Ontario’s landscape and horticulture industry is growing with over 12,000 establishments employing over 88,000 workers. Over the last five years, the industry has experienced robust growth, increasing at an average annual rate of 3.2%, driven by residential and commercial development, consumer interest in home-improvements, and the increasing desire for greener landscapes in urban areas. By 2025, expansion demand of the broader landscape and horticulture industry related to employment is expected to increase to a workforce size of over 102,000 workers. This represents a projected workforce increase of 13.5% compared to 2020.

In Ontario, the landscape and horticulture industry consists of establishments that produce plants such as nursery growers, greenhouses, tree farms, and garden centres. In addition, the sector provides indoor and outdoor landscape design, build/construction of indoor and outdoor landscapes and maintenance, turf and grounds management, tree planting, landscape lighting and irrigation services, and snow and ice removal. Additionally, the sector includes establishments that operate greenhouses, tree farms, nurseries, and garden centres. In short, landscape and horticulture establishments are responsible for making Ontario residences, commercial areas, and public spaces more sustainable and enjoyable for people, animals, and plant life.

While industry growth projections are very positive, the sector is facing a critical workforce challenge in terms of both labour and skills that could impact the industry’s capacity in the coming decade. Compounding this challenge is Ontario’s aging workforce and the declining pool of available youth entering into the labour force. With the anticipated retirement of nearly 8,900 workers, and given current growth trajectories, the landscape and horticulture sector will likely need to hire, train, and retain almost 24,000 additional workers over the next five years.

Indeed, there are clear signals that businesses involved in landscaping and horticulture are already experiencing pressure from labour and skills shortages. A survey conducted across 170 firms in January of 2021, indicated that over 90% of landscape and horticulture firms had significant problems in attracting and retaining workers for both entry-level and higher skilled occupations. The greatest challenge is attracting supervisors and crew leaders, landscape technicians and designers, and labourers, which is prevalent across the province.

Attracting and developing new workers is crucial in meeting long-term workforce needs and continued industry growth. To adequately meet future talent needs, the Ontario school system and the employment services network should be maximized to inform students and job seekers about available career opportunities. There are many good reasons to promote these jobs. While entry-level work is often seasonal and the wages are modest, there are significant opportunities for long-term work, career advancement and substantially higher wages. Interviews suggest that the sector has achieved some success in attracting youth through partnerships with individual high schools, community colleges and universities; it is recommended that these efforts be strengthened and expanded in the coming years.

Finally, if the landscape and horticulture industry is to continue to grow, building a sustainable workforce will require enhancing recruitment from groups traditionally underrepresented in the industry, including women, visible minorities, and newcomers, among others. To attract younger and more diverse workers, landscape and horticulture firms must consider competing with other industries seeking similarly skilled talent including construction, utilities, and municipalities. In order to compete for these workers, the sector needs to articulate the benefits of working in landscape and horticulture.

This report examines the current size and occupational composition of Ontario’s landscape and horticulture industry and provides a five-year labour market forecast on employment. It intends to identify current and future labour market pressure points to inform industry, government, and other stakeholders. This anticipated labour and skills shortage have far-reaching implications, which will require collaboration and cooperation between many stakeholders to curtail. The sector as a whole, and Landscape Ontario as an industry association leader, have the opportunity to proactively address the growing need for talent and promote the diversity of careers to the future workforce.

Over the next five years, the landscape and horticulture industry will require nearly 24,000 workers across a range of skilled occupations, supervisory staff and entry-level labour. Each of the three occupation clusters identified have strong anticipated demand. If the industry doesn’t take explicit and directive action, the implications are possibly severe. The growth of the sector and its ability to deliver services will likely be inhibited. Ongoing and prospective work may be delayed and the quality of work compromised. Through interviews conducted, numerous stories were shared about many companies delaying work to 2022 and 2023 due to the lack of a skilled workforce.

However, now is the time to take targeted action to develop the skills and labour needs of the future. The landscape and horticulture industry is well-positioned to leverage capacity across educational institutions, the industry association, employers, government and the not-for-profit sector to build pathways into green careers in Ontario.


Strengthen partnerships with high schools

Build on the current success of the Specialist High Skills Major, Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program and other experiential learning opportunities, which provide exposure to careers in landscape and horticulture. Provide targeted resources and support for schools through the Discover Green Careers website.

Enhance connection and awareness about in-demand jobs and career opportunities for job seekers in local communities through stronger connections to Landscape Ontario’s GROW program.

Leverage high school and community partnerships to develop targeted marketing and outreach plans to diverse communities that are currently underrepresented in the industry, including women, newcomers, racialized people and others. Develop initiatives with employers participating in high school and community recruitment and training activities, such as the GROW program, to ensure that workplaces are welcoming and supportive of diverse workers to ensure employment retention.

Leverage the apprenticeship program and other professional development programming to support structured skill development and advancement opportunities for the current workforce into targeted in-demand occupations. Utilize the Discover Green Careers website as a tool to educate the current workforce about career opportunities. Develop higher touch services for employers to build their capacity to facilitate professional development and advancement for their workforce. Explore ways to leverage the industry association to facilitate access to professional development into in-demand jobs for workers and firms across the province.

Leverage the apprenticeship program and recommendation four above to support career awareness and development for entry level seasonal workers. Explore root cause issues to seasonal turnover and work with a group of employers to test specific strategies to address these challenges. Solutions could include group benefits plans, group pension plans, profit-sharing options, and other options that express worker value.

Based on regional demand, increase availability of post-secondary programming. Work in collaboration to ensure that all post-secondary institutions provide internships or co-ops to facilitate exposure to the industry. Strengthen the accountability and relationship between post-secondary institutions and employers through enhanced Program Advisory Committees.



For the purposes of defining the broader landscape and horticulture industry, we consulted the industry association, conducted employer interviews, and observed multiple worksites. The following industry groups or NAICS (as defined by Statistics Canada, North American Industry Classification System, ver. 2017) were included:

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing landscape care and maintenance services and installing trees, shrubs, plants, lawns or gardens, and establishments engaged in these activities along with the construction (installation) of walkways, retaining walls, decks, fences, ponds, irrigation systems and similar structures






This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in retailing nursery and garden products, such as trees, shrubs, plants, seeds, bulbs, sod, garden accessories, tools and supplies that are predominantly grown elsewhere.

This industry is comprised of establishments primarily engaged in growing, under cover or in open fields, nursery products and trees, and other woody trees, for pulp and tree stock that have a typical growth cycle of fewer than ten years.

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in growing, under cover or in open fields, floriculture crops and products and propagating materials.

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in wholesaling nursery stock and plants.

This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in planning, designing and administering the development of land areas for projects such as parks and other recreational areas, airports, highways, hospitals, schools, land subdivisions, and commercial, industrial and residential areas by applying knowledge of land characteristics, location of buildings and structures, use of land areas, and design of landscape projects.

This industry comprises establishments not classified to any other Canadian industry, and primarily engaged in growing food crops under glass or protective cover.

This industry is comprised of establishments primarily engaged in site preparation activities, such as excavating and grading, demolition of buildings and other structures, and septic system installation.

This industry comprises establishments not classified to any other industry, and primarily engaged in specialized construction trades. The work performed may include new work, additions, alterations, maintenance, and repairs.


This Employment Ontario Landscape & Horticulture Career Pathways & Profile Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.