Employing a Gardener

If you’re too busy to mow the lawns, pull the weeds and prune the shrubs; you might think seriously about employing a gardener.
A competent gardener will usually take much less time than you would, and keep your garden looking better than you ever would. In actual fact, they can save you money, particularly if your time is valuable.

An incompetent gardener however, may damage the garden. It is not uncommon for a gardener to prune, water, weed or feed the garden in a way that is inappropriate and results in damage to your plants. They might actually cost you more than just their wages, by the time you replace plants they damage, and correct other problems they create.
The trick is to be sure you employ the right person, and to do this you need to know what to look for.

Look for the following when choosing a gardener:
  • Someone with a recognised qualification in the area of gardening or horticulture.
  • Someone who has been in business for at least five years (has plenty of experience).
  • Someone who can supply references, or show you samples of their work, such as nearby gardens.
  • Someone who comes highly recommended – perhaps from friends or neighbours.
  • Someone who belongs to a relevant professional body such as the Institute of Horticulture (UK) or Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH).

What work do you want done?
A gardener that only mows the lawn, should not charge as much as one who does a lot more.Specialists who come in once a year to prune roses, fruit trees or other plants, may also charge a lot more, and that is appropriate because they have specialist skills.

What should you pay?
Ask how much it will cost to do a particular task/job. You should ideally get a quote in writing. If you pay an hourly rate for the work, you can leave the costs very open ended as one gardener may take a lot longer to do the job than another would. You might also be asked to pay for the cost of any materials used (e.g. fertiliser, plants, sprays, etc.).
The cost of these should be stated up front so that you don’t get an unpleasant surprise.

Like everything, you usually get what you pay for. A competent student or recent graduate from a good horticulture course may do a good job and still only charge a relatively low hourly rate.

If they are good at what they do then demand for their services will grow, and they will probably be charging significantly more. The best horticulturists can charge an hourly rate comparable with any other professional (e.g. accountant).

Sometimes it may be a choice between paying more per hour for 2 hours to get a good job done, compared with less per hour for 4 hours to get the same quantity of work done, but not as well. Be prepared to shop around, and to ask plenty of questions.

Where To Find A Gardener
  • Look for advertisements in the Yellow Pages phone book or your local paper some may also have an online presence.
  • Information boards in local supermarkets.
  • Mail outs delivered to your home.
  • Contact a reputable Horticulture College and ask about recent graduates or current students.
    Not all horticulture colleges are the same though; so look for a recommendation (e.g. from a professional body, such as a Horticulture Institute or Nurseryman Association).


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