Image of worker pruning a small tree or shrub in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden.

Job Opening: Gardening Specialist

Apply by October 28, 2022

Tend to the gorgeous gardens of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden! Apply to be a Gardening Specialist, where every career employee receives extremely competitive health and retirement benefits including:

  • Three weeks vacation at start, holidays and paid sick leave
  • One of our state's best pension benefits and a retirement savings program
  • An impressive selection of medical, dental, vision and life insurance
  • Plus, much more...


EXPLORE UC Davis' Competitive HEALTH and RETIREMENT Benefits

Full Position Description

Job summary

This position is supervised by the Director of Public Horticulture & Engagement and is part of a team that provides outdoor maintenance support to the campus. This position’s primary assignment is to perform landscape stewardship and maintenance within the UC Davis Arboretum. This position performs all functions necessary to maintain Arboretum plant collection health and visitor safety, including path clearing, weed control, watering, pruning, planting, maintenance of signage, irrigation systems, and other infrastructure and equipment maintenance. In addition, the position supervises and trains student interns and teams of volunteer gardeners to assist with landscape stewardship and maintenance.

Essential Responsibilities

70% Landscape maintenance

  • Provide care and maintenance of plants, shrubs, trees, hedges, flowers, lawns, naturalized lands, natural habitat areas, outdoor art installations, exhibits and hard surfaced areas.
  • Ensure a safe and clean environment for campus visitors. Edge, clear, rake, and blow paths and lawns, perform landscape safety inspections and pick up litter. Clean up graffiti and vandalism. Perform storm cleanup. Report hazards to supervisor.
  • Control weeds using cultural, chemical, and mechanical techniques. Identify weeds and determine the best means of control. Apply mulch, alter irrigation, spray herbicide, hoe, or mow as necessary.
  • Provide and monitor landscape irrigation. Hand water areas as needed to maintain plant health while following best practices for water conservation. Provide establishment irrigation for new plantings. Monitor automated irrigation systems; maintain, adjust, and repair heads; recommend improvements to irrigation programming.
  • Care for a diversity of plants. Prune trees, shrubs, and vines for clearance, health, beauty, and structure. Deadhead, cut back and mow flowering plants and grasses to remove dead or dormant growth, and improve health and flowering. Apply mulch and other soil amendments as needed to improve plant health.
  • Control pests, including insects and animals, using Integrated Pest Management. Apply insecticides or rodenticides as needed, use traps and dispose of dead animals.
  • Operate trucks, power mowers, power edgers, blowers, spray rigs, and a variety of attachments and hand-operated grounds equipment or tools. Service and make adjustments to equipment.
  • Participate in the design, selection, and installation of landscape plantings in garden and habitat restoration areas.
  • Install, maintain, monitor, and clean signage and plant labels. Maintain and clean art installations.
  • Perform other duties as needed.

20% Volunteer and student supervision and training

  • In partnership with Arboretum and Public Garden horticulturists, lead, train and supervise student interns and groups of up to 15 weekly volunteer gardeners in the performance of landscape maintenance duties.
  • Identify and prioritize work appropriate for students and interns, coordinate weekly projects, mobilize materials and resources as necessary, and supervise work.
  • Provide training in horticultural technique best practices, including but not limited to: pruning of trees and shrubs, planting techniques, mulching, weeding, deadheading, and trimming of grasses and perennials.
  • Provide safety training for volunteers and student interns, including orientation for operation of all tools as well as for proper physical exertion techniques, such as proper lifting. Document training, and provide documentation to safety coordinator.

10% Miscellaneous

  • Serve as an ambassador for UC Davis and the Arboretum and Public Garden. Provide on-the-ground logistical support for researchers, instructors, and visitors.
  • Participate in work coordination, planning, and safety training meetings.
  • Assist as needed with special projects, including new landscape construction and installation, waterway maintenance and more.
  • Record new plantings and plant removals in the Arboretum and Public Garden plant records system.

Physical Demands

  • Use respirator and protective clothing.
  • Walk, lift, stoop, bend, crawl, push and work in tight, confined areas.
  • Agility and strength to traverse steep banks carrying materials weighing up to 50 lbs.
  • Climb ladders, climb on top of machinery and equipment. Carry a pack sprayer weighing up to 50 lbs. on back.

