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How to become a landscape gardener

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If you like being outdoors (and not just when it’s sunny), and you don’t want to be working on the same job twice, then landscape gardening might be the career for you...

There is a lot of diversity in landscaping, meaning you’re unlikely to get bored. You might be building a pergola, laying a patio, or redesigning the layout of a whole garden.

The landscaping industry has been growing slowly and steadily over the last five years, and its market size is estimated at around £6bn. It’s likely the trend will continue, as more and more Brits move out of big cities into homes with gardens. With work all year round, whatever the weather, there has never been a better time to train to be a landscaper.

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A day in the life of a landscape gardener

While no two days are the same in most trades, this is especially true of landscaping. Every customer is different, and every garden you design is built around the customer’s needs and tastes.

Contrary to what some believe, bad weather doesn’t mean you get the day off, even if it means some jobs are off-limits. Many landscapers turn to paving, driveways and patios during the winter months, but there’s always something to do.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, the job is physically demanding. A lot of landscaping involves moving heavy material from one place to another, or tasks like digging, so you can expect scuffs, bumps, cuts, scratches, and a sore body at the end of the day. But the rewards can be well worth it.

As one landscaper put it to us: “At the end of the day it’s a hard job to do, but the rewards you get out of it really are worth it. It’s quite an artistic job, you’re working outside with your friends building something beautiful for someone to enjoy for years to come”.

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Landscape gardener training and experience

There are many college courses out there, but overall the best way to learn this trade is by practicing it hands on. You should be able to find apprenticeships fairly easily, and many landscaping companies are on the lookout for site labourers.

Apprenticeships are particularly useful if you don’t have a lot of experience on a building site, as it will help you develop a good understanding of the many different disciplines involved.

A good landscaper never stops learning their craft. Landscaping trends develop frequently, and customers often want some new feature or material they saw in someone else’s garden. So it’s important you keep in touch with new developments in the trade.

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Landscape gardener salaries

There are many ways to trade as a landscaper and these estimates don’t necessarily cover the whole range of situations. As a quick guide, and when employed by a company rather than self-employed, a labourer can expect to make between £15,000 and £18,000, while a skilled landscaper would earn closer to £25,000 to £30,000 a year.

Self-employed tradespeople do not benefit from the safety of being employed full time by a company, therefore charge higher day rates, starting around £70 to £100 for a labourer, growing to £100 to £180 for an experienced landscaper, depending on the level of experience.

A career in the trades