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Anyone earn a living as a Gardener?

(61 Posts)
BetteDavis01 Fri 17-May-13 12:09:33

If so, can you tell me what qualifications you have? Do you make a good living from it? Thank you smile

Bonsoir Fri 17-May-13 12:11:01

My father pays his gardener £100 per day - he comes with a van, lots of equipment and does big jobs up ladders that require muscles!

burberryqueen Fri 17-May-13 12:14:20

no but I have a friend who does, although i would call it more garden maintenance that gardening as such. The older people love her and she has to turn work away in season, her diary is so full. ~There are however a couple of months a year in the winter where she has nothing to do, but still gets some odd jobs in.
she doesn't have any qualifications, just a van with tools, petrol mower, strimmer etc.

burberryqueen Fri 17-May-13 12:15:04

oh and yes she makes a good living out of long as she saves money in the summer to cover the lean winter months...

LittleAbruzzenBear Fri 17-May-13 12:15:29

Marking place. I would like to do this.

Mirage Fri 17-May-13 13:39:37

Yes,I took the RHS general course which lasted 2 years and qualified in 2001.I started working for myself the same year and nearly always have a waiting list.However I do have to set aside money to tide me over the winter,this winter was a long one,no proper work for almost 6 months,and after the rotten summer,it really hit me hard.I do love my job though,and wouldn't change it.

QueenBoudicea Thu 23-May-13 06:33:13

Ooh I'm considering retraining in gardening and also getting some basic plumbing/carpentry skills so I can do odd jobs as well. What's your hourly rate and how did you build up your client base? Leaflets? Word of mouth?

Mirage Thu 23-May-13 11:26:23

I charge £15 an hour and only advertised to start off with,put a few notices on village notice boards ect.All my work since has been word of mouth.A lot of my customers are elderly and I think they find having a female around is less intimidating and more reassuring than a man.

Good luck,and let me know how you get on.

Rhubarbgarden Thu 23-May-13 22:28:27

I did the City and Guilds National Certificate in Horticulture and charged £15 an hour for garden maintenance, several years ago. Then when I had babies I moved across to garden design, thinking it was more family friendly. There is no money in garden design in my experience, but maybe I'm just not business-minded enough. I've given up now until the kids are at school, then I intend to either go back to self employed garden maintenance or get a job in a historic garden (where my passion really lies). Work in historic gardens is appallingly paid unfortunately, unless you get a Kew Diploma and a Head Gardener position.

QueenBoudicea Fri 24-May-13 12:34:10

Thanks mirage - I was thinking that I'd target older people as a client base purely for those reasons - hence the adding some basic plumbing to my skills as and attractive add on.

Mirage Fri 24-May-13 12:37:10

Rhubarbgarden I did garden design too,you are right,there isn't much money in it and I really didn't enjoy it.I'd love a job in an historic garden,but there is a distinct lack of them around here.

CuttedUpPear Mon 27-May-13 08:28:54

I also am a professional gardener and garden designer. I've been earning a living at it for 12 years.

I have:
NVQ in horticulture (a bit too easy but good for absolute beginners)
RHS General Certificate
HNC in Garden Design

It all took 4 yrs part time when Dcs were 6- 12yo. I wouldn't call it a good living but it puts the food on the table - I've always been a single mum. I do love it (mostly) but have injured my back and am looking at having to stop gardening professionally. sad

Kernowgal Mon 27-May-13 08:40:57

Professional gardener here too, and a career changer to boot. I started the RHS level 2 (as it was then) but didn't complete it, then later did a foundation degree in horticulture (FdSc) which was "full time" but actually more like three days a week. I would always recommend doing a taught qualification rather than distance learning unless you are very very disciplined.

