Starting A Career As A Professional Gardener • 06.12.13
A career in professional gardening is one that is very attractive to a lot of people. It offers the perks of being able to work outdoors, get fresh air and be surrounded by beautiful natural plant life. Therefore it suits those who like to keep active, do hands on tasks and be interactive with their work. It is something that you usually have to get into at a young age to turn into a proper career. A lot of gardening jobs in the horticultural sector start with apprenticeships (which are mostly given to younger individuals).
This article will talk about the career path of becoming a professional gardener and what traits/skills are required to succeed.
In the current climate jobs are hard to come by in most sectors. Therefore experience is an increasingly important factor when applying for jobs and even training courses. Experience usually has to be gained by volunteering and giving up your time. Luckily there are a lot of companies and organisations that are willing to take people on for free! Some good places to look are garden centres, park maintenance teams, private estates and local council volunteer schemes. Gaining this valuable experience will allow you to have an edge over competing candidates when applying for paid work.
When gaining work experience you likely won’t be given highly specialised tasks to complete. But what you will get is a taster for the industry and an understanding of the kind of work that you’ll be engaging in. It’s always good to test the waters before going into a career type job; as often it’s hard to turn round and change what industry you work in.
The best way to enter the gardening trade is to gain certain recognised qualifications. This is usually part of the apprenticeship process if you go down that route. Gaining industry accredited horticulture qualifications opens you up to a wide range of opportunities and jobs. Being a qualified gardener allows you to work on projects such as private estates, botanical gardens, display gardens and other prestigious locations.
One thing to note about the gardening trade though, is that it is a year round job; which means working in all weather conditions. You need to be able to hand the cold winter grounds and surrounding environment, as well as the warmer summer temperatures. Although a gardener’s work is most visible during the summer months, the work continues all year round. Work needs to be put in to make sure that everything is set up right for spring. During winter there is a lot of ground treatment work, fertilisation, seed sowing and top dressing. This is done so that when things start growing again they are already set up to go.
Overall being a professional gardener can be a very rewarding job. It is hands on, healthy, in a great environment and you can actively see the fruits of your labour. If you’re an outdoor type who likes hands on work this would be a very enjoyable and satisfying career.
For more information on commercial gardening, groundcare and landscaping work have a look at the advice section on www.sgm-uk.com
This article was written by Peter McAllister, who works for SGM, a supplier to many commercial gardening contractors, companies and individuals.