Qualification - Certificate In Horticulture (Landscaping & Garden Design)

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours


in the Same Certificate

 " I compliment you on the quality of the course. It has helped me immensely, already, in my job with the local council's parks & gardens department"
- Lester, studying Certificate in Horticulture (Landscaping)


Meet one of the Graduates:

Jamie Speeding ACS StudentJamie Speeding studied and completed this certificate in the mid 1990's. While studying he formed his own business, Greenhort Design. Soon after Jamie became a member of The Australian Institute Of Horticulture (AIH) and was elected inaugural Chair of the Gold Coast branch, a position he held for three consecutive terms. His dedication to the industry saw him appointed on various industry advisory committees, form strong ties between the local nursery industry and help initiate the move to establish a botanic garden on the Gold Coast. He has also been a lecturer, magazine journalist and spent several years hosting a radio show on the local ABC.
Today he is fully occupied with commercial Landscape design. "For the past 18 months I have been mainly designing/drafting ACAD residential development landscape plans and childcare centers nationwide for Council submission. I now employ several full-time drafters and designers as the demand for our services has increased ten-fold."

Jamie believes that a lot of his success in the horticulture industry can be attributed to ACS Principal John Mason and past tutor Paul Plant who both encouraged and supported his career.



This certificate entails the following:

Core studies - half of the course, involving approximately 300hrs over 15 lessons.

Elective studies - half of the course, involving stream studies specific to landscaping.

Core units

1.  Introduction to Plants

Nomenclature and taxonomy, the plant kingdom, genus, species, hybrids.

2.  Parts of the Plant

How plants grow, plant structure, parts of the flower and leaf, modification of stems and roots.

3.  Plant Culture - Planting

How to plant and protect newly planted specimens, terms like: annuals, biennials, perennials, deciduous,  evergreen and herbaceous plants.

4.  Plant Culture - Pruning

Purpose for pruning, rules for pruning, how to prune.

5.  Plant Culture - Irrigation and Machinery

Different irrigation systems, components of an irrigation system, designing an irrigation system, maintenance in the garden and for tools.

6.  Soils & Media

Soil classifications, testing soil, potting mixes, the U.C. System, ingredients of potting mixes.

7.  Soils & Nutrition

Fertilizers - deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertilizer programming, compost.

8.  Propagation - Seeds & Cuttings

How to propagate plants with the two easiest techniques, propagating mixes, cold frame construction, after care for young plants. 

9.  Propagation - Other Techniques

Other methods to increase plant numbers - budding, grafting, layering, division and tissue culture.

10. Identification and Use of Plants

How are plants used in the landscape, how to choose and purchase plants, selecting plants suitable for the climate and site.

11. Identification and Use of Plants

Problems with plants and choosing plants for problem sites.

12. Identification and Use of Plants

Indoor and Tropical Plants, flowers, herbs, bulbs, ferns.

13. Pests

Identifying and controlling pests, chemical and natural methods for control, chemical safety precautions.

14. Diseases

Identifying and controlling diseases, plant pathology, fungi, viruses, non pathogenic problems,  interactions with the host and the environment.

15. Weeds

Identifying and controlling weeds, chemical terminology.


Stream(elective) studies: LANDSCAPE AND GARDEN DESIGN

The aim of the stream studies is to develop skills and knowledge in landscape design, construction, features and landscape business management.

The student will engage in the following activities as part of the stream studies:

  • Review the historical evolution of gardens.
  • Obtain pre-planning information and use of that information to draw plans.
  • Identify different principles and styles of landscape designs.
  • Analyze garden designs.
  • Develop graphic skills, and a knowledge of drawing materials and techniques.
  • Prepare cost estimates for a landscape job.
  • Describe surfacing materials and their effects.
  • Explain the quality and cost of different landscape materials.
  • Develop a knowledge of plants, both native and exotic, suitable for local conditions.
  • Select plants for difficult sites and conditions.
  • Describe advantages and disadvantages of various pipes, sprinklers and pumping equipment.
  • Recommend irrigation systems for different landscape situations.
  • Design a simple irrigation system.
  • Design a bush garden and the value and relevance of using native plants.
  • Analyze and report on a cottage garden design.
  • Analyze and report on a playground design.
  • Prepare a playground design for a school or public park.
  • Draw layout plans for a range of gardens.
  • Conduct a detailed survey of a site, prepare a detailed plan based on that survey, estimate costs and develop contract documentation for that project.
  • Explain earthworks and soil preparation techniques used in landscaping.
  • Describe alternative techniques for establishing and growing plants.
  • Explain a range of landscape construction techniques including building fences, walls, rockeries, paths, water gardens, paving and drainage.
  • Compare different landscape materials with respect to their quality, cost, availability and application in garden construction.
  • Describe the correct procedures for the proper and safe removal of a limb from a tree, and for the felling of trees.
  • Develop a detailed maintenance program for a garden.
  • Demonstrate the ability to prepare for, and plant a new lawn.
  • Explain how to establish turf on a steep slope.
  • Write and advertisement for a landscaping business.
  • Explain basic management procedures.
  • Show a reasonable level of communication skill.
  • Explain health and safety requirements on a landscape site


