Garden designer

Garden designers design the layout and features of outdoor spaces – construction details, planting plans and regular maintenance are often part of the process

Training, qualifications and skills General horticultural knowledge – Level 2 minimum; Garden design qualification – certificate/diploma/degree; short courses held at local horticultural or further education colleges; (working in a studio) knowledge of CAD software will probably be required; horticultural training and experience is beneficial
Career progression opportunities Working for a larger design practice or for an organisation; (in a studio setting) work your way from a junior position to looking after a team of designers; with more experience you could teach or get involved in the media industries; opportunities to win medals by creating show gardens; awards for residential and public gardens, and to become an accredited professional garden designer
Useful links Society of Garden Designers
The Association of Professional Landscapers

Focus on: Garden designer

Flo Headlam
Own business
Full time, salary up to £25k

I call myself a garden maker, or if I’m being mischevious a ‘garden whisperer’. Sometimes my work is simply about keeping a garden in check with regular maintenance visits. Other gardens I visit require development, reshaping and replanting – a light touch that may mean filling gaps in a border or filling and arranging pots to create a different view or have greater impact.

Get to know your plants, how they ‘work’ in situ, ideally in a garden or garden centre setting. Study for appropriate qualifications and get some experience working in different settings.

I love the fact that I meet a wide range of people and have to find a way to connect with them all. No two days are ever the same. I work with a small landscaping team building city gardens. These design-and-build projects bring all my skill sets into play.

Focus on: Garden designer

Nicola Oakey
Own business
Part time, salary range from £10k

I run my own garden design business part time, mainly creating residential gardens. I love my job, as no two days are ever the same. I can be visiting clients and measuring gardens, sitting at my drawing board designing, or travelling to nurseries to select plants and trees. I have a Diploma in Garden Design, which gave me the basic knowledge I needed.

Don’t be afraid to take time to build up as much knowledge and experience as you can. Be curious and hands-on, the best designers know as much about landscaping and growing as they do about design.

After completing my diploma I did a horticultural apprenticeship. This was a great opportunity to meet people in the horticultural industry and get an RHS qualification at the same time. It was a contact I made through the apprenticeship that then led me to getting my first job in a design studio.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.