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How to hire a gardener


Most people today live in an urban setting, so a lush, well-maintained garden can provide a much-needed break from everyday life. Pollution levels increase and air quality diminishes every day in many cities. Having a patch of green land can help combat this, even if it’s on a micro level.

Whether it's a sprawling backyard oasis or a carefully manicured office courtyard, a garden adds a touch of nature in your neighborhood and improves the aesthetics of the building. 

However, it's not as simple as just digging a few holes in the ground and sprinkling some seeds. Having a well-maintained garden requires a skilled hand and a green thumb – or in other words, a gardener.

In this article, we'll talk about how you can hire a gardener for your residential or office space. We'll discuss some key skills you should look out for – such as communication and the ability to understand and follow instructions – and explain how you can streamline the gardener hiring process.

What is a gardener?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a gardener is "a person who tends and cultivates a garden as a pastime or professionally." In the modern world, however, the definition of gardeners has slightly changed.

Professional gardeners need a blend of horticultural knowledge, hands-on experience, and a touch of creativity to be successful. They are responsible for enhancing outdoor spaces, be they residential or commercial, and making them as aesthetically pleasing and functional as possible.

The roles and responsibilities of a gardener vary depending on the context.

Residential gardeners’ focus is on designing, planting, and maintaining gardens in such a way that they stay vibrant and healthy year-round. If homeowners wish to grow vegetables in their gardens, the gardener needs to plant different seasonal plants, give advice on the garden’s maintenance, and eventually take care of the harvest.

For commercial and office buildings, however, the emphasis is on creating a green space that promotes employee well-being and provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of work. 

Plus, green spaces provide clear and well-studied mental health benefits: They help decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and improve a person’s overall capacity to function well.

So, if you have the space for a garden, it only makes sense to hire a gardener to help you build a place to relax and decompress.

Gardener hard skills

If you want to hire the right person, you need to know what skills to look for. Here are the most essential hard skills a gardener should have: 

Plant knowledge

The basic requirement for becoming a gardener is having adequate knowledge about different plant species, including:

  • When and where to plant each plant

  • How to differentiate between native and invasive plants

  • How to limit the propagation of invasive species

  • What each plant’s growth and care needs are

  • How they interact with the local soil 

  • Whether the climate conditions and the garden’s location are right for them

Gardeners must be skilled in selecting the right plants according to your vision and the garden’s characteristics (sunlight exposure, water availability, and more).

Every garden is different, so your gardener should choose the plants that’ll not only make your garden look good but that’ll grow harmoniously, as well. Local species are ideal for that. 

Soil management

Knowledge about different soils and their impact on plant health is crucial for gardeners. 

They should understand soil composition and be capable of assessing a soil’s texture, pH, and nutrient levels to determine the best fertilization and soil management strategies. Preparing the soil for different plants, improving drainage, and fixing soil compaction issues are vital for optimal plant growth.

Pruning and trimming

The process of removing dead, damaged, or overgrown parts of a plant to maintain the desired shape and promoting healthy growth is called pruning, sometimes referred to as trimming. 

Your gardener must know when and how to prune different types of plants, whether it's to shape shrubs, grow vines, or rejuvenate trees. Proper pruning not only enhances aesthetics but also encourages flowering and prevents disease.


Gardeners must have a good understanding of different irrigation techniques and methods to make sure plants are receiving an adequate amount of water without any waste. 

They should be familiar with installing, adjusting, and maintaining irrigation systems such as drip irrigation, sprinklers, and soaker hoses. Maintaining proper watering schedules based on plant needs and weather conditions is also necessary.

Pest and disease management

Identifying and addressing invasive species, pests, and plant diseases is something you should always leave to professionals. 

Skilled gardeners can easily recognize common pests and diseases, differentiate between beneficial and harmful insects, and implement pest management strategies for maintaining plant health. 

Working with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can also be harmful and should be done by the gardener.

