When your teen is ready for his first job, one that’s outdoors and during the off-school summer months is ideal. Landscaping offers your teen the opportunity to be active and make money at the same time. Before your teen starts filling out applications, you need to understand where he can work, what he can and can't do and what the labor laws are.
Teens who are 14 or 15 may work in a landscaping job, but there are only certain tasks children of that age are allowed to do at this type of job. They can do yard cleanups, weeding and other yard work as long as they don't use power-driven equipment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Youth Rules website. This includes mowers, edgers, trimmers or any other yard equipment that uses gas, oil, batteries or electricity for power.
At this age, your teen can’t work more than three hours on a school day or more than 18 hours a week total during the school year. During the summer, your child can work up to eight hours per day, and not more than 40 hours per week. They are not allowed by law to work before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. The only exception to this is from June 1 through Labor Day, or during the height of the landscaping season. During these months, your teen may work until 9 p.m.
A 16- or 17-year-old teen can work in any landscaping job, provided the Secretary of Labor hasn’t put it on the hazardous jobs list. These hazardous tasks include using power-driven woodworking machinery, a power-driven hoist apparatus, chain saws, reciprocating saws, circular saws, band saws or trenching.
Your teen may also do the same tasks as a 14- or 15-year-old, along with mowing grass, trimming hedges or trimming weeds. There are no prohibitions about using power equipment for these types of landscaping duties for teens 15 and up. There are also no restrictions in terms of the hours your 16-, 17- or 18-year-old may work.
Your state may also prohibit certain landscaping-related duties. For example, in the state of Washington, teens under 18 can’t handle, mix, load or apply pesticides or harvest crops within 14 days of applying chemicals. Other states have similar laws that prevent teens from working in jobs that require using pesticides, chemicals or other hazardous substances. While your teen can’t work in a landscaping job that requires spraying chemical weed killers, he can manually pull weeds or bag untreated weeds and lawn clippings. Check with your state's labor department to see what your teen is and isn't allowed to do in a landscaping job.
The lowest hourly dollar amount a teen can make as a landscaper is the youth federal youth minimum wage. If your teen is working a landscaping job for fewer than 90 consecutive days, an employer can legally pay this wage for the first 90 consecutive calendar days. After 90 days, the wage must go up to your state's minimum wage. Each state does not have the same minimum wage. These hourly rates also may change over time, depending on the state. The amount the landscaper pays varies, depending on how large the company is, your teen’s experience and what he negotiates with his employer.