If you're often thinking how great it would be to spend your working days outside, washed in the sunshine while tendering the plants and planning beautiful spaces that are going to be turned into small Eden gardens, then you’re probably thinking of a career change. Escaping the confinement of a 4-wall, desk and a laptop job can sound like a dream-come-true for some and you’re probably right in thinking that.
The conflict of going through life and realising you want to do something like this can be often scary, depending on what stage you are in life right now. If you’ve just finished school and thinking that gardening can be a carer path for you then it’s pretty straightforward for you then. But if you’ve already got a full-time job you don’t enjoy and feel like the gardening life is calling for you, then you might want to consider some things before making this transition.
What does it take to be a professional gardener?
Becoming a professional gardener is something that requires a lot of hard work (physical and mental), as well as patience and dedication. You might already have some background in doing some gardening jobs for your mom’s or nan’s garden or even for your own, but it’s never too late to start doing it properly.
The ultimate thing you will want to remember before making this leap is that you are going to need a combined expertise in various technical matters about gardening, fuelled by a passion to work hard until you cherish the results. This job is not simply planting little flowers, but being the mastermind behind planning an entire green that is able to instil a sense of calmness and tranquillity for the owner. It’s an art after all.
There is a distinction between professional gardeners and people doing it for the sake of doing something. A professional gardener will have a great understanding of every element that pertains of soft and hard landscaping and they need to have in-depth knowledge about all various plants, designs, materials, tools and techniques. There is also a lack of those professional gardens and not everyone’s got the power to go through what it really means to be a gardener. The industry has seen there is a real need for revolutionary minds that understand how to create a synergy with all the elements within a garden. What are the effects on wildlife, how is this going to impact the drainage, are some of the questions you will need to take into account. Hard landscaping is just as important as soft landscaping and knowing how to stick the perfect balance between those two will make a real difference.
What are some career paths for gardeners?
- Self-employed gardeners. You manage works for different clients, across different cities in most cases and you’re a sole trader and get to manage your own business.
You need to be able to manage a business on its own- this includes from a financial point of view too. In this case, you might be thinking of hiring other team members to manage the various parts of your internal business processes and more team members for the actual gardening jobs.
- Employed by large companies. You’re in charge of their commercial property or stately home gardens.
- Employed by someone from the private sector- the council most of the times or a public sector- other companies that want you to design and take care of their gardens and grounds- community gardens. This includes National Trust gardens, school gardens, sports grounds.
- Employed by nurseries and garden centres.
What do I need to become a gardener?
- If you’re scared you have to go through the whole university thing, you’ll be happy to find out it is not necessary.
- You need to have a certain endurance and be physically fit. Although not physically strenuous, being garden requires you to move a lot of the times and perform different activities
- There are gardening qualifications available. Search for the nearby colleges that offer that full time or part-time courses in horticulture. City and guilds courses are also something you should do some research on as well. You should be aiming for BTEC or an NVQ 2 or 3 in gardening.
- Apprenticeships are also a great way to get started as you learn from other people, perform the actual job while studying for it, and you get paid too.
- Volunteering in your free time.
What skills do I need to have?
- Endurance and a decent stamina
- Creativity and a passion for coming up with various designs
- Patience as you are going to be dealing with meticulous jobs
- Attention for detail and a visual eye
- Be prepared to get your hands (and clothes) dirty
- Green fingers
Things you will be learning
- Get used to learning some of the Latin names for plants- soon enough your plant-vocab will have to expand drastically.
- Trimming hedges, grow plants all sorts of plants, weeding, pruning, replanting, using all the different tools and machines such as lawnmowers, rotovator and cleaning them as well. Removal of garden waste and how to safely use pesticides.
- Looking after trees, shrubs, lawns and how to maintain them, and this includes their nutrition and watering schedules
- Design, structuring elements in an open space, engineering different landscapes,
How much does a gardener earn?
- Gardener Up to 20,000
- Head Gardener 25,000
- Garden Manager 30,000