I am very good at plants, but does it mean that I could be a professional gardener?
Surely you have also asked this question once to yourself.
Because it is one thing to maintain your own garden.
But what does it take to make it your job?
If you have these doubts, keep reading, because in this article we are telling you how you can become a professional gardener.
Functions of a professional gardener
First, let's see which are your obligations as a gardener.
Commonly, you will be in charge of one or more green areas.
Depending on the job, your occupations may vary greatly.
For example, managing a public park is not the same as being a greenkeeper in a sports field.
But in general, there are a number of functions that are common to most gardening jobs:
Planting of various plant species (trees, shrubs, floral and herbaceous plants).
Maintenance, care and conservation of green areas (pruning, fertilizing, fruit collection ...).
Preparation and adaptation of the land (aeration, scarification ...).
Maintenance of the machinery you will use in your daily work.
Irrigation system management.
Pest control and applications of phytosanitary products.
Basic garden design.
In addition, some specializations will force you to develop certain skills (later we will talk about the specializations that you can opt for as a gardening professional).
What qualities does a professional gardener need?
To develop your work as a gardener you will need technical knowledge about various plant species, in addition to learning to use professional machinery.
These are some of the essential qualities for any gardener:
Advanced botany knowledge
Each plant requires specific care. As a professional, you should be able to identify the different species and their maintenance needs.
These are some of the points that you must master:
Water and light needs of the plants that are most often used in your area.
Knowledge about sowing and seed selection.
Ability to use phytosanitary chemicals.
Notions about cutting and maintaining the lawn.
Management of specialized machinery
When working with large green areas, you will have to use specialized machinery: seat mowers, scarifiers or aerators are the most common ones.
These types of tools are constant in the daily lives of professionals, so it is essential that you know how to use them.
Of course, you must also master basic hand tools (pruning shears, chainsaws, trimmers ...).
It is one thing to take time off in the care of your garden, but would you be able to do the same eight hours a day throughout the week?
To work as a professional gardener you must have good health and adequate physical resistance.
Knowledge of plans and electrical installations
In some cases, you will meet clients who need to set up a garden from scratch.
Normally, it will be a landscape architect who will take care of the main design decisions (which plants to use and where to place them, how to distribute the automatic irrigation system), especially when it is a large land.
However, once the professional has handed you the plans, your role will be to bring those sketches to reality.
For that reason, you will need minimal technical knowledge that will allow you to understand the landscaper's instructions.
Another very common situation is that the client has already its own garden and wants to make some reforms. In this case, you will have to check the installation plans to know where the automatic irrigation pipes or lighting cables are.
The last (and most important) quality a gardener needs is patience.
In your day to day you are working with living beings.
That means the rules you know will not always be followed.
Sometimes a plant does not react as you expected to the fertilizer application, or it takes longer than normal to develop its flowers.
You need to be aware of the unique needs of each plant.
Jobs a professional gardener can do
Once you start working as a gardener, you will most likely start as part of a green area maintenance team, either in a public or a private company.
But this job opens the door to many other occupations:
Autonomous gardener: if you see yourself with sufficient skills, you can dedicate yourself to looking for work on your own as a self-employed person. Many owners and community managers have a trusted gardener who is responsible for maintaining their green areas.
Florist: Florist's work is halfway between gardening and art. Its role is to create all kinds of designs (bouquets, centerpieces, wrappings) from floral plants. It is a job where you can unleash your creativity.
Greenkeeper in sports facilities: the lawn is one of the most difficult plants to care for. Especially if that lawn is subjected to the constant stress of footsteps and rolling balls. That is why the figure of the person in charge of maintenance (or greenkeeper) in sports facilities is so quoted. With this specialty you could work in football or golf facilities, for example.
Technician in a nursery or forest facility: if you love to spend the day surrounded by plants, this could be your ideal job. The nursery technician is responsible for maintaining all the plants that are for sale in good condition. In specific cases, this position may require certain sales skills to deal directly with customers.
Seed specialist: Some companies are dedicated exclusively to the distribution of seeds for cultivation. The seed specialist works as a kind of consultant, who advises the client on the type of plant that can best germinate in an area or on a specific farmland.
Landscaper: It is the natural step of many professional gardeners, who end up discovering that design is what they love most about their work. The landscaper is the maximum responsible in any work of creation or reform of gardens. It deals with choosing the best plants for each area, deciding their distribution and adding architectural elements (such as fountains or gazebos) to create a harmonious design.
Is training necessary to work as a professional gardener?
No matter what type of work you are going to do: even if you decide to work as a self-employed gardener, you need to receive specific training.
As you have seen, there are many differences between the work of a professional gardener and an amateur one. To offer your customers a quality service, you need to train first.
In addition, in the case that you decide to work for someone else, all companies require a degree to work as a gardener.
What training do you need then to practice gardening?
The most common title is that of Gardening and Florist Technician, which in Spain is a medium grade.
To access you only need to have the title of compulsory secondary education or an equivalent one.
Apart from this, you must complete a specific training course (taught by the Junta de Andalucía) to receive the phytosanitary professional user card.
How much does a professional gardener earn?
The salary you receive will depend to a large extent on your training, your experience and on whether you work for someone else or your own.
However, a gardening professional usually charges between € 1,100 and € 1,400 net monthly in his early years.
One way to increase your income is to develop a specialization (as a greenkeeper of sports fields, landscaper or seed specialist, for example).
Ready to start working as a professional gardener?
The gardener profession is not simple, and mastering it can take years.
But if plants are your passion, it will also be a job that you will enjoy like no other.
Are you ready?