For those of us who dream about a life outdoors and earning our keep with the work of our bare hands, perhaps gardening is something that has been considered. Those who are gardeners have said it is back breaking work but they would not change it for the world.
If you are pondering a change of career as a gardener, know that you are not alone and many people, some in their 30s or older, have decided on career changes like this. Some have known since they were teenagers!
If you are interested in gardening, be prepared for a job that will be physically demanding and put your body under a lot of strain. You will also potentially have to deal with clients that mandate a lot but are sometimes not willing to pay the extra required. You may also find yourself, as this gardener did, as the go-to advice person for any gardening issues anyone in your social group may have. If you’re working in the UK, then our eclectic weather can also be a barrier to working.
The benefits far outweigh the hardships for some. For one, being outdoors, despite the weather, is a much better alternative than dull, claustrophobic indoor work. While you can obtain work as a gardener through a company, many people will wish to start off on their own and be self-employed. A gardener also has scope for being creative with their work if their clients are looking for some help with landscaping or advice on how to decorate a border. Finally, working with living things that you shape and grow is fulfilling and satisfying. Not to mention the opportunities available to preserve and encourage wild-life through small projects.
How does one go about becoming a gardener? Being qualified is not a requirement, it will certainly help you in terms of plantmanship. Most advice relating to work as a gardener mentions knowing your plants thoroughly. Understanding plants as deeply as you can makes can mean you can branch your skill set to other things, such as offering clients landscaping services. You should make sure you have a set of good gardening tools that you know how to use inside out. This may sound silly, but knowing how to properly use a shovel, for example, can help reduce callouses and strains. As a gardener, you may be required to garden areas that are remote. If so, a clean driver’s license and transport are essential for your gardening career.
The salaries you can expect as a gardener range from £16,000 - £25,000 depending on experience. And this is for basic gardening duties and does not include extra services, like landscaping or garden consultancy.
If you are heading down the self-employment route, you will also need to have a relatively good head for business, be able to manage your own diary and have good customer service skills for your growing list of clients. But don’t let the idea of running a business full time stop you, once your client list grows to a certain size and you have decent revenue coming in, you can outsource many of the more tedious jobs, such as any marketing or bookkeeping, to other small business. As a self-employed gardener, you may find your hours vary greaty from season to season, longer days may mean longer hours in the summer and the opposite would be true in the winter.
And if you wanted to branch into a simliar field? There are plenty of other routes you could take, for example, a head gardener could be in charge of cathedral grounds, castle gardens or something equally magnificent. A greens keeper could deal with collective green areas such as park fields or village greens. You could even branch into a diffierent route, such as becoming tree surgeons and helping deal with arboriculture issues.
So, with that in mind, do you think you’ve got what it takes to be a gardener?