Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance Contractors and Managers - What They Do

Contractors and supervisors, landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services supervise and co-ordinate the activities of workers in the following unit groups: Nursery and greenhouse workers (8432) and Landscaping and grounds maintenance labourers (8612). They are employed by landscaping companies, cemeteries, lawn care and tree service companies, nurseries and greenhouses and by landscaping operations of public works departments and private establishments. Contractors may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Supervise and co-ordinate the activities of workers who maintain lawns, gardens, athletic fields, golf courses, cemeteries, parks, interior plantscapes and other landscaped areas
  • Tender bids on contracts for landscaping and grounds maintenance work
  • Plan and estimate the materials and labour requirements for individual contracts
  • Organize the planting and maintenance of trees, gardens, lawns, shrubs and hedges and the construction and installation of fences, decks, patios, walkways and retaining walls
  • Establish work schedules and procedures and co-ordinate activities with other work units
  • Resolve work-related problems and prepare and submit progress and other reports
  • Requisition supplies and materials
  • Maintain financial and personnel records
  • Hire staff and train workers in job duties and company policies
  • May manage operations of own company
  • May provide snow removal services during winter months
  • May perform the same duties as workers supervised.

Job titles

  • park maintenance supervisor
  • grounds maintenance contractor
  • interior plantscaping contractor
  • landscaping contractor
  • tree service contractor
  • landscaping supervisor
  • lawn care contractor
  • landscaping foreman/woman
  • nursery foreman/woman
  • greenhouse supervisor
  • horticulture workers supervisor
  • groundskeeping supervisor
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • A college diploma, specialized courses or industry-related training and certification in landscaping and horticulture are usually required.
  • Experience as a landscape or horticulture supervisor or as a landscape or horticulture technician is required.
  • Experience in the type of work supervised is required.
  • A provincial licence to apply chemical fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides may be required.

Essential Skills


  • Read text entries on product labels, e.g. read instructions, warnings, application notes and other text on pesticide and fertilizer labels. (1)
  • Read short text entries in administrative and reporting forms, e.g. contractors and supervisors in grounds maintenance may read about clients' lawn care needs in seasonal contract forms. (1)
  • Read email and letters from suppliers, subcontractors, colleagues and clients, e.g. read email and faxed letters from clients to learn about work to be done on their properties. (2)
  • Read magazines and association newsletters, e.g. read articles in magazines, such as Canadian Gardening and Landscaping & Groundskeeping, to keep current on industry trends and learn about new equipment. (3)
  • Read manuals to learn how to operate equipment, e.g. read operating manuals to learn how to set-up and operate riding mowers. (3)
  • May read software manuals, e.g. read software manuals to learn how to create 3D drawings of trees, shrubs and landscape features, such as retaining walls. (3)
  • Read a variety of landscaping and gardening guides, e.g. read gardening guides to learn about climate zones and the characteristics and care of annuals and perennials. (3)
  • Read tenders and requests for proposals, e.g. read tenders to learn about project specifications, financial terms and safety and environmental protection requirements. (4)

Document use

  • Identify symbols, icons and pictograms, e.g. locate hazard symbols on the packaging of toxic products. (1)
  • Locate data on labels, e.g. locate data, such as concentration levels and expiry dates, on the labels of fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides. (1)
  • Locate data in lists, tables and schedules, e.g. locate names, plant types, dates, times and sizes in specification tables. (2)
  • Locate data in forms, e.g. scan log sheets to locate information about hours worked, tasks performed and problems encountered. (3)
  • Complete forms, such as tender applications, contracts, evaluations, invoices and purchase orders, e.g. record numerical information and mark checkboxes on assessment forms to report problem weeds, grasses, soil conditions, insects and diseases. (3)
  • Study assembly drawings, e.g. study assembly drawings to understand the placement and orientation of parts in irrigation pumps. (3)
  • Interpret complex landscape design drawings, e.g. interpret information-rich 3D renderings of landscape projects to locate fixtures, such as decks, pools and retaining walls and the placement of trees, shrubs and other vegetation. (4)


  • Write reminders and short notes, e.g. write short notes to remind workers of unfinished job tasks. (1)
  • Write short comments in log books and entry forms, e.g. write brief comments in the recommendations section of lawn assessment forms. (1)
  • Write email and letters to suppliers, clients, co-workers and subcontractors, e.g. write email to ask suppliers about products and delivery schedules. (2)
  • Write letters of discipline and performance evaluations detailing the actions and performance of workers under their supervision. (3)
  • Write comprehensive instructions to describe tasks to be performed, materials, products and equipment to be used, timeframes to be achieved and other requirements. (3)
  • May write contracts and proposals outlining work to be completed, timelines, payment schedules and caveats. (4)
  • May write advertising copy, e.g. may write promotional materials, such as brochures, to promote their firm's products and services. (4)


