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AIBU Career change at 40? Professional gardening Garden Design

(6 Posts)
Carminia Thu 30-Mar-17 15:35:45

Will do this short...ish . I am early 40, worked all my life in design enigeering, very well paid job. Last year I got too ill and stress was major contributor, now I am back to my old self and I have quitted my job. I am doing the practical RHS level 2 and I absolutely love it!! So i decided to do the other courses to complete the diploma, and also considering a Garden Design course.
I am lucky in that we can afford to live in 1 salary at the moment, DH is supportive and DS is 7 at the mo. I have already been asked to help in a lady's garden every other week, so thinking with a few jobs like this I can have extra cash.
Any advice on this career change? Has anyone tried anything similar? How about Garden Design, how easy is to find jobs in this earea? We live in Hertfordshire, 40 miles north on London. Thanks!

GinAndOnIt Thu 30-Mar-17 17:55:03

If you live in Hertfordshire, feel free to use our garden as a guinea pig gringrin <helpful>

Hope someone is along soon with some useful advice!

Lillagroda Thu 30-Mar-17 18:18:50

No useful advice but I started the RHS Level in Feb. Hoping to take 2 to 4 of the theory exams in June, and waiting for the next intake for the practical at my local college. Not at the point of quitting the day job yet, but that day can't come soon enough.

Good luck!

shovetheholly Fri 31-Mar-17 07:53:32

I don't have any advice or experience that might help, but I did want to say that I think it's awesome you're changing your career, and to wish you the very best of luck with it. smile

JeNeSuisPasVotreMiel Fri 31-Mar-17 09:09:55

I did 4 years in horticultral and garden design training including the RHS course.

The problem is that no client is ever sitting there with a 'blank canvas' prepared garden, wondering what to plant. If they have got that far in preparing their garden then they already know what they what to do with it.
Usually they don't have this because there are underlying problems with the garden that need to be addressed before the frilly bit can take place.
Therefore the garden designer needs to work one of two ways. Either:

- Do the groundwork yourself (with a bit of help), operating a mini digger and cement mixer, laying paving slabs, moving piles of earth and filling skips. Then execute your planting plan.
- Pass this hard work onto contractors from whom you take a cut, oversee the project for a fee and sell an off-the-peg planting plan as part of the package.

Basically although the plan took you ages and is a work of art, that's not what your client wants to pay for. Getting their garden up to standard soil and aspect wise is more important in the long term.
So the money is in the landscaping and your design can't take you too long as you'll be doing yourself out of money.

Almost everyone on my course (except me) had a partner earning a decent salary. Everyone who continued in the trade did it as a hobby on the side and didn't rely on it for their main income, except for the few that went into hard landscaping businesses. That part, unfortunately, was inadequately covered in my courses and I did a lot of learning on the job and online once I was working.

Carminia Sat 01-Apr-17 20:13:34

Thank you! JeNeSuis very sound advice. Yes, I appreciate it will not be a whole income ... I am in lucky situation at the moment. ❤

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