Gardening with John Gabriele

Not everyone has time to spend pulling weeds, fertilising lawns, and pruning shrubs. If that sounds like you, then hiring a gardener might be something to think about. A skilled gardener will be able to complete tasks with efficiency and keep your garden looking pristine. If your time is valuable, investing in a professional gardener is well worth it. Before considering someone to do the gardening first take stock of what you want done.

A word of advice though, be careful who you employ. An incompetent gardener can cost you more than just money. The damage that can be caused to plants through incorrect watering, pruning, and fertilising can cost you long term through possible losses and damage that may take seasons to be rectified. The trick is to employ the right person for the job at hand.

The best place start is with a reputable contractor. That means a person who is well qualified with a depth of experience to do the job. A recognised qualification in horticulture is one way to separate the seeds from the weeds but experience also counts. Gardening is a craft and like any craft it takes time to master, anyone who has been in business for at least five years will have plenty of experience. Ask to see a portfolio of the gardener's work. Any good gardener will be proud to show their work.

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. There are professional gardeners who don't have to advertise as the reputation ensures a steady flow of clients. Gardeners who are members of a professional body such the Australian Institute of Horticulture or the Nursery & Garden Industry work to a professional code of practice and can be relied upon to be at the top of their game.

Specialist gardeners employed for tasks such pruning topiary, hedges, roses and deciduous fruit trees are going to demand a higher price for their services than a general mowing contractor. Know what you want done as the adage "you get what you pay for" runs just as true with gardening as it does with any commodity or service.

Some gardeners will charge an hourly rate and others will charge by the job. Be prepared to shop around as to pay a higher hourly rate for a job that takes a couple of hours, may be better than paying for four hours work to complete the same task with a lower level of quality.

Whether you employ a gardener or not, enjoy the garden for all its worth.

This story Hiring a gardener? Be sure they know what they're doing first appeared on The Canberra Times.