I’m considering yet another career change - horticulture design (you know, designing flower beds and landscaping and stuff). Anybody around here work in this field or a related field? Can I pick your brains about what the work is like, the training, etc.?
A (non-Doper) friend of mine is a landscaper – let me know if you need to spread your net further.
If you enjoy doing design work, and have tinkered around with a Gardensoft type software program, I have a project in desperate need of reworking that you may wanna practice on…let me know
I just wrote a long vignette about who I was what I do and how I can help - but the Damn Hampster’s ate it!
In short - I am the principle partner of a medium sized Environmental planning firm here in Phoenix. I was formerly a psychology prof in CT specializing in Environmental psychology - studying people within their habitat and workplace. I have owned a small design firm specializing in landscapes, housescapes, and anything therein…
Fire-away with any specific questions I can help you with. I will say you must love the outdoros, have a knack for design, and know how to fit those into someones personality that is paying for you to reconstruct their yard etc…etc…
In terms of training, you might try a community college. The college where I work offers several different horticulture programs, including an Associate of Science that takes about two years to complete.
You know, there doesn’t seem to be any courses offered at the local colleges, but there is a certificate course offered through our local zoo that I’m considering. Would a certificate of this kind be enough to land a job either with some kind of landscaping company, or doing freelancing?
Thanks for the brain-picking offer, Phlosphr. The longer I work in offices, the more I realize that I would much prefer to be outside at least part of the day, even in winter. I am working on designing my own yard at home, and I’m really enjoying doing that. If I follow this career path, I think I would like to specialize in low-maintenance yards - I am pretty passionate about people using proper plants that will work naturally in our particular environment, rather than forcing plants that just don’t fit here (need too much water, too delicate, etc.)
Making a career out of landscape design is not easy. I do it part time and love it. The experience can come from reading books and experimenting on your own yard. Or hiring on with someone who does it already and building a good portfolio. Speaking of which, photograph everything you do. Go to home depot and take a class there on water features, or landscaping for your biome, or what plants and shrubs go with what landscape design. Start off having fun and learning from experience, then move on to bigger and better things.
I have a friend who went to grad school for Landscape Design. She went to U of Delaware, IIRC. Her background was similar to mine, Geography degree and GIS experience.
Yeah, if designing flower beds takes a geography degree (I don’t even know what GIS is), it ain’t gonna happen for me.
Good advice, Phlosphr on photographing everything. I will commence immediately. I had a feeling this might not be a full-time gig - part-time or freelance would also work for me. I can always continue with the secretarial work - I just want something in addition that I actually care about.
featherlou, late response here because I’ve been at a Native Plant landscaping conference this week, that’s what I do now.
What I’ve found in my transition to this field, as differing from my initial expectations, is that it is very hard physical work; you really have to be outside in all weather, and often the pay scale is not reflective of the physical work. When I hire assistants, I make it clear that there are physical challenges, but every one is “fine with that” until July, when the heat hits the fan. I’m in the South, though.
A resource for exploring this field is the Garden Web; http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/prof/
Read the previous “I want to be a garden designer/landscaper” professional forums before posting. Sometimes it’s harsh if you ask “THAT SAME QUESTION” they’ve heard a million times, but if you ask intelligent ?s, there are great folks there.
Thanks, elelle; I’ll go take a look. So, if I work on designing landscapes/gardens/flower beds, I will still be expected to actually do the spadework? I’m not sure I’m physically capable of doing that kind of work regularly (bursitis in both hips), even if I wanted to (which I don’t).
featherlou, you don’t have to do the installation work; it’s about half and half with designers I know who do their own. If you don’t, it’s wise to know of qualified landscaping crews you trust, and can recommend to a client. This is from a perspective of doing larger jobs, though.
Phlosphr’s advice is good. Start your own projects or do some beds for friends and build a portfolio. Another way of getting your feet wet is to design container plantings. These are in demand now, and not as involved as designing beds. You’ll get experience dealing with clients. As said, have fun, and take classes, read books, walk every botanical garden you can, tour nurseries to get a plant pallette.
I should have said that I help run a large nursery, and that’s hard physical work. Didn’t mean to sound negative, but, 'tis the end of the season down here, and I’m slap wore out…
If you want some names of great nurseries w/ websites/catalogs that can help improve your plant repertoire, e-mail me. Glad to help.