LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR/LANDSCAPE TRADESMAN    

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Constructing a landscape is a job that has a beginning and end and because of that fact, most people who build the landscape, will work as a contractor or for a contractor
 
Landscape contractors need to be not only skilled at construction, but also competent businessmen; able to evaluate the costs involved in undertaking a project and produce an estimate or quotation. They need to be able to organise sub-contractors and any additional staff to undertake a project.
 
Landscape contractors and tradesmen actually create the landscape. Sometimes they may design it as well, and sometimes they do not. Designing a landscape is a job that requires a mixture of artistic and practical skills, but not necessarily the ability to do the planting, build a rockery or fence, install a drain or lay paving. The physical construction of a garden is the job of the contractor, and their work teams.

On large jobs (commercial and public projects), the duration and scope of a project can be immense and a landscape contractor may need to work under direction from a landscape architect or designer, and/or a project manager. On larger projects, the contractor may spend a lot of their time organising materials and equipment, and giving instructions to a large team of employees. Often landscape contractors who head bigger firms will complain that they never get to actually do any physical work, and they spend most of their time behind a desk, in a car or talking to people.

In contrast, a smaller contractor may work alone or in partnership with one other - mostly on small residential projects, engaging sub-contractors or employing additional staff on occasion - as and when the need arises. These smaller contractors need to be able to do  anything that is required, from planting to weed control,  laying pavers, building retaining walls and fences, creating drainage systems, installing garden furnishings, spreading gravel  and operating small machinery.

Where Do They Work?
Most landscape contractors or landscape gardeners work for small businesses with between two and five staff, within one work team that would undertake one job at a time. Medium size landscape firms may tend to only undertake smaller jobs (residential or commercial), but may be undertaking several jobs at a time. Large contract projects (e.g. landscaping for a major shopping complex, new tourist resort or even theme park) would be more likely undertaken by very large contracting firms. Some property developers (e.g. home builders) may employ a landscape team to build the gardens around the display homes or spec homes they build.

Some public authorities may have permanent landscape departments (e.g. roads department, for landscaping roadsides, traffic islands and median strips. Or municipal parks departments, for landscaping parks, gardens, sports grounds and playgrounds in a municipality).

Opportunities
People in developed countries are employing landscape contractors to construct their gardens, or renovate sections of established gardens - particularly couples who are short on time, but have the disposable income to employ a landscaper.
Opportunities do arise to find employment as a landscaper, but often the work is not permanent, and rates of pay are often minimal. Working for someone else can be an excellent way of getting a start, to build experience and learn practical skills, but more often than not you will eventually need to consider self-employment if you want good remuneration and better job security.

What is Needed
A landscape contractor or tradesman may start their career by doing a course, by working for another contractor, or even through creating their own garden at home i.e. having it noticed by others and securing work based on those recognised skills. A qualification is not necessarily needed (in every case), but knowledge and practical skills are essential, and even if you learn these through experience, it can always be useful to undertake some formal training to “fill in any gaps” that you might not necessarily be aware of until it is too late because of a serious mistake you have made on the job.

Landscape contractors need to be good communicators; listening and understanding people as well as talking and being understood (whether by fellow workers or clients).

To operate a successful landscape contracting business, you need all of the same knowledge and skills that any business operator needs, and a personality that is suited to being a business operator.  Some of the most successful landscape contractors may not necessarily be the best horticulturists or landscape tradesmen, but they will be good at business and knowing how to secure the professionals they need to do the job in hand.
 
 
LANDSCAPING COURSES
 
 
 

 

 
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CHOOSING A COLLEGE
 
Every college offers something different.
•They all have different tutors, with varying qualifications and experiences.
•Some have higher course fees; but that could be because they offer more extensive support; while others may charge less but provide less services. Some may offer different payment plans to others.
•The style of teaching and learning; as well as the emphasis upon assessment and the way work is assessed can vary from one college to the next.

The following colleges all offer courses developed and maintained by staff of ACS Distance Education.

Academy of Distance Learning -Canterbury, England. 
http://onlinecoursesinhorticulture.co.uk/  

Garden Design Academy -Loire Valley, France
www.gardendesignacademy.com

Educational Academy -Essex, U.K
http://www.academy-zone.com/courses/horti.aspx  

The best school for one person might not necessarily be the best for the next.  You need to look closely not only at what you want to study; but the people and services you will be working with; and then choose something you think will work for you.

 

 

 

 

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