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How much does a gardener cost per hour?

Large gardens can require regular amounts of dedicated work on a weekly basis particularly during the growing season and then there are all those out of season maintenance tasks that need attention as well. But how much does a gardener cost? The average daily rate for a gardener is between £150-£200 for a full days’ work if you use a garden care company, for sole gardeners working on their own, the daily rate is usually lower. The cost of a gardener per hour can average around £15 per hour but can still be as much as £50 per hour. Some householders will have a gardener regularly between April and September.

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The type of jobs which require constant attention and regular maintenance during the growing season might include:

  • Lawn mowing and feeding the grass and raking it
  • Weeding which should start in the spring and continue through to the autumn to prevent large scale problems developing
  • Watering shrubs and flowers particularly in dry spells – this can be very time consuming
  • Leaf blowing and collecting at the start of autumn
  • Hedge trimming
  • Pruning
  • Clearing driveways and patios of weeds and moss


how much does a gardener cost?

Gardening costs are really on a sliding scale - it really just depends on how much work you want them to do and that in turn hangs on the size of the garden and which jobs you need help with.

Ad hoc and occasional gardening costs

Some people don’t need regular help in the garden but just one-off or occasional support, this can include:

  • Help with annual tasks such as pruning at height or seasonal clearance
  • One-off jobs to re-design a new garden or clear one that has been neglected
  • Specific heavy tasks such as tree removal, stump grinding or hedge cutting which requires dedicated machinery and labour
  • Random jobs are usually priced on a fixed charge basis rather than an hourly or a daily rate.

Here are the expected average gardening costs in the UK:

Gardening Services Average Cost Per Hour
Landscaping  £20
Lawn Mowing  £20
General Gardening Services  £15
Weeding  £23

Do you need help from a professional gardener?

People have never been busier and with virtually everyone working other than the very young or retired, there are lots of occasions when a little help in the garden is needed.

  • Busy professionals who simply don't have time for gardening!
  • Elderly people might need assistance with certain heavy tasks or just things like weeding which restricted mobility can make difficult
  • Disabled people or those with a health limitation
  • New gardeners who need advice and guidance
  • Rental properties where the garden has to be kept in check for the tenants
  • Homes which are for sale, it can pay dividends to use the services of a gardener particularly if the garden is large as it can give a poor impression to potential buyers if they perceive that the garden is high maintenance or out of control
  • Holiday home gardens which always need to be kept tip top
  • Families who are fully occupied looking after small children

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Which factors can affect the cost of a gardener?

There are some variables which mean that the cost of a gardener can vary hugely across the UK. Clearly, the amount of work to do and the size of the garden will affect the cost but other factors might include:

  • Where you live, typically prices in London and the South East for gardeners are much higher than throughout the rest of the UK

  • The type of company you use – larger gardening companies generally charge a lot more than single self-employed gardeners

Winter jobs

Most gardens will lie dormant in the winter but there are still jobs to do.  Pruning is essential for all plants to encourage healthy growth and some shrubs and trees are best pruned in the winter; it depends on the specific plant.  If you don’t keep up to date with winter maintenance then this can impact on the spring growth and considerably add to the jobs’ list. When speaking to potential gardeners, ask about winter gardening costs. 

How do I manage the cost of a gardener?

For a large garden, gardening costs can be high, so one of the best ways to manage this is to enter into a maintenance agreement which specifies a fixed number of hours every year and is then paid as a set monthly amount which does not vary throughout the calendar even though the work may be intensive during the spring and summer and lighter during the autumn and winter.  This avoids large bills during the warmer months and is also more cost-efficient than paying an hourly or daily rate.  The schedule of works is agreed in advance to cover all of the seasonal jobs. Always make sure you read the small print very thoroughly before signing any annual maintenance contract.

Some people save a lot of money by doing a lot of the regular chores themselves like weeding and cutting the grass and keep professional gardening help for specific tasks which could be heavier work and/or requires dedicated machinery which they may not have themselves.  Mowing the lawn is one of the most labour intensive gardening jobs and if you can do this yourself, you can save a lot of money leaving the more specialist jobs to the professionals.

Finding quotes for gardening work

Asking friends or work colleagues for a recommendation is one possible option or putting a post on a local social media group is another but remember, the recommendations that come up may be from people you don’t know but who just live in your area.

Try and find the right company or individual for the work before you ask for a quote.  If you are looking for a one-off landscaping job then there is no point asking a maintenance gardener and vice versa.

Of course, you can get accurate gardening costs here at Gardeningcosts.co.uk! Always get two or three quotes before you reach a decision.  The gardener will need to visit your property to make an accurate quote and the quotations should be provided in writing to make it easier for you to compare.

