The magnificent gardens of England’s stately homes, the hallowed turf of Wembley and the perfection of the Belfry golf course are all tendered, treated and staunchly guarded by the landscaping fraternity.
Their design, construction and maintenance require highly skilled individuals that specialise in all manner of areas, from sporting venues and parks to ornate gardens and public displays.
A love of green pastures, open spaces and beautifully manicured lawns is enough to drive people into this industry, but there are also far more serious pursuits in landscaping. Wimbledon, for example, the wicket at Lords or the turf of Old Trafford, Anfield or Stamford Bridge can often be a matter of life and death for some people.
Landscaping really is a serious business. Imagine if the 18th at Augusta had a ‘bad year’ or the FA Cup Final is cancelled due to holes all over the place. It simply cannot happen and where there is pressure, there is responsibility for all the people who are involved.
What professions make up a landscaping team?
Broadly speaking, a landscaping team consists of the architect and the labourer/worker. A master plan is dreamt up on paper, practicalities, budgets and processes are drawn up and then the work begins. You could be working for a wealthy landowner, the local council or the Lawn Tennis Association.
Landscape architects are required to study, analyse and plan the environment which they are working with and then try to realise the vision of whoever has commissioned the work. Landscaping workers need to have a good knowledge of the plants that they are using, the lie of the land, an eye-for-detail and a shed load of stamina.
There are many other individuals indirectly involved in the landscaping process too, whether it’s the botanist providing a scientific take on the types of plant used, a florist helping to arrange a striking flowerbed or a lawn care specialist entrusted with making everything greener than green.
Given that there are entire scientific disciplines dedicated to the study and development of plants (i.e. horticulture and botany), there are a many peripheral occupations associated with this subsector.
What do you have to do to become a groundskeeper, a landscaping worker or a landscape architect?
For many of the occupations in this sector, apprenticeships and on-the-job experience are the most common routes to the top. Starting off as a labourer, learning the trade and seeing how it all works is the most common way to progress.
However, taking NVQs and other vocational courses in conjunction with on-the-job training can lead to rapid progression. To think it’s simply all about planting, digging and mowing is to grossly underestimate this industry. You’ll also need to develop a strong knowledge of pesticides, horticultural processes and, in many cases, a head for mechanics (remember, you’ve got to look after your equipment as well!). Indeed, this industry is anything but straightforward.
If you’re more interested in the scientific side of landscaping, whether you want to be an irrigation specialist, a soil scientist or a plant breeder, you will most likely need to undertake relevant academic courses to increase your knowledge on your subject of choice.
There are degree courses such as ‘turf management’ that can improve your eligibility for entry into this kind of job. However, there is no substitution for getting your hands dirty as early as possible via some work experience.
If you fancy a job in landscaping, check out the occupational profile of a landscape gardener to find out more!