Professional Gardeners Trust

Professional Gardeners Trust: Support for garden training and qualifications

Whilst a WRAGS traineeship gives a really good grounding in practical horticulture skills, it may well be that you are considering gaining some extra qualifications to beef up your CV as you get towards the end of your placement. Those courses and qualifications cost money, so when you might already be feeling squeezed by opting for what can still be a fairly low rate of pay, it is good to know that help is at hand.

As well as our own Christine Ladley and Spinks fund that can help with such expenses, the Professional Gardeners Trust has been supporting working gardeners for almost twenty years now. The website shows the type of applications they support ( ) with reports from previous successful award winners. Our own WFGA member Suzie de Bousies is one of them, and here is part of her report:

I heard of the Professional Gardeners Trust from a garden apprentice who worked in a local historic garden where I volunteered.  At the time I was embarking on a new career after time away from work to raise my 2 young children. I was doing small gardening jobs in my village but realised I needed a formal horticultural qualification to develop my career further. The cost of enrolling on an RHS course was, however, out of my reach. Soon after applying to the PGT, I received confirmation that I had been given a Lironi Award of £400, funded by the charity Perennial, to study the RHS level 2 certificate in the Principles of Horticulture. The course was to start in 2017 and complete in 2019. In 2018 I received a further Lironi award of £220 to cover the cost of the external exam fees. As well as the financial award, I was also given valuable advice about which training providers past recipients had found particularly good. I originally thought I’d follow the course with a local college but after speaking with Helen Seal at the PGT, I decided to change my training provider to Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, and follow the RHS level 2 Principles of Horticulture course via distance learning. Obtaining an RHS qualification has enabled me to develop my gardening work into a fulfilling and financially viable career. I’m very grateful to the Professional Gardeners Trust and Perennial for giving me a Lironi Award and also for the advice they gave to ensure my training was the best it could be.

So whether it is a spray certificate, an RHS Level 2, 3 or the  M.Hort you are aspiring to, or an online garden design diploma, do have a look at the PGT and see if they might offer you a helping hand.

How much should you expect to pay a gardener per hour for garden maintenance in 2023? – The Gardeners Guild Article

Based on the Gardeners Guild research of qualified, self-employed gardeners, gardeners charge a national average hourly rate of between £28 and £35 per hour in 2023. This is not their wage but reflects the cost of running their business.

How do we know what the average hourly rate of a gardener will be in 2023?

According to the Gardeners Guild most recent nationwide research, the average daily target income for a qualified gardener with 4 to 10 years experience was £206 per day in 2022. This increases to £246 per day for gardeners with over 10 years experience.

Gardeners expect to work an average of 8 chargeable hours per day. This suggests an hourly rate of between £26 and £31 per hour respectively.  However, this research is based on responses received during 2022 and is approximately 9% higher than the national average for 2021.

Given the high rate of inflation, business costs and risk associated with self employment, a further increase of 9% in 2023 is reasonable to expect, resulting in an average hourly rate of between £28 and £35 per hour in 2023.

A gardeners hourly rate reflects the cost of running their business

The running costs of a professional gardening business are just as high as any other professional trade – accountant, training, insurance, transport and vehicle maintenance, tools and tool maintenance, protective clothing, plus many consumables. For example, it can cost as much to service a mower as it does to service a car. A gardener may have more than one mower plus many other powered tools that all need servicing, oil, fuel, lubricants, replacement parts and sundries.

RESEARCH: On average around 26% of a gardeners annual turnover is spent on business costs.

Good gardeners are currently in high demand. Gardens take years to mature and plants are expensive. A qualified gardener can not just maintain but improve floral displays and plant health. They can give you valuable advice and recommendations. Qualified gardeners can work independently and efficiently.

Compare gardeners hourly rates fairly in 2023

– Ask about insurance, tools, experience, licenses and qualifications.

Every gardening business is different and these average 2023 hourly rates will vary between gardeners

– Some gardeners may have higher qualifications, more experience, specialist knowledge or additional equipment.

– Some gardeners may initially offer a simple service and charge less as they grow their business.

– Rates may increase or decrease for regional variations.

– Fees may increase as the level of danger/height increases.

– Hourly rates generally exclude removal of cuttings, chemical treatments etc

– Some gardeners may have specialist tools, longer ladders, require a bigger vehicle or have additional practical licenses (Chainsaw, Pesticides etc) or pay for the Upper Tier waste carriers license.

A gardeners charges will vary depending on how often you need them

Think about what you really need – maintenance or ‘manicure’. A ‘manicured’ garden will need regular visits so a gardener will likely charge by the hour and involve detailed work. A gardeners lowest rate may be reserved for regular customers who give the gardener work 12 months a year.

Standard garden maintenance (mowing lawns, trimming hedges, weeding etc) may be offered to you at a fixed price. A fixed price helps you budget and is an efficient way to keep your garden under control.

Whether you need standard maintenance or more time consuming work will also depend on the plants you have chosen to have in your garden.

RESEARCH: A gardeners income drops by up to 37% on average during the winter months due to shorter days and unsettled weather. During the growing season, gardeners are in high demand.

Beware of false economy

The less a gardener charges per hour the longer they are likely to take – after all, what incentive do they have to work at a quicker pace? Are they insured? Are they qualified? Do they have their own tools? If they use your tools, are you insured if they hurt themselves? If the gardener offers you nothing but labour then the minimum wage in the UK is around £10 phr. Cheap labourers soon give up self-employment and return to employed work – especially during the winter months.

Many non-qualified gardeners try to charge the same as a qualified gardener – so why not just look for a qualified gardener and get what you are already paying for?

Having spent thousands of pounds on tools, insurance and training, a professional gardener will be proud to tell you why they are worth their fees, and you will benefit as they work efficiently, safely, and intelligently.

Judge the quality of a gardeners work by asking them to do a small task and invite them back only if you are happy. Every gardener is different and will focus on certain types of work. Some gardeners specialise in border maintenance and pruning while others specialise in work that requires powered tools – so even a good gardener may not be the best gardener for your garden.

Saving money with a professional gardener in 2023

Save money (and help your gardener) by doing the right job at the right time. Garden maintenance is required all year around. Spread the cost by doing the right job at the right time.

* Ask your gardener for help when work is really required at the right time of the year. A good gardener can tell you when each plant needs attention.
* Talk to your gardener about how to simplify your garden i.e. mulching borders so you don’t have to weed so often.
* Stay in contact with your gardener by asking them to cut your lawn regularly – often a fixed price service.
* Plan ahead and call your gardener before your garden becomes overgrown as they may be busy.

If you do this they will likely give you priority over irregular customers.

Please note: These suggestions are for maintenance gardening only and not landscaping or tree surgery as these are different disciplines with higher costs involved.