  • Receive cash, cheque, credit and debit card payments and provide change. (1)
  • Measure sizes, distances, angles and volumes using common hand tools, such as tapes, spirit levels and graduated containers. (1)
  • Compare a variety of measurements, such as dimensions, slopes, angles and moisture levels, to specifications. (1)
  • May adjust daily work schedules to accommodate rush jobs and jobs that take longer than estimated. (2)
  • Manage small inventories of landscaping and grounds maintenance tools and supplies. They establish desirable inventory levels and calculate turnover rates. They adjust inventory levels to reflect seasonal needs. (2)
  • Calculate performance indicators, such as average sales per client and sales per employee. (2)
  • Estimate the amount of material required to carry out projects by considering factors, such as specifications and wastage. (2)
  • Calculate and verify invoice and receipt amounts. They multiply numbers of hours worked by hourly rates, add equipment and material costs, calculate applicable taxes and total the amounts. (3)
  • Determine the best value among competing tenders for subcontracted work. They perform comparative analyses of data submitted by several contractors and determine which bids offer the best prices and quality. (3)
  • May calculate amounts for accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliations and summaries in general ledgers. (3)
  • Take precise measurements using specialized tools, e.g. take precise site measurements using laser distance meters and transits. (3)
  • Calculate quantities of materials, e.g. calculate the area of diseased sod that needs to be treated with fungicide, amount of dilute solution needed for the job and the volume of fungicide and water needed to make the solution. (3)
  • Collect and analyze operational and financial data, e.g. they analyze financial data to draw conclusions about the profitability of the products and services they provide. (3)
  • Estimate times to carry out job tasks, e.g. tree service contractors estimate times needed to remove and relocate trees by considering the size of the trees, the experience and skills of their crew and the likelihood of delays. (3)
  • May prepare and verify monthly financial statements and calculate amounts for payroll, utility and tax accounts. (4)
  • Prepare and monitor budgets. They forecast monthly expenditures and revenues and provide for possible cost overruns and delays in the receipt of revenues. (4)
  • May create and modify schedules, e.g. prepare calendars and crew assignment schedules for grass cutting, flower planting, tree trimming, fertilizing, shrub bed weeding, tilling, edging, raking, mulching and pruning at multiple client sites. (4)
  • Lay out designs and calculate dimensions for landscape construction, e.g. determine locations to place shrubs, trees, flowers, fences, decks, patios and other landscape structures using measurements from landscape drawings. (4)

Oral communication

  • Talk to suppliers to learn about delivery times and the cost of products. (1)
  • Exchange information with labourers, e.g. explain to labourers how to mow lawns and weed flower beds. (2)
  • Negotiate prices with suppliers. They negotiate the prices of flowers, trees and shrubs with salespeople and coordinate the delivery of equipment, such as power mowers, with equipment suppliers. (2)
  • Exchange information with clients, e.g. speak with clients about the outcomes of lawn and landscape assessments. (2)
  • Exchange technical information with co-workers, colleagues and suppliers, e.g. discuss technical specifications for the construction of decks and patios with subcontractors. (3)
  • Lead staff meetings and discuss topics, such as project timelines, priorities, schedules, workloads, and health and safety concerns. (3)
  • Negotiate agreements, e.g. negotiate settlement terms with vendors and the fees for large projects with clients. (3)
  • May present to large groups, e.g. landscaping contractors may deliver presentations about innovative landscape design projects at conferences organized by professional associations. (4)