Find out how the gardener wants to be paid.  Does he have a minimum call-out charge of say two hours so this would be the minimum amount of work he will come out for?

Many people expect gardeners to have a cheaper daily rate than other tradesmen like plumbers and electricians but gardening work is very labour intensive and can require expensive tools, insurance and the constant replenishment of items like fuel and topical products.  Some surveys indicate that long-standing and established professional gardeners can spend up to 30% of their income on business overheads and expenses such as tool purchase, maintenance and running costs, transport and garden management and care products.

Beware of a false economy – sometimes the lower the hourly rate of a gardener, the less incentive there is to work fast and efficiently

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Questions to ask before you hire a gardener

There are several questions to ask which can affect gardening costs:

  • Do they supply their own tools – mowers, hedge cutters, strimmers – or will they want to use yours?
  • Do they have insurance in the event of an accident whilst working in your garden and using your tools?
  • Have they any form of demonstrable qualification?

How can you make the best use of a professional gardener?

  • Do the right job at the right time as this will cut down on unnecessary and bulky work which will have to happen at the wrong time of year or be left – this will always take more time and cost more money
  • Ask your gardener to help when the work is really needed and at the right time of year
  • Garden maintenance is required year-round, don’t do as many people do which is ignore your garden during the autumn and winter and then find yourself faced with a jungle in the spring and summer. 
  • Doing maintenance jobs during the colder months will help spread the cost of gardening work ahead of the next season
  • Ask your gardener for help and advice on how to simplify your garden and make it less labour intensive so for example, mulching borders so you don’t have to weed so often or changing some of the flowers for shrubs or other plants
  • Keep the work regular during the growing season like mowing the lawn which can be a weekly task during the spring and summer; leaving jobs like this will mean that they quickly get out of control which will end up costing you more money in the long run
  • Plan ahead – good gardeners are always busy
  • Look at the garden not the calendar on the wall.  The seasons are not so well defined as they used to be and some gardens can come to life in March or even February and with mild winters, it is perfectly possible to still be cutting the grass in November.  Contact your gardener well ahead of time and arrange a schedule of works planned in advance

Designing a low maintenance garden

Manicured lawns and beautiful floral borders may look amazing but in a garden of any size, they require a dedicated workforce or someone with a lot of time on their hands and a real passion and knowledge for gardening.

If you are faced with a garden you can’t manage or don’t like, why not consider a complete makeover?  There are lots of designs and styles which can give your garden a whole new look whilst being low or minimal maintenance meaning you can either manage the garden yourself or will only need to pay for a gardener now and then.  Low maintenance gardens do not have to be uninspiring or bland.  Here are some simple and effective garden ideas.

  • Use mulch to deter weeds in flower beds
  • Replace some of the perennial beds where weed control is imperative with shrubs which are easy to plant through a weed-suppressing membrane, then overlay with bark or gravel.  This arrangement makes it very hard for weed seedlings to get a hold in the mulch and will require minimal watering as well
  • Prioritise what is important or essential to you in the garden, for example, if you are a keen veg grower then you might want to lose other time-consuming tasks like mowing and replace the lawn with something else
  • Position labour-intensive areas with good access to the house or shed – a lot of time can be spent walking backwards and forwards with tools or full barrows
  • Install a water point adjacent to where you need it -  if you have lots of pots and planters then consider an automatic irrigation system
  • Fence or hedge?  People often baulk at clipping a hedge once a year but rubbing down and re-painting a wooden fence can be far more onerous
  • Hardy evergreens are about the best low maintenance plant – there is no such thing as a no-maintenance plant.  Once they are established, they require little care, just some pruning
  • On soils that are naturally blessed with a good soil structure, the no-dig method can be very effective.  This protocol minimises cultivation of the soil by using organic weed-suppressing mulches such as bark, garden compost or rotted manure.  Avoid walking on the soil which can compact it unnecessarily

Lawns

Who doesn’t love a beautiful lawn but lawns are one of the most labour intensive areas of gardening work, cutting them is only the beginning.

