Why You Should Hire College Students for Your Landscaping Business

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Why You Should Hire College Students for Your Landscaping Business


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Successfully navigating labor shortages, especially during seasonal challenges, can significantly improve a landscaping business’s annual profitability. 

During the spring and summer, landscaping companies have to scale their workforce quickly with seasonal employees who can meet the physical challenges of the work while maintaining high service delivery standards.

Hiring college students enables business owners to overcome seasonal hiring challenges by providing flexible employment opportunities for students to learn about the landscaping industry. 

Learn how to find, recruit, and manage student labor so your new seasonal employees can hit the ground running. 

Why you should hire college students for your landscaping business

Over 70 percent of college students work while in school, forming a dynamic, seasonal workforce looking to build skills and experience before graduation. Keep reading to learn how hiring college students for seasonal hires can fuel success for your business.

High enthusiasm and energy

Youth does not guarantee a work ethic, but college students can often handle the rigorous physical demands of the 100 Days of Hell. They have the energy for long days of manual labor. 

Consider hiring full-time or part-time college students for these taxing landscaping tasks:

  • Lawn mowing

  • Planting flowers

  • Trimming

  • Hardscape installations

  • Assisting with turf installation

  • Weeding gardens

  • Spreading mulch

  • Moving bushes and plants

Flexibility in scheduling

Weather and clients are somewhat unpredictable, and landscaping companies need a flexible workforce to stay agile with changing schedules and deliver excellent service regardless of the variables.  

College students don’t often need to work around family obligations and are used to clocking in outside of 8-to-5 hours. However, they may need part-time or weekend shifts if they take summer classes. 

During the summers, many college students have fewer responsibilities, so they’re available for scheduling changes on short notice. 

Technological proficiency

If your crews use an app on the job, such as Aspire’s mobile app, you can count on a low learning curve from technically adept college students. 

As technology continues to advance to:

  • Connect field crews to the office in real time

  • Seamlessly organize their workday with job assignments

  • Optimize routing, time tracking, and reporting 

College workers will be early adopters of new technology and appreciate the convenience of a digital tool.

And if you need help with your social media accounts, most college students can show you the ropes. One of them might be interested in improving your social media presence.

College students can bring immediate value to you and your customers if you approach recruitment thoughtfully.

What to consider when hiring college students

With millions of college students opting into the workforce while pursuing an education, you might be inundated with resumes for seasonal job openings. Consider the following factors during hiring. 

Educational background

While students studying ecology, horticulture, chemistry, or another field related to landscape design or green industries could be an asset to your business, look beyond just areas of study to find great job candidates. 

The following factors indicate a strong compatibility with landscaping work.

Leadership: Holding officer roles within campus or community groups indicates initiative and an appetite for responsibility. Consider if students have experience working with finances by running fundraisers or demonstrating entrepreneurial spirit by starting new clubs. 

Teamwork: Landscaping crews must work cohesively to stay efficient at the job site. A successful track record with group work is perhaps the most valuable soft skill a worker can possess. Even academic group work could be a sign of a team player.

Volunteerism: College students often gain experience by volunteering while their resumes are thin. Volunteer gigs suggest enthusiasm and a strong work ethic. Students who are volunteering while taking classes demonstrate strong time management skills.

Business studies: A student taking marketing, sales, and management courses could benefit your business. A college student eager to understand the functions of a successful small business or large enterprise will likely come to the job hungry—and with fresh ideas.


College students usually don’t have the same family and community obligations as full-time employees, and they don’t have the same expectations of working traditional office hours. 

However, college students might still have other demands on their time in the summer. Here are some obligations and preferences to inquire about:

  • Summer classes: Often, classes are online, giving students more flexibility than in-person classes.

  • Internships: A part-time internship elsewhere is common and often has fixed working hours.

  • Part-time work: Many students maximize their summer work window with multiple jobs. 

  • Return date to campus: Students might plan to head back earlier than you’d think—such as late July or early August, especially if they have on-campus duties or play a fall sport.

  • Vacations scheduled: Between family, friends, and weddings, college kids can be busy.

  • Reliability with early-morning hours: If your service calls start early, ensure the student can, too.

  • Transportation: Does the student have reliable transportation to the job site and a driver’s license, if applicable?

Training and onboarding

Landscaping tasks and safety guidelines will likely be unfamiliar to a college student. And if your college student recruits are only working for the summer, you need to get them up to speed quickly to maximize their short employment window.

You might need a student to be available before their classes end to shadow a crew, attend training sessions, or fill out paperwork before the date of employment. 

Unpaid internships and uncompensated tests as part of an application are uncommon; students must be paid for work-related activities, including training and onboarding.

