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Job Photographs

  • A man, wearing a boiler suit, is standing on a lawn.  He is raking leaves.

    Amenity horticultural workers spend most of their time outdoors.

  • A man, wearing a boiler suit, is marking white lines on a football pitch.

    Sports areas have to be marked out clearly and accurately.

  • A man, wearing a boiler suit, is fixing the engine of a piece of horticultural machinery.

    The worker has to look after the machines used to do the job.

  • A man, wearing a boiler suit and ear protectors, is trimming a hedge with a hedge trimmer.

    The equipment used is often petrol powered so that it can be used a long way from base.

  • A man, wearing a boiler suit, is cutting the grass on a football pitch.

    For large areas, the amenity horticultural worker might have to drive small vehicles, like this mower.

  • Gardener

Gardener

Introduction

Gardeners plant and care for flowers, shrubs, vegetables, trees and lawns. They could be working on a public park, roadside verge, private house, or preparing plants for sale at a garden centre or plant nursery. Gardeners need to know about different types of plants. This includes knowing where a plant will grow well and how to look after it.

Also known as

  • Gardener
  • Horticultural Worker, Amenity
  • Seasonal Gardener
  • Landscape Gardener

Video: - Yvonne: Amenity Horticultural Worker

Work Activities

Gardeners prepare areas for planting by measuring and marking out. You might need to prepare the soil by adding compost or manure. Next, you plant flowers, shrubs and trees according to a design.

Your general duties include:

  • planting
  • watering
  • spraying plants with chemicals to protect them from pests
  • mowing grass
  • pruning plants and trimming hedges
  • keeping the area free of weeds and litter

Some Gardeners also put up fencing and lay pathways. You might also carry out concrete and brickwork.

Some specialise in nursery and garden centre work which includes growing and looking after new plants, and preparing them for sale. You must be able to deal confidently with the general public and help them with their questions and enquiries. You will need to check the plants for pests.

The plants grown may then need to be harvested and picked by hand, or by using machinery, depending on the crop. For example, in a larger plant nursery or in outdoor vegetable production, you often use machinery to help with tasks such as ploughing, planting and harvesting.

There are also some Gardeners who design, care for and maintain plants and green areas inside buildings, in places like offices and shopping centres. This is known as interior landscaping.

As well as using hand tools, you might drive tractors and use other light machinery such as hedge trimmers, rotavators and mowers.

You have to know how to store, handle and clean equipment. Maintaining the equipment can include doing minor repairs.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Gardener, you will need:

  • to enjoy working outside in all types of weather
  • adaptability, to do lots of practical tasks
  • the ability to do hard, physical work, like digging, lifting and carrying
  • teamwork skills
  • the ability to follow plans and drawings from Landscape Designers and Architects
  • number skills to measure accurately and to work out the quantities of materials you'll need
  • a responsible attitude and the ability to follow health and safety procedures, for working with equipment and chemicals
  • to be able to deal with the public in a polite and helpful manner

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £17,000 - £18,000
  • With experience: £19,000 - £21,000
  • Senior Gardeners earn £22,000 - £23,500

Hourly rates usually range from the national minimum wage to around £10 an hour.

Hours of work

Gardeners usually work 39-hours a week. However, working hours might include evening/weekend work and irregular hours, depending on the season and weather (for example, they work longer hours in summer when grass needs cutting).

Where could I work?

Employers include:

  • local and national authorities with responsibility for managing public parks, gardens and landscaped areas
  • horticultural contractors and landscape gardening companies
  • plant nuseries
  • garden centres
  • fruit farms

Opportunities for Gardeners occur in towns, cities and rural areas throughout the UK.

Self-employment

There are opportunities for Gardeners to become self-employed, for example, in contract grass cutting or as Gardeners for private gardens.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, at Jobcentre Plus, on the Find a Job website, and on general and horticultural job boards.

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/gardening-jobs/

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

A level 2 qualification will help you to get into this career.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship are a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

You can decide to go to college to take a full-time course in horticulture, before looking for a job.

BTEC offers level 2 and level 3 qualifications in horticulture.

City & Guilds land based services provides:

  • level 1 awards, certificates and diplomas in land-based studies
  • level 2 certificates, extended certificates and diplomas in horticulture
  • level 3 certificates, subsidiary diplomas, diplomas and extended diplomas in horticulture

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) offers its own nationally-recognised qualifications. These include theory-based certificates at levels 2 and 3, and qualifications in practical horticulture at levels 1-3. On the RHS website, you can find a list of colleges that offer these qualifications, including through distance learning.

