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Wednesday 22 May 2019

'Passion comes before profit' - landscaper talks wages and says 'you won't get rich gardening'

Barry Lupton works in the landscape gardening sector
Barry Lupton works in the landscape gardening sector

Anne Marie Walsh

Barry Lupton, a landscape gardener based in Dublin, does not recommend that anyone goes into the horticulture business for the wages.

He works as a business development manager at Peter O'Brien and Sons Landscaping.

"In Ireland, the business is operated as a passionate pursuit," he said. "I worked in Holland for two years in the nursery sector and it was a business first. They could have been selling packets of biscuits.

"It just happened that it was plants."

He worked as a manager at Dunnes, before travelling the world and studying landscape design in the UK. He retrained in web design during the recession.

Although he said he's not motivated by money, he's never struggled.

"Wages in landscaping and horticulture have always remained stubbornly low," he said.

"This is the result of a variety of factors. Notably, the seasonal nature of work and the unpredictability of weather have significant negative impacts on the regularity of work and profits that can be achieved. This in turn depresses wage levels as companies simply can't afford to pay any more."

He said the lack of regulation in the sector also plays a major role.

Other factors include hobbyist practitioners, he said. These are people offering services, but who aren't operating businesses with all the usual costs - and professionals can't compete.

However, he's hopeful things are changing for the better because TV shows and garden events have improved the image of landscape work.

Irish Independent

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