What Does The Gardener Usually Do?

What Does The Gardener Usually Do?

A professional gardener knows exactly what plants need to flourish in a given space. Knowing the ideal time to plant depends on several factors, including the weather and the species of plant being grown. A garden’s health depends on the gardener, as does the timing of its yield. Other names for gardeners include nursery and glasshouse workers.

a man in a green shirt holding a pair of gardening tools

What Does The Gardener Usually Do?

A gardener typically performs a variety of tasks related to the care and maintenance of plants, gardens, and outdoor spaces. Their responsibilities may vary depending on the specific setting, such as residential gardens, public parks, or commercial landscapes. Here are some common activities that gardeners usually engage in:

1. Planting

Planting is one of the fundamental tasks performed by gardeners and involves the process of placing seeds, bulbs, or young plants into the ground or containers to initiate growth. Here’s an overview of the steps involved in planting:

  • Planning: Before planting, gardeners typically plan and prepare their gardening space. They consider factors such as sunlight exposure, soil quality, drainage, and plant compatibility to determine the best location for different types of plants.
  • Soil Preparation: Gardeners often prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. They may loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller and add organic matter like compost or fertilizer to improve its fertility and structure.
  • Seed Selection: If starting from seeds, gardeners choose the appropriate seeds for the desired plants. Factors like climate, growing conditions, and personal preferences influence seed selection. Some gardeners also opt for purchasing young plants or seedlings from nurseries.
  • Digging Planting Holes: Gardeners dig holes in the soil with the right depth and spacing for the chosen plants. The size and depth of the holes depend on the specific requirements of the plants being planted.
  • Plant Placement: Once the holes are prepared, gardeners place the seeds or young plants into the holes. They handle the plants gently, avoiding damage to the roots or stems. For seeds, they follow the recommended spacing and depth specified on the seed packet.
  • Backfilling: After placing the plants in the holes, gardeners carefully backfill the holes with soil, ensuring that the plants are adequately covered. They gently firm the soil around the base of the plant to provide stability.
  • Watering: Gardeners immediately water the newly planted seeds or young plants to provide them with hydration and help settle the soil. They aim to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. The watering frequency and amount may vary depending on the plant’s specific needs.
  • Post-Planting Care: Once the plants are in the ground, gardeners continue to monitor their progress. They provide regular watering, protect young plants from harsh weather conditions, and may apply mulch around the base of the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

It’s important to note that the specific planting techniques and requirements may differ depending on the types of plants being cultivated, the climate, and the gardener’s preferences. Following proper planting practices contributes to successful plant establishment and growth.

2. Pruning And Trimming

Pruning and trimming are essential tasks performed by gardeners to maintain the health, shape, and appearance of plants. These practices involve selectively removing certain parts of a plant, such as branches, shoots, or foliage. Here’s an overview of pruning and trimming:

  • Timing: The timing of pruning depends on the type of plant and its growth habit. Generally, pruning is done during dormant periods, such as late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. However, some plants may require specific pruning times, such as after flowering or during specific seasons.
  • Equipment: Gardeners use various tools for pruning, including hand pruners, loppers, pruning saws, and hedge trimmers. The choice of tool depends on the size of the branches and the type of plant being pruned.
  • Removing Dead, Damaged, or Diseased Branches: Gardeners start by identifying and removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. This helps improve the plant’s overall health, prevents the spread of diseases, and eliminates potential safety hazards.
  • Shaping and Size Control: Gardeners prune plants to maintain their desired shape, size, and structure. They selectively trim back branches to encourage balanced growth and prevent overcrowding. This is especially important for shrubs, hedges, and topiaries, where precise shaping is desired.
  • Thinning: Thinning involves removing selected branches or shoots to increase airflow and sunlight penetration within the plant. This practice helps reduce the risk of diseases, encourages better flowering and fruiting, and maintains an open and healthy plant structure.
  • Rejuvenation Pruning: For certain plants that become overgrown, gardeners may employ rejuvenation pruning. This involves the more drastic cutting back of the plant to stimulate new growth and restore its vigour. However, rejuvenation pruning is typically done in stages over several years to avoid stressing the plant excessively.
  • Training and Espaliering: In some cases, gardeners prune plants for training purposes, such as creating espaliers or training fruit trees along a wall or trellis. This requires specific pruning techniques to encourage horizontal growth and maintain the desired shape.
  • Clean Cuts: Gardeners make clean cuts just above a bud or lateral branch to promote proper healing and minimize the risk of disease entry. The angle and location of the cut depend on the type of plant and the desired outcome.
  • Disposal: After pruning, gardeners collect and dispose of the pruned branches and plant material appropriately. This may involve composting, chipping, or disposing of the waste as per local guidelines.

