Do you wonder how your local park is always pristine? No trash on the ground, lawns freshly cut, seasonal flowers springing up, and no nasty tree branches smacking your face when you are biking?
Keeping large outdoor areas clean and functioning is the challenging job of a professional groundskeeper.
Groundskeepers keep a low profile. They are outdoors and at work all over the place – universities, corporate office parks, park and recreation districts, highway rest areas, private estates, amusement parks, sports organizations, botanical gardens, government facilities, apartment complexes, and malls. Groundskeepers may not attract much attention, but they are the reason that these places maintain a clean and functional appearance. See: Theme Park Jobs, Sports Jobs
This job entails manual labor. It’s a mix of landscaping, gardening, handyman, construction, and maintenance. On the green side of things, groundskeepers mow grass, rake leaves, trim hedges, landscape areas, lay sod, pull weeds, water plants, utilize sprinklers, fertilize soil, dig drainage ditches, or garden. A green thumb is essential.
Groundskeeping focuses on maintaining a specific place. They fix playground equipment, maintain pools and fountains, repair sidewalks, paint signs, hang banners, pick up trash, dispose of dog doo, and clean restrooms. As appearance must be kept up throughout the year, groundskeepers also find themselves shoveling snow from bike paths or clearing ice from a parking lot.
Groundskeepers need access to lots of equipment like shovels, rakes, gloves, shears, saws, hedge clippers, trash bags, cleaning supplies, tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws, tractors, weed whackers. Most groundskeepers learn how to use all of this equipment on the job.
Most groundskeepers are not required to have any formal education. They need to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate working in a peaceful and pleasant environment. At some point they should learn about climate, soil, foliage, insects, and grass. In order to do a good job they will need knowledge of horticulture, pest and weed control, local plants, flowers, and trees.
There are niche markets for groundskeepers. The two most popular are greenskeepers and groundskeepers who focus on athletic fields. Greenskeepers work on the golf courses to maintain the fairways, bunkers, and greens. They may paint tee markers, fix divots, and of course hunt gophers. Groundskeepers who work at athletic fields focus on the field’s grass or turf. Fields must be drained, aerated, and fertilized constantly. Before every game lines must be painted on the field. For professional level sports, logos may need painting too. This type of groundskeeper can find work at football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis venues.
Voluntary certifications from the Professional Grounds Management Society are available. These certifications consist of exams on insects, diseases, soil, trees, shrubs, turf management, irrigation, budgets and finances. Certification may mean more pay or potential advancements to ground management positions.
There are quite a few famous groundskeepers in pop culture. Are you familiar with Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons? How about Rubeus Hagrid of the famous Harry Potter books and movies? Maybe the funniest groundskeeper of all was Bill Murray’s character, Carl Spackler, in Caddyshack? Check them out.
Groundskeepers are needed everywhere. There are urban, suburban, and rural opportunities at industrial, commercial, and private properties. The goal of the job is to make sure that the lawns, plant life, trees, and facilities are functional and beautiful. A groundskeeper’s work should be impressive.
Think about the outdoor areas that you frequent. There is always work to be done. Having well kept facilities takes time, talent, and patience. And the groundskeeper is the man behind the scenes.
Groundskeeper Salary Information
Groundkeepers can plan to make $20,000 to $36,000 per year, most averaging $27,000. Other groundskeepers make minimum wage to $15 per hour for this entry-level position.
Quick Facts About Groundskeeping Jobs
Job Title: Groundskeeper, Greenskeeper
Description: Maintain function and appearance of outdoor facilities
Employers: Industrial, Commercial, and Private Properties
Pay: Minimum wage to $10 per hour, $16,000 to $22,000 per year
Professional Grounds Management Society
Turfgrass Producers International
Sports Turf Managers Association
National Recreation and Park Association
Golf Course Superintendents Association of America