Become even better at home gardening
Study three core modules of Home Gardening Expert, Home Fruit Growing and Home Vegetable Growing. Then complete a 200 hour project looking at at an area of home gardening that interests you.
Work with our tutors, who are experts in their field, and gain a detailed and thorough understanding of the topics covered in the course.
This course is suitable for amateurs wanting to increase their knowledge of home gardening or people with more knowledge who want to increase their knowledge.
Note that each module in the Qualification - Proficiency Award in Home Gardening is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Home Gardens Can be as Big or Small as You Like
This course works for any size garden, from acreage to a small courtyard or balcony garden.
Whether you are gardening for pleasure or produce, small spaces can be just as rewarding as big spaces.
Consider What Might be Done in a Courtyard
Traditionally, a courtyard is a paved section of garden with walls on at least three sides. It feels like an outdoor room and this is why it is so attractive for those seeking a more 'outdoorsy' home life. These days the take on what constitutes a courtyard is not so strict. It is generally paved, or at least partially paved, and has some sort of enclosure like brick walls, colorbond® fencing, trellis panels or brush fences. But the walls need not be 'dead'. You can grow climbers up them, or use tall hedges or rows of trees to enclose a space and create a courtyard feel.
Within the courtyard there are many options for the other structural elements and it's largely down to personal preference and taste. An older style courtyard might have a central feature such as a fountain, sunken pond or urn on a pedestal. Perhaps a wall fountain, plaque or fancy feature trellis. A modern courtyard, depending on the size, could have a swimming pool, dining area or gazebo. It can be set out to include whatever you like, although it should relate to the house. If you have a stuccoed house then you might consider having stuccoed walls or white painted walls. For a stone house you may use stone paving, and for a brick house brick paving in the same colour brick would be appropriate, or at least you could use a brick edging to paving or brick planters to create a sense of unity.
Planning Your Courtyard
When planning your courtyard, decide how you are going to use it. Will it be mainly a place to rest and dine, or is it going to be a secure area for children to play? Do you want a haven for wildlife, or maybe you'd like it to be primarily a kitchen garden where you can grow your own produce? Of course, there's no reason why you can't include several different uses provided you have the space, but for the most part a courtyard is only large enough to have one main theme. Other necessities like clotheslines, garden sheds, and compost heaps can be worked into the design with some forethought so that they are unobtrusive or, if space permits, they can be separated from the courtyard using hedging or walls.
Begin by looking at the area under consideration. Try photographing it from different angles and from different windows of the house from which the courtyard will be visible. Draw a sketch plan to scale on graph paper and along with your photos work out where the 'walls' and other fixed components will be. If there are views you want to hide, like an ugly building or neighbouring garden, you can plan for this now. As you begin to map out your design look at where the main axes run through the garden and the location of the vistas (views) you want to create. This will help you to decide where to lay paths and position garden features. Having done this, you can concentrate on what you're going to include in the remaining space.
Plants and Flowers
Regardless of how your courtyard is arranged, you absolutely must have plants and flowers. It may be an extra room, but it is an outdoor room and so you need to tie it in with the house using plants.
You will most likely choose to have plants growing in different areas of the courtyard. Permanent plantings can include shrubs and perennial plants in paving pockets, hedgerows, garden beds at ground level, raised beds or large containers - and perhaps even a tree or two. Temporary plantings, which are chiefly annuals and bulbs, are used to add colour where needed. These can be used to enliven a garden bed or enhance a garden feature and, for instant impact, they are also well-suited to pots, window boxes and hanging baskets.
Think about what plants make the most sense in your locality under your climatic conditions. If you inherited a courtyard with a mature tree growing in it, it is probably there for a reason such as provision of shade. Consider this a blessing and incorporate it into your design. Don't be too quick to remove any other mature plants either, especially those which are growing well since these are clearly well-suited to the locality. If you're not happy with their positioning, ask yourself whether they could be relocated.
The most important thing when planning your plants is to get the large shrubs and any trees installed first because these provide the main plant structures and take longer to establish. Thereafter, you can experiment with temporary plantings and change these to suit the seasons.
HOW THE COURSE WORKS
You can start the course at any time.
It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies. Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.
How the Proficiency Award is Assessed
The Proficiency Award requires 500 hours of study. It is made up of three 100 hour modules and a workplace project.
To pass the course –
- Pass all assignments on the three 100 hour modules. There will be an assignment at the end of each lesson to submit to your tutor for marking and feedback.
- Pass three examinations – one on each module. These are usually taken at the end of the module and can be arranged at a time and location to suit you.
- Complete one or two Workplace Projects. To complete this qualification, you are also required to complete workplace projects lasting 200 hours.
There are 4 options available to you to satisfy this requirement. The options will be different dependent upon whether or not you currently work within the industry. The project can be work experience, voluntary experience, a project you carry out, other training you have already undertaken and there are other options. Don’t worry if you are not sure how to proceed at this stage, as your tutor will be there to discuss how to proceed and help you every step of the way.
If you would like to improve your home gardening skills and knowledge, why delay?
Enrol today and work with our friendly and expert tutors to increase your knowledge.