7 Gardener Responsibilities (Plus Career Requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A professional gardener maintains and manages gardens in public and private spaces. They have knowledge of how to care for plants and understand basic landscaping. If you're interested in becoming a gardening professional, learning more about gardener responsibilities can help you determine if it's the right role for you. In this article, we review gardener duties, explore some requirements for gardeners, discover important gardener skills, detail the benefits of working as a gardener and offer helpful tips for becoming a professional gardener.

7 gardener responsibilities and duties

A gardener is a professional who works closely with plants and maintains gardens. They can work for individuals, or for public spaces like parks and botanical gardens. These are some gardener responsibilities:

1. Trimming and shaping

Many gardens and public green spaces have grass, trees and shrubs. A gardener may be responsible for ensuring the plants stay clean and presentable. For example, if the space has a lawn, the gardener may cut the grass and collect the clippings. They may also trim around the edges to ensure a clean look. For trees and shrubs, the gardener may keep the plants in a certain shape, or ensure branches and leaves don't obstruct walking paths.

Related: 6 Professional Landscaper Skills and How to Develop Them

2. Weeding and cleaning

Weeds are invasive plants that grow when they're not intentionally planted. They can steal the nutrients and water from other plants, so gardeners may spend time identifying and removing weeds to protect other trees, flowers and shrubs. Besides removing weeds, gardeners can also remove trash, fallen branches and leaves.

3. Soil testing and management

Some gardeners may test the soil nutrient levels to monitor and maintain them. Some plants thrive and grow better when some nutrients are higher in the soil, so the gardener may test the soil and add nutrients to bring it to a certain level. For example, the gardener may test the soil and find that it's low in nitrogen, so the gardener may add supplements to increase the amounts.

4. Chemical application

There are many chemicals gardeners can use while caring for plants and lawns. Some chemicals can help to protect plants against bugs and other pests. Gardeners may also use chemicals that prevent the growth of invasive species and weeds. Depending on the specific tools and substances the gardener uses, they may have a specific certification to handle them safely.

5. Watering and irrigation

Plants require specific and consistent water, and it's part of the gardener's job to ensure they receive it. Gardeners can do this by watering plants with a watering can or hose, but they can also manage the irrigation systems within a garden. For example, a gardener may check on and maintain the sprinklers throughout a garden to ensure the flowers and grass get the water they need.

6. Harvesting produce

If a gardener works in a garden that produces fruits or vegetables, they may spend some of their time harvesting the produce. Harvesting produce may be less common for gardeners who work in public spaces. For example, if a gardener works for an individual with a garden, they may collect the fruits and vegetables and leave them in the kitchen for someone to prepare.

7. Landscape design and installation

Landscaping is the process of designing an outdoor space, and a gardener may take part in the design and installation process. This may include planning where to plant seeds, installing retaining walls and determining where paths go throughout the space. Landscaping isn't a task that all gardeners take part in, but some can, depending on the space in which they work.

Related: What Is a Landscaper? (Plus How To Become One in 7 Steps)

Requirements and training for gardeners

The requirements for a professional gardener can differ depending on where the gardener works. A public space may have more certification or training requirements than a private estate. These are some potential gardener requirements:

  • Professional gardening course: Some employers may require that you've completed a professional gardening course prior to starting the position. This can show your knowledge of horticulture, cultivation and growth.

  • Tractor driving licence: If the space you're caring for is large or requires a lot of mowing, you may drive a large tractor to cut down grass or fields. In this case, a tractor-driving licence may be necessary to be a professional gardener.

  • Plant protection products: When you're working with chemicals and tools designed to prevent pests and bugs, you may need certification to ensure you can handle the substances properly.

  • Basic plant knowledge: Most garden owners or managers may require that you have basic knowledge of how to plant, care for, trim, water and monitor plants. This is one of the most important requirements for a gardener.

Related: How to Write a Gardener Resume (With Steps and Examples)

Important gardener skills

These are some important skills professionals use to manage gardener responsibilities:

Tool maintenance and care

Gardeners use a variety of tools, including pruning shears, mowers and testing equipment. It's important that professional gardeners understand how to maintain and fix minor problems with these tools so they can avoid delays and repair costs. For example, a gardener may change the blade on a mower or change a screw in a set of shears to keep them working.

Related: 17 Unique Jobs (With Average Salaries and Primary Duties)

Attention to detail

How healthy a plant is can show in the colour of its leaves, where it droops and what its texture is like. To successfully monitor and maintain the plants in a garden, it's important that a gardener can notice small changes in the colour or appearance of a plant. Attention to detail is an important skill because it helps the gardener avoid missing important cues about plant health and potential garden diseases.

Organisation and designing

Organisational skills can help a gardener find the right tools and know where to plant each flower, shrub or tree. Plants can grow better when they're planted with the right companions, so it's important that gardeners use organisation and garden designing skills to group plants together. For example, if a gardener was designing a home garden for a chef, they may group herbs together close to the kitchen door so the chef can pick some when they're cooking.

Related: What Does a Florist Do? (With Salary and Career Path)

Critical thinking

Plants can face a variety of problems, including pests, bugs, diseases and improper nutrition. Critical thinking is the ability to identify a problem, recognise the causes of the problem and implement solutions. Gardeners can use critical thinking to identify problems with plant growth and implement solutions in time to save the plant from wilting.

Related: Landscaper Resume Samples (With a Resume Template)

Benefits of working as a gardener

Here are some of the benefits of working as a gardener:

  • Continuous learning: As a gardener, you can constantly learn about new plants and methods for care. If you enjoy learning about new things and developing your skills, gardening may be right for you.

  • Time outside: Gardeners often spend most of their day outdoors, surrounded by plants and breathing in fresh air. Those who prefer to be inside might enjoy a different career more.

  • Physical activity: Being a professional gardener can improve your physical health, as you may walk through the garden, climb ladders and transport heavy bags of soil. This can help you get your daily exercise while at work.

  • Relaxing atmosphere: Unlike other work environments, gardening is often low-stress and relaxing. Being around plants for most of the day may help you feel more relaxed than if you worked in a busy office, a hospital or a restaurant.

Related:

  • 11 Interesting Floral Careers (With Duties and Salaries)

  • 10 Careers in Horticulture: Average Salaries and Primary Duties

Tips for becoming a gardener

These are some helpful tips you can use if you want to pursue a gardening career:

Plant your own garden

One of the best ways to gain experience and learn more about gardening is to plant your own garden. This can help you discover what works best to maintain and care for plants. If you don't have the space or resources to plant your own garden, consider finding a community garden near you that can use volunteers.

Learn about plants

Learning more about plants can help you improve your gardening skills and knowledge. Consider going to your local library to find books about gardening. You can find free community workshops, read information online or enrol in a gardening program to increase your knowledge about plants.

Related: 12 Careers in Arboriculture (Duties and Average Salaries)

Pursue relevant certifications

Depending on where your ideal workplace is, you may need certifications. Consider speaking with others in professional gardening roles and learning about the certifications and credentials they have. A certification that allows you to manage and disperse herbicides or pesticides may be helpful.

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