  • If you have a large lawn then only mow a small area of it for the formal part of the garden, reduce the amount of cutting you do in the other areas so maybe only cut once a month whereas the shorter area may be cut weekly or twice weekly.  This will still keep all the grass under control but will save you hours of work and stress.  This is also a good plan if you have dogs and children who can have their own designated area of grass
  •  Experiment with different frequencies of cut – the more you cut, the more the grass grows!  You could leave a wild area uncut from March to September and maybe just cut in a grass path to introduce some interest and access.  Plant a wildflower seed mix into the wild area or plug plants into the sward, this can create a beautiful and ever-changing vista and will encourage birds, butterflies and insects
  • Stop collecting the grass clippings – this saves a huge amount of time constantly emptying the grass box and your lawn will need less feeding as some of the nutrients will be reabsorbed from the mown grass.  When it is hot and dry, the clippings will dry and disperse within a couple of days.  If you keep the grass very short then you won’t be left with obvious lines of brown, dead grass on the surface of the lawn
  • Invest in a recycling or mulching mower which is designed to chop and reduce the clippings before returning them to the lawn, the ultimate in labour-saving devices and if you mow regularly then this will not overly detract from the appearance
  • Change the turf for a harder-wearing and more durable seed or turf mix.  Fine, high-quality turf may look the part but requires much more work in terms of scarifying, aerating, feeding and mowing than a more durable mix.  Look out for seed or turf that is described as ‘multi-purpose’ or ‘amenity’ so designed for wear and tear.  Also, try and spot a mix that includes micro clovers which can help minimise the need to water and feed
  • Take a more relaxed approach to lawn maintenance, ironically, in times of drought or intense wet weather, a less manicured lawn will often stay greener for longer and is much more likely to encourage a variety of wildlife
  • Install permanent edging solutions, this reduces the need for hand edging which is very time consuming and there are loads of different options depending on the look you want to achieve.  But if you really don’t want to do that then invest in a set of edging shears that incorporate their own collection box
  • If the lawn is your number one priority, then invest in a gardener to do all the work on it.  Lawns are one  of the most stressful elements of garden care and certainly one of the most labour intensive and a gardener or gardening company dedicated to the task could lift a huge weight from your shoulders and leave you with a lot of time to devote to other tasks in the garden
  • Cross to the dark side and use artificial turf – this is definitely taboo amongst some keen gardeners but the modern versions are pretty realistic and there are a choice of styles on offer
  • If you have small, fiddly areas of lawn then abandon them and incorporate them into flower beds or remove the turf and use an artificial surface to create a feature.  These are always the most time-consuming areas to cut
  • If you just have a square or rectangle to cut then invest in a bigger mower with a wider cut, there are even robot mowers now who can cut the grass unattended leaving you free to carry on with other jobs

If, despite re-design and better mowers, the lawn is still just too big a task then consider removing it and turning the area over to gravel, paving, decking or bark.  Gardening is all about priorities and if you have other tasks in the garden which are a higher priority particularly during the growing months then it could make sense to lose the lawn completely.

Ponds and water features

One of the biggest ways to reduce the maintenance associated with water features and ponds is to leave them fish free.  Fish create work not just in their own care needs but the absence of fish also results in less blanket weed and algae problems   Some people let their ponds revert to nature allowing them to silt up and move from a pond to a bog, this will save you removing leaves, cleaning out the pond and pulling out the blanket weed.  Avoid shallow water features which need regular topping up.

Avoidable high maintenance habits to reduce gardening costs

There are a surprising number of things which you can dispense with in the garden which are time heavy for often minimal reward.  These include:-

  •  Lots of containers which are always billed as quick and simple gardening but are in fact high maintenance requiring planting, feeding, watering and often re-potting.  If you do want to use containers then use large ones which are less fiddly to manage and can hold a greater volume of compost which will dry out less quickly
  • Tender plants which require plenty of TLC and protection and will not thrive if you take your eye off the ball for a minute.  Opt instead for hardy plants which can be left outdoors all year round
  • Bedding plants and other temporary plants which provide a riot of colour and look amazing but are in reality, totally seasonal and a huge amount of work for a short window of colour.  Keep bedding plants to a minimum and focus instead on permanent borders or wildflower annuals
  • Work with your garden and don’t insist on planting the wrong plant in the wrong place.  You might adore the rich hues and tones of rhododendrons but they just will not thrive in chalky soil.  Don’t spend time and effort on lawn areas under trees, the shade will always minimise the quality of the grass so either remove the trees or turn those areas of lawn over to something else
  • Don’t think that buying semi-mature plants to create an instant garden will always save you time and money – they can often require more aftercare than younger plants which ironically can establish more quickly and require far less watering and staking
  • Choose slower-growing hedges like yew or holly, quick growing hedges might give you the instant barrier that you crave but they require a lot of regular maintenance and higher hedge trimming costs

If you can plan out your garden and identify your priorities clearly then this will help both you and a gardener make the best use of the available time and budget.  After that, how you use the gardener whether for regular maintenance or just one-off tasks is up to you.

For more information on hiring garden help, see this article from Which? If you are looking to de-weed your garden, find out more on the problems weedkillers cause from The Royal Horticultural Society.

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