Did you know that 18.3 million Americans took up gardening during the pandemic? It is undoubtedly a calming activity with plenty of mental health benefits. By growing your own food, you also get to enjoy chemical-free fresh produce, picked straight from your backyard.
But if you have a sizable garden, upkeep could be significantly time-consuming. Besides, different plants require different levels of care—from watering frequency to fertilizing needs and soil conditions. Maintaining a luscious garden will be nearly impossible without a sound understanding of all these.
An experienced gardener can help address these concerns, allowing you to effortlessly enjoy the benefits of a stunning outdoor space. But how can you choose the right professional for your requirements? Here is what you should know.
Identify Your Needs
Start by listing your expectations and goals. Do you need someone to mow the lawn and keep it neat and tidy? Are you searching for a gardener for regular maintenance of your plants, including watering, trimming, fertilizing, and removing weeds?
Sometimes, you may need a complete overhaul to give your garden a fresh look and purpose. Or, you could be looking for specialized knowledge in growing seasonal produce that requires special care.
Not every gardener will be able to cater to all these needs. They could, for instance, specialize in a certain area and have different work patterns. Some may only take up project-based activities, while others could prefer ongoing work that provides a stable and predictable income.
To determine what type of gardener you need, you must first identify your gardening requirements.
Find a Professional Gardener
How can you find a reliable gardening professional? One option is to ask your friends and family for a recommendation. Speak to neighbors with neatly kept gardens and request their gardeners’ contact details.
Facebook and other social media communities that focus on gardening-related matters are excellent resources, too, to find experienced professionals.
Other options include posting your requirements on social media to spread the word, advertising online, checking with gardeners-for-hire websites, and asking local nurseries and gardening supplies stores. Even a local search for gardeners near you on Google should do the trick.
This would also be an excellent time to find out the average rates for the services you require, so you will be in a better position to negotiate.
According to HomeGuide, gardening work could cost $35 – $65 per hour on average and $75 – $250 for project-based work. But this can vary based on climatic conditions, the season, the gardener’s experience level, and the complexity of the tasks involved. For instance, a gardener can charge you $10 – $30 per pot for planting flowers and anywhere between $200 and $700 for planting a tree.
Interview Shortlisted Candidates
Assess resumes or work profiles before selecting candidates to interview. If their information is incomplete, you can run their contact number on PhoneHistory, check their social media profiles, and conduct a basic search on Google to find more information that could help you assess their experience, educational qualifications, and skills.
After shortlisting two to three gardeners, arrange a face-to-face interview, if possible, or at least a Zoom video call.
Here are a few essential areas to focus on when selecting the best candidate:
Review their experience
This is especially important if you need work done that requires specific skills and knowledge. Ask the candidates about gardening projects similar to yours that they have handled recently. Also, check on different techniques and methods they use and the reasons for choosing them.
Be transparent about your work requirements and expectations. Discuss it in detail without leaving anything for later. This will enable candidates to provide a more accurate quote for their services.
Moreover, allow them to give you suggestions so you can get an idea about their knowledge and work style.
Checking on their availability if you need work done only over the weekend or during certain hours is another factor to keep in mind. In addition, clarify whether they bring their own equipment, tools, and materials and, if so, the additional fees involved.
Depending on the type of work you need them to complete, having a gardener insurance policy could be important, too. It can provide protection against loss of equipment, injuries, damage, and accidents.
Ask for details of previous clients to help verify work experience and service standards. But don’t always rely on the referees your gardener provides. Try to find your own contacts and check their work history.
Reviews and references are also essential for ensuring your family’s safety. After all, a gardener gets to silently observe the neighborhood, entrances to your yard and house, who is usually at home, your routines, schedules, and habits, and a lot more information you may not realize.
A comprehensive background check can help you identify red flags of an unscrupulous past. For instance, moving cities or states regularly should be treated with suspicion. Other common giveaways include criminal charges, bankruptcies, liens, evictions, and similar records.
Use your best judgment
Does the interviewee look confident or nervous? Are they avoiding certain questions? How does their body language come across? What does your gut feel say about them? Rely on your best judgment when it comes to making the final call.
When you don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to maintain your garden or lawn, seeking professional help is the best solution. An experienced gardener can deliver high-quality results, leaving your garden looking lush and impeccable.
But choosing the right gardener involves some work. Start by defining your requirements in detail. For instance, do you need your lawn mowed once a week, hedges trimmed every month, or new flowerbeds set up in your backyard as a one-off project? Consider specific tasks you want to be carried out and when and how you need them done.
Next, reach out to your friends, family, neighbors, and social media connections to find a few recommendations. You can also advertise or hire through an online job board.
Once you have the contact details of several candidates, review their profiles to shortlist a few to interview. Arrange for an in-person meetup or Zoom call and assess their experience, knowledge, and skills. Don’t forget to discuss your requirements and expectations. Check references and use your best judgment when finally selecting the right gardener to care for your outdoor space.