To be a successful gardener, it is important to feel passionate about all things green, to care about the environment and have a love of growing and nurturing plants.
In addition to a love of plants and flowers, there are seven skills that are fundamental to enjoying a successful gardening career and establish yourself as a reputable gardener.
In all professions, it is important to possess excellent communication skills. In a gardener’s world, communication is key to ensure you create and maintain gardens that are in alignment with what your customers envision. You are, in effect, turning their mental vision into reality, so proper communication skills are needed. Active listening skills are important, an ability to give full attention to what your clients are asking.
Communication involves taking the time to really understand the points being made, the ideas being formulated and the vision that they have for the completed garden project. This involves asking appropriate questions at the right times, clarifying what your customers are saying, without interrupting with what you think they may be asking. You will need to speak clearly, in simple language to convey the correct information effectively.
In addition to clear and effective communication with your clients and customers, it is also important to keep the lines of communication open with your superiors, so that you can carry out instructions in accordance with the project requirements. Listening skills enable you to learn from the experience and expertise of veteran gardeners whom you will have the benefit of working with and developing your own expertise. If your position involves teacher trainees, it is extremely important to communicate the instructions and lessons clearly.
Communication skills also include the ability to be aware of other people’s non-verbal reactions and understanding these cues so that you maintain clear communication.
As a gardener, you will require certain managerial skills, such as the management of material resources. This involves the awareness of appropriate use of gardening equipment, garden machinery, facilities and materials required to carry out varying tasks and projects.
Time management is an important skill in undertaking short- and long-term gardening projects; it is important to be aware of the length of time it takes for different plants to seed and grow, for example. This is also important in knowing how long a garden project will take from start to finish so you can schedule your workload and costs accordingly.
Financial resources management is essential in determining how you will spend a customer’s budget for their garden needs, how much it will take to get the job done and the ability to account for these expenditures.
It is important to possess good management of personnel, such as motivating, teaching, developing and directing your staff to carry out the work efficiently and expertly as this will impact greatly on your reputation.
People management includes negotiating skills, both for ensuring you receive the best price for your work, managing staff, reconciling differences and ensuring your team work in harmony with each other and your customers. Effective persuasion skills are also important as a professional; you may have a clear vision of what might not work regardless of a customer’s desires and can persuade them to achieve the best result with their natural and financial resources.
Having good judgment and decision making skills are called for when working as a gardener. You will need to be able to consider relative costs of a garden project and relay the benefits of any potential actions so you and your clients will make the most appropriate decisions based on garden size, budget, time of year etc.
Complex problem solving is a skill that benefits all professionals; as a gardener you will need to identify potential problems, review the situation clearly and evaluate options and solutions and implement these accordingly.
You will be required to have knowledge of various machinery and tools, their design, limitations, uses, maintenance and repair. You will need to carry out maintenance on equipment, including determining the kind of and time of maintenance needs. Correct equipment selection required to carry out each gardening job is important to determine correct quotes and ensure ease of delivery. Being aware of gauges, dials and other equipment indicators will be needed to keep machinery in working order.
Designing a garden requires basic mathematical skills: you will need to know which mathematical method or formula you will need to determine certain requirements and measurements. Figuring out how much fertilizer to use, or how much lime to apply to varying sized gardens or plots is one example. Taking measurements for where to dig drainage systems, plant certain crops or install fencing are other areas where mathematics comes into play.
Reading comprehension skills are important for understanding the implications of the various products, knowing how much to use, in what situations to ensure optimal plant health. Active learning is important to understand new information, new guidelines and dangerous materials that may be used. You will need to keep abreast of current guidelines by continuous active learning.
Body strength is important for carrying out manual gardening work; the ability to use your lower back and abdominal muscles to support various parts of your body repeatedly and continuously over long periods of time. This includes dexterity, the ability to move your hands quickly, to manipulate and assemble objects as you go about your working day. Depth perception is important in gardening, as is arm-hand steadiness for continuous periods of time without fatigue. This is also true of dynamic strength, muscular endurance and resistance to muscular fatigue due to repeated movements for long periods.
In addition to these skills, creativity is vital; the ability to visualise the end result. It is important that you can offer unique, original ideas and an ability to develop creative strategies to implement these ideas.