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Many gardeners start out not only with great enthusiasm but also firm intentions to devote plenty of time to their new hobby. Then the realities of life set in. For some people, gardens often simply become too big to manage on their own, or medical problems make certain heavy gardening duties impossible. Yet they still want to have a garden they can be proud of and spend time enjoying. This is when they need to start thinking about hiring a gardener. How do you go about finding the right help that you need?
Firstly make a garden checklist of the various services you might want done for you. These services get more expensive as you go down the list. The more detailed the work required, the more knowledge is then required to do the tasks.
Your attitude in hiring a gardener is all-important. All too often people think of hired gardeners as not particularly skilled, not particularly bright and doing the job just to earn a bit of pocket money. Some, of course, are like this but if you want to get a good gardener, you need to begin by realising that it’s not a job that anyone can just turn their hand to. A good experienced gardener is full of the most intimate knowledge of plants and gardens that takes years to accumulate and apply. A really good gardener can become indispensable like a valued cleaner or regular house help.
A landscape gardener with both a Certificate and a Diploma in Horticulture will have spent at least three years studying for a minimum of two days a week. This is equivalent to the training for a plumber or an electrician and at NVQ 3 level. It can also be useful to know about where they trained, any relevant work experience and also ask to see their qualifications. When you speak to the referees, find out about the quality of their work and whether they were dependable.
Ask them what sort of gardening they like. Do they use pesticides and weedkillers? Are they good at finer garden work which includes large perennial borders and greenhouses or only good at shrubs and lawns? Can they name some of the plants in your garden and tell you how they need to be cared for through the year? Find out how long the company has been in business and whether they work on their own or with other staff.
For a simple "slash and burn" sort of gardener you will probably be paying close to the minimum hourly wage. They will be working under your instruction and use all your tools. For a fully trained master gardener with their own equipment, consider paying the hourly rates of a good local tradesman. Ask around and include friends and neighbours.
Most importantly, ask yourself the important question of whether you like them and can work with them in the creation or maintenance of your garden? You will be giving over some control and in order to gain the benefit will need to rely on his or her judgements and ideas.
Keep in contact with your gardener and discuss your joint plans for the garden regularly. Do this at least twice a year - once in Spring at the start of the season and once again in Autumn to plan for the year ahead. Remember that they need good feedback and will relish inspiration and ideas that you give them too.
Once you take someone on then treat them well. A good gardener is hard to find and even more difficult to keep. Give them access to the garden and a set of keys if required and you can then trust them to get the work done. Give them a cup of tea too and pay their bills promptly. This shows respect for their professionalism and skill.
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