How to become a Gardener. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Gardener do?
Gardeners look after parks, gardens and green spaces.
As a gardener your tasks could include:
- raising plants from seeds or cuttings
- digging, planting and weeding flower beds and borders
- pruning shrubs
- checking the health of plants and applying fertiliser and pesticides
- using machinery such as lawn mowers, rotavators and hedge trimmers
- tidying pathways, and clearing leaves and litter
- cleaning and maintaining tools and equipment.
You may also do basic building tasks, such as putting up sheds, and building walls and patios.
If you work in a garden that is open to the public you may have to answer questions from visitors.
If you work as a gardener for employers such as local authorities, you will usually work 36 or 37 hours a week. You may be able to do overtime, weekend and part-time work, particularly during busy times.
If you are self-employed, you will be able to arrange your own hours, although you will need to be flexible as your work could often be disrupted by the weather.
For some jobs you will need to wear safety equipment such as gloves, eye protectors and hard hats. Gardening involves a lot of lifting, digging and carrying.
How much does a Gardener earn?
Gardeners can earn from around £14,000 to £22,000 or more a year.
Self-employed gardeners usually arrange an hourly rate with their customers. Average rates will vary according to the area of the country.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not need any particular qualifications to work as a gardener, but you must be able to show real interest in gardening, and some experience would be an advantage.
If you do not have any experience of gardening, you could start by doing courses such as:
- BTEC and NPTC Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture levels 2 and 3
- BTEC Level 3 National Certificate in Horticulture
- National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) Level 2 Certificate in Gardening.
If you are self-employed you will need a driving licence, as you will have to take your equipment to the places where you are working.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
You may be able to work towards the Award/Certificate/Diploma in Work-based Horticulture at levels 2 and 3.
If your job involves tasks such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides, you must by law have certificates of competence. These are awarded by the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) and Lantra Awards.
You could add to your skills and knowledge by doing further training, including:
- short courses awarded by the NPTC and Lantra Awards
- distance learning courses run by the Horticultural Correspondence College
- Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Advanced National Certificate in Horticulture.
As a follow-on to these you could take higher-level courses such as:
- BTEC HND, foundation degree or degree in horticulture
- Kew Diploma
- Edinburgh Diploma
- RHS Diploma in Horticulture
See the website of each organisation for details.
Skills and Knowledge
- an interest in plants and nature
- an enjoyment of working outdoors
- good practical skills
- a good level of strength and fitness
- creativity and an eye for detail
- awareness of health and safety
- good business sense if self-employed.
You could find work as a gardener with organisations such as local authorities, private companies, the Royal Parks, botanical gardens and voluntary organisations like the National Trust. Some gardeners work for garden centres.
You could also set up your own business, offering gardening services to private customers.
With experience you could apply for a supervisory job, with responsibility for staff. You may be able to move into management, although you are likely to need some qualifications to do this.
You could use your gardening experience to move into other work such as landscaping, greenkeeping or arboriculture (the care of trees and shrubs). See related profiles for more details about these.