Compensation and incentives

Landscaping labor pays $5 more per hour than fast-food jobs

While this alone is enough to appeal to a college student without direct work experience, there are other incentives you can stress in a job ad to recruit promising candidates. 

College students might find the following aspects of landscaping work enticing.

Certifications: Can you offer help obtaining formal training in a niche like golf course management?

Location: Highlight if your crew members work in scenic locations like parks, gardens, private residences, country clubs, or beautiful resorts.

Internships and college credit: Summer work that can qualify for academic credit or be melded with administrative work for an internship can be an added perk for a college student.

Overtime: College students are often eager to work as many hours as possible. Stress the likelihood of extra shifts.

Company culture: The current generation of college students appreciates a work-life balance.

Landscaping companies are well-positioned to attract qualified college students for summer employment that can turn into future seasonal work for snow removal or leaf collecting on weekends and during school breaks—or a full-time job once the student graduates.

How to recruit college students for a landscaping company

College students organize their schedules around fall, spring, and summer semesters and breaks. Summer job and internship fairs might take place on campus in January or February so students have time to arrange housing. 

The following strategies can help you succeed in recruiting college students.

Collaborate with local colleges and universities

Find eligible job seekers by reaching out to the schools closest to your business and large student populations an hour or two away. The talent pool at a state university out of town might equal the student body of 10 community colleges in your backyard. Research these recruitment opportunities:

On-campus job fairs: Look up dates and registration deadlines. The office you’re looking for is usually called Career Services or Career Development. Contact the organizer to see if landscaping companies are a good fit.

Career placement directors in academic departments: Target landscape architecture, business, horticulture, environmental design, and real estate development, but be open to any discipline.

Teachers or professors: If you have a personal connection to someone teaching on campus, see if you can attend a class and discuss the field of landscaping as a career option along with your job opportunities. 

Student chapters of professional organizations: Look for campuses with a student chapter of these groups and contact them to circulate a job posting: American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Sigma Lambda Alpha, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

Utilize online platforms

Finding high-quality job boards can be a challenge. Most charge to post jobs, and some offer options beyond a listing, like hosting a talk or sponsored, boosted promotion of your ad. 

The following sites are popular with college job seekers. 

  • WayUp

  • LinkedIn

  • College Recruiter

  • Indeed

  • ZipRecruiter

  • Barefoot Student

Offer internship programs

For students focused on graduating with a strong resume, internship programs can be worth as much as a paycheck. 

Consult with your chamber of commerce or another professional group you belong to on how to structure an internship opportunity. 

→ Internships require paperwork with the university or college, so the student can earn credit and possibly provide an evaluation at the end of the internship.

Think creatively—your internship could offer management or supervisory experience, a niche gardening or landscaping focus, or administrative work like marketing, customer service, or sales.

Recruiting college students shouldn’t run afoul of federal or state regulations, but employing them could. 

Workplace and safety regulations: Safety is always the top priority with new employees, and keep in mind that a landscaping job could be the first experience with manual or outdoor work for many college workers. Stay compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for landscaping companies and provide new hires with safety training. Make sure to cover ways to avoid top OSHA violations for landscaping companies:

  • Operating aerial lifts properly

  • Wearing PPE, including eye protection and face shields

  • Hazard communication

  • Machine guarding

  • Respiratory protection

Legal standards: Among all federal and state laws, you’re most likely to run up against these aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if you hire student labor.

  • Child labor laws: Federal regulations apply to anyone under the age of 18. Ensure anyone you employ is over 18; if not, you must comply with child labor laws. Check with your state’s labor department on further child labor regulations.

  • Internship classification: If you choose to offer an internship, be aware that the FLSA classifies some interns as employees and entitles them to minimum wage and overtime standards. Courts use a so-called “primary benefits test” to distinguish between an intern and an FLSA-covered worker.

Ethical standards: Colleges have specific legal responsibilities to students, and while employers aren’t beholden to them, your search can benefit from the awareness.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, colleges are required to “maintain an environment of equal employment opportunity and act in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.” Send job listings to a college’s career center rather than a faculty member so they can be distributed fairly and openly to everyone.

Be aware that faculty members could expose themselves and their institution to legal liability if they:

  • Share protected students’ information without their permission

  • Limit a student’s opportunities through opinion or speculation

  • Share irrelevant information

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Learn more about how to run a successful landscaping business

A reliable workforce with the right tools is the backbone of any successful field service business

Aspire’s end-to-end business management software streamlines crew operations so you can focus on growing and training your staff. 

Explore Aspire’s blog for advice on all areas of landscaping business operations and find the solutions you need to succeed.


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