Gardeners plant and maintain lawns, trees, shrubs and flowers in public or private gardens and parks.
Gardeners usually earn
$21-$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?
Lindsay Hyde admits he didn't start his gardening career with much plant knowledge. "As part of my horticulture apprenticeship there was a plant ID thing we had to attend. They were all deciduous trees and I just put 'oak, oak, oak' and that was my 10 guesses, I just didn't know."
Gardening skills learnt on the job
Lindsay has clearly picked up a thing or two since then because he's now the grounds manager for a large city park. "Over a period of time you build up knowledge. When you first start out just be prepared to learn. It's as simple as that. There's a fair bit of stuff you can learn just by getting out and doing it. There's a whole heap of knowledge out there and usually people are quite willing to offer it."
Stick with it and get rewards
He advises anyone interested in gardening as a career to stick at it. "A course can definitely be the start of a fulfilling and successful career. I started out by doing a trial for one week and I can honestly say I haven't looked back."
"More often than not people come past and say, 'that looks nice' or 'that looks spot on!' When you take pride in your work you feel good about what you do and nine times out of 10 that's all we want from a job."
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 1 April 2022