Gardeners plant and maintain lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers in public or private gardens and parks.
Gardeners usually earn
$23-$30 per hour
Source: Trade Me Jobs and University of Canterbury, 2017.
Pay for gardeners varies depending on experience.
- Trainee gardeners and gardeners' assistants usually start on minimum wage.
- Experienced gardeners can earn up to $30 an hour.
Pay for self-employed gardeners depends on the success of their business.
Source: Trade Me Jobs 'Salary Guide', 2017; University of Canterbury 'Collective Agreement 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018', 2017.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Gardeners may do some or all of the following:
- maintain gardens and outdoor areas by planting, pruning, fertilising, weeding
- grow plants from seeds and cuttings
- select and buy plants
- control plant pests and diseases
- discuss gardening requirements with clients
- do landscaping and basic construction work
- maintain gardening tools.
Skills and knowledge
Gardeners need to have:
- knowledge of planting, pruning, spraying, fertilising
- the ability to identify plants and pests
- knowledge of plant pest and weed control
- practical skills such as the ability to operate power tools.
- work regular business hours and sometimes weekends
- usually work outside in parks and gardens, but may also work in glasshouses and nurseries
- work in most weather conditions.
What's the job really like?
France Siakisini talks about life as a gardener – 1.56 mins.
Hi, my name is France and I'm a gardener.
The best thing about my office is that it's outside,
because I can't be indoors too long. It gets boring. This is the work van.
What you'll find in the work van is tool bags, all the hand tools.
This is our hori hori. The wonder weeder is what they call it
It's how to get all those niggly weeds out.
All the fertilizers and sprays that you need to go throughout your day.
And other than that, just lots of bags of rubbish.
Lots of bags of rubbish for gardeners. So as you can see the retaining wall is just holding
back the bank here. We're just gonna fill this up preferably with just mulch,
cover the ground and be able to walk back over here really.
Just so it makes our job a little bit easier.
So this is our mulcher that we use. So we just use these dead punga leaves just
to, uh, make the most of our mulch; from branches as well.
Then spread them across mostly to keep the weeds out. I was actually
job hunting after working in civil construction and just felt like I needed
something else. When I started,
it was offered to me to do the apprenticeship as well. And I said, why not?
I might as well learn something and get something towards my name.
Great thing about having an apprenticeship is you get to earn what you learn.
It's real muddy down here with just leaf debris and weeds.
What we're gonna do is we're just gonna clear it out, chuck some weed mat down,
put some boulders on,
and allow the water to run down smoothly and not get stuck along the way.
It's fun, real different.
Some days there's days where it's the normal standard stuff and the other days
it is real different, which makes it exciting I guess.
The most rewarding thing is stepping back after a job's been done and just
seeing how much you've managed to achieve.
There are no specific requirements to become a gardener. However, experience or a National Certificate in Horticulture (Level 4) may be useful.
Gardeners may study towards a National Certificate in Horticulture (Levels 1-3), National Certificate in Horticulture – Amenity Horticulture (Level 4) or a National Certificate in Horticulture – Landscaping (Level 4).
- Primary Industry Training Organisation website - information on horticulture, amenity horticulture and landscaping qualifications
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a gardener. However, agricultural and horticultural science, biology and maths are useful.
For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.
These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.
Gardeners need to be:
- able to follow instructions
- creative, with an eye for detail
- adaptable, as weather can change plans at the last minute.
You could be weed-eating, mowing, going along with the edger – so fitness definitely comes into it. But I guarantee that fitness can be built up and improved, and sometimes your shape improves as well!
Useful experience for gardeners includes:
- horticultural or conservation work
- gardening experience
- heavy vehicle and tractor-driving experience.
Gardeners need to be reasonably fit, healthy and strong, and have a good level of stamina, as they may spend a lot of time bending and lifting. They should not have any allergies to pollens, sprays or plants.
Find out more about training
- Primary Industry Training Organisation
- (04) 801 9616 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.primaryito.ac.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of finding work as a gardener are average as it is a popular job that requires no entry-level training, so there is high competition for available jobs.
According to the Census, 6,054 gardeners worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Gardeners may work for:
- themselves – either on their own or as part of a small franchise
- private landowners
- regional and local councils
- businesses that work on contract for local councils.
- City Care website, accessed April 2017, (www.citycare.co.nz).
- Green, R, training advisor, Primary Industry Training Organisation, Careers New Zealand interview, May 2017.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Annual Percentage Change in Advertised Job Vacancies, March 2016 to March 2017 Quarters', March 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Short Term Employment Forecasts 2016-2019', March 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Ministry for Primary Industries, 'Future Capability Needs for the Primary Industries in New Zealand', April 2014, (www.mpi.govt.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2108 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Gardeners may progress to setting up their own business, or move into team leader or management roles.
Last updated 4 April 2023