Plants add character and aesthetic appeal to a given area while also improving air quality. However, plants sometimes grow in a way that reduces their attractiveness, interferes with transportation through the grounds and even becomes a fire hazard. There are also many insects and weeds that can be harmful to the landscape. Therefore, many facilities that have plants employ ground workers who keep up the landscape.
Ground workers are responsible for performing maintenance on landscapes. This maintenance includes trimming bushes, removing overgrown vegetation, cleaning up the landscape area, raking leaves, mulching, weeding, planting flowers and other plants, mowing, watering and fertilising and applying pesticides to plants. They are also responsible for snow removal and the salting of icy walkways in order to make transportation in the winter easier and safer. Facilities that have indoor plants often have ground workers maintain these plants as well. Many facilities utilise sprinkler systems that must be tested regularly for damaged sprinkler heads. Also, whenever fences and sidewalks become damaged, the ground workers are responsible for repairing them. The way in which plants are planted and maintained is determined by the owner of the facility.
The work performed by a ground worker can by physically strenuous, since heavy branches and maintenance equipment sometimes require physical strength. Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that ground workers experience a higher rate of injury than most professions, since much of the equipment and chemicals used by ground workers can be dangerous if used improperly. Much of the equipment also produces loud noises that can damage the ears if protection is not worn. Ground work is performed outdoors in all kinds of weather.
Most ground workers receive all of their training on-the-job, though upper level ground workers sometimes have educational experience in business management or landscape design. These workers must have good physical stamina since much of the ground work is physically strenuous. They must be responsible since many ground workers operate under no supervision. A driver's license is also often needed to operate equipment.
Between 2008 and 2018, the need for ground workers is expected to grow by 18 per cent. The increase in ground work is driven by companies and other organisations wishing to attract clients through the beauty of the landscape. Ground workers are also needed for personal homes since both parents work in many families and ageing baby boomers sometimes have difficulty keeping up landscape work.
The median hourly wages for ground workers in 2008 were £7.20, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The highest 10 per cent earned more than £11.40, while the lowest 10 per cent earned less than £5.10.