Advanced Certificate in Horticulture (Landscaping)

Learn about plants and how to use them in gardens, parks & streetscapes. Combine plant knowledge with landscaping skills such as planning & design. An in-depth course providing technical & practical training for landscape professionals.

Course CodeVHT081
Fee CodeAC
Duration (approx)900 hours
QualificationAdvanced Certificate

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A Broad-based Horticulture and Landscaping Course

Prepare yourself for a career in landscaping with this course. Learn about core horticulture principles and techniques as well as landscaping skills such as planning and designing gardens.   

This course provides a stronger training in plant knowledge and science than many other colleges. 

Understand plant science, plant identification, plant care, irrigation, soils and nutrition, horticultural management and all aspects of landscaping and landscape design.

You need Exceptional Diversity to prepare you for an unpredictable and rapidly changing industry!

Completion of this course opens your career up to management positions in landscaping, general horticulture and garden design as well as teaching.

Enrol in one of the most comprehensive landscape horticulture courses available. Understand plant science, plant identification, plant care, irrigation, soils and nutrition,  horticultural management and all aspects of landscaping and landscape design. Choose electives in fields of interest that will help you to realise your ambitions.

“Not too many courses are this comprehensive! When you complete this course you will understand all the aspects associated with landscaping and design. Most landscaping courses only focus on design - but without the fundamental knowledge of plants and landscape construction a designer cannot truly design a workable garden. This course covers all the design and construction aspects plus botany and horticultural skills enabling you to understand how plants will perform and work for you in your designs.” - Adriana Fraser , Adv.Dip.Hort, Cert.Hort., Adv. Cert. App. Mgt., Cert 1V Assessment and Training. ACS Tutor, author, garden designer.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Horticulture (Landscaping).
 Horticulture I BHT101
 Horticulture II (Plant Knowledge) BHT102
 Landscaping I BHT109
 Horticultural Resource Management BHT203
 Landscaping II BHT214
 Amenity Horticulture I BHT324
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 39 modules.
 Australian Natives I BHT113
 Biochemistry I (Plants) BSC102
 Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy) BSC104
 Carpentry BSS100
 Cottage Garden Design BHT110
 Growing Annuals BHT115
 Herb Culture BHT114
 Horticulture and Research I BHT118
 Horticulture III (Plant Health) BHT116
 Landscape Construction BHT111
 Machinery and Equipment BSC105
 Masonry (Brick, Stone and Concrete Work) BSS101
 Mud Brick Construction ASS103
 Plant Selection And Establishment BHT107
 Soil Management (Horticulture) BHT105
 Turf Care BHT104
 Australian Natives II BHT225
 Green Walls and Roofs BHT256
 Horticulture And Research II BHT241
 Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
 Landscaping III (Landscaping Styles) BHT235
 Natural Garden Design BHT215
 Permaculture Systems BHT201
 Planning Layout And Construction Of Ornamental Gardens BHT242
 Playground Design BHT216
 Project Management BBS201
 Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens BHT243
 Scented Plants BHT229
 Sports Turf Management BHT202
 Trees For Rehabilitation (Landcare Reafforestation) BHT205
 Tropical Plants BHT234
 Amenity Horticulture II BHT325
 Biophilic Landscaping BHT343
 Garden History BHT329
 Horticultural Marketing BHT304
 Horticultural Therapy BHT341
 Managing Notable Gardens BHT340
 Organic Plant Culture BHT302
 Water Gardening BHT307

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Horticulture (Landscaping) is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


This course may be used to launch or enhance a career in any branch of landscaping or amenity horticulture.

Obvious careers for graduates would be to become a garden designer or landscape contractor; but opportunities are always changing in this industry; and the broad skills you develop here will give you a very sound foundation for working in parks management; garden maintenance, turf management or other areas of horticulture.

Working as a Garden Designer

Garden Design is a unique profession that blends science with art.

Designing a garden involves:
1. Communicating with the client to determine their needs and desires.
2. Surveying the site, and creating a base plan (drawing)
3. Determining potentials and limitations (What is and is not feasible)
4. Systematically working through a logical design process, to develop, step by step, a concept that is physically achievable, as well as being functional and aesthetically appropriate.

The amount of work available in garden design has increased in recent decades, particularly in more affluent parts of the developed world. In situations where both husband and wife work, and money is relatively available, all home services including garden design have become growth industries.


Some garden designers work full time doing nothing but garden design.
Others combine garden design with another job, such as landscape contracting, garden consultancy, garden writing or retail nursery.
Garden centres sometimes offer a garden design service to entice people to buy plants from them. They may employ, or do a deal with a designer; or the owner or staff may even go and learn design themselves.

Most landscape designers are self employed. Some other employment