The Job and What's Involved

Landscapers create and look after planting and other features in outdoor and indoor spaces. Outdoor spaces include gardens, housing estates, parks, sports grounds, industrial sites and other areas, making the most of the land available and creating attractive environments. Some landscapers specialise in interior landscapes, producing displays of plants and other features (such as water features) to brighten buildings like shopping centres, offices and hospitals.

Tasks vary from project to project, but can include:

  • Working from plans drawn up by a landscape architect or garden designer.
  • Discussing plans, ideas and budgets with the client.
  • Preparing the ground using equipment like mini-diggers, excavators, tractor-mounted equipment and dump trucks, depending on the size of the project, as well as spades and forks for more detailed work.
  • Installing appropriate drainage.
  • Installing features such as paths, paved areas, statues, rock gardens or water features.
  • Planting flowers, shrubs and trees, seeding lawns and laying turf.
  • Advising clients on maintaining the plants and landscape, or returning at regular intervals to carry out ongoing maintenance.

Some landscapers specialise in skills like paving, constructing rock or water gardens, or creating sports fields. Others may offer a wide range of general skills.

Landscapers use a range of hand and power tools including garden mowers, pruners, spades, forks, cement mixers, stone-cutting saws, chainsaws and climbing equipment.

On small projects landscapers may work alone or with one or two other staff. On large projects they usually work in teams under the direction of a supervisor.

Landscapers usually work 37.5 hours a week, but overtime (sometimes including weekends) is often required to meet schedules. Early starts are common. Temporary work may be available at busy times.

Most jobs involve working outside in all weather conditions, although interior landscapers work indoors. The work can be very heavy as it can involve digging in frozen ground, pushing loaded wheelbarrows and lifting paving slabs. Conditions may be wet, muddy, very cold or very hot, and there may be noise, fumes and dust from the machinery that is used.

Landscapers wear protective clothing including overalls, gloves and safety boots, and use protective equipment such as ear protectors and hard hats when required.

A driving licence may be useful for traveling between sites. Some jobs involve staying away from home.

New entrants may earn around £14,000 a year. With experience this may rise to between £16,500 and £20,500 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are opportunities for landscapers throughout the UK. The majority are employed by landscape contractors and local authority parks departments. There are a few opportunities with heritage organisations like the National Trust or English Heritage, botanical gardens, private and public companies and large estates. Some landscapers are self-employed.

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices, recruitment agencies, specialist publications such as Horticulture Week, Professional Landscaper, Groundsman, and on the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) website.

Education and Training

There are no formal entry qualifications to become a landscaper. However, many employers are keen to recruit young people with qualifications in areas such as amenity horticulture, chainsaw operations and pesticide spraying. It is possible to enter this career through an Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies available at Levels 1, 2 and 3 may also be advantageous. These new qualifications for young people focus on practical skills, knowledge and understanding in environmental and land-based studies and may prepare you for a career, an apprenticeship or further study (at college or university) within the sector. To find out more about the new Diploma in environmental and land-based studies visit

The Diploma in environmental and land-based studies will be available nationally from 2013.

Relevant qualifications for landscapers include:

  • National Certificates with City & Guilds/NPTC including Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture and Diploma in Work Based Amenity Horticulture, Level 3 (previously NVQ).
  • BTEC National Awards, Certificates and Diplomas in Horticulture.
  • Level 2 Certificates, Level 3 Advanced Certificate and Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
  • National Open College Network (NOCN), Level 2 and Level 3 Certificate in Garden Design.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

New trainees receive on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced landscapers. They may work towards Work Based Diplomas at Levels 2 and 3 in Amenity Horticulture. They may also have the opportunity to take the qualifications listed in the entry routes section.

City & Guilds/NPTC also offers a range of competence certificates in the safe use of machinery used by landscapers.

Under the ROLO (Registration of Land Based Operatives) scheme, employers are encouraged to use only ROLO card holders who have accredited health and safety training.

To be eligible for a skilled ROLO card, applicants must have a Work Based Diploma (new NVQ title) Level 2 or 3 (Level 2 for a Blue Card, Level 3 for a Gold Card).

Candidates who achieved their Work Based Diploma or NVQ more than five years before applying for the ROLO card must also have a health and safety awareness certificate issued within the last two years.

Applicants who have registered for a work based diploma but have not yet qualified, and who have a health and safety awareness certificate issued within the last two years may apply for a trainee ROLO card. The BALI website has full details.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A landscaper should:

  • Understand flowers and plants.
  • Be able to interpret drawings and plans.
  • Be confident using a range of tools.
  • Be physically fit.
  • Have a responsible attitude.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Be able to work quickly to meet deadlines.
  • Have a good head for heights for certain tasks.
  • Understand and follow health and safety requirements.

Your Long Term Prospects

With experience and training, landscapers may be able to move into supervisory roles.

Qualifications such as a City & Guilds/NPTC Level 4 in Amenity Horticultural Management or a BTEC HNC/HND in Horticulture may be useful for landscapers who want to progress to landscape management roles.

With appropriate qualifications it may also be possible to move into training or teaching. Landscapers can also become self-employed.

Get Further Information

British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI),
Landscape House, Stoneleigh Park,
National Agricultural Centre, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 0333

City & Guilds/NPTC, Stoneleigh Park,
Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7685 7300

Institute of Horticulture (IoH),
Capel Manor College, Bullsmoor Lane,
Enfield, Middlesex EN1 4RQ
Tel: 01992 707025

Lantra, Lantra House,
Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Tel: 024 7669 6996

National Open College Network,
The Quadrant, Parkway Business Park,
99 Parkway Avenue, Sheffield S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0500

Royal Horticultural Society (RHS),
Administrative Offices, 80 Vincent Square,
London SW1P 2PE
Tel: 0845 260 5000

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