Horticulturists working in landscaping perform a wide variety of duties to keep area landscapes looking their best. They install plantings, hardscapes, and irrigation systems; water plants; scout for insects, disease, and weed pests; and decide how and when to control those pests. Horticulturists also maintain equipment; prune plants; transplant trees, shrubs, vines, perennial, and annual plantings; and maintain these plantings for their customers. There are many other tasks that are seasonally dependent, such as snow removal and bulb planting.
Along with these duties, many horticulturists also manage the work of other employees hired as their crew to help complete their work assignments.
Examples of Available Careers
- Assistant horticulturist
- Landscape project estimator
- Landscape crew or field supervisor
- Landscape project manager*
- Landscaping entrepreneur*
- Plants, tools, equipment sales representatives*
*These positions may require a few years of field experience before qualified to seek employment in these careers.
Also consider the need for positions within agriculture that require accounting, business, finance, and law skills.
Landscape professionals work outside during much of the year. They must be able to do their work in the heat of summer, the cold of winter, and the unpredictable weather of fall and spring. Full range of motion and a strong body is needed to transplant, especially the larger tree and shrub root balls, and to install brick and block patios or walks in gardens. This same strength and range of motion is needed to manipulate the tools used to care for those plants. Important daily activities include the ability to lift heavy objects such as blocks, potted trees, and shrubs. Work in horticulture can be dusty and dirty, so appropriate clothing must be worn.
Better than average growth in landscape employment is expected, partially because of the aging Baby Boom population who need help caring for their properties. Continued business landscaping opportunities are expected as well.
Throughout the late fall and winter there are many seminars and symposia available for the turf and landscape industry, giving professionals the opportunity to meet others in their industry and continue to improve their horticultural and landscaping skills. Some landscape professionals, especially those more involved in plant maintenance, may choose to become certified to apply commercial pesticides. For these horticulturists, continuing education credits to keep their credentials up-to-date are available at many of these seminars and other meetings. Those choosing to take the Commercial Pesticide Applicator’s certification exam must renew their credentials by exam with the state department of agriculture every three years, or earn enough credits between these exams.
Holding any degree in horticulture is valuable for career advancement. Many employees starting out as seasonal laborers do not keep these positions long. The ones who show interest are very likely to be mentored by their supervisors and moved along to other positions. Often these employees will pick up helpful courses along the way to help them understand soils, plant growth, and technology, but may not work toward earning a degree.
By working toward a degree in horticulture, this shows employers you are not only interested in agriculture, but also committed to taking on the responsibility of a landscaping career. Minimally, an associate’s degree is needed to find a full-time position with benefits. Earning a bachelor’s degree is necessary to expand the options for specialized positions within the horticultural industry, and master’s or doctorate degrees are needed to work in horticultural research and teaching positions.