It’s important to note that different plant species have specific pruning requirements, so it’s advisable to research and understand the particular needs of the plants in your garden. Proper pruning techniques not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of plants but also contribute to their overall health and longevity.

3. Watering And Irrigation

Watering and irrigation are crucial practices in maintaining healthy plants by providing them with adequate moisture. Here’s an overview of watering and irrigation techniques used by gardeners:


Gardeners regularly monitor the moisture levels of the soil to determine when watering is necessary. They can use various methods such as visual inspection, testing soil moisture with a finger or a moisture meter, or observing plant signs like wilted leaves or dry soil surfaces.

Watering Techniques: 

Gardeners employ different watering techniques depending on the plant’s needs, the type of garden, and environmental conditions. The most common methods include:

  • Hand Watering: Using a watering can, hose, or watering wand to manually apply water to the base of the plants. This method allows for targeted watering and can be adjusted based on the specific water requirements of each plant.
  • Sprinklers: Overhead sprinklers provide water over a wider area, making them suitable for larger garden beds or lawns. They can be set on timers or operated manually.
  • Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation involves the use of a network of tubes or emitters placed near the plant roots, delivering water directly to the soil in a slow and controlled manner. This method reduces water wastage and is highly efficient.
  • Soaker Hoses: Similar to drip irrigation, soaker hoses release water along their length, allowing water to seep slowly into the soil. They are particularly useful for long, narrow garden beds.
  • Automated Systems: Gardeners may install automated irrigation systems, such as sprinkler systems or drip irrigation systems, which are controlled by timers or moisture sensors. These systems can be programmed to water at specific times and quantities, ensuring consistent watering even when the gardener is not present.

Watering Considerations: 

Gardeners take several factors into account when determining watering schedules and quantities:

  • Plant Needs: Different plants have varying water requirements. Gardeners consider the specific needs of each plant species, including their drought tolerance, growth stage, and natural habitat.
  • Soil Type and Drainage: Soil composition influences how water is retained or drained. Gardeners adjust the watering frequency and duration based on whether the soil is sandy, loamy, or clayey, as well as the drainage capabilities of the soil.
  • Weather Conditions: Gardeners adapt their watering practices according to weather conditions such as temperature, humidity, wind, and rainfall. Hot and dry periods may require more frequent watering, while cool and rainy periods may necessitate reduced watering.

Water Conservation: 

Gardeners strive to conserve water by implementing water-saving techniques:

  • Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around plants helps retain soil moisture, reduce evaporation, and suppress weed growth.
  • Watering at Optimal Times: Watering plants in the early morning or late afternoon allows moisture to penetrate the soil before evaporation rates rise, maximizing water absorption.
  • Avoiding Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to root rot, nutrient leaching, and other problems. Gardeners ensure not to water excessively and monitor soil moisture levels to prevent waterlogging.
  • Proper Irrigation System Design: Well-designed irrigation systems, such as drip systems, reduce water waste by delivering water directly to plant roots, minimizing evaporation and runoff.

By employing appropriate watering and irrigation practices, gardeners help plants thrive, conserve water resources, and promote sustainable gardening practices.

4. Weeding

Weeding is an essential task performed by gardeners to remove unwanted plants, known as weeds, from garden beds, lawns, and other cultivated areas. Weeds compete with desired plants for nutrients, water, sunlight, and space, and can hinder their growth. Here’s an overview of the weeding process:


Gardeners first need to identify the weeds in their gardens. Weeds can vary in appearance, growth habits, and characteristics. Gardeners learn to differentiate between weeds and desired plants to avoid accidentally removing the wrong plants.

