Top Skills Required for Landscaping
A career in landscaping involves hands-on labor and working outdoors. To succeed as a landscaper, you need creativity and a myriad of technical skills. Whether you are just starting in this field or looking to boost your resume, knowing the different skills required of you will help you find success. In this article, we outline important landscaping skills, explain how to improve upon them and discuss how to use them effectively in the workplace.
Related: How to Become a Landscape Architect
What are landscaping skills?
Landscaping skills are derived from a knowledge of horticulture, exterior design and seasonal planning. Landscapers use these skills to create an ideal outdoor space that suits the needs of their clients. Their job includes lawn and soil care and tree and bush maintenance. They may also develop blueprints for design features like flowerbeds, pavers and even fountains or statues. People in this field use their knowledge of plants, insects, animals and the weather to address area-specific lawn concerns. Additionally, landscapers apply irrigation principles and utilize soil management.
Examples of landscaping skills
Here are six skills you need in order to work as a landscaper:
Many times, people first seek out a landscaper to help keep up with their lawn. This is why you should be proficient at mowing, seeding and sod installation. Depending on your client's location, you may also need to be skilled at lawn aeration and landscape design.
Soil and irrigation management
Understanding how to best treat the soil in your area will help support the maintenance of your grass work. Location is an important factor when determining what aspects of soil management and irrigation you should focus on. You will need to know about fertilizing, mulching, amending soil and winterizing in areas that experience all seasons. Here are some specific skills you may need in areas that experience drought:
Sprinkler installation and management
Drought resistant plants
Tree and bush work
A landscaper who is also skilled in the maintenance—or removal—of large, unwanted trees is a valuable crew member. Similarly, knowledge of trimming or designing bushes is also beneficial. Here are some skills related to tree and bush work:
Areal lift operation
Attention to detail
To be a successful landscaper, you need more than just technical skills. There are many important and helpful soft skills as well, such as attention to detail. Gardening, lawn care and flower maintenance all need a lot of precision. Being able to spot one wilted flower or encroaching weed will help you stop small issues from turning into large problems. You should also be able to perform accurate measurements to ensure that designs and blueprints are reliable when presenting options to clients, which is crucial for building and maintaining clientele.
Often, a client will have problems with their lawn related to pests. Having knowledge of landscaping issues frequently caused by small animals, bugs and invading plant species will help you respond appropriately. Review this list of skills needed for proper pest control as a landscaper:
Identifying weeds and other invasive plant species
Knowledge of various pesticides
Knowledge of beneficial insects
Recognizing the presence of rodents
Hardscaping refers to any hard surface used as a part of an exterior design plan. Typically, hardscaping skills include laying stone tiles, erecting a stone wall or building a wooden structure. Sometimes, hardscaping can include walkways, a fire pit or even benches. Most landscapers have softscaping skills, which have to do with natural elements like grass and plants, but not everyone is experienced with hardscaping. Having a strong set of hardscaping skills makes you a valuable member of any team.
How to improve landscaping skills
If you have mastered the basics and are looking to build up your skill set or expand your resume, you may want to consider setting time aside to learn something specific. Here are some specific steps that may help you improve your skills and advance your career as a landscaper:
1. Take an online course
There are many online courses available that could assist in your career development as a landscaper. Consider taking a course in plant identification or pest control to gain certification in one of these areas.
Identifying various plant species will help you grow from a novice landscaper to an expert. For example, knowing which plants you can place in shade versus which ones need long hours of sunlight saves time and aids in plan development. Being able to spot an invasive plant or pest before it destroys any intentional greenery can also help you and your landscaping team. Additionally, a certificate from an online course would be good to include on your resume.
2. Share your goals and find a mentor
Let your employer know about your desire to grow your skills, and ask if they can assign you a mentor. If you aren't given an official mentor, try to befriend someone who has many years of experience or special skills. Ask that person if you can watch or assist in a task you have not yet mastered. For example, they might teach you how to remove unwanted stumps, lay stone walkways or remove sod.
3. Request to assist in more challenging or skill-specific tasks
At this point, your boss should be aware of your ambition to improve your skills. Let them know about your progress and ask to be trained to use specific operating equipment or computer design and drafting software.
4. Build a portfolio
Note down your successes and save any certificates you earn as you strive to build your landscaping skills. If you have a mentor, ask that person if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. These are all things you can use to build a professional portfolio. Take before and after pictures of landscapes you work on and include them in your portfolio as well. This type of visual aid is very helpful when pitching yourself to potential employers or clients.
5. Help a new employee
Take some time to help someone who is new to the field. This will likely boost your confidence as well as your network. Plus, employers always appreciate people who have strong leadership skills and show initiative. By helping someone tackle a new project, you are looking out for the whole crew and demonstrating leadership and teamwork skills.
Using landscaping skills in the workplace
Being able to demonstrate your technical abilities is just as important as having them. Here are some tips to help you illustrate and use your skills as a landscaper:
Find the right water solution for each grassy area. Be persistent in finding the proper drought management or irrigation system for a lawn or outdoor space.
Understand the needs of grass in the early development stages. Make sure you use proper aeration techniques if necessary when laying seed or sod.
Keep the overall visual aesthetic in mind. Pay close attention to detail when planting flowerbeds or trimming trees and bushes. If parallel bushes aren't matching or complementary, it may result in a dissatisfied client.
Consider client satisfaction. Work closely with your client to ensure that your exterior design blueprint matches their desired outcomes before starting the project.
Build a network of people in your field. Attempt to gain positive relationships with coworkers by giving compliments or offering helpful tips.
How to highlight landscaping skills
As a landscaper, you have a robust set of technical skills and soft skills. You may even have gained some advanced abilities in specialized areas. If you want to showcase your strengths and skills to a potential employer, here is some advice to follow:
Landscaping skills for a resume
As a landscaper, your skills will show a potential employer your ability to add value to their team. Make sure that you include a skills section on your resume that clearly outlines your ability in specific areas. If you are proficient in removing stumps, installing sprinklers or identifying invasive plant species, include those details in that section. Additionally, include any courses you attended along with degrees or certificates you earned in the education section. Overall, your resume should be clear, accurate and free of errors.
Landscaping skills for your cover letter
Often, your cover letter is your first chance to impress a potential employer. When writing your cover letter, try to address the specific needs of the employer. Describe some of your duties and accomplishments when explaining your previous experience. If you can, take this time to discuss ways you added to the team or how you went above and beyond your job description using your landscaping skills. If you have experience using specialty equipment like an aerial lift or AutoCAD, include those details in your cover letter as well.
Read more: How to Write a Cover Letter
Landscaping skills for the job interview
When getting ready for a landscaping interview, come prepared to prove your knowledge and abilities. Be ready to explain how your skills have improved over time, and note specialized skills you have gained through mentorship, workshops or certification courses. The interviewer will likely ask you to share your experiences. Use that time to tell a story that highlights a unique ability or the use of equipment you have experience with. Also, bringing a portfolio or photos of your past work could help you impress a hiring manager.
Review this list of commonly asked questions to prepare for your landscaping interview:
What led you to a career in landscaping?
What is your preferred pest control solution?
Have you ever encountered a situation where you couldn't meet the client's desires due to land or weather limitations? How did you deal with this issue?
Have you ever encountered diseased trees or plants? How did you remedy this situation?
What project are you most proud of and why?
How much experience do you have installing sprinkler systems or irrigation systems?
How do you work with your peers and superiors when completing a project?
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