Start a gardening career after a back injury?

jesselangdonJuly 12, 2012

Hi Folks,

Up until recently, I have been fired up and gung-ho about changing careers from a mildly interesting computer-based career to a career as a professional gardener. I was about to sign up for an excellent 2 year horticulture program through Edmonds Community college, I've been conducting information interviews, etc. Unfortunately, I just recently tore a back muscle (after trying to lift and move a heavy BBQ pit on my own), had painful back spasms, also had to have an ambulance ride to the hospital, etc.

I'm recovering from this by babying my back, but I'm feeling pretty deflated now about my potential horticulture career change. I had always assumed I would need to be very careful with my back in this field of work, but now I'm wondering if I will be just too prone to back injuries to work as a professional gardener.

What advice can you all give me? Should I be realistic and give up on this idea? Assuming I can truly heal my back, build up my core strength, and learn to be smarter about how I lift heavy things, maybe it's possible?


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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, you have to be fit to garden for money. So it depends on how much ability you recover from this point on.

I took hort. classes at Edmonds during the 1970s.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 8:33PM
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Edmonds has an excellent hort program - I am a graduate myself. I would encourage you to continue your plan to take classes but keep an open mind about your ultimate career path. There are many other choices focusing on plants/landscaping that do not require the heavy physical labor that a position as a professional gardener would demand. Think consultation, coaching, mentoring, estimating, designing, brokering, sales rep, etc. Be sure to take any business or careers classes offered through the program. They can expose you to a lot of possibilities you might not have considered.

FYI, the non-physical labor-directed hort careers tend to pay better than those that are more labor intensive......but many consider it to be a labor of love :-)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 3:10PM
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Fortunately I didn't do permanent damage, as it turns out. It was a torn back muscle (which was extremely painful nevertheless). So there's hope for me I think.

Thanks for the responses.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:28PM
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Is it possible for you to make a more gradual transition? Not put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak? I took some classes at Edmonds and they have an excellent program, South Seattle and the one near Kirkland (old brain can't remember name) are also good and they used to have classes in evening/ weekends. You also don't need to have all the classes to begin work in this field. From my experience in landscaping/nursery/maintenance, you will need to be in good physical condition, not overweight, and keep yourself in condition even in the slow times like winter. People are always surprised at what I can lift as a not-beefy female, I am firmly convinced that back injuries are more related to stress in the body and not heavy lifting (if you are in shape). You can have a desk job, like many I know, and still have horrible ongoing back pain. Or you can do what you love, not be stressed, and deal with any pain or injuries you may encounter sensibly.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 11:58PM
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