Become a Gardener

A garden comes to life. The natural scent of flowers in bloom, the colorful buds, and the textured green petals relax, inspire, and excite us. Whenever you see well-tended plants that are strong and healthy, stop and appreciate them.

They are the result of a gardener’s hard work.

Gardeners are plant experts who can take a pile of dirt and turn it into a lush, magical, green world. To them an empty garden bed is like a blank canvas. Gardening is a hobby, a profession, an art form, and an adventure. Consider the old Chinese Proverb, “He who plants a garden plants happiness. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden” – or make it a career.

Gardening is both a horticulture job and a form of art. There is a big learning curve and it takes lots of experience to earn a green thumb, but it’s something you can learn in your own backyard. It’s nearly impossible to have award-winning roses on your first try. You have to master climates, soils, plants, and pests first.

After learning how to garden, you can get paid for your skills. Most gardeners work at residential homes, botanical gardens, office complexes, have jobs at zoos, museums, or work for the government. Anywhere that there are well-tended plants, there is a gardener at work. They often start their gardening career working at homes and in garden centers, as hobbyists, or as landscapers.

In order to create an ideal garden, a gardener must choose plants that work together and achieve the garden’s purpose. Lots of gardens are ornamental, but some people want herbs or vegetables grown. Gardens can attract wildlife or birds, emit sensual fragrances, grow picturesque foliage, bloom amazing colors, resist drought, or produce dinner. The plant choices will decide.

After the garden is designed and planted, it must be maintained. It’s the gardener’s job to keep the plants happy. They need to be watered and fed. Gardeners use tools like spades, hoes, baskets, watering cans, rakes, ploughs, shears, and trimmers to accomplish this. Gardening is challenging and takes dedication, but when you see nature at it’s finest, it’s well worth the effort.

The majority of work is outdoors in the warm months of the growing season. Gardeners spend lots of times on their hands and knees seeding, weeding, and tending their plants. They are at risk for sunburn and dehydration. Other than that, gardening is relatively safe as long as you’re ready for the occasional bee sting, spiky thorn, and sore muscles from moving heavy rocks or soil.

No formal training is necessary to be a gardener, but experience is key. Some gardeners have degrees in horticulture or botany. It is quite common to become a Master Gardener, which is a title earned through a voluntary program that encourages gardening in communities. On average gardeners make about $10 to $19 per hour or $21,000 to $42,000 per year.

Many gardeners find multiple streams of income. Teaching classes and workshops at garden centers or community centers is a great way to earn a few bucks. Others write about gardens or are involved in garden photography. Savvy gardeners can even produce gardening television shows or enter plant competitions. Some gardeners enjoy solitude, while others love sharing the knowledge of this beautiful art.

Gardeners often do not receive the recognition they deserve for keeping plants alive and thriving. Popular culture has helped. The Harry Potter series had several famous gardeners like Hadrian White. Another famous gardener is Samwise Gamgee of The Lord of The Rings. Your gardening career may not be like these fictional characters, but if you choose to be a professional gardener, you may never have to work in an office again.

Quick Facts About Working as a Gardener

Job Title: Gardener
Description: Plant and tend to gardens
Employers: Residential Home, Botanical Gardens, Zoos, Museums, Office Complexes, Home & Garden Centers
Pay: $10 to $19 per hour, or $21,000 to $42,000 per year

Garden Club of America
National Garden Clubs
National Gardening Association

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