Gardening is a relaxing activity that can produce tasty and beautiful results. If you’ve ever found yourself being praised for your green thumb or wishing you could spend all of your time in the garden, this article is for you. There are five things you need to know about becoming a professional gardener.
1) What Equipment You’ll Need
You’ll need a variety of tools to keep the garden healthy and looking its best.
- Pruning shears: Used to trim bushes, trees, and other plants.
- Loppers: Basically a larger pruning shear with more power.
- Hand Trowel: A small shovel.
- Garden Fork: Used to turn over the soil.
- Spade: A square shovel that lets you move dirt quickly.
- Rake: Used to remove leaves and other small objects from an area.
- Hoe: Used to prepare rows for planting.
- Garden Hose: To water the plants when the dry season hits.
- Watering Can: To water plants that are too delicate to be sprayed with the hose.
- Wheelbarrow: To move large piles of soil.
- A large hauling truck to carry all of the other equipment you’ll need to bring with you.
This is a good starting list of equipment you’ll need but you may want to add more as you go.
2) The Requirements You Must Meet
Here are a few of the official and unofficial requirements you have to meet to become a professional gardener or start a gardening business.
- Have some experience working with gardens.
- Have the ability to self-motivate.
- Be willing to continue learning. You might be asked to work with new equipment or try growing something you’ve never even heard of.
- Have a creative mindset that allows you to envision the beautiful, finished space.
- Be capable of making detailed design plans.
- Have the ability to create a care schedule that will keep the plants thriving.
- Be healthy enough to do tasks in the garden without risking injury. Consider allergies too. Are you allergic to anything that you’ll encounter regularly in the garden?
- Get along well with people. You’ll have to maintain good relationships with your clients.
- It’s not an official requirement, but it’s encouraged to get a degree in a relevant field like landscaping. This will increase the amount you’ll be paid.
Check your local laws for any other rules that may apply to your area.
3) You Need To Gain Knowledge And Experience
If you don’t have a lot of gardening experience or want to gain some on a professional level, there are a few things you can do.
- Find a professional gardener and ask to be their apprentice. If you can’t find one on your own, you can contact the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program to help you.
- Volunteer to help out at local plant nurseries.
- Join gardening clubs in your area. This is a good way to practice and get advice.
- Offer to put in gardens for people in your community.
- Learn through the internet using self-study.
- Read about the types of plants that do well in your area.
- Find other professionals who have put together tips and tricks.
Do a little research and find out who in your community might be willing to help you get started.
4) You Can Be Self-Employed Or Work For A Company
Professional gardeners are hired by both private clients and companies. Both have some pros and cons.
- You can set your own schedule.
- You can choose who you work with.
- You have the ability to take on as much work as you can handle.
- You can gain experience quickly by working with a variety of clients.
- You can set your own prices.
- You can build a good reputation that’s based solely on you.
- Self-employment taxes are almost 40%.
- You’ll have to keep track of all your billing and purchase receipts for tax season.
- You have to find all of your own work.
- You won’t be guaranteed pay.
- You won’t be backed by a company; If something goes wrong you’ll be solely responsible.
- On average self-employed people work more despite being able to set their own schedule.
Working For A Company Pros
- You’ll be guaranteed a certain amount of base pay.
- Employers pay part of your taxes, so the overall amount you owe will be lower.
- You don’t have to manage the business side.
- You don’t have to hold on to all of your receipts from the year.
- You don’t have to find your own clients.
- If something goes wrong with a job there will be other people to turn to for help.
- Many companies offer benefits.
Working For A Company Cons
- You’ll have to work the hours someone else assigns.
- You may not be able to take on extra work, depending on your contract.
- You don’t choose who you work with.
- You’ll be representing a brand, which means you’ll have to live by the “the customer is always right” motto.
- Credit for the spaces you create will always go to the company, not you as a person.
Each option has pros and cons to be weighed before making your decision. Consider what will work best for you when you’re first starting out. You can always change your mind later.
5) What You’ll Be Paid
Salaries for professional gardeners range depending on location, work experience, and whether you’re self-employed or work for a company.
- Professional gardener salaries in the United States top out at about $73,000.
- The starting salary for a professional gardener with no previous experience is about $18,000.
- The average salary for a professional gardener is between $30,000 and $36,000.
- If you’re self-employed, these numbers change depending on your ability to find your own clients. You might be able to find more or less than other professionals do on average.
As you can see, there’s quite a range. Generally speaking, the salary goes up as you gain education or experience.
Keeping these five things in mind will help you decide if becoming a professional gardener is the right path for you and what your next step should be. Happy planting!