Students who already have some practical experience can apply for short-term Voluntary Internships with the RHS. You'd get the chance to work in an RHS garden while learning basic gardening skills and techniques. Please see the RHS website for more information.

Training

It can also be possible to find work and study part-time. Some employers enable amenity horticultural workers to go to college on a day-release basis.

You might be able to work towards City & Guilds land based services awards, certificates and diplomas in work-based horticulture (levels 1-3) or practical horticulture skills (level 1).

Progression

You could be promoted to a Team Leader or Supervisor post, responsible for a team of Horticultural Workers. With a lot of experience and, usually, further qualifications (such as a foundation degree, HND or degree), you could work your way up to a management position.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Some posts, for example, that involve working on school grounds or around social care buildings, are exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.

This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.

Work Experience

Previous experience of gardening or other outdoor work, either paid or voluntary would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

You don't usually need any qualifications to become a Gardener. However, it's useful to have some GCSEs, especially in science subjects, or a relevant equivalent qualification.

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

To do a BTEC level 2 qualification, there are no minimum academic requirements.

However, with all the above, requirements can vary, so please check carefully with individual colleges.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Some entrants have gained relevant skills and knowledge from experience of gardening or other outdoor work, either paid or unpaid.

Courses

Colleges will usually consider applications from adults who don't meet their usual entry requirements. You should check the admissions policy of individual colleges.

You might be able to enter and train through an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship or Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Horticulture.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website includes a list of organisations that provide distance learning options leading to RHS qualifications.

You can search for relevant courses on the website of Lantra, the sector skills council for the land-based and environmental sector.

Funding

Funding for further study is available from the Studley College Trust and the Merlin Trust. Candidates should see the Trusts' websites to check on eligibility.

Statistics

  • 60% of Gardeners are self-employed.
  • 5% work part-time.
  • 6% have flexible hours.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

LGjobs

Local government vacancies

Website: www.lgjobs.com

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries

Email: myjobscotland@cosla.gov.uk

Website: www.myjobscotland.gov.uk

Lantra

Skills for land-based and environmental industries

Address: Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG

Tel: 02476 696996

Email: reception@lantra.co.uk

Website: www.lantra.co.uk

City & Guilds Land Based Services

Address: Building 500, Abbey Park, Stareton, Warwickshire CV8 2LY

Tel: 02476 857300

Email: information@cityandguilds.com

Website: www.nptc.org.uk

GreenJobs

Email: info@greenjobs.co.uk

Website: www.greenjobs.co.uk

Horticultural Correspondence College (HCC)

Address: Fiveways House, Westwells Road, Hawthorn, Corsham SN13 9RG

Tel: 01225 816700

Website: www.hccollege.co.uk

Studley College Trust

Address: The Old Post Office, Lower Boddington, Daventry, Northants NN11 6YB

Email: studleyct@btinternet.com

Website: www.studleytrust.co.uk

Institute of Horticulture (IoH)

Tel: 01992 707025

Email: ioh@horticulture.org.uk

Website: www.horticulture.org.uk

Grow

Horticulture careers

Tel: 0845 7078007

Website: www.growcareers.info

College of Agriculture, Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE)

Irish enquiries

Tel: 0800 0284291

Email: enquiries@cafre.ac.uk

Website: www.cafre.ac.uk

Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)

Address: 15 John Street, London WC1N 2EB

Tel: 020 7831 3110

Email: frontofhouse@ciwem.org

Website: www.ciwem.org

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

Address: 80 Vincent Square, London SW1P 2PE

Tel: 0845 2605000

Email: careerinfo@rhs.org.uk

Website: www.rhs.org.uk

Merlin Trust

Address: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB

Tel: 020 8332 5585

Email: info@merlin-trust.org.uk

Website: www.merlin-trust.org.uk

Institute for Horticultural and Rural Studies (IHRS)

Address: Pethick Park, Looe, Cornwall PL13 1QR

Tel: 01503 240835

Email: info@ihrs.ac.uk

Website: www.ihrs.ac.uk

National Trust (NT)

Website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Belfast City Council

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: General enquiries, Chief Executive's Department, Belfast City Hall, Belfast.

Tel: 028 9032 0202

Email: parksinfo@belfastcity.gov.uk

Website: www.belfastcity.gov.uk

National Trust for Scotland (NTS)

Scottish enquiries

Email: information@nts.org.uk

Website: www.nts.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Soil Association

Address: South Plaza, Marlborough Street, Bristol, BS1 3NX

Tel: 0117 314 5000

Website: www.soilassociation.org

Volunteering Wales (Welsh Enquiries)

Tel: 0800 288 8329

Email: volunteering-wales@wcva.org.uk

Website: www.volunteering-wales.net

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