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What is the difference between a Gardener and a Garden Consultant?

A professional Garden Consultant will give you independent advice. Their advice is unbiased because they are being paid to only give advice and do not assume that they will be the Contractor who actually does the manual work. Professional Garden Consultants will often have an area of interest that they specialise in (such as wildflowers etc.) or offer general advice such as writing a maintenance schedule.

In contrast, gardeners are Contractors who will offer advice about the work you have asked them to complete. Their public liability insurance includes an element of professional indemnity for the advice they give you only when conducting the manual work you have asked them to carry out.

Garden Consultants will likely have an interest in a particular topic or experience relevant to their specialist subject and/or relevant qualifications.

What services do Garden Consultants offer?

A Garden Consultant may offer:
- Garden assessment or surveys
- General garden advice
- Project management, costings, sourcing etc
- Maintenance schedules
- Training (either formal or informal 1-2-1 training)
- Garden tours/guides
- Public speaking
- Research
- Guest panelist for Q&A
- Presenting (At least 2 TGG members have presented on national television)
- Garden design

Who might need a Garden Consultant?

You might need a Garden Consultant if (for example):
- You own a large garden or grounds. Proper and timely management can reduce wasted effort and reduce costs.
- You are a Property Management company or organisation that needs independent advice before spending client funds.
- You own land of special interest. For example, there are laws affecting the proper management of woodland.
- You want to restore a garden of historical interest or character.
- You want someone to teach you how to maintain your own garden.
- You want a maintenance schedule that you can give to staff or use yourself.
- You've got ideas for your garden and want someone to discuss them with before you start.
- You want to start growing vegetables but need guidance getting started.
- You just want a second opinion on a garden matter.
- You need an invasive species formally identified.
- You have organised a garden party/event and want a qualified gardener to give demonstrations or answer questions from your friends and/or guests.

How much do Garden Consultants charge?

A Garden Consultant will charge at least as much as they would if they were working as a Contractor (according to our 2016 member survey the average daily turnover of a qualified gardener with at least 10 years experience is over £280 per day). Garden Consultants are typically well qualified, experienced and successful gardeners who will value their time accordingly. Consultancy is often one-off, holistic work and their charges will reflect this.

Whatever kind of consultant you look for - project managers, building assessors, tree surgeons etc - all charge an average of £500 per day.

As a result, fees typically start from £280 per day (plus incidental expenses/sundries etc.) depending on the gardeners experience and specialist expertise/qualifications. Special rates may be arranged for longer projects or common enquiries. A fixed fee may be agreed for a short site visit and verbal advice only.

However, remember that their objective is to give you information that will help you save money in the long term. Ultimately, their value is in the fact that it is the most efficient way to have a qualified and experienced professional dedicate their time to your garden with a temporary and flexible contract.

Many professional affinity groups will have Contracting members and Consultant members. For example, if you need advice about a tree you can contact the Arboricultural Association who have Tree Consultants and Contracting Tree Surgeons.

What will I get?

Garden Consultants will typically structure their time as follows:
- An initial consultation. This is often free but may be either face to face or via telephone and no advice will be offered.
- A site assessment for measurements, soil samples and observations (A fixed fee/half day rate may be agreed for a short site assessment and verbal advice),
- A report with recommendations, fact sheets and research. Garden Consultants will often provide their advice in a written format that you can refer back to later.
- Demonstrations,
- Work cost estimates,
- Discussion/summary and the chance to ask questions,
- Review and telephone/email support as appropriate.

What is the entry criteria for a Consultant Member of The Gardeners Guild (CMTGG)?

The Gardeners Guild has a Consultant category of membership for qualified and experienced gardeners who offer standalone, unbiased horticultural advice. Consultant members can be easily identified as they abbreviate their membership with the letters CMTGG after their name.

Our minimum acceptance criteria for gardeners who want to be listed in our Consultants category is among the highest in horticulture.

Applicants must qualify for 17 or more points via a combination of experience AND at least one horticultural qualification as follows:

- HND/Foundation Degree/Bachelors Degree/Botanic Garden Diploma/RHS Masters or higher: max 10 points
- HNC/Level 4: 9 points

- Level 3 e.g. NDH, RHS Diploma/Advanced Certificate, Edexcel NCH: 7 points
- Level 2 Horticultural qualification e.g. City & Guilds, NCH, RHS Certificate: 5 points

- For each year of experience as a full time self-employed or employed horticulturalist: 1point

Qualifications are not cumulative. Only the highest qualification will count. Higher education qualifications typically include work experience as well.

Because our entry standards are so high, applications are expected to be low. However, you can use our Member Register of Qualified Gardeners to search for successful applicants.

Some examples of paid consultancy work our members have been invited to apply for:
- Paid to feature in gardening segments for ITV, Sky, BBC and other production companies as experts, judges or contestants.
- Be paid experts available to answer questions from attendees at an exhibition.
- Apply to be paid experts assessing qualification standards for Ofqual.
- Direct and oversee unqualified gardeners in a large garden to ensure timely and correct maintenance.
- Be part of a regular radio gardening phone-in advice panel to name a few!


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