Tree Foundation of Kern


To manage urban landscapes

Behind many pristine lawns, edged by sprays of colorful flowers and surrounded by the shade of trees lies the handiwork of a groundskeeper.

For those who enjoy the outdoors and working with their hands, the career of groundskeeper provides opportunities to help shape and nurture lawns, gardens and trees that beautify the urban landscape.

Landscape maintenance is a diverse field covering a wide range of landscaping services including lawn and garden maintenance; installation of flower beds, trees and shrubs; and design and installation of water systems along with pesticide spraying and weed removal.

Opportunities in landscape maintenance include management and supervisory positions as well as field positions. Those in the field need experience with a variety of tools such as pruning shears and saws, lawn mowers and weed whackers that can be gained from on-the-job training.

Certification for spraying pesticides and installation of sprinkler and irrigation systems along with garden construction provide further opportunities within the field.

Many experienced groundskeepers enjoy operating their own business, working solo or with a small crew, and both large and small landscape companies exist providing services to homeowners, apartment complexes and other businesses.

Local governments and public institutions such as schools and universities along with large private parks and amusement parks may have groundskeeping departments or offer full-time positions for groundskeepers.

Rob McCombs, lead groundskeeper for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools oversees maintenance on 16 properties covering more than 30 acres. His daily responsibilities take him from the field where he manages and works side by side with his crew of 8 to the office where he meets with his bosses and helps plan future projects.

Managing a groundskeeping crew requires people skills to help resolve conflicts and to ensure each member works productively as part of a team.

McCombs believes those in the field must constantly strive to expand their knowledge, and he recently completed a horticulture class that will help him better care for some of the properties he manages.

"Keep growing and learning on your own, not because someone requires it," McCombs said.