  • Are unable to proceed with landscaping projects due to heavy rains, strong winds and shortages of labour and materials. They advise clients and make schedule changes for their crews. (1)
  • Evaluate the performance of equipment, such as mowers, pruners and leaf blowers. (1)
  • Are unable to locate local suppliers for materials specified in contracts. They contact more distant suppliers until they locate materials and arrange for the fastest possible deliveries. (2)
  • Encounter dissatisfied customers. They speak with the customers about their concerns and attempt to negotiate resolutions by redoing work and offering discounts and refunds, as warranted. (2)
  • Decide which workers to hire and how much to pay them. The select workers based on their expertise and set rates of pay according to workers' job responsibilities, experience and productivity. (2)
  • Select job tasks and duty assignments for workers. They consider the complexities and physical demands of job tasks and the skill, training and supervision required by workers. (2)
  • Select suppliers for landscaping and grounds maintenance materials and equipment. They take into account factors, such as quality, specifications, price and promised delivery dates. (2)
  • Evaluate the performance of workers. They consider factors, such as technical skills, safe work practices and their ability to operate equipment and work co-operatively with others. (2)
  • Locate information about work projects by reading invitations to tender, speaking with customers, reviewing technical drawings and touring job sites. (2)
  • Find information on landscaping and grounds maintenance materials and equipment by speaking with suppliers and colleagues and by reading marketing materials and product specifications. (2)
  • Discover that workers are performing substandard work. They meet with the workers to discuss the substandard work and clarify expectations. They issue letters of reprimand and dismissal as required. (3)
  • Decide what equipment to purchase and lease and the materials to use. They consider warranties, costs, the type of work they undertake and recommendations from others. (3)
  • May choose landscaping and grounds maintenance jobs on which to bid. They consider project scopes, profit margins and their firm's ability to complete the work on time. (3)
  • Assess the appropriateness of machines, equipment and software for particular applications. They identify performance criteria, gather and analyze specifications and consider the expert opinions of others. (3)
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of materials and products for specific applications. They consider factors, such as the health and condition of trees, shrubs, plants and turf. They review information about ingredients, health hazards, handling, storage, disposal and other characteristics of chemical products in Material Safety Data Sheets. (3)
  • Find information about trees, plants and shrubs by reading trade publications, gardening guides and information on suppliers' websites and by speaking with colleagues and horticulturists. (3)
  • Plan and organize job tasks to meet the needs of as many clients as possible, optimize sales and enhance profitability. Their ability to work for several clients at the same time and to set and manage priorities is critical to their jobs. Supervisors plan and organize job tasks to ensure the quality and timely delivery of landscaping and grounds maintenance services. Changes in weather conditions, shortages of labour and materials and other unexpected events force them to frequently reorganize job tasks. (4)

Digital technology

  • May use text messaging applications to exchange information, such as shift schedules with co-workers. (1)
  • May use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
  • May use global positioning systems (GPS) to verify the geographical coordinates of work sites. (1)
  • May use electronic office equipment, such as printers, scanners, fax machines, copiers and postage meters. (1)
  • Use word processing software to write letters, performance appraisals and reports. (2)
  • May use graphics software to illustrate design concepts to clients. (2)
  • May use spreadsheets to create schedules and track costs and revenues. (2)
  • May use databases to enter and retrieve customer information and inventory counts. (2)
  • May use databases to create client mailing lists. (2)
  • May use communications software to exchange email and attachments with customers, suppliers and sub-contractors. (2)
  • Use the Internet to access trade publications and supplier websites for information about trees, plants, fertilizers, biological pesticides, irrigation, masonry materials, equipment and suppliers. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access web blogs and web forums to seek and offer advice about landscape design and products. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by trainers, suppliers and associations. (2)
  • May use laser levels to establish the grade of slopes and the height of retaining walls. (2)
  • Use advanced features of word processing software to create newsletters, marketing materials and presentations. (3)
  • May use advanced features of spreadsheet software to create operating budgets. (3)
  • May use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to input inventories, costs and receivables. (3)
  • May use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to generate financial statements, such as sales summaries and income and expense reports. (3)
  • May use advanced features of computer-assisted design (CAD) software to prepare landscape drawings. The drawings, which can be rendered in 3D, provide details about the dimensions and locations of fixtures, such as decks and retaining walls and the specific locations of trees and shrubs. (3)
  • May use advanced features of project management applications to record activities, assign tasks to workers, schedule activities, balance workloads and print reports. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Contractors and supervisors in landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services coordinate and integrate job tasks with teams of landscaping, horticultural and arboricultural supervisors, technicians, specialists and labourers. They direct, lead, supervise and maintain effective interactions between team members to ensure the quality and timely delivery of landscaping and grounds maintenance services, satisfy clients' needs and enhance profitability.

Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is an integral part of the work of contractors and supervisors in landscaping, grounds maintenance and horticulture services. They are expected to stay abreast of industry trends and further their knowledge of botany, zoology, landscape and plantscape design, construction materials, masonry and maintenance products and equipment. On a day-to-day basis, they learn by talking to colleagues and suppliers, touring trade shows, browsing the Internet and reading trade magazines, professional associations' newsletters, manuals and guides. They also attend conferences, training courses and seminars on topics, such as biological pest control and computer-aided design (CAD) and cost estimation.