What does a Gardener do?

Median Pay $25,070
Growth Rate 2%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

A gardener is an expert in how to design a garden so that the plants in that garden thrive. A major part of a gardener’s job is also knowing when to plant, as certain temperatures and conditions are more favorable for a plant to survive. Gardeners must maintain the health of a garden and harvest the plants when the time is right. Gardeners may also hold various job titles such as nursery or greenhouse worker.

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How to Become a Gardener

A college degree may not be necessary to gain employment as a gardener. You could start a home garden, volunteer at a local botanical garden, or work in a community garden to gain experience. You could also gain an entry-level position at a greenhouse or nursery. Taking courses in horticulture however, could give you a competitive edge.

You can also become a Master Gardener. These gardeners have taken formal horticulture training courses that are generally offered through universities. They then help foster gardening in their community through public outreach, such as helping at community gardens or educating the public during lectures.

Job Description of a Gardener

Gardener

A gardener is experienced in keeping a garden healthy and productive. They are often planting and maintaining a good environment by watering, fertilizing, and even weeding the area. They would prune back some plants and may remove dead plants from the area. These dead plants could even end up in a compost with other material and used as fertilizer at a later time.

Let’s look at an actual gardener’s job description posted by the National Park Service. This job announcement is looking for a gardener to perform the following tasks:

  • Maintain approximately 7200 shrubs, over 2 acres of ground cover and plant beds, and approximately 70 acres of highly developed turf grass at the Gateway Arch.
  • Use and maintain a variety of hand and power operated garden tools and equipment, such as seeders, spreaders, edgers, hedge trimmers, pruning shears, sprayers, spades, hoes, rakes, and mowers.
  • Assist lead Gardener with annual and periodic inspections. Prune shrubs to maintain desirable limb structure and to remove dead, diseased, or broken branches using hand saws and pruners.
  • Calibrate sprayers and spreaders to apply pesticides in accordance with established work procedures and the Park’s Pesticide Use Program.
  • Remove debris and litter from grounds and empty trash cans on an as-needed basis.
  • Operate a variety of gasoline, diesel, or electric powered wheeled vehicles, such as pickup trucks, dump trucks, UTV’s, commercial mowers, etc.

This position was posted to run in October of 2017 with a salary of $21.53 to $25.10 per hour on USAjobs.gov, part of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Resources for Students and Teachers

If you are a teacher and would like to start a garden in your school, the U.S. Botanic Garden (link opens in a new tab) has a online resource and additional educational materials related to gardening.

The National Gardener’s Association (link opens in a new tab) has a plant database as well as useful tools and apps for you to use, such as their planting calculator. Their planting calendar provides the opportunity to add your zip code to customize your calendar based on your climate. Garden.org also has a Learning library of online courses as well.

Gardener Career Video Transcript

Beth Ahern, Gardener for the U.S. Botanic Garden: My favorite part of my job is having the children come in or adults and just get excited about gardening and having them start gardening at home. Just a small container if you’re living in an apartment or a little small yard. Anything just to get them started gardening is absolutely my goal here.

A perennial is a plant comes back year to year so it’s one that you can plant in the ground. I have this Japanese anemone here that is a perennial, it comes back from year to year. It doesn’t die in the winter so you just cut it back and it comes back every year and you’ll have that plant in your garden for as long as you want. An annual is one like the petunias or the coleus where they just bloom one season and then their done in the fall. The frost will kill them and they’ll be gone.

Tropical plants are plants that live in warm weather climates that don’t generally live here through the winter. This is a banana plant. I might have several like I have my little banana grove here. It’s a tropical plant that I leave in all year. It actually dies back pretty much to about 3 feet to the ground and it comes back in the spring. The plants that you see around here the children have planted in the past week and what they do, is they just take a little garden tool and they dig, and they just set it down in the ground and put it in. To find out more about the U.S. Botanic Garden, visit usbg.gov.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse.

National Center for O*NET Development. 45-2092.01. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the Public Domain and originally hosted on Kids.gov which is now USA.gov, an interagency product administered by USAGov, a division of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Service.