What’s a garden coach?

Beckie Fox

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There are people who coach people in sports, business and many other activities. Garden coaches help people become better gardeners. A coach is an extra tool for people who like to garden, but need some expert guidance to help them make the most of their landscape. Coaching is a collaborative process with personalized advice and hands-on training.

“The Old Gardener” oil on canvas by Robert Reid, circa 1923. Brooklyn Museum

How is a garden coach different from a landscaper?

Coaches teach homeowners how to care for their gardens; landscapers are hired by homeowners to actually do the work in the garden.

Who hires a coach?

Anyone with a garden who likes to garden and has questions! Coaching is especially helpful for:
• New homeowners who need to know what’s growing in their garden and how to care for it.
• Experienced gardeners who want feedback on new garden projects they’re planning to undertake.
• People hoping to take on more of their own gardening, but don’t have the extensive knowledge or skills and need some one-on-one advice.

A garden coach—or mentor or tutor—points you in the right direction and shows you how to get started. Think of a visit from a garden coach as a horticultural house call.

What to look for in a good garden coach?

You want an experienced gardener who knows a lot about plants and their care. Look for someone who has studied horticulture and landscape design or is a Master Gardener. Coaches need to be good communicators, too.

How does it work?

The coach will arrange a convenient time to visit you in your garden. They will answer your questions, offer specific suggestions for problem areas and advise you with anything else you need help with. For instance, you may want offer tips on how to make your garden more low maintenance, more visually interesting, more environmentally responsible. The coach should prepare a report as a record of what was discussed, including specific plant care information, a pruning timetable, soil improvement recommendations—basically, a customized schedule with useful information to help you keep your garden on track.

To get the most out of a coaching session, think in advance about your gardening goals, particular challenges, how much time you want to devote to gardening and any particular design or plant questions prior to the visit.

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5 thoughts on “What’s a garden coach?”

  1. My charge for an intitial consultation is $90 for 90 minutes. I do require that the homeowners take notes-they will see the value in time.

    I then brainstorm and provide custom shopping lists for them to suit their site conditions. I will shop for them if they have no interest.

    And place the pots where they should be planted. My experience and breadth of knowledge is immense compared to the new homeowner. I hold their hands until they can see their visions take shape.

  2. While it is very true that “Coaching is a collaborative process with personalized advice and hands-on training”, it is also important to differentiate between coaching, consulting, designing and landscaping.

    The way I see it is that a garden coach is there to help you the gardener find your way and stay on track. A garden consultant is an expert who comes to your garden, answers your questions, gives advice and then leaves. A garden designer designs a new garden or overhauls the old one with plans and plants and layout etc. A landscaper implements the new or renovated garden. The coach sees you through the whole process, such as figuring out how to include a vegetable garden in your existing garden, or implement a Japanese garden in your front yard. The coach helps someone who wants to do it themselves. Often the garden coach will wear more than one hat!

    Full garden coach services should include the following:

    1. Assistance in defining and clarifying your goals and plans for your garden and helping you stay on track.

    2. A reminder service for the monthly gardening tasks

    3. On call consulting to assist with advice and finding answers to problems

    For instance, you might find it very useful to hire a garden coach if you have a garden project but you don't know how or where to start on it, such as a new garden design. Alternatively, you may have a special project that you have started but things seem to have ground to a halt. Your coach will help you to overcome any obstacles and to come up with a plan, a strategy and a schedule.


  3. A Garden Coach is someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about garden plants, proper soil requirements and the importance of good drainage. As well, they should have a good 'eye' for design and be able to advise the homeowner regarding individual plant care or to work with the homeowner to help them achieve a beautiful outdoor space. This could include hardscape and water features, as well.

    A Garden Coach can be on-site to work with the homeowner on a weekly basis, if needed, but, the most important requirement is that you choose a Coach who has had 'hands-on' experience and is knowledgeable! Latin names of the plants should be able to be provided. That way, the homeowner can find the exact plant at the nursery, should they wish to shop for their plants themselves.

    Happy gardening!


  4. What a helpful article and I wanted to respond to two things:

    First, the comment in the article saying "the coach should prepare a report…": I prefer to be flexible and to do whatever the client needs. If they just have a few questions about what to do/add/change in their garden, then they may not require a report. Simply a one-hour visit with a walk-around and verbal discussion of the garden would suffice. If that were the case, I would suggest the client take notes. I also offer to answer any questions they forgot to ask by e-mail once the consultation is over. Folks who want more information or detail could be supplied with a report including maintenance, drawings and/or planting schedules, but of course this would require more work on my part and thus a higher cost.

    Second, the question in the previous comment: I charge by the hour for all services including visits, reports, drawings etc. I don't charge for mileage or travel time.




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