Sow your own career path as a gardener

GARDENERS are responsible for establishing, growing and maintaining plants of all types in a variety of settings.

Employment can be found in the public parks, historic and botanic gardens and many of the hundreds of private gardens, along with sports turf facilities, schools and many others. Opportunities will arise for development to senior and head gardener.

As a gardener your tasks could include:

RAISING plants from seeds or cuttings;

DIGGING, planting and weeding flower beds and borders;

PRUNING shrubs;

IDENTIFYING any pests or disease and controlling them;

APPLYING nutrients and maintaining moisture levels of plants;

USING machinery such as lawn mowers, rotavators and hedge trimmers;

USING cleaning and maintaining tools and equipment.

You may also carry out basic building tasks, such as putting up sheds, and building walls, fences and patios.

If you work in a garden that is open to the public you may have to answer questions from visitors.

If you work as a gardener for employers such as local authorities, you will usually work 37 hours a week, which may vary with the different seasons of the year. You may be able to do overtime, weekend and part-time work.

If you are self-employed, you will be able to arrange your own hours, although you will need to be flexible as your work could often be disrupted by the weather.

Gardening involves a lot of lifting, digging and carrying.

Gardeners can earn between £11,000 and £19,000 a year.

With experience you could apply for a supervisory job, with responsibility for staff.

You may be able to move into management, although you are likely to need some qualifications to do this.

Self-employed gardeners usually arrange an hourly rate with their customers.

Average rates will vary according to the area of the country.

If you are self-employed you will need a driving licence, as you will have to take your equipment to the places where you are working.

If your job involves tasks such as operating chainsaws and using pesticides you must, by law, have certificates of competence.

You do not need any particular qualifications to work as a gardener, but you must be able to show real interest in gardening and experience would be an advantage.

If you do not have any experience of gardening, you could serve an apprenticeship or start by doing courses such as:

BTEC and NPTC Certificate/Diploma in Horticulture levels 2 and 3; BTEC Level 3 National Certificate in Horticulture; and National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) Level 2 Certificate in Gardening.