Becoming A Landscaper – What You Need To Know

Whether you are thinking about becoming a landscaper or just trying to figure out whats involved in landscaping your property this handy online guide will help point you in the right direction.

What Do Landscapers Do?

A landscaper or landscape designer works with soil, water, plants and any number of other construction materials to improve the aesthetics of your backyard, section or plot of land.

There are several areas of specialisation in landscaping including garden layout/design, water gardens/features, installing new lawns or lawn irrigation systems and drains, landscape construction and even designing practical solutions for orchards and farms.

Landscape designers are not to be confused with Landscape Architects, who tend to work on a much larger scale and are employed to design commercial enterprises such as golf courses or public areas such as parks and grounds.

Landscaper Vs Landscape Architect?

What is the difference between a landscaper and a landscape architect? Landscape Architects tend to focus on large scale public and commercial projects while landscape designers tend to operate at a more residential level.

Landscape Architects are required to complete study to a degree level while Landscapers are not. Often the two will combine resources and skills when working on large projects such as national parks, playgrounds or other public spaces.

How To Become A Landscaper In New Zealand

There are no specific qualifications required to begin working as a Landscaper, for most people it is a matter of spending some years learning on the job – building their knowledge and experience as they go.

However there are some landscaping courses offered by tertiary institutions which give a good grounding in basic skills, horticultural qualifications are also useful, along with construction experience. There are also a number of online Distance Learning options available from various providers around the country.

  • Primary ITO offers New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 2, 3, and 4) – Landscape Construction and an apprenticeship training program.
  • National Trade Academy offers a Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture with optional Landscape Construction or Nursery Production strands.
  • Unitec offers the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Landscape Design) and the New Zealand Diploma in Landscape (Design), along with the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture.
  • Manukau Institute Of Technology offers learners the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 4) in Landscaping, the New Zealand Diploma in Landscape (Level 5) with Construction.
  • Waikato Institute Of Technology (WINTEC) offer the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture (Level 3) with strand in Landscape Construction, the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 4) with strand in Landscape Construction and the New Zealand Diploma in Landscape Practice (Level 5) with strands in Design and Construction.

How To Become A Landscape Architect In NZ

To become a qualified Landscape Architect in New Zealand you will need a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture or a Master of Landscape Architecture. There are currently three accredited training institutions in NZ that provide these courses, they are:

Career Prospects

Within the industry in New Zealand most Landscape Design businesses are fairly small, but many do offer the opportunity for project management, team leader and staff management roles.

After having worked in the industry for some years in both a hands-on and design capacity many landscapers choose to start their own business, becoming self-employed.

On The Job

Working as a landscaper is a physically demanding job with fairly long hours at times, weekend work sometimes required. It is also weather dependant at times, with some jobs just not possible in very wet conditions.

Landscapers spend the majority of their time working outdoors in various locations around their catchment area. Extended travel to and from jobs may be required.

Flexibility is key in this role with long hours expected over the warmer months and the likelihood of less work on over the winter months. Depending on your employment conditions this can mean fluctuations in income from week to week, or month to month.

Landscapers can be required to be involved in discussions with clients over their ideas and needs, designing spaces, planning, planting, digging, laying bark and lawn, construction of fences, retaining walls, pagolas, and other structures or features, concreting and paving, selecting plants, irrigation installation and setup, garden lighting and more.

10 Useful Skills For Landscapers

If you are looking to enter the landscape design industry here are some of the main skills that will come in handy on the job.

  1. Plant identification knowledge
  2. Basic construction experience
  3. The ability to work on your own or as a member of the team
  4. Physical fitness (the job involves heavy lifting, bending over, kneeling etc)
  5. Planting experience
  6. Good communication skills
  7. Comfortable with working outdoors all day
  8. Weed control
  9. Any horticultural experience such as propagation, pruning etc
  10. The ability to perform basic mathematical calculations (working out materials required etc.)

Useful Landscaping Links

Need more information? Its best to talk with a reputable local landscaping business on what they would be looking for when hiring staff and expected training levels. It is also a good idea to ask about landscaper apprenticeships.