Manual Weed Removal: 

The most common method of weeding is manual removal by hand. Gardeners use tools like hand weeders, hoes, or trowels to dig out weeds from the root, ensuring their complete removal. It is important to grasp the weed as close to the base as possible to minimize regrowth.

Proper Technique: 

When manually removing weeds, gardeners aim to extract the entire weed, including the roots, to prevent regrowth. They loosen the soil around the weed using their tools and gently pull or dig out the weed from the root system. Care is taken not to disturb the surrounding desired plants.

Weed Control Methods:

 In addition to manual weeding, gardeners may employ other methods to control weeds, depending on the severity of the weed problem and the gardener’s preferences:

  • Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves, around plants and garden beds helps suppress weed growth by blocking sunlight and preventing weed seeds from germinating.
  • Weed Barrier Fabric: Some gardeners use weed barrier fabric or landscape fabric to inhibit weed growth. The fabric is laid down before planting and prevents weeds from emerging through the soil. Plants are then planted through holes cut in the fabric.
  • Herbicides: In certain situations, gardeners may choose to use herbicides to control weeds. Herbicides are chemicals designed to kill or suppress weeds. It is important to follow the instructions carefully, considering the type of weed and the herbicide’s suitability for the specific garden area.

Regular Maintenance: 

Weeding is an ongoing process as new weeds can emerge over time. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep weed populations under control. Gardeners inspect the garden regularly, removing any newly sprouted weeds before they have a chance to establish and spread.

Preventative Measures: 

To minimize weed growth, gardeners take preventive measures, including:

  • Crop Rotation: Rotating crops in vegetable gardens can disrupt weed life cycles and reduce weed problems over time.
  • Proper Spacing: Providing adequate spacing between plants helps reduce competition for resources and minimizes weed growth.
  • Healthy Soil: Maintaining healthy soil with good fertility and structure helps promote the growth of desired plants, making them more resistant to weed competition.


Gardeners collect the removed weeds and dispose of them appropriately. Weeds with mature seeds are often discarded in a way that prevents them from spreading and germinating elsewhere.

By regularly weeding their gardens, gardeners can maintain healthier and more productive plants, reduce competition, and improve the overall aesthetics of their outdoor spaces.

5. Fertilizing And Soil Management

Fertilizing and soil management are important practices employed by gardeners to provide essential nutrients to plants and maintain healthy soil conditions. Here’s an overview of fertilizing and soil management techniques:

Soil Testing:

Before fertilizing, gardeners often conduct soil tests to assess nutrient levels, pH, and overall soil composition. Soil testing helps determine which nutrients may be lacking or in excess, allowing for targeted fertilization.

Fertilizer Selection: 

Based on the soil test results and the specific needs of the plants being cultivated, gardeners select appropriate fertilizers. Fertilizers provide essential nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), as well as secondary and micronutrients required for healthy plant growth.

  • Organic Fertilizers: Gardeners may choose organic fertilizers derived from natural sources like compost, manure, bone meal, or fish emulsion. These organic options release nutrients slowly and improve soil structure and fertility over time.
  • Inorganic or Synthetic Fertilizers: Inorganic fertilizers are often available as granules, powders, or liquid solutions. They provide nutrients in concentrated forms and can be readily absorbed by plants. Gardeners must carefully follow the instructions for application rates and timing to avoid over-fertilization.

Fertilizer Application: 

Gardeners apply fertilizers in a manner that ensures efficient nutrient uptake and minimizes waste or environmental impacts:

  • Broadcasting: Granular fertilizers are spread evenly over the soil surface, followed by gentle incorporation into the top layer of soil. This method is suitable for larger garden areas or lawns.
  • Banding: Fertilizers are applied in narrow bands along rows or around individual plants. This technique concentrates nutrients near the root zone, optimizing absorption.
  • Foliar Feeding: Nutrient-rich solutions are sprayed onto the leaves of plants. Foliar feeding provides a quick nutrient boost and can be beneficial when rapid nutrient uptake is necessary.
  • Controlled-Release Fertilizers: These fertilizers, available in granular or pellet form, release nutrients slowly over an extended period, providing a steady supply to plants. They are particularly useful for container gardening or situations where regular fertilization may be challenging.

