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Yard Worker Duties and Responsibilities

The type of organization a yard worker is employed by determines their exact duties and responsibilities. Based on job listings we analyzed, a yard worker’s duties typically involve:

Prune Plants, Trees, and Shrubs A key part of a yard worker’s daily duties is to prune and care for plants, shrubs, trees, and lawns within the gardens they’re tending, making sure they’re cut back for the colder seasons.

Maintain Landscape Areas Yard workers plant and maintain the landscaped areas they’ve been assigned, checking that plants are healthy and thriving and that any necessary repairs are carried out efficiently.

Apply Fertilizers and Pesticides If certified to do so, yard workers ensure that the correct fertilizers are used in the area and that pesticides are applied to protect plants from insect damage.

Operate Ground Maintenance Equipment Yard workers operate the necessary equipment to maintain landscaped areas, such as lawn mowers, chainsaws, trimmers, and leaf blowers.

Activate Irrigation Systems Yard workers check that irrigation systems are working effectively and repair any problems that occur to ensure the plants stay healthy and hydrated.


Yard Worker Skills and Qualifications

Yard workers have strong interpersonal skills, can follow orders and instructions clearly, and work efficiently under deadlines and schedules. There are no formal requirements to become a yard worker, although formal education is preferred by some employers, as are the following abilities:

  • Physical fitness – yard work can be physically demanding, requiring long hours of labor often in extreme weather and strength to handle heavy trees, shrubs, and landscaping equipment, so physical fitness is critically important
  • Creative thinking – yard workers plan and landscape, so they need creativity and a talent for visualization to understand how plants and trees will work together before planting
  • Self-motivation – yard workers work independently with minimal supervision, so self-motivation and time management are vital skills to this job
  • Mechanical skills – yard workers sometimes work with power tools, such as chainsaws, so experience properly operating these tools is useful to the job

Yard Worker Education and Training

There are no formal requirements to become a yard worker, although some employers may require a high school diploma. Most of the training for this role is gained on the job. Certification in landscape design, horticulture, or arboriculture is advantageous to an applicant’s resume. Most states require licensing for yard workers who apply pesticides and fertilizers, which involves passing a test on the proper use and disposal of these chemicals. The National Association of Landscape Professionals provides seven certifications in various related areas to landscaping for different experience levels.


Yard Worker Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for yard workers is nearly $24,000, according to PayScale. Yard workers in the 10th percentile earn around $13,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $44,000 a year. The hiring company is the biggest factor affecting pay for this job, with location and prior experience also impacting salary levels. Very few employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this sector will grow 11 percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you learn more about a career as a yard worker:

Yard Worker RED-HOT Career Guide – this book prepares readers for a career as a yard worker, with over 2,500 interview questions covering over 70 topics, from problem-solving to building relationships and time management

Arboriculture and Landscapes – over 4,000 members are part of this LinkedIn group, which connects people in the landscaping sector to enable them to network and discuss issues pertaining to this subject. For yard workers beginning their career, this group is the perfect place to learn new techniques and ideas

Step-by-Step Landscaping – the latest edition of this best-selling landscaping book is packed with over 400 pages of new material, including beautiful photographs, 100 step-by-step project ideas, and an encyclopedia with 95 photos to help identify different species of plants

Encyclopedia of Landscape Design: Planning, Building, and Planting Your Perfect Outdoor Space – yard workers will find this inspiring reference guide useful when planning, building, and planting the ideal outdoor space. This book helps readers understand the fundamentals of landscaping and offers extensive landscape inspiration and step-by-step instructions for building landscape structures