Gardening & Landscaping Apprenticeships (in 2024)

If you have green fingers, you could consider a career as a gardener or landscaper.

What Does A Gardener/ Landscaper Do?

The primary responsibility of landscapers and gardeners is the maintenance of plants, flowers, trees and lawns. This includes a range of tasks such as:

  • Weeding
  • Applying pesticides
  • Clearing walkways and grass of litter and debris
  • Cutting grass
  • Work with hand tools and small machines
  • Service and maintain all gardening equipment
  • Empty bins
  • Cost up plants and garden necessities
  • Adhere to safety regulations at all times

Landscapers also:

  • Trim and shape hedges and trees
  • Work with garden designers and landscape architects to advise on garden design and layout
  • Provide garden maintenance guidance to clients 
  • Ensure plant growth and uphold the landscaping design
  • Supervise repairs and installations such as fountains or outdoor furniture

Many professional gardeners are self-employed and may run a gardening or landscaping business with one or two employees. You could also be employed by a private business, work in a garden centre, a botanical garden or on the grounds of a stately home. Some gardeners and landscapers are employed by local authorities to maintain public green spaces such as parks. 

If you are self-employed, bear in mind that gardening and landscaping are often seasonal work so factor that in mind when thinking about potential earnings. 

Jobs in Gardening & Landscaping:

  • Arborist
  • Botanist
  • Gardener
  • Groundskeeper
  • Landscaper
  • Landscape architect
  • Maintenance worker

How do you Become a Gardener/Landscaper?

There are three main routes to becoming a gardener/landscaper:

  • Enrol in a horticultural programme at a university
  • Volunteer to gain experience and work your way up
  • Apply for an apprenticeship

Whichever route you choose, you will need to be creative, detail-orientated, patient and organised. You also need to be relatively physically fit and strong, with high manual dexterity.

Gardening & Landscaping Apprenticeships

The UK Government offers two 24-month Level 2 apprenticeships (equivalent to 5 GCSE passes):

Horticulture Operative  (Level 2)

Apprentices will plant and learn to maintain the health of a variety of plants, trees, shrubs and grasses. Techniques taught include pruning, turf care and cultivation. 

Landscape Construction Operative (Level 2)

This programme focuses more on sites and pathways. Apprentices will learn how to build and maintain paths, patios and decking. Other typical tasks include measuring and preparing sites for construction/landscaping and repairing walls and fences. 

Upon completion, you will have the opportunity to continue your studies with a Level 3 Supervisor apprenticeship in either subject. Level 3 apprenticeships are the equivalent of gaining 2 A Level passes.

The Royal Horticultural Society offers the following Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships:

Arborist (Level 2)

Learn all about seasonal tree care from the experts within one of the UK’s most prestigious gardens. Maintain and enhance trees and the surrounding areas to visually appeal to visitors and benefit local wildlife. 

Horticultural Operative Apprentices (Level 2)

Apprenticeships will gain hands-on experience in helping to keep ornamental gardens thriving across the seasons.

Horticultural Operative Apprentices (Level 3) 

Taking the basic knowledge and training learned on the Level 2 programme a step further, including supervising garden teams.

Land-Based Service Engineering Technician (Level 3)

Learn about the mechanics of running a public garden, including operating and maintaining garden machinery and equipment safely and efficiently.

The National Trust and companies such as Go Landscape also offer related apprenticeship programmes.

What are the Entry Requirements? 

All UK apprenticeships require you to be 16 or over, a UK resident and not in full-time education. 

Many apprenticeships will also require you to have at least one GCSE or equivalent in grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in English and/or Maths. 

Don’t be disheartened if you do not meet the latter requirement. You can gain these qualifications through a Functional Skills assessment during the first year of your apprenticeship. 

More importantly, you must have a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. A passion for plants and the natural world is highly desirable.

How Long Does it Last? 

The RHS Level 2 apprenticeships take two years to complete. The Level 3 programme lasts three years. 

Is There Any Funding Available? 

The UK Government has allocated up to £6K for apprenticeship training in agriculture, environmental and animal care apprenticeships, which includes horticulture and landscaping. 

What Will I Earn? 

The starting salary could be up to £18K per year, depending on your age and the level of apprenticeship. The average salary for gardeners is around £22,160 but can be £40,000 depending on the role and level of skill involved. All apprenticeships must pay a minimum apprenticeship wage.

What To Expect

Excluding arborists and engineers, RHS apprenticeships are run on rotations to various departments, enabling the apprentices to gain a rounded view of what is required in each role to keep the gardens in tip-top condition throughout the year. Apprentices work five of seven days – sometimes including weekend days and evenings – and one day a week day release or residential lecture block basis. You may also need to complete coursework on your own time. A Garden Manager is assigned to each apprentice. 

Other landscaping/gardening apprenticeships will likely follow a similar format. 

Upon completion of the programme, you may or may not be offered a job, depending on availability, take a job elsewhere, or continue your studies with a higher-level apprenticeship. 

Relax. We’ll send the jobs to you.

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