Garden Centre Worker Careers

How to become a Garden Centre Worker

What does a Garden Centre Worker do?

Horticultural workers are involved in the large-scale cultivation of plants.

They work in the following areas:

  • production horticulture - producing and selling plants for either food or ornamental purposes
  • garden centres – producing plants for sale to the public along with related products such as tools and garden furniture
  • amenity horticulture – maintaining areas such as parks and public and botanic gardens.
Their tasks may include:
  • producing young or new plants by sowing seeds or planting bulbs, transferring seedlings, growing from cuttings, or by grafting
  • plant care such as watering, weeding, pruning, feeding and spraying
  • picking, sorting and packaging produce to be sent to retailers
  • arranging displays of plants and products
  • mowing grass, cutting dead growth and branches and general tidying
  • laying paths and tending ornamental features
  • retail sales and advising customers in garden centres.
The work involves the use of a range of hand tools, such as forks and spades, and (depending on the type of job) machinery, such as chainsaws, mowers, tractors and crop- harvesting equipment.

What's the working environment like working as a Garden Centre Worker?

It is usual to work a 40-hour week, although some jobs are seasonal, with longer hours during the summer. Weekend and evening work may be required, particularly in garden centres.

The work is physically demanding, involving bending, kneeling, lifting and carrying, and outdoor work involves exposure to all weather conditions.

What does it take to become a Garden Centre Worker?

To be a horticultural/garden centre worker you should:

  • be interested in plants and their care
  • be physically fit and able to do practical tasks
  • be able to understand and follow health and safety regulations when using chemicals, tools and machines
  • be able to operate or drive machine tools and vehicles, and perform simple repairs or maintenance
  • be able to work either alone for long periods or in a team
  • be able to give information and advice to visitors or customers
  • have some experience in customer service and handling money for garden centre work.

Garden Centre Worker Career Opportunities

In commercial horticulture, nurseries and garden centres are to be found nationwide, while production horticulture is concentrated in certain areas, depending on the climate and type of soil. In amenity horticulture, jobs are mainly in larger towns and cities, working for local authorities in maintaining public parks, gardens and playing fields. Councils increasingly employ private contractors to do this work, so opportunities exist with these.

Larger employers offer the chance to progress to supervisory and managerial posts for those with experience or further qualifications. It may be necessary to change employers to reach the more senior jobs. Promotion could also be possible with specialist skills, perhaps in caring for trees or sports grounds.

Self- employment is possible by setting up a nursery or garden maintenance business. There may be opportunities to work abroad. Some gain higher qualifications and move on to horticultural lecturing or journalism, landscape or urban design, horticultural therapy or quality inspection for supermarkets as a food technologist.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Garden Centre Worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Lantra House
Stoneleigh Park
Nr Coventry
Tel: 0845 707 8007

Lantra career advice sites:

National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)
Stoneleigh Park
Tel: 024 7685 7300

Scottish Skills Testing Service (SSTS)
EH28 8NE
Tel: 0131 333 2040

Royal Horticultural Society
Horticultural Training Officer
RHS Garden
GU23 6QB

Facts and Stats:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte once called England a "nation of shopkeepers".

  • Consumer expenditure per head in the UK is £8,053.

  • The phrase "The customer is always right", was coined by H Gordon Selfridge.

  • The annual sales of digestive biscuits, if stacked on top of each other, would reach 275 miles high That's 4,500 times the height of Nelson's Column or 1,400 times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Britain's first department store was Selfridges, which was opened in 1909.

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