Gardener soft skills

Having the right soft skills enable gardeners to interact effectively and harmoniously with clients and other professionals. Here are the top soft skills every gardener should have:


Effective communication is essential for gardeners, because it enables them to understand client preferences and provide updates on the progress. 

They should listen attentively to your instructions and requirements, discuss plans, clear any doubts, and clarify what can be done in the garden based on location, weather conditions, and available space.

Attention to detail

Every gardener must have a keen eye for detail. Some insects and pests are not easily visible to the untrained eye, and it's the responsibility of the gardener to observe plant health, spot any signs of pests or diseases, and ensure proper growth. 

Attention to detail is also necessary in pruning the plants and maintaining the overall aesthetic appeal of the garden.


Gardeners should be aware that weather conditions and other factors can change unexpectedly. 

Rapid changes can impact plants’ growth, so gardeners must be able to update their plans and troubleshoot issues as they arise, including plant diseases, pest infestations, or drainage problems. 

Gardeners need to know how to adapt to such challenges to ensure the garden's health.

Time management

The timely maintenance of a garden is necessary for making it look the best it can be. You don't want the grass to grow too high or branches to hang out the fence. Your gardener must adhere to proper schedules and routines for tasks such as planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning.


If you want your garden to look like a big patch of grass, any gardener will do.

But suppose you want your garden to be functional and grow vegetables, or create a hangout area for friends and family, or maintain a quiet place to enjoy the morning coffee. In that case, you need a creative gardener who knows how to design unique outdoor spaces.

They can create an innovative layout, use diverse plants, and craft an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that makes your garden look beautiful and well-kept at all times. 

How to test gardener skills

You can find gardeners from various sources, but not every gardener has the same skills and abilities. That’s why you need to assess the technical expertise of a gardener and their ability to adapt to your unique demands before hiring.

While a traditional resume doesn't really fit with the profession, it can help you get an idea of how experienced a gardener is and whether they can meet your vision. 

Next, before you entrust your garden to a gardener, you can evaluate their skills through a series of tests.

TestGorilla is a platform for pre-employment skills testing that offers many tests you can use to assess candidates and shortlist the best ones. You can even combine up to five tests of your choice to create a customized assessment. 

Some of the tests that you can use in your gardener recruitment process are:

  • Communication: Evaluate the communication skills of a gardener to assess how well they can understand your vision and requirements.

  • Problem-solving: See how well the gardener can come up with solutions for unforeseen challenges and situations.

  • Time management: The gardener should adhere to planting, watering, and fertilizing schedules of every plant in the garden.

  • Attention to detail: Look for candidates who pay close attention to the quality of soil, amount of sunlight, and wind direction for proper plant growth.

  • Equipment maintenance: This test helps you identify competent gardeners who can handle and manage different equipment used in gardening.

  • Understanding instructions: To create a garden that’s in line with your requirements, you need to hire a gardener who’s able to follow instructions closely. 

Tests you can use in your gardener recruitment process

How much does a gardener cost? 

The salary of a gardener can vary significantly based on a range of factors, such as their level of expertise, the complexity of the gardening tasks, and the specific context in which they work.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a gardener is $37,842 per year and can range anywhere from $31,000 to $51,000 depending on experience, work location, project scope, and more.

It's also important to understand that gardeners can work as independent contractors or through an agency or organization – which is a great option, if you only need them for a single project or garden. 

If you want to hire a freelancer, ask a few local gardeners for a cost estimate based on your requirements and the garden’s size.

Gardener job description template

Below, you’ll find a job description template for a part-time gardener for a residential building’s garden. Feel free to adapt it to your specific needs.

Role: Part-time gardener

Location: [City, state]

We’re looking for a gardener for our residential building located in [area] with a proud tradition of community spirit. 

Our shared garden is where everyone from our building gathers, so it plays an integral role in bringing residents together. We are looking for a dedicated and knowledgeable part-time gardener to maintain and enhance its beauty, and who’s available weekly for [number of hours].