Since retraining I've worked in various heritage and public gardens and the pay is seriously crap but the job is great. Maintenance gardening is something I could fall back on if needed but I wouldn't charge less than £15 an hour (I'd bring most of my own tools). Ditto working for older people though you will have to deal with many older people's perception that gardening is a man's job and they won't expect you to be able to do the grunt work ;)

Depending where you are you maybe could look at maintaining holiday home gardens and the like - this was something I was considering when back in Cornwall.

funnyperson Mon 27-May-13 08:48:25

rhubarbgarden could you not get a Kew Diploma? Its probably quite a family friendly thing to do and would keep you going till the DC are older.

secretscwirrels Mon 27-May-13 12:18:01

big jobs up ladders that require muscles This is the thing that has put me off going for it. I am pathetically feeble and have to get someone in myself for those jobs.

Kernowgal Mon 27-May-13 15:37:33

secretscwirrels you'd be surprised - I am weak and feeble and have no upper body strength at all but even I can hammer in posts and do a lot of the heavy work. It definitely keeps you fit too - I've been amazed at how much my stamina has improved since starting this job.

CuttedUpPear Mon 27-May-13 18:22:59

By the way I never mow any lawns. My clients have people in to do that. I just do the artistic stuff.
It's amazing what you can achieve with well sharpened tools and long handled loppers.

Weeding is also very satisfying if you like squeezing spots, which I do, I'm sure there is a link there somewhere.

Kernowgal Mon 27-May-13 18:42:46

I love weeding. I went into work yesterday specifically to do some dandelion weeding. That's pretty tragic, especially as it was rather satisfying.

Mirage Mon 27-May-13 20:27:32

I don't do lawns either,but will happily weed for hours,and do enjoy a bit of lopping,it is very theraputic.

CuttedUpPear Mon 27-May-13 21:57:48

I LOVE digging up bindweed. DP has a patch in his garden that I won't let him grass over because I know I can get more out of it, even though if was grassed over and they mowed it that would keep it down.
Weed sporn anyone?

secretscwirrels Thu 30-May-13 11:11:42

CuttedUpPear you give me bindweed and I'll raise you hairy bittercress. The satisfaction of catching it just before it shoots up all those seeds.
It seems to pop up all year round, probably because I miss it 90% of the time.

cantspel Thu 30-May-13 12:26:22

I used to love weeding but being on my 3rd week of the battle against the ground elder i am getting a bit sick of it.

I quite like mowing the lawn even though it takes a couple of hours to get a good cut as you get instant results and the garden looks 100% better afterwards.

One of my favorite jobs is putting the pruning through the shredder and watching the little chipped bits pop out the other end.

Rhubarbgarden Thu 30-May-13 18:52:07

I'd love to do the Kew diploma but I live too far away from Kew now. It's also massively intensive and three years in duration; I couldn't afford or justify the childcare. The sad thing is that horticulture was my back up plan for if I'd failed my A-levels. Unfortunately I passed them and had to go off and do what my parents/teachers regarded as a 'proper' degree instead, followed by a 'proper' career, which made me unhappy. Took 15 years for me to wake up to myself and say 'sod this' and go and retrain. And now I'm at the point in life where following my professional dreams must take a back seat to family demands, so there have to be compromises. Such is life.

Hairy bittercress - oh YES I bloody love pulling it up. I also have a love/hate relationship with oxalis - it's such a swine to dig out without its root nodule thingies exploding, but when I do get it out in its entirety I want to cackle "mwah hah haah" - so satisfying.

Rhubarbgarden Thu 30-May-13 18:56:39

Oh and much as I keep saying I won't do garden design again, it just won't leave me alone. I had another request today for me to do a garden for someone and I found myself agreeing to take it on in the autumn. Gah.

Kernowgal Thu 30-May-13 19:40:55

Rhubarbgarden are you me (apart from the family)?? I too wanted to go into horticulture but my careers advisor sneered at it and said I was too bright, that I should go to university instead (parents agreed). So I did, and now 15 years later I'm doing it.

I had a place on the Kew Dip but turned it down because I didn't see how I could have possibly made ends meet on the salary offered. Friends who are doing it said they do part-time work outside but I think I would have found it all too stressful trying to work full time, study at degree level and do part-time gardening too, plus a commute from whatever area I could have afforded to live in on that salary.

A real shame but the trainees at my current employer earn £2k more than the Kew trainees and they get free accommodation.

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