Landscaper

Kaihoahoa Whakapaipai Whenua

Alternative titles for this job

Landscapers design, develop, maintain and remodel gardens and landscapes.

Pay

Landscapers in training usually earn

$18-$23 per hour

Landscapers in managerial positions usually earn

$28-$40 per hour

Source: Registered Master Landscapers New Zealand, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a landscaper are average due to reasonably stable demand for people in the role.

Pay

Pay for landscapers varies depending on experience, qualifications and where in New Zealand they work – in Auckland they can earn up to $4 an hour more.

  • Landscapers with no qualifications or in training can expect to earn between minimum wage and $23 an hour. 
  • With four years experience or more, landscapers usually earn between $24 and $28 an hour.
  • Experienced landscapers with extra responsibilities, in managerial positions or who run their own business can earn between $28 and $40 an hour.

Many landscapers are self-employed and how much they earn can depend on the success of their business.

Source: Registered Master Landscapers New Zealand, 2018. 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Landscapers may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss and develop designs with clients
  • read and interpret plans and discuss design concepts with landscape architects
  • do basic planning and design work, and planting plans
  • calculate construction costs such as labour and materials
  • select seeds, bulbs and plants and plant these
  • construct decking, fencing, walls and courtyards, and lay down paving
  • install garden lighting, irrigation and ornaments.

Skills and knowledge

Landscapers need to have knowledge of:

  • different plants and their required growing conditions
  • how to interpret and follow plans and drawings
  • construction methods and materials
  • design regulations, permits and plans
  • tiling and bricklaying.

Business skills are useful for landscapers who run their own business.

Working conditions

Landscapers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but often work weekends
  • spend most of their time in gardens and construction sites
  • work in most weather conditions and in conditions that can be muddy
  • may have to travel locally or further away for jobs.

What's the job really like?

Brent Cations

Brent Cations

Landscaper

Between rugby and his job as a landscaper, Brent Cations spends much of the winter in mud. Though he doesn't mind this, he says summer is his preferred season. "In the summer, it's a brilliant job. A lot of people spend their weekends trying to get a tan, but for us guys, we're out in the sun all the time."

After eight years of landscaping for a small business, Brent decided to try and get a job with a large, well-established company. He was uncertain of his chances, because he'd left school at the end of Fifth Form [Year 11] and had no formal qualifications.

"In the interview I was a wee bit worried because they did ask me, 'Have you got anything to show for it as far as study?' and I said 'No, I don't'." But his extensive portfolio and willingness to start an apprenticeship got him the job. "I was very, very stoked, to be honest."

Brent is now looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of his study. "I didn't want to be 40 years old and have nothing to show for a lot of the work I've done. To have that qualification behind me is going to be excellent."

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a landscaper. However, horticultural or gardening experience is useful. A driver's licence is also preferred by most employers.

Many employers prefer to hire someone with relevant training. Landscape design courses are available through a number of polytechnics and you can train on the job and complete an apprenticeship in landscaping through the Primary Industry Training Organisation (Primary ITO).

Secondary education

A minimum of three years' of secondary education is recommended. Useful subjects include English, maths, horticulture, biology and processing technologies.

Year 11 and 12 students can work towards a New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture through the National Trade Academy while still working towards NCEA. This usually includes off-site learning and some on-the-job training.

Personal requirements

Landscapers need to be:

  • reliable and hard working
  • able to work independently or as part of a team.

If you want to move up, you need to have an understanding of maths for calculating numbers of plants and working out quantities of paving, mulch or bark.

Elle Anderson – President, Landscaping New Zealand

Useful experience

Useful experience for landscapers includes:

  • any building and construction work
  • any work in the horticulture industry
  • labouring work.

Physical requirements

Landscapers need to have a good level of fitness and must be strong, as their work involves bending, kneeling for long periods and heavy lifting.

Find out more about training

Landscaping New Zealand
(09) 444 4345 - admin@lianz.org.nz - www.lianz.org.nz
Primary Industry Training Organisation
0800 208020 - info@primaryito.ac.nz - www.primaryito.ac.nz
Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture
(03) 325 2811 - rnzih@xtra.co.nz - www.rnzih.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

The amount of landscaping work available is strongly linked to the state of the building industry. Increased residential and commercial building activity, especially in Auckland, has contributed to steady demand for landscapers. 

Most job opportunities for those starting out in the industry are in larger cities like Auckland and Christchurch. A trend towards the construction of high-end buildings in these cities is also creating opportunities for landscapers to work on bigger landscaping projects. 

Increase your chances of finding work

Graduates and those new to the industry can increase their chances of finding work by:

  • making the most of networking opportunities, such as attending branch meetings of the Landscaping New Zealand (LIANZ).
  • contacting potential employers by phone, or making a time to meet face-to-face
  • approaching landscape companies in spring/summer when there is more chance of being hired. 

Landscapers usually need to work on site in hands-on roles for a few years and develop a good understanding of the practicalities of the work before progressing to design jobs.There is greater competition for landscape design roles, and you need to get established in the industry before you can secure contract design work. 

Most landscapers work for small businesses   

Landscapers usually work for small private firms. Many are also self-employed.

Sources

  • Morrison, T, 'NZ residential building consents highest in 10 years', July 2016, (www.scoop.co.nz).
  • Morrison, W, Texture Group, accredited member of Registered Master Landscapers New Zealand, Careers Directorate - Tertiary Education Commission interview, August 2017. 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Landscapers may progress to a team leader or managerial role, or set up their own landscaping company. 

A landscaper putting in steel frames for a portico

Landscapers design and remodel gardens and landscapes (Photo: Texture Landscapes)

Last updated 28 November 2019