Timing and Frequency: 

Gardeners follow recommended guidelines for fertilizing frequency and timing, considering factors such as plant growth stage, weather conditions, and specific fertilizer formulations. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances, environmental pollution, or harm to plants, so it’s important to follow instructions and avoid excessive application.

Soil Amendments: 

Gardeners often incorporate soil amendments to improve soil structure, drainage, and fertility:

  • Organic Matter: Adding compost, well-rotted manure, or other organic materials enhances soil structure, promotes beneficial microbial activity, and increases nutrient-holding capacity.
  • pH Adjustment: If the soil pH is too acidic or alkaline, gardeners may amend it with lime to raise pH or sulphur to lower pH, respectively. Adjusting the pH helps ensure optimal nutrient availability to plants.
  • Mulching: Applying organic mulch helps retain soil moisture, moderate soil temperatures, and gradually enriches the soil as it breaks down.

Crop Rotation: 

To manage soil fertility and reduce pest and disease pressures, gardeners often practice crop rotation. Rotating different plant families in specific sequences helps break pest cycles and prevents nutrient depletion from continuous cultivation of the same crop.

Watering Considerations: 

Proper watering practices, such as avoiding overwatering and ensuring sufficient soil moisture, contribute to effective nutrient uptake by plants. Gardeners coordinate fertilization schedules with watering routines to optimize nutrient absorption.

By implementing appropriate fertilizing and soil management practices, gardeners ensure that plants receive essential nutrients, promote soil health, and enhance the overall productivity and vitality of their gardens

6. Pest And Disease Control

Pest and disease control is an important aspect of gardening to protect plants from harmful insects, pathogens, and other pests that can damage or destroy them. Here’s an overview of pest and disease control techniques employed by gardeners:


  • Plant Selection: Gardeners choose plant varieties that are resistant or tolerant to common pests and diseases prevalent in their area.
  • Healthy Plants: Starting with healthy, disease-free plants reduces the risk of introducing pests and diseases into the garden.
  • Crop Rotation: Rotating crops and not planting the same species in the same location year after year helps disrupt pest life cycles and reduces disease buildup in the soil.
  • Sanitation: Maintaining cleanliness in the garden by removing fallen leaves, plant debris, and weeds reduce hiding places for pests and eliminates potential disease sources.
  • Quarantine: New plants or materials brought into the garden are quarantined and monitored for pests or diseases before being integrated into the garden.

Cultural Practices:

  • Proper Plant Spacing: Providing adequate space between plants promotes good air circulation, which can help prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Water Management: Watering plants at the base rather than overhead reduces humidity levels, preventing the development and spread of fungal diseases.
  • Pruning: Removing diseased or infested plant parts, such as infected leaves or branches, helps contain the spread of diseases and pests.
  • Weed Control: Keeping the garden free of weeds reduces potential habitats and food sources for pests.
  • Mulching: Applying organic mulch around plants can act as a physical barrier, deter pests, and prevent soil-borne diseases from splashing onto leaves.

Biological Control:

  • Beneficial Insects: Attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps can help control pest populations naturally.
  • Birds and Bats: Providing birdhouses and bat boxes can attract these natural predators that feed on insects.
  • Biological Pesticides: Using biopesticides, which are derived from natural sources like bacteria, fungi, or plant extracts, can help control specific pests without harming beneficial organisms.

Mechanical and Physical Control:

  • Handpicking: Physically removing pests, such as caterpillars or slugs, by hand is effective for small infestations.
  • Traps: Placing traps, such as sticky traps or pheromone traps, can help monitor and catch pests.
  • Barriers: Using physical barriers like netting or row covers protect plants from pests, such as birds or insects.
  • Water Sprays: Strong water sprays or blasts of water can dislodge and remove pests like aphids from plants.

Chemical Control:

  • Pesticides: In severe cases, gardeners may choose to use chemical pesticides as a last resort. They should select pesticides labelled for the specific pests and follow instructions carefully, considering safety precautions, application rates, and timing. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies prioritize the judicious and targeted use of pesticides.

Regular Monitoring:

  • Gardeners regularly inspect plants for signs of pests or diseases, such as chewed leaves, wilting, discolouration, or abnormal growth. Early detection allows for prompt intervention.