    There are many different types of gardens, small and large, formal and informal, and then those that are designed to be used and others designed to be viewed.

    You learn about all types of gardens in this course; and graduates may find their way into working in any type of garden, from home gardens to commercial or public gardens.



    Home gardens vary greatly in the way they are designed, and quite rightly so.  Everyone has a different purpose for their home garden.  Many young families see the back garden basically as somewhere for the kids to play and front as a decoration for their new house.  Some people see the garden as a place to socialize, to have parties, to entertain friends or simply relax on a weekend.  For others the garden is a place to carry out their hobby; whether that hobby be practicing golf, rebuilding old cars, raising budgies, breeding dogs or even gardening itself.  

    Almost every home garden, as a matter of necessity, has to serve a number of practical functions such as: access for the car to the garage, somewhere to keep the rubbish bins, somewhere to hang the washing etc.  When designing a home garden you must before anything else be clear on the purpose the garden is to serve; whether functional, aesthetic or a mixture of both.


    The front of your (or your client’s) property is in some respects the most important area of the garden:

    • The entrance is the first thing a visitor will see. The way you develop the front will make visitors feel welcome or unwelcome. For instance, visitors will feel more comfortable and welcome if the front door is visible and the path to the door is sufficiently wide and comfortable to walk on. A hidden door and a narrow, difficult path can send the (unintended message), “We don’t want visitors” or just be irritating to visitors.
    • The entrance gives people their first impressions of the home owner (e.g. that they are probably messy or tidy, formal or informal, etc).
    • The property entrance can affect the ease of access to the house and the rest of the garden.
    • The front of the property can enhance or diminish your degree of privacy. High solid fences or dense plantings provide a barrier to the world outside both visually and psychologically.

    Designing the Front Garden

    Below is one set of practical steps for planning this part of the garden:

    Step 1
    Decide the purposes you want the front garden to serve. Consider the following:

    • Should the garden and house be seen fully from the road for security, or do you want it obscured for privacy? How much privacy do you want?
    • Do you want the front to be inviting (or not) for visitors? This affects the accessibility of the path to the front door.
    • Do you need car parking or any other access at the front of the property? This affects the length and design of the driveway.
    • How important is security? Do you need to lock animals in or out? Do you want to discourage burglars?
    • What month of year should you want the garden to appear at its look best?

    Step 2
    Make a list of the different parts of the front garden: for example, a driveway, a path to the front door, a letterbox, a lawn area, three shade trees, a low fence.

    Step 3
    Arrange the different areas in several different ways on sketch plans.

    Step 4
    Select the sketch plan which best serves the purposes you have for the front garden.

    Step 5
    Draw in the details such as plant varieties and exact shapes based on the sketch plan you chose in the previous step.


    Horticulture and landscaping are industries that are forever changing; and the best opportunities for you in the future may keep changing too.

    The real advantage of this course over many others is that it is going to give you the capacity to move with changes in industry. Because you will learn a little bit about many things, as well as a lot about landscaping, you will be better placed to adapt than graduates from a course that is only about landscaping.

    When industry offer more opportunities in garden care, nursery management or something else, you will have a sufficient grasp of those things to move into those other areas of horticulture. At the same time, you will have also learned more than enough to forge a career working in garden design or construction.

    Are you interested in landscaping and garden design, but unsure where to start?
       Our tutors are always happy to help with any questions about our courses, so why not get in touch?
    Please click here with any questions.

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