Choosing the right gardener for you isn’t as easy as you may think! Everyone has different needs for their garden and can be more picky than others. Some questions that you may need to ask yourself include;
- How much am I willing to pay a gardener?
- How often will I need a gardener?
- Will I need the gardener to remove garden waste?
- How knowledgeable does my gardener need to be?
- Do I need a gardener that works through the Winter?
With over 100 customers being looked after on a weekly or 2 weekly basis by my gardening company, one thing I have learned is that every customer is unique. Some couldn’t care less what time or day we come, as long as their grass is cut on a regular basis, compared to others who expect all plants to be pruned at the right time of year, hedges to be kept in pristine condition as well as all flower beds turned over with no weeds in sight.
Not only are all of my garden maintenance customers unique, but it’s even more important to know that so are the gardeners that work for me! Some pride themselves with getting those lovely stripes on your grass when mowing the lawn and getting those perfectly straight hedges, compared to others that really have no motivation when it comes to grass cutting and pride themselves with planting beautiful flowers and always coming up with new ideas for your flower beds. As a result, I separate my gardeners and customers accordingly, but I know first hand how hard it can be to find the right gardener for you!
Lets go over some of the questions I listed above!
How much should I pay a gardener?
The most important thing to remember here is that if finding the best gardener for you means finding the best price, this in no way means that you will get the best value for money!
Let me start by saying that I charge £20 per hour, per person, in North London and Hertfordshire. I’d say that the majority of customers are very happy with this price, although maybe 10% will argue that they were paying a cheaper rate to their previous gardener. But here’s the interesting part! When we are given the chance to take over from their previous gardener at a higher rate, we take on the same number of hours, on the same weekly or 2 weekly basis. Using an example of 3 hours, we have often finished the work in 1.5 or 2 hours, and then reducing the number of hours on all future visits, meaning an overall cheaper price. This means, that if you were paying a gardener £20 per hour, but they worked twice as fast as a gardener charging £10 per hour, then is there any real money saving? This is why you can’t just go by price when finding the right gardener for you!
A lot of the time, when I have been asked why my price is higher than their previous gardener, I ask the customer, why are you no longer using this gardener? I often here 2 reasons, which include;
- My gardener never showed up when he was suppose to
- My gardener didn’t know what he was doing
As with any profession, a tradesman will charge what they know they are worth, in my case, I believe that what I have to offer is worth £20 per hour. And I employ those who I also believe are worth £20 per hour. At this price, I explain to the customer that they will be choosing the best gardener for them when going ahead with ourselves, since we are knowledgeable and always have the best advice to hand, as well as reliable. We provide them with the a time slot, meaning that we will be working on their garden on the same time/day on a weekly/fortnightly basis.
How often will I need a gardener?
You will have to make the decision of whether you will be answering this question, or your gardener, when finding the best gardener for you. Why not invite 3 gardener’s round for advice, and see what they say? Whether you are just in need of your grass to be mowed, or keeping your flower beds looking great all year round, I would recommend having a visit at least once every 2 weeks. Depending on what needs doing, finding a gardener with some flexibility would be great, as you would be able to adjust the number of hours needed depending on what needs doing. But be careful! A good gardener means a busy gardener, and it may be hard to increase the hours upon each visit!
Will I need my gardener to remove garden waste?
In the UK, we have green waste bins provided by the council (if paid for) which allows the removal of green waste once every 2 weeks. When picking the right gardener for you, you may not need to worry about this if you have one of these bins.
However, if you have a larger job where lots of waste will need to be taken, such tree pruning, large cut backs or even if you have just moved into your home and have extra long grass, then you will need a gardener equipped to remove the garden waste. All gardeners should have a green waste carriers license, since these are free of charge, but there will be a fee to remove the waste as it costs us gardeners to dispose of the waste at a commercial recycling center such as a skip company.
A self employed gardener, working from his/her car, aren’t going to be the best gardener for you if you need large quantities of waste taken away. You will need to make sure that you find someone with a van, and be sure to check reviews online to eliminate the risk of fly tipping!
How knowledgeable does my gardener need to be?
Does finding the best gardener mean finding a gardener with qualifications? Of course not! I’ll be honest, I have no gardening qualifications and yet I run a successful gardening company, but I did learn on the job! I can answer almost all questions thrown at me, from hard landscaping to garden maintenance, I pride myself with the knowledge I have learned over the years! So my advice would be to not dismiss a gardener if there is no evidence of qualifications.
In my opinion, reviews and a portfolio are much better ways to find the best gardener for you! It also depends on what you are looking for in a gardener. If you are only looking for someone to mow the lawn, then I would focus more on the reliability of the gardener, compared to one where you are looking to focus on the colourful plants in your flower beds, or the correct way to prune your trees, then be sure to find a knowledgeable gardener! Why not invite a few round to have a look at your garden, and just see who you feel most comfortable with before going ahead!
Do I need a gardener that works all year round?
Your garden still needs to be looked after in Autumn and Winter, despite everything slowing down in growth. Remember, this is the best time to prune trees whilst they lay dormant, as well as rake up leaves, clean gutters and catch up on other gardening tasks that there wasn’t time for in the Spring and Summer. I actually have customers take advantage of other activities such as jet washing!
Finding the right gardener for you also depends on whether or not you are happy for them to work in the rain. I work through all weather, even if it’s snowing! But this is because I am so busy, that if I take a day off, then you won’t be seen until the next scheduled visit, and if it rains on that visit, then the cycle continues! Before you know it, your garden hasn’t been seen for weeks!
If you are looking for a gardener with more flexibility, then try finding one who works for himself only with no staff to look after. Lots of gardeners will fully book themselves for just 4 days per week, to allow the other 3 days to cover for rainy days, which could work perfectly if this is what you are after!
Legal requirements when finding the right gardener for you
There are no legal requirements in the UK when using a gardener. Although there are qualifications which include RHS, City & Guilds, Lantra as well as other qualifications from horticultural colleges, none of these are necessary, and of course can be outweighed by work experience when choosing the best gardener for you.
Although also not a legal requirement, it is best to make sure that your gardener has public liability insurance to cover you for any damages. You may be thinking, what could go wrong? Right? But after 12 years as a gardener, even myself have had my fair share of shattered windows when using a strimmer and hitting stones. I even smashed a customer’s car window when using a lawnmower whilst cutting the grass! As well as this, I have cut through a telephone wire and spot light wires which were hidden among overgrown hedges. It happens! Luckily, I have always had insurance should I need it!
Getting quotes for gardening work
When choosing the right gardener for you, be sure to get at least 3 quotes. Even if they all have the same hourly rate over the phone, it’s best to meet them in person as you will want someone that you get a good vibe from, someone that you feel are on the same page as you. You could go for the cheapest price over the phone, but if you met all 3 in person, you may have preferred to pay the extra £2 per hour for someone that you felt much more comfortable with looking after your garden!