What is a Landscaper? And How to Become One

Landscaping is physically demanding work but can be incredibly rewarding. If you enjoy working outside in the elements, have an interest in horticulture and get a real kick out of creating scenic outside space, a career in landscaping may be perfect.

But how do you go from cutting lawns and weeding flower beds to a professional landscaper?

What Does a Landscaper Do?

Landscaping is the art of creating an attractive outdoor space that is both functional and attractive. But what does the role entail day-to-day?

A landscaper, particularly one who works for him/herself is a businessperson. The first task is to work with potential customers to create a plan for their dream garden then create a detailed budget and workflow plan to make it a reality.

 

Two landscaper working in garden bed

 

If working with a larger company, the landscaper may bring in a garden designer or architect to work with them. Supplies must be ordered and then preparatory work begins. Landscapers may install irrigation systems, water features, new pathways, and borders before getting on with planting and laying turf.

Once everything is in place, a landscaper will do a final sweep, pruning any trees or shrubs as necessary and checking all features work correctly. Landscapers can earn a very good living for their creative yet manual work. How can you join them?

Step One: Think About Qualifications

A high school diploma is a minimum requirement for most landscaping positions. You can become a self-employed landscaper without any formal accreditation but it never hurts to have a high school diploma on your resume. On the whole, landscapers learn about the use of tools and equipment, fertilizers and other gardening substances and basic design from their employer.

Landscaping is a career that offers quick progression to those who show aptitude and enthusiasm for the role. Experience counts for a lot and, if working for yourself, there are many ways to grow your business.

Step Two: Find Your Niche

There are approximately 900,000 people working in landscaping in the United States, over 40% of whom work in building services. Landscaping can be broken down into a number of very different positions; the daily tasks of a groundskeeper, for example, are very different from that of a landscape architect.

Bright green lawn with bushes and trees in background

Give some thought to the aspects of landscaping you most enjoy and feel make the best use of your skills. Find a role that foregrounds these aspects and focus your attention on developing a specialty there. Also consider potential employment opportunities in places like state parks, tourist attractions and public buildings that have large green spaces that need the attention of a landscaper.

Step Three: Build Your Resume

Now its time to improve your employability. There are a number of ways to do this:

Take good care of your health. Landscaping is a physical job and any potential employers or clients will want to know, at a glance, that you can handle the work ahead.

Show that you can work well as part of a team. Whether using your part-time job at the mall or your volunteer work at summer camp as an example, show your potential employer that you work well with others.
Think about extra qualifications. If you want to specialize in a particular area of landscaping, research relevant qualifications such as those in horticulture, environmental conservation, and architectural design.

Step Four: Find an Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is a great way to launch a career in landscaping. Apprenticeships may be offered by an organization as large as your state’s parks and recreation authority or as small as your local garden center. If you find a suitable mentorship or apprenticeship program be sure to use your time learn important skills like understanding garden design drawings, learning all about different kinds of plants, how to use specialist tools and how to work in different environments.

 

Front lawn with green grass and house

 

Buying the Right Gardening Tools, Work Boots and Work Wear

This is crucial step in your journey. It’s one that should not be overlooked, it’s the set up where you buy all the necessary gear and tools that are going to firstly make you look professional to clients but also keep you safe. As we’ve mentioned there are many dangerous jobs in landscaping many of which involve lifting heavy tools, rocks or trees. Making sure your feet have the correct landscaping work boots incase you drop something on them is critical! Steel toes can help providing this protection. Landscapers also need protection from the outdoors elements such as rain and water. Waterproof clothes and boots are a must in your wardrobe if you’re going to be working in wet weather.

Step Five: Become a Landscaper

Providing you have the skills and knowledge needed, whether you’ve completed an apprenticeship or not, it’s time to start applying for work as a landscaper. As with any other role, register your resume with all the major recruitment sites and set up job alerts so you’re the first to know when new opportunities arise. Don’t be afraid to go hyper-local too. Reach out to local landscaping businesses and ask if they need an extra hand.

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