Mar 25, 2013— read in full
Working in gardening
Got green fingers? Find out how they could sow the seeds of a blossoming career.
What is gardening?
Gardening means growing plants and flowers, and designing and maintaining parks, gardens and other green spaces. Some types of gardening are part of horticulture, which normally means cultivating plants and flowers for decorative or scientific purposes, as opposed to agriculture – or farming – which usually means growing large amounts of crops for food.
What jobs are available?
Many gardeners are employed by local councils or organisations like National Trust to look after local parks or gardens in stately homes, where they will plant seeds, cut grass and make sure plants are healthy. They can then move up to being a gardens manager, where they will have more responsibility over which plants should be grown, and deal with administrative things like budgets and staff rotas. Gardeners can also work as groundspeople keeping football pitches, golf courses and other sports grounds in top shape.
Landscape gardeners design and build gardens for clients. This involves working with landscape architects to discuss how the garden will look, drawing plans, planting seeds and installing features like rockeries or water fountains. Some landscape gardeners are self-employed, while others work for private firms.
Other jobs include working in a garden centre or nursery, growing plants for sale, selling gardening equipment and advising customers. This route can lead to a job as a horticultural manager running a garden centre or a large flower farm producing and selling plants to wholesalers.
Salaries for gardening jobs begin at about £12,000 per year, but experienced horticultural managers and people running landscaping firms can earn £40,000 or more.
What training do I need?
Most gardening skills are learnt on-the-job by getting work experience. However, studying an apprenticeship in horticulture could help you get the skills you need and put you in contact with potential employers.
There are a number of diploma, BTEC, HND and degree courses in horticulture for people who want to go into horticultural management, for which you will often study business skills as well as plant biology. Some also involve work experience placements.
If you’re interested in landscape gardening, you could do a HND or degree in landscape architecture or garden design and construction.
What other skills do I need?
All gardeners need to know how to identify and care for different types of flowers and plants. But a good gardener is artistic as much as scientific, and will have creative ideas for what makes a garden look interesting and attractive, and the forward planning skills and eye for detail to see their designs through.
They will also have to learn how to use specialist equipment and be prepared to work outside in any weather, meaning they must be physically healthy – and not scared of getting their hands dirty!