Branching Out: How To Grow A Career In Horticulture

After a couple of years cooped up inside, many of us have cultivated a newfound love for the outdoors and are yearning for a career that allows us to reconnect with our passions and enjoy a healthier work-life balance.

If that sounds like you, a career in Horticulture might just be calling your name!

Horticulture is the science and technology of plant cultivation. The world of horticulture touches on many aspects of our daily lives, from the food we eat to the parks and leisure facilities we visit for play and recreation.

And not only that, but horticulture also plays an integral part in our economy.

According to Bord Bia, the horticulture sector in Ireland is estimated to have an annual farmgate value of €380 million and employs over 6,000 people in full-time, part-time or seasonal positions.

If you’re looking for a career that gives you a sense of purpose (and where your money could actually grow on trees!), then horticulture could be for you!

Career Opportunities in Horticulture

Along with green fingers, a passion for plants, great work ethic, stamina and willingness to work outdoors in all weathers, a successful career in horticulture requires bucketfuls of resilience, creativity and curiosity. And, of course, a love of what you do!

From working with plants, designing and building landscapes, to developing new food products, horticulture can be extremely rewarding. There are many career options to suit various interests, skills and backgrounds.

Generally speaking, there are two main areas within the horticulture sector: amenity and commercial.

Amenity: This includes landscape design and constructing and maintaining parks, public areas, sports grounds, recreation facilities and roadsides. Interior landscaping is also a popular choice within amenity horticulture which involves designing, installing, and maintaining greenery in public spaces such as shopping centres, hotels, residences, etc. Typical employers within this sector include local authorities, botanic gardens, leisure facilities etc. Self-employment is also a popular choice.

Commercial: This involves growing crops and greenery for sale. Crops include fruit and vegetables, nursery stock and bedding plants. Typical employers include organisations that grow or supply produce, production nurseries, and food companies that process and package fresh produce.

Self-Employed Horticulture Opportunities

The growing horticulture sector can also lead to exciting self-employment opportunities. Landscaping, floristry, e-commerce and garden design are popular options for those craving flexibility and variety in their work.

And depending on the services you offer, you may not require a huge investment to get started. In fact, for many starting, resources can be as little as a car and a few hand tools. Larger equipment such as lawnmowers and hedge trimmers can also be hired in the initial stages until you’re ready to invest.

Supports and grants are also available. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine offer regular grants and investment aid that allows for up to 50% matched funding for horticulture equipment and facilities for trained commercial horticulturists.

Ready to plant the seed?

If you’re ready to take the first step towards a career in horticulture, the great news is that there are various routes available.

To go from a home gardener to a professional gardener, you could consider studying for a qualification or looking for a training scheme to develop your skills further.

While not essential, a horticultural qualification can give you practical skills and help you stand out to potential clients. Below are a few fantastic options to consider:

Blackrock Further Education Institute

Garden Design Level 5  With a strong emphasis on design, this course aims to help you develop and combine technical skills with your creative ability so that you can respond to a client’s brief with a creative solution. It is project based and will offer you the opportunity to develop a portfolio in this area.

Dalkey Garden School

Workshops and Gardening Classes Learn all about your garden, how to grow, manage your soil, take care of your trees, shrubs and climbers. Spring classes commence on April 21st & 23rd and Gardening classes via Zoom can be arranged for groups. Contact Annmarie for further information

Dundrum College of Further Education

Horticulture, Ecological Science & Environmental Engineering HUB These courses will provide students with a thorough practical knowledge of Horticulture, Landscape Design, Garden Maintenance and Plant Propagation, making it the perfect programme to gain employment with Landscapers, Public Parks, Nurseries and Garden Centers .

Killester College of Further Education

Horticulture This course can act as a gateway into the horticultural industry. Past students are working in Nurseries, Golf Courses and Landscaping and Gardening centres.

Kinsale College

Sustainable Horticulture / Permaculture The QQI Level 6 Sustainable Horticulture/ Permaculture Award provides a strong base for developing professional skills in market gardening, nursery stock production, tree and shrub management, sustainable landscape design, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Templemore College of Further Education

Horticulture This course is for adults and Post Leaving Certificate students who wish to pursue a career in landscaping and horticulture, gardening enthusiasts, and those who have an interest in the outdoor life. Employment opportunities with landscaping architectural firms and landscaping construction companies. .