A close up shot of a landscaper operative laying some new turf.

Learn about the diverse world of landscaping jobs

Imagine for a moment an area in your town, a business park, your own home. How would it look if there were no green spaces, no trees, no flowers? People across a range of landscaping jobs are responsible for designing, creating and maintaining these spaces, to provide us with an attractive, tidy outdoor environment.

A landscaping career is a satisfying and rewarding profession which can take you in a range of different directions. However, before considering this career path, it is important to consider three key aspects necessary to work as a landscaper:

  • • You need to have an interest in plants and horticulture
  • • You must be happy to work outside and willing to work in all weathers
  • • You have to be physically fit

If you’ve ticked all the boxes so far, then read on.

What types of landscaping jobs can you do?

Landscaping jobs cover a range of tasks and when you begin your job search, you will find various professions within the industry.

Grounds maintenance and garden maintenance jobs

In these types of roles, the main responsibilities revolve around keeping outdoor areas neat and tidy.

For grounds maintenance jobs you could be doing anything from raking leaves and clearing litter to mowing lawns and cutting hedges. Garden maintenance jobs include similar tasks along with more direct involvement in planting and plant care.

Landscaper jobs

A job as a landscape operative may involve some general maintenance but your main tasks will have more to do with installation and planting.

As a soft landscaper you would be taking care of all the living aspects of landscaping, so the grass, the plants, the trees. This could be laying turf, planting flowers and shrubs, mulching, pruning and a whole range of other horticultural tasks.

A hard landscaper is responsible for all the structural aspects of a garden. In this job you might be laying a footpath or patio, building a wall, putting in a drainage system, installing lighting or many other manmade features that go in to creating an attractive outdoor space.

Starting out in your landscaping career

Landscaping is an industry where skills and expertise will continually develop and grow as you progress, but to get started on your landscaping career path, you could take any of the following routes.

  • On the job – knowledge and skills can be gained in grounds maintenance or landscaping by working alongside more experienced staff. Some positions may require you to have a horticulture or landscaping qualification and some may have the option to study alongside your job. 
  • College course – having a qualification in a landscaping or horticulture related subject shows potential employers that you already have an active interest in the profession and a willing commitment to learning. Courses can be full or part-time and range from Level 1 to Level 3 and up to degree level.
  • Royal Horticultural Society qualification – RHS qualifications are widely recognised within the horticulture industry. They involve part-time study over one year which can be done either via remote learning, onsite at an approved centre or a combination of both.
  • Apprenticeship – an apprenticeship combines practical training and study. You will be learning on the job as you work alongside experienced staff whilst also studying at a local college, usually for one day a week, to gain a relevant qualification.

What attributes and skills do you need for a landscaper job?

If you are at the beginning of your landscaping career, employers will not necessarily expect you to have lots of specific gardening or landscaping experience. However, there are certain attributes, abilities and qualifications they may look for to ensure you are a good fit for the role, with the potential to progress.

These include:

  • • A proven interest in and knowledge of horticulture, plant care and garden design.
  • • Happy to work outside and the ability to cope with and work in all weathers.
  • • Physically fit and able to lift, bend and carry.
  • • The ability to work independently as well as part of a team.
  • • The ability to understand and work from garden design plans.
  • • Attention to detail and a flair for creativity.
  • • An interest in caring for the environment and a desire to conserve outside green spaces for plants and wildlife.
  • • Good organisational skills.
  • • Basic computer skills.
  • • Good customer service skills and the ability to give appropriate advice on garden care, particularly for supervisor or manager positions.
  • • A valid UK driving licence (required for most landscaping jobs).
  • • A CSCS card is usually required for companies that specialise in commercial projects.
  • • A safety training qualification.

What could a landscaping career path look like?

As we have said, there are various ways to get started in a landscaping career. You might begin in a job as a Soft Landscaper, learning how to prepare the ground and install suitable plants and trees. Perhaps you prefer the construction side, and a job as a Hard Landscaper is more appealing. Or you might choose to take an RHS horticultural course to gain a greater knowledge of plant care and a better understanding of how to recognise disease and pests, both being necessary skills if you go into garden maintenance.

Ryan, one of our candidates, was placed with a client who was looking for a Grounds Maintenance Operative. Ryan had always had a keen interest in gardening and had previously worked in a soft landscaping role where he was involved in turf laying, planting trees and preparing and planting borders around a new build residential site. During that time, he completed a part-time course and gained his Level 2 qualification in horticulture. As a Grounds Maintenance Operative, he now puts what he learnt into practice on a daily basis by carrying out general garden maintenance tasks such as weeding, pruning, mowing and clearing litter and leaves. He also uses his knowledge of plants, being responsible for their care and ensuring they remain free of disease and pests.

When we asked Ryan about his future career plans he told us:

“I’m happy in my current job, I’m still learning so much. When I have a bit more experience I would like to take on a more supervisory role like a Team Leader or eventually become a Landscape Foreman or even a Landscape Manager.”

Moving up the ladder in the landscaping industry will involve more responsibility, overseeing landscaping jobs and ensuring the work of the team is completed safely and on time. Having a good grounding in garden maintenance and having soft and/or hard landscaping knowledge and skills will be necessary for any supervisor level landscaping job. In these positions you will also be required to liaise with managers, clients and your team, so in addition to your gardening skills, good communication and people skills are also extremely important.

As a landscaper you will find lots of scope to work in different environments. You might work in public parks, gardens or recreation areas. You could take care of the gardens of private houses; anything from the average family house up to a stately home with extensive grounds. Your job may be working on the grounds of new builds, business parks or commercial property grounds. Each type of location will provide the  opportunity to learn new skills and develop those you already have.

A career in landscaping can take you in all kinds of different directions, making it an exciting and  fulfilling choice. If you enjoy the creative side of your landscaping job, by gaining a further qualification you could also consider moving into garden design or landscape architecture. Take the next step in your landscaping career by searching our current landscaping job vacancies.