It’s important to balance pest and disease control with the preservation of beneficial insects and the overall health of the garden ecosystem. Integrated approaches that combine multiple control techniques are often the most effective and environmentally friendly ways to manage pests and diseases.

7. Landscape Design And Maintenance

Landscape design and maintenance involve planning, creating, and caring for outdoor spaces to enhance their beauty, functionality, and sustainability. Here’s an overview of landscape design and maintenance practices:

Landscape Design:

  • Site Analysis: Gardeners assess the site’s characteristics, including topography, soil conditions, climate, and available sunlight. They consider these factors when selecting suitable plants and designing the layout.
  • Functional Design: Gardeners consider how the outdoor space will be used and create functional areas such as seating areas, pathways, and play areas. They design for optimal traffic flow and usability.
  • Plant Selection: Gardeners choose plants based on their suitability for the climate, soil conditions, and desired aesthetic. They consider factors like plant size, growth habits, bloom time, colour, and maintenance requirements.
  • Hardscape Elements: Gardeners incorporate non-living elements like walkways, patios, decks, fences, and water features to enhance the design and provide structure to the landscape.
  • Sustainability: Sustainable design practices, such as selecting native plants, incorporating water-saving irrigation systems, and using environmentally friendly materials, are often considered to minimize environmental impact.


  • Preparation: Gardeners prepare the site by clearing existing vegetation, levelling the ground, and making any necessary soil amendments.
  • Planting: They carefully plant trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants following proper planting techniques, ensuring appropriate spacing and depth.
  • Hardscape Installation: Gardeners construct and install hardscape features, such as walkways, walls, and structures, using appropriate materials and techniques.
  • Irrigation: If necessary, they install irrigation systems to ensure proper watering and efficient water use.

Landscape Maintenance:

  • Pruning and Trimming: Gardeners regularly prune and trim plants to maintain their shape, promote healthy growth, and remove dead or diseased branches.
  • Weeding: They remove weeds regularly to prevent competition for nutrients and to maintain a tidy appearance.
  • Mulching: Applying mulch around plants helps conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Fertilizing: Gardeners fertilize plants as needed to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth. They follow appropriate fertilization schedules and methods.
  • Pest and Disease Control: They monitor plants for pests and diseases, taking preventive measures and implementing control strategies when necessary.
  • Lawn Care: If there is a lawn area, gardeners mow, aerate, and fertilize the grass to keep it healthy and well-maintained.
  • Seasonal Maintenance: Gardeners perform seasonal tasks such as planting seasonal flowers, cleaning up fallen leaves, and winterizing the landscape as needed.
  • Irrigation Maintenance: They inspect and maintain irrigation systems, adjusting watering schedules and repairing any leaks or malfunctions.

Regular Monitoring:

  • Gardeners regularly observe the landscape, looking for signs of plant stress, pest infestations, or other issues. Early detection allows for timely intervention and prevention of potential problems.

By implementing landscape design and maintenance practices, gardeners create beautiful outdoor spaces that are functional, sustainable, and enjoyable year-round. Regular care and monitoring ensure that the landscape remains healthy, vibrant, and well-maintained.


In conclusion, landscape design and maintenance are essential practices for creating and caring for outdoor spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and sustainable. Gardeners apply various techniques and considerations to achieve these goals.

During the design phase, gardeners analyze the site, consider its characteristics, and plan the layout accordingly. They select suitable plants, incorporate hardscape elements, and prioritize sustainability by choosing native plants, water-saving irrigation systems, and environmentally friendly materials.

During installation, gardeners prepare the site, plant vegetation, install hardscape features, and set up irrigation systems if needed. Attention is given to proper planting techniques, spacing, and irrigation to ensure healthy growth.

In terms of maintenance, gardeners undertake pruning, trimming, and weeding to maintain plant health and appearance. They apply mulch, fertilizers, and pest control measures as necessary, while also caring for lawns and monitoring irrigation systems. Regular monitoring helps detect and address issues early on, ensuring the landscape’s long-term vitality.

By incorporating these practices, gardeners create outdoor spaces that are not only visually appealing but also functional, sustainable, and enjoyable for users. Landscape design and maintenance contribute to the overall well-being of plants, the environment, and the individuals who interact with the landscape.

For gardening services, contact gardener camberwell.


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