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What is a landscaper?

A landscaper is a person who designs gardens and outdoor areas for residential, commercial and public spaces. If you love working outside, landscaping could be your ideal role.
landscaper tending to garden

Landscapers use their visionary minds and physical abilities to design and create functional planter spaces, paths, walkways and water features on residential or commercial properties. Unlike gardeners who care for existing gardens, landscapers might be responsible for designing, building and maintaining a garden. They have specific knowledge of constructing gardens and outdoor spaces and often have formal qualifications. As a landscaper, you will create outdoor spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and practical.

What does a landscaper do?

Landscapers design and construct garden landscapes and outdoor spaces. The role can also include garden maintenance. As a landscaper, you may need diverse knowledge and skills in areas such as design, horticulture and client communication. A high level of physical fitness and a love of nature and the outdoors are advantageous for landscaping.

Residential landscaping

Residential landscapers provide services to clients for their homes. Each property is different, and each owner has different tastes and preferences. A residential landscaping project might involve only one Landscaper if it is a small, manageable property or several for more substantial estates. Residential landscaping might involve designing a garden and planting lawns, trees, and flower beds. Landscapers also construct paved or gravel areas, walls, pergolas, and fences. Sometimes, residential landscaping involves ongoing maintenance once the outdoor space is completed.

Commercial landscaping

Professional properties like office buildings, commercial project zones, shopping centres, and restaurants will require commercial landscaping. In essence, commercial landscaping is not that different to residential apart from the scale of the project, as both are looking for the same outcome - a strategically planned aesthetically pleasing outdoor space. Commercial landscaping has the ability to draw people into public spaces; plants, trees, paving designs and even water features often make a space more inviting.

Executing commercial landscaping projects is often more complicated than residential work due to additional intricacies and a broader scope of work. Commercial landscapers may need to consider factors like complementing a company’s branding when designing an outdoor space or creating a practical environment for a work atmosphere. Not only does the landscaping need to be aesthetically pleasing, but it also needs to reflect the company’s personality and values.

Some essential planning requirements for commercial landscaping can include council approvals and permits, layout, lighting, existing walkways & access points, plumbing, choice of suitable plants, availability of sunlight and more.

Maintenance is highly important for a commercial area, so Landscapers must have a regular schedule for keeping the property in good condition by mowing lawns, trimming hedges and feeding plants regularly.

Public spaces

Landscaping public spaces include things like playgrounds, communal spaces, parks, gardens and street spaces. The aim of landscaping public spaces is to make the area a welcoming and inclusive space for the community. Landscapers who are designing public spaces need to consider things like wheelchair access, bridges and ramps, commute thoroughfares for walking and cycling, and adequate outdoor seating.
Landscaping a public space will usually be a large project led by a team of landscapers using heavy professional equipment and tools.

Desirable landscaper skills

To become a Landscaper, it is important to have certain qualities and technical skills. These include:

  • Physical fitness and endurance. Landscaping is physical, so a good fitness level will help achieve the tasks required to perform the role effectively.
  • Creativity and design skills. Having a creative and innovative mind is essential for designing landscaping projects.
  • Plant and soil science knowledge. A good understanding of plant and soil science will help with garden design and choosing the correct plants.
  • Knowledge of basic maths, horticulture, and science. This will assist with the design of plantings, water features, walkways and paths.
  • Manual dexterity. The ability to use your hands in a skilful, coordinated manner is essential for landscaping duties.
  • Safety conscious approach. Understanding the importance of safety is essential when working with heavy machinery and tools needed for landscaping.
  • Critical thinking. This is essential for evaluating aspects of garden design and management.
  • Great attention to detail. Details matter in landscape design, so attention to detail is essential for creating visually appealing spaces.
  • Communication and collaboration skills. Landscapers will need to communicate designs and ongoing processes with clients and be able to collaborate effectively with other trades.
  • Business and project management skills. The ability to project manage means the landscaper will ensure the work is done according to the plan and be a skilled problem-solver.
  • To be able to operate small machinery. Many landscaping projects require small machinery operation during construction and maintenance, so landscapers need to be able to handle equipment like mowers, mini excavators, post-hole diggers etc.

