How to become a Landscaper. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Landscaper do?
As a landscaper, or landscape gardener, you would build and maintain gardens, parks, sports grounds and other outdoor areas. You could also work on interior landscaping projects, often in shopping centres or large office blocks.
Your work would depend on the particular project, the time of year and the state of the ground, but would typically include:
- discussing requirements with clients
- preparing and interpreting plans and drawings
- ordering supplies
- preparing the ground (including earthworks and drainage)
- turfing and seeding lawns
- planting and pruning trees and shrubs
- putting in other plants
- installing features like paving, paths, water features and rock gardens
- constructing rock or water gardens.
After completing a project, you would advise the client on maintenance, or offer an ongoing maintenance service.
Your basic working week could be up to 40 hours, which would usually include early starts and may also include weekends.
You would be outdoors in all weather conditions, and your work would be physically demanding, involving tasks such as digging, pushing loaded wheelbarrows and laying paving slabs.
How much does a Landscaper earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Landscapers can earn between £17,000 and £22,000 a year.
- Senior staff can earn from £23,000 to around £32,000.
Earnings for self-employed landscapers will depend on the amount of work they have.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will not always need qualifications to become a landscaper, but most employers will prefer you to have horticulture experience.
It could be useful (and sometimes essential) to have a driving licence, as you will need to travel to the sites you are working on.
You may find it useful to build up your skills by doing a course such as:
- BTEC First Diploma in Horticulture
- RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture
- RHS Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Horticulture
- BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture (Garden Design) and Horticulture (Amenity).
From September 2020 the above qualifications will be replaced by the following new qualifications:
- BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture
- RHS Level 2 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
- RHS Level 3 Diploma in the Principles and Practices of Horticulture
- BTEC Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture.
Check with individual colleges for details of courses and entry requirements. Visit the RHS website for details of RHS qualifications and course providers.
Higher level qualifications include three-year degrees, two-year BTEC HNC/HNDs and two or three year foundation degrees in Landscape Construction, Landscape Management and similar subjects. You will usually need A levels or equivalent qualifications and at least one science subject at GCSE (A-C) or A level. However, entry requirements vary, so you should check with colleges or universities.
To search for foundation degree, HND and degree courses see the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service website.
- Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
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
Once you are employed in landscaping, you can work towards Work-based Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture at levels 1, 2 and 3.
For some tasks, such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides, you must have certificates of competence. These are available through the National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) and Lantra Awards. Both the NPTC and Lantra Awards also offer a range of other relevant short courses. See their websites for details.
You may be able to develop your career by completing other qualifications, such as a foundation degree or degree, on a part-time basis whilst in employment.
If you are employed full-time in landscaping, you can apply for membership of the British Association of Landscape Industries, which will give you access to information and advice, training support and seminars, networking opportunities and information on job vacancies. Student membership is also available, and includes a student helpline.
Skills and Knowledge
- the ability to interpret drawings
- an interest in the environment
- good knowledge of plants
- the ability to meet deadlines
- organisational skills
- practical skills to work with a variety of tools.
Most jobs are with landscape contractors or local authority parks departments. Contractors usually employ a mixture of permanent staff and sub-contractors, depending on the amount of work they have. The work can be seasonal, with more opportunities in the summer.
In larger firms, you could progress to a supervisory or management position. With experience, you could become a self-employed contractor.
Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, in Jobcentre Plus offices, in trade publications such as Professional Landscaper and Groundsman and Horticulture Week, and on the British Association of Landscape Industries website.