Reader Question: I am considering getting a gardener in France. What is the easiest way to go about this?
There are different ways to hire a gardener in France – either by going through a company, hiring the gardener as a freelance worker or employing him or her directly yourself.
We outline some of the options here as well as looking at what tax credits you can get to help.
Gardener or landscaper
Firstly, you need to establish whether you want to hire a gardener (jardinier) or a landscaper (paysagiste).
A landscaper will act more as an architect for your garden and can advise you on changing the layout and bringing in different plants, trees or flowers to cultivate the space to your taste, etc.
A gardener will mostly take care of the upkeep of your garden, for example mowing the grass, trimming back plants, weeding etc.
Hiring a landscaper is generally more expensive.
How much does a gardener cost in France?
This will obviously depend on the size of your garden and what sort of work you require.
Usually, gardeners or landscapers set an hourly rate.
The average rate for a gardener in France is €25 to €35 (including taxes) and for a landscaper it is around €30 to €40 (including taxes).
There can also be transport fees of around €20 - €40, which are for the gardener coming out in his/her van with their tools but which will, of course, be lower if the gardener lives nearby.
Alternative methods of payment, especially for one-off jobs, include a rate per square metre (eg. for moving a lawn or trimming a hedge) or per job, for example for pruning or cutting down a large tree.
In some situations you can hire a gardener on a yearly contract, which may work out cheaper.
Hiring a gardener through a company
One option is to go through a company which will send you a gardener that they employ. They may not send the same gardener every time but it means you will be guaranteed to have someone come to maintain your garden as they should organise cover for holidays and sickness etc.
You are entitled to tax credits or refunds using this system, which we will explain below.
If you go through a company to supply you with a gardener or a landscaper, they will send you an invoice and will pay the company directly.
You can, of course, ask several gardeners for a devis (estimate) for the work and compare.
Hiring a gardener as a personal employee
You can hire a gardener as a personal employee, for which you are also entitled to tax credits. It is advised to use the chèque emploi service universel (Cesu) service to pay their salary. This will simplify administrative formalities, avoiding having to work out social security contributions or write up pay slips.
To use the Cesu service you first need to create an account through the Urssaf website, which you can do at this link.
Then, you can register your new gardener as an employee, including their name, social security number (numéro de sécurité sociale), their contact details and the nature of the employment, which in this case will be jardinier.
You can either establish an oral contract with your gardener or draw up a written one, which is more secure in case of any disputes.
The contract should include:
The employee’s details
Your Cesu number
The social security number of the employee
Date of employment
Nature of employment
Trial period, if there is one
Duration and place of work
You can draw up the contract yourself or use this Cesu template
Declaration of salary
As an employer, you are obliged to declare each month the salary you pay to your gardener before the fifth day of each month.
You can either declare the total number of hours that the gardener worked and the net amount that you need to pay or the net amount that you have already paid.
The website will calculate how much social security charges are to be paid, which will then be taken automatically from your bank account by Urssaf. The gardener will receive their pay slip the day after your declaration.
You can pay the gardener by bank transfer, cheque or via Cesu, which will then pay the gardener on your behalf.
Hiring an odd-jobs person
Some of the people on this site advertising as gardeners will expect to be paid using the Cesu service described above, while others may be set up as self-employed to carry out various services – there is technically no legal status in France that lets you specifically be a freelance gardener through the auto-entrepreneur system.
They may ask for cash or a bank transfer and will take care of declaring the money to tax authorities themselves.
You are entitled to a tax credit for hiring a gardener of 50% of the costs up to €5,000/year, if you go through a professional gardening company or use Cesu.
For example, if you have paid your gardener €2,500 over the course of the year, you are entitled to €1,250 back. Keep all receipts, pay slips or any other evidence you need to prove the employment.
If you have taxes to pay at the end of the year, the tax credit you are entitled to will be taken off of the total taxes that you are due.
If you do not have taxes to pay due to not having earned enough, for example, then you will be reimbursed the amount you are due by the tax service.