6 Professional Landscaper Skills and How to Develop Them

Updated 29 March 2023

Landscapers use several skills every day to create visually pleasing environments, lift heavy materials and work long hours on their feet. Successful landscapers require a thorough understanding of essential landscaping hard skills that help them transform outdoor spaces. Knowing which skills to focus on and improve can enable you to provide better landscaping services to your clients. In this article, we discuss what landscaper skills are, list six example skills and provide step-by-step instructions to help you improve your landscaping skills.

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What are landscaper skills?

Landscaper skills refer to specific expertise that helps landscapers do their jobs. Landscapers use these specialised skills to create a visually pleasing and functional outdoor environment for their clients. They respond to their clients' concerns and improve the quality and appearance of their gardens or private grounds. Professionals also use these skills in sporting venues or public areas, such as botanical gardens, parks and recreational centres, to ensure that venues are fit for public use, safe and visually pleasing.

Landscapers may also require many role-specific hard skills to conduct their daily tasks. For example, landscape architects may use blueprint design and reading skills to help guide their work. Landscapers also require several soft skills that are transferable across multiple industries. These include customer service, active listening, communication, resilience and motivation.

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

6 landscaper skills

Depending on the type of project landscapers work on, the skills they use may differ significantly. Landscapers may also specialise in specific landscaping services, such as lawn or soil maintenance. This requires them to have a different skill set than landscapers who offer more general services. Here's a guide to six landscaping skills you may require for a landscaping role:

Soil maintenance and irrigation

Soil maintenance is an important part of landscaping. The best landscapers understand what types of flowers and crops thrive under different soil conditions. Soil skills refer to candidates' understanding of the pH and nutrients of the soil and how this can affect the growth and health of the plants. In addition, landscapers require an understanding of how to irrigate different soil types adequately. Knowledge of irrigation methods helps landscapers create systems for watering flower beds and large patches of land.

Landscapers understand how much water different soil beds require, when to water and how to change irrigation systems according to changing weather patterns. They may also know how to install irrigation and moisture management systems, such as drip irrigation, sprinklers and rainwater harvesting. Alongside understanding how soil affects produce growth, candidates can know which plants and produce work well with different soil types.

Related: 10 Careers in Horticulture: Average Salaries and Primary Duties

Lawn management

Landscapers spend many working days maintaining lawns and ensuring they're healthy. Customers may hire landscapers to help their lawns recover from severe drought or repair damage following floods or extreme weather. To conduct adequate lawn maintenance, landscapers understand aeration, seeding and mowing techniques to maximise lawn health.

Landscapers may also offer customer consultation, administering advice on how they can best care for their lawn between appointments. To do this, landscapers need an in-depth understanding of how landscape and weather impact lawn quality. They may also require an understanding of handling chemicals designed to improve lawn appearance.

Related: How to Write a Groundskeeper Resume (With Template and Example)

Pest control

As landscapers work, they may notice pests, such as rodents, weeds, insects and invasive plant species. To combat this, landscapers use their specialist knowledge of pest control to know which chemicals or traps to use to limit the damage caused by outdoor pests. This includes using pesticides, removing and managing weeds, setting live traps surrounding the property and liaising with pest control services.

It's their duty to continually monitor the property to ensure pests don't enter their clients' homes or damage their property. To prevent pests, landscapers keep gardens and grounds tidy and free from any material that may attract pests. To help them identify invasive species, landscapers may require extensive knowledge of local flora and fauna.

Related: How to Become a Pest Controller (With Development Skills)

Physical stamina

Landscapers spend a lot of their time conducting physical tasks. By possessing a good level of physical stamina, landscapers can work long hours on their feet and maintain enough strength to work on several properties and projects per day. Alongside this, landscapers also require an understanding of proper lifting and carrying techniques to reduce the chance of injury or strain.

Tree and shrub management

Landscapers may work with small trees and shrubs to improve the appearance of gardens and grounds. This includes pruning, thinning branches, removing smaller and unwanted trees and working with tree surgeons to secure dangerous or unstable trees. This skill is crucial for securing trees before periods of extreme weather.

Also, some clients may want their smaller shrubs and hedges cut into shapes and patterns. To do this, landscapers require a good understanding of how to use power tools, such as hedge trimmers and shears, to achieve the desired appearance.

Floral design

Landscapers can work on larger projects such as botanical gardens, sports centres or campuses with access to public gardens. To work in these settings, landscapers may require skills that allow them to arrange plants, flowers and garden ornaments for aesthetic value.

To do this, landscapers work according to their clients' wishes and use the correct flowers and shrubs to achieve the desired appearance. This requires a comprehensive understanding of different flowers, which conditions they thrive in, how much maintenance they require, their flowering season and if they can endure extreme weather.

Related: 11 Interesting Floral Careers (With Duties and Salaries)

How to develop your landscaping skills

Here's a step-by-step guide to developing your landscaping skills:

1. Find a mentor

A good way to receive feedback on your performance and identify ways to improve your landscaping techniques is to find a mentor. This can be a senior colleague or a landscaper with more experience or industry knowledge than you. During mentoring, you can receive quick feedback that identifies areas or skills you can improve on.

Mentors may be able to give advice on how you can improve your techniques. For example, a mentor may show you how to properly lay turf or more effective ways of planting flowers to improve the appearance of outdoor spaces.

2. Ask for more skill-based tasks

If you notice a specific skill that you're struggling to develop, you can ask your supervisor for more tasks that use that skill. This allows you to spend more time practising your techniques, helping you improve over time. You can also tell your supervisor or manager that you wish to improve and ask them for specific guidance in developing the skill.

For example, if you find removing tree stumps or improving lawn quality challenging, you may ask for more tasks that include those skills. This can provide you with more constructive feedback that allows you to offer better landscaping services to your customers.

3. Volunteer for extra responsibilities

To help build your confidence in using specific skills, consider volunteering your services to help new colleagues. This is a good way of familiarising yourself with the correct ways of operating landscaping equipment and conducting duties. This can also help you develop stronger leadership skills, which may help you progress faster in your career. Teaching another colleague is an effective way of learning a task yourself, so consider prioritising this.

For example, if you're struggling to identify invasive species of plants, consider coaching a new colleague through techniques of identification that you learned in your training. Through this, you can better understand this skill and improve your identification methods.

4. Consider becoming certified

A good way of developing more specialist skills that may provide you with a competitive advantage during an application process is to earn a formal certification. Horticulture certifications specialising in landscaping and garden design are an excellent way to develop an in-depth understanding of transforming outdoor spaces, using equipment, working with chemicals and reading design blueprints.

Earning a formal certification can help you grow into senior positions, such as management, allowing you to guide and teach other landscapers. Undergoing certification allows you to take more time to understand essential landscaping skills, enabling you to produce better results for customers.


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