How to become a gardener
A gardener is any person who tends and cultivates a garden as a pastime or profession.
Gardening is a pastime enjoyed by millions of people across the world. The gardener sows and grows flowers, trees, plants and vegetables, and gets to reap the rewards with a well kept, nicely scented green space. But how can you turn what is a hobby for many into a job that makes you money?
What makes the job relatively accessible is that you don’t need formal qualifications to become a gardener. What you do need though is a love of the outdoors and a knowledge of caring for plants.
Here we look at how you can become a pro-gardener, make a business of it and how you (or we) manage your finances.
How do I become a gardener?
To become a gardener you need to learn a variety of skills, both in doing the work (like weeding and pruning) and in running your business (like managing appointments and getting new clients). In terms of the kind of gardening skills you might need, these could be:
- Horticultural knowledge (understanding the science of plants)
- Cleaning and weeding
- Soil management
- Application of fertilisers
- Supplying plants
- Garden design
There are a number of ways you can gain experience in these areas too. You can:
Do an apprenticeship. There are colleges that offer courses in gardening and horticultural skills, showing you how to grow and care for plants and crops by direct work in the field.
Gain experience through entry level or volunteer work. You can find a range of volunteer roles with the National Trust or The Conservation Volunteers. Otherwise there are many established gardeners out there who make use of entry level recruits. You could find a gardener to learn this way.
Enrol on a course. Many colleges and universities offer courses in horticulture, which is the science of growing and maintaining plants. The main body of course you can take are:
- Level 1 Certificate in Horticulture Skills
- Level 2 Diploma in Horticulture and Amenity Horticulture
- Level 3 Certificate in Practical Horticulture
How do I make money as a gardener?
The average gardener makes around £22,159 per year, while the top earners make around £40,000 per year (according to jobsite Indeed). This includes everyone from part-time side hustlers to entry-level assistants to business owners. So how do you make revenue from your gardening skills?
If you’re self-employed, which many gardeners are, you’ll need to be able to run all aspects of your business from getting clients to managing your finances (which is where Earnr can help). Some skills to get on top of will be:
- Business development. This will be about building relationships with clients to ensure you have continued business.
- Project management. Every garden will be a project in itself with multiple tasks and timelines to look after. If you have a few people working on a project you lead then you’ll also be responsible for their time and pay.
- Time management. Clients will have expectations about when their garden, or park, will be complete. You’ll also need to manage against the seasons, understanding when to plant and harvest. You could face adverse weather that can throw project times off, so you’ll need to have back up plans to work on or to help mitigate damage during these periods.
- Your finances. With gigs and clients constantly coming up at different times it can be hard to understand how much you should be paying yourself or spending each month. Keeping track of this is incredibly important so you have a steady amount to work from. A companion app like Earnr can help keep this in check.
How do I pay tax as a gardener?
If you’re self-employed as a gardener. Each year you need to fill out a self-assessment tax return. What you pay is your tax bill minus the expenses of running your business. You can read more on how to complete your self-assessment tax return in this Earnr article.
The usual cut off date to complete your self-assessment is the 31st of January if you’re doing it online, and 31st of October if you’re completing the form by post.
If you’re employed as a contractor or subcontractor. Then your employer should put aside part of your income towards income tax with each payment as part of PAYE. You also pay income tax through PAYE if you’re an employee.
In terms of how much you pay: you can read about tax bands and how your income affects them in this Earnr article. But basically they work like this:
- Tax allowance: 0% of earnings (You’ve earned between £0 and £12,570)
- Basic rate: 20% of earnings (You’ve earned between £12,571 and £50,270)
- Higher rate: 40% of earnings (You’ve earned between £50,271 and £150,000)
- Additional rate: 45% of earnings over £150,000
How can Earnr help?
Earnr allows you to track your incomings and outgoings over the course of the year, and automate your tax return. You mark each payment you receive and each expense to your income so that by the time you get to doing your tax return, we’ll have everything we need to do the process for you.
We also give you real time projections for your income as the year progresses so you know how much tax you’ll need to pay. You can say goodbye to manual bookkeeping!