As our gardener, you’ll do the following: 

  • Give recommendations for new plants and garden design improvements

  • Regularly water of all plants and lawns

  • Regularly prune and trim of plants and shrubs

  • Mow and maintain lawns

  • Monitor and treat plants for pests and diseases

  • Add and remove plants

  • Maintain and clean garden paths

  • Maintain the existing irrigation system 

  • Test the soil and look for ways to improve its quality

  • Apply fertilizers, insecticides, and compost as needed

  • Work with building management and residents on any garden redesign projects

  • Keep all gardening tools and equipment in good working condition

  • Regularly update building management on garden health and maintenance activities Qualifications

For this role, you need the following qualifications: 

  • Proven experience as a professional gardener or similar role

  • Knowledge of local plants, their care, and seasonal requirements

  • Proficient in the use of modern gardening equipment and tools

  • A strong understanding of pest management and organic gardening practices is a plus

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills

  • Good physical condition and the ability to handle different strenuous tasks related to garden maintenance

Compensation and benefits

[Explain what compensation and benefits you’re offering]

How to apply 

[Explain how gardeners can apply for the role]

Where to find a gardener

Finding a qualified gardener for hire has become more accessible and convenient, thanks to the many different job sites, freelance platforms, and associations that exist. 

Whether you're seeking a skilled gardener for your residential space or commercial setting, here are different avenues where you can find a gardener for hire:

Gardening associations and companies

Many local gardening associations or clubs maintain directories of experienced gardeners whom you could contact. 

There are also some landscaping firms, both private and government-owned, like the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, that let you hire gardeners for your private projects.


A gardener who comes personally recommended by your friends, family members, or neighbors has more chances of providing a positive experience. 

Your network has already vetted the gardener's work, giving you a piece of mind about their work ethic, reliability, and the quality of their services.

Online job portals and communities

You can also hire gardeners by posting a job ad on job portals such as LinkedIn and Indeed. You can also join community groups on social media platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor to get gardener recommendations.

Gardener interview questions

Once you collect enough applications and administer skills tests, you’ll be able to quickly identify the best candidates. Invite them for an interview to get a deeper understanding of their skills.

Here are some sample questions you can ask gardeners:

  1. What inspired you to become a gardener?

  2. How do you prioritize tasks during peak gardening season?

  3. How do you approach designing or redesigning a garden space?

  4. Describe a time when you had to deal with a major pest issue in a garden. How did you manage it?

  5. Describe your process for choosing plants for a garden, considering the local climate and the preferences of residents.

  6. Describe a particularly challenging gardening project you've worked on and how you handled it.

  7. How do you handle criticism about your work, especially from non-gardeners?

  8. How do you determine the health of soil? What steps would you take to improve it?

  9. What experience do you have with irrigation systems, and how do you maintain them?

  10. Can you describe your experience with organic gardening practices?

  11. How do you handle specific, unusual requests?

  12. How do you handle periods of drought or water restrictions?

  13. What gardening tools or equipment do you consider essential for your work?

  14. How would you handle a situation where a plant or set of plants you've recently installed fails to thrive or dies?

  15. What's your approach to sustainable gardening, and how do you incorporate sustainability into your practices?

If you need more ideas, check out our list of 100 general interview questions to assess candidates.

Use skills tests to hire the best gardener for your project

Hiring a gardener is an investment in the beauty and vitality of your outdoor spaces. From purchasing gardening equipment to buying seeds and fertilizers, maintaining a garden can cost a lot, so hiring the best gardener for your garden is essential.

With TestGorilla's skills tests, you can make your gardener hiring process easier and more streamlined. 

The different tests available in our test library are designed to help you assess all kinds of skills; combine up to five tests in a single assessment to quickly identify the gardeners who have what it takes to maintain your garden.

Reinvent your hiring and find the most skillful gardener with TestGorilla. Start a free trial today; your next hire is just an assessment away.


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