, and government offices.

What will I do?

  • Work closely with clients throughout project planning and execution
  • Create and present custom landscape designs
  • Tailor designs to the clients’ tastes, budget, and property features
  • Secure necessary permits from relevant government authorities
  • Select and negotiate price for plants and other project elements

Arborist

An arborist identifies, cultivates, manages, and studies individual trees and shrubs.

What will I do?

  • Use rope systems to safely climb trees for pruning and assessment
  • Draft and execute plans, including tree surgery, to restore health to trees affected by damage or disease
  • Safely remove unhealthy trees
  • Select and plant new trees that meet design/customer needs and wants

Landscape sales manager

A Landscape sales manager leads a team that sells design, construction, and maintenance services.

What will I do?

  • Follow up on sales leads and create new ones
  • Stay current on landscape trends and materials
  • Use practical landscape contracting knowledge to interface effectively with vendors and crews

Landscape Contracting Students in the News

October 6, 2019

Penn State senior shares his passion for landscape contracting

Jack Pohutsky, a senior in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, was attracted to the rewarding, hands-on work of landscape contracting, and he took to the major immediately. Through small, student-focused classes, which touched on subjects such as horticulture, biology and design software, he has gained valuable knowledge and experience.

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April 22, 2019

Stearns receives Educator of the Year award from national landscape association

Dan Stearns, J. Franklin Styer Professor Emeritus, who served as the inaugural professor and program coordinator of the landscape contracting program in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently was named Outstanding Educator of the Year by the National Association of Landscape Professionals during its annual conference in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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April 3, 2018

College of Agricultural Sciences welcomes landscape contracting professor

Margaret Hoffman recently joined Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences as assistant professor of landscape contracting.

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March 26, 2018

Scholarship will aid Penn State New Kensington student in reaching goals

Daniel Stawowczyk, a landscape contracting major at Penn State New Kensington, was the recipient of a scholarship from Pucketos Garden Club that will help support his studies and dream of one day creating his own landscaping company.

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