Landscapers, or landscape gardeners, construct and maintain gardens, parks, sports grounds and other outdoor areas. They also work on interior landscaping projects, often in shopping centres or large office blocks.
The work involves preparing the ground (including earthworks and drainage), turfing and seeding lawns, planting and pruning trees and shrubs and putting in other plants. Some landscapers specialise in a particular skill such as laying paving, constructing rock or water gardens, or seeding lawns; others carry out a wide range of tasks.
Large-scale work may involve interpreting plans and drawings, and using mini-diggers and excavators, tractor-mounted equipment, and possibly dump trucks. On small-scale projects landscapers use hand-operated equipment such as garden mowers and rotavators, as well as spades, forks and other garden tools. Cement mixers and stone-cutting saws are used for paving; chainsaws and climbing equipment for treework.
The type of work undertaken is dictated by the time of year and the state of the ground. Landscapers liaise with clients on site, and there is usually some contact with suppliers.
On any given day a landscaper may need to work from plans made by garden designers or landscape architects, order supplies, prepare the ground or interior space and even advise clients on how to take care of their space.
The basic working week can be up to 40 hours, which is likely to include overtime at weekends. Early starts are common.
Landscapers work outdoors in all weather conditions. The work is physically demanding and includes digging, pushing loaded wheelbarrows and laying paving slabs.
Travelling to a job may take up a lot of time, and some jobs involve temporary lodging away from home. A driving licence is useful.
To be a landscaper you should:
While there are no set requirements for entry into this line of work, employers will expect candidates to have some horticulture knowledge and experience. There are college courses you can do in horticulture and you can also get a job through an apprenticeship.
Most landscapers are employed by landscape contractors and by local authority park departments. A few openings exist with the National Trust, English Heritage and botanical gardens. Contractors usually employ a mix of permanent staff and sub-contractors, hired as the volume of work requires. To some extent the work is seasonal, with more opportunities in the summer.
In larger firms, progression to chargehand, foreman/woman or contracts manager may be possible. With experience, landscapers may become self-employed contractors.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a landscaper that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
Tel: 0845 707 8007
Institute of Horticulture
14-15 Belgrave Square
British Association of Landscape Industries
Tel: 0870 770 4971
National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)
Tel: 024 7685 7300
Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
Tel: 0131 333 2040