How to become a landscaper with the help of South West TAFE

Now that you understand what it’s like to be a landscaper, let’s check out the courses available to begin your landscaping career. Four courses will have you on the path to becoming a landscaper.

Landscaping courses

Certificate II in Horticulture (AHC20416)

This is an introductory-level horticulture course ideal for people who are interested in horticulture as a career, who want it to lead to an apprenticeship, or keen gardeners who want to perfect their techniques. The part-time course is on campus with a choice of evening or day classes, running over 12 to 15 months. You will learn how to recognise plants, lay paving, pot up plants, propagating, planting, pruning, machinery and equipment through supervised, hands-on teaching.

Upon completion, you will have a strong understanding of horticultural principles and the option of continuing the pathway through to an apprenticeship or traineeship at Certificate III level. This course is offered as Free TAFE to eligible students.

Certificate II in Horticulture (Traineeship) (AHC20416)

This full-time traineeship is ideal for those who want a career in horticulture and offers one year of workplace training. In this traineeship, you will develop your skills through practical instruction and learn about various horticulture topics.

When successfully completed, you will understand horticulture concepts like plant propagation and soil properties. The Cert II also qualifies you to start your Horticulture career and open up pathways to further study, including Certificate III in Horticulture and Certificate III in Landscape Construction (Apprenticeship) (AHC30921).

Certificate III in Horticulture (AHC30716)

This two-year, part-time course will provide you with a wide range of general horticultural skills that are to industry standard and taken to the workplace. The course covers such areas as identifying plants, propagation, plant nutrition, specialist amenity pruning, implementing soil improvements, and controlling weeds, plant pests and diseases. The on-campus course is very hands-on, with a focus on learning practical skills. During the course, you will visit a range of gardens and commercial operations to give you an insight into the breadth of the industry and employment opportunities. This course offers Free TAFE to eligible students.

Certificate III in Landscape Construction (Apprenticeship) (AHC30921)

If you are interested in becoming a landscaper, this apprenticeship could be the perfect pathway. The Certificate III in Landscape Construction will also formalise or enhance skills if you have already worked in the industry. The course is four years, full-time, with 12 one-week training sessions on campus for the first three years. The fourth year is on-the-job training. This course will equip you with theoretical and practical skills and knowledge in all aspects of landscape construction and includes hands-on training in areas such as brick, stone and timber structures, retaining walls and landscape features, plant establishment, soil profiles, costing and scheduling.

Once you have successfully completed an apprenticeship, you will be qualified to work as a landscaper and have confidence in your abilities to carry out various landscaping tasks. Besides formal training, you will also be required to obtain a white card to work as a landscape gardener. This can be obtained through a registered training authority or through South West TAFE.

Landscaping apprenticeship

Landscaping apprenticeships and traineeships are the best way to get on-the-job training while earning your qualification through formal study. You gain the qualifications you require and the practical skills to thrive in the landscaping industry and earn an income. Apprenticeships through South West TAFE are designed to provide practical skills and the knowledge needed to become a successful landscaper. To apply for an apprenticeship, follow these steps:

  • Find a job as an apprentice or trainee through an Apprenticeship Centre or Group Training Company.
  • Register with an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) or Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) and nominate South West TAFE as your training provider (your employer will usually do this for you).
  • Complete a pre-training review - South West TAFE staff will contact you to organise your Pre-Training Review once your ASSN contract registration is complete.
  • Enrol - complete the enrolment form provided to you and provide your identification.
  • Sign - once you’ve completed your enrolment form and verified your identification, you will receive your student declaration form to review and sign. You can sign this digitally via your smartphone, computer or tablet.

Landscaper salary: how much can I expect to earn?

According to SEEK, the average annual salary for Landscaper jobs in Australia ranges from $60,000 to $80,000, with an average hourly rate between $30 to $40. As with any industry, Landscapers who choose to specialise in areas have the potential to earn significantly higher salaries. Landscapers with more experience may earn up to $110,000 per year. The industry also presents the opportunity to build a business and unlock uncapped earning potential.

Landscaping is an excellent career path that offers a range of opportunities for advancement. You can work in a team or venture out on your own in time if that path appeals. If you have a passion for the outdoors and a creative mind, why not consider a career in landscaping? Contact South West TAFE today for further information.