Landscapers construct, maintain and renovate gardens, parks and sports grounds, as well as other outdoor or public areas in business parks, housing estates, national parks and picnic sites. They also do interior landscaping in places like shopping centres, offices and hospitals. They are also known as landscape gardeners or landscape technicians.
You could be:
meeting a customer to discuss their design requirements, budget and assessing the area to be designed
working from plans drawn up by a landscape architect or designer, or sometimes using your own
preparing the ground, including installing drainage
deciding what trees, shrubs and flowers to use and ordering them
building rock or water gardens, laying paving stones or constructing decking
planting shrubs, flowers or trees, or laying grass turf
using hand tools like spades, forks, picks and shovels, or using machines such as diggers, rotavators, excavators, tractors, cement mixers, dump trucks or chainsaws
running, overseeing or organising the project and liaising with customers, consultants or contractors
advising clients on plant and landscape maintenance.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified landscapers in the UK are around £16,000 to £19,000 a year. Experienced landscapers, leading a team, can earn up to £30,000 a year or more. Many landscapers are self-employed so their earnings will vary, depending on how successful they are.
The work is mostly outdoors and is physical, with lots of bending, lifting and carrying.
The conditions can be muddy, wet and cold in winter and hot in summer.
It can sometimes be noisy, dusty and smelly, with fumes from machinery.
You may have to wear protective clothing such as boots, gloves and a safety helmet.
Some jobs are seasonal, and hours are longer in summer.
Work usually involves early starts and some weekend work.
There are no formal entry requirements, but most entrants have a qualification in garden design, horticulture or landscape design or a similar subject.
You could take a full time course leading to NC (SCQF Levels 4-6), HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8) in one of these subjects before applying for a job.
Entry requirements for NC courses vary from no qualifications up to 4 or 5 subjects at National 4 or 5. HNC or HND courses require 1 or 2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5, or a relevant National Qualification (NQ).
You might get in through a Modern Apprenticeship, which usually lead to SVQs.
Previous experience in horticulture or landscaping is helpful.
You need a driving licence as you will be travelling around to sites as well as picking up materials from suppliers.
You must be fit as there is a lot of heavy physical work.
Depending on where you are working, you might need a CSCS card, for example on a housing development where there is ongoing construction.
What Does it Take?
You should be able to:
understand and interpret drawings
take on client’s ideas
work quickly and meet deadlines
use a range of garden tools and machinery
work alone and also as part of a team.
You should have:
good communication skills
knowledge about plants, soil and the environment
a creative approach and eye for detail
awareness of health and safety requirements
good manual and technical skills.
Training is on the job, along with part time college courses leading to an SVQ, NC or HNC if you do not already have one of these qualifications.
If doing a Modern Apprenticeship you would work towards a relevant SVQ, such as Horticulture (Landscaping) at SCQF Levels 5 and 6.
You might do extra training to get certificates in, for example, chainsaw use or driving diggers.
Many landscapers work for landscape contractors and, with experience, you may be able to apply for a supervisory job.