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Whether you have medical problems hindering you - or you just don't have the time or the inclination, maintaining a garden can sometimes be too difficult to manage alone. Hiring a gardener means you can have a garden that you can be proud of and spend time enjoying - without the hassle of having to do all the heavy duty work yourself. So how do you go about finding the right help that you need? How much does it cost and what can you expect?
Firstly, make a garden checklist of the various things 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 required to do the tasks, so it's important that you check your potential gardener's experience.
Your attitude in hiring a gardener is all-important. All too often people think of hired gardeners as unskilled workers. If you want to get a good gardener, you need to remember that it’s not a job that just anyone can just turn their hand to. A good, experienced gardener is full of the most intimate knowledge of plants and gardens - which takes years to accumulate and apply. A really good gardener can become indispensable to your home.
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. Have you considered starting a thread asking for advice in our gardening section? You never know, someone may even be able to recommend a good gardener in your local area.
"My husband is a gardener and is paid £10 per hour by one client and £12 by another. We're in Kent, but you will find slight regional differences. Central London is about £15 per hour"
"We have a gardening lady approximately 3 days a year to do the hedges, pruning and heavy digging. We pay £10 per hour."
"We pay £10 per hour - one afternoon a week. It's mostly for digging and clearing away hedge cuttings and nettle roots that we're constantly digging out. Our garden is huge and very high maintenance so we couldn't do without him."
"I'm relieved that there are quite a few on Gransnet who pay for help in the garden. I felt terribly guilty last year when I did the sums and worked out we could just about afford it. It's been well worth it though because I can spend more time on planting plans and less time digging and edging."
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.
Whether you are looking for a gardening business or an individual, it is a good idea to start looking locally. Your Gransnet Local site may have information about gardeners in your area.
"Perhaps you could ask at your local garden centre to see if they have a list of recommended people."
"Moving to a new area we found seeking advice via Streetlife was really helpful. Someone may be able to recommend or a gardener may be a member. There could be a semi retired gem out there somewhere who only works via recommendation."
"My daughter started her own gardening business last year - all her customers have come through word of mouth."
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 gardening ideas that you give them too.
Once you take someone on remember to 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 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.
"I have had a gardener for the last 2 days and paid him £20 per hour. We live in North Bucks. He was recommended and worth every single penny. He has done a complete 'makeover' on one area of our garden which was quite out of control. He salvaged every plant that was valuable and has replanted in a more suitable position after clearing all the weeds. It would have taken my husband and I weeks to do what he has done. I am delighted with the result."