Work Environment

  • Work outdoors year-round in summer heat, winter rain and other extreme weather conditions.
  • Work in areas of noise, odors, vibration, dirt and dust.
  • Possession of a valid Pesticide Applicators Certificate or ability to obtain one within 6 months of employment.
  • Possession of a valid CA driver’s license.
  • Participate in the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Pull Notice System.
  • Subject to Medical Surveillance procedures and review in accordance with Federal and State Laws and Regulations and University Policy.
  • Subject to completion of a Pre-Placement Medical Exam provided by Employee Health Services, at no charge to the applicant.
  • May, at times, require the individual to work with or be in areas where hazardous materials and/or infectious diseases are present. Specific hazards include but are not limited to: cleaning materials, pesticides, fuels, solvents, infectious materials and wastes, biological hazards, and other materials labeled hazardous.
  • May be required to work a non-standard work schedule that may include nights, weekends, or alternative schedules such as 80 hours in 8 or 9 shifts instead of 10. Vacation usage by the employee may be restricted during peak workload periods as required to meet the needs of the campus.

Smoke and tobacco free work environment: The University of California prohibits smoking and tobacco use at all University owned or leased properties, or facilities operated by UC staff or faculty. Smoking and tobacco use are strictly prohibited in indoor and outdoor spaces, parking lots, residential space and University vehicles.

Minimum Qualifications

  • A minimum of one year of experience in grounds maintenance, gardening or habitat restoration; or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Experience in the identification, cultivation, and care of a broad diversity of ornamental and native landscape plants.
  • Experience and skill to safely operate a variety of landscape tools, tools used in machine maintenance, gasoline and electrical power equipment.
  • Experience in the operation and maintenance of spray equipment for weed and pest control.
  • Experience in recognizing, diagnosing and researching plant health problems, including abiotic disorders, diseases, and pests, and developing solutions to horticulture problems.
  • Experience in irrigation maintenance and minor repairs.
  • Experience working with community volunteers or students.
  • Knowledge of pruning standards and best practices.
  • Knowledge of weed identification and control methods used.
  • Knowledge of pest control laws and regulations regarding safe chemical application and pesticides used.
  • Skill to learn new techniques and methods for using new tools.
  • Skill to follow, apply, and execute simple and complex technical instructions delivered orally or in writing.
  • Interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills to clearly and effectively interact with a diverse group of individuals to secure and/or provide information to clarify situations, resolve problems, and negotiate services and/or agreements.
  • Organizational and time management skills to manage, track, and work on multiple and simultaneous complex tasks, following through on each as new ones are added, and meet multiple deadlines.
  • Skill to instruct others in standard safety techniques.
  • Skill to handle emergency situations and think clearly and prioritize under stress.
  • Computer skills to utilize various programs and software for word processing, spreadsheets, website applications, and email programs.
  • Skill to use a smart phone including text, email, camera, map, calculator, and other apps.
  • Skill to organize facilities, tools, and materials to assure convenient access and usefulness for a variety of user groups.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Degree or certification in Horticulture, Plant Science, or related field.
  • Experience working in a campus or public garden setting.
  • Knowledge of best practices in the design and maintenance of sustainable landscapes.
  • Knowledge of landscape construction techniques including grading, path construction, retaining walls, irrigation, and basic carpentry.
  • Skill in the design of new plantings for visual appeal and collection quality.
  • Knowledge of public garden management practices, including living museum records.
  • Skill in the use of a variety of management practices to control ground squirrels, gophers, voles, and other rodents.
  • Skill in the management of volunteers and/or student interns.
  • Knowledge of basic first-aid training.

Special Requirements

  • Background Check: This position is a critical position and subject to a background check. Employment is contingent upon successful completion of background investigation including criminal history and identity checks. This position is subject to the California Department of Motor Vehicles Pull Notice System. This position requires a Pre-Employment Physical.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine: The University of California has implemented a SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination Policy ( covering all employees. To be compliant with the policy, employees must submit proof of vaccination or a University-approved exception or deferral.


EXPLORE UC Davis' Competitive HEALTH and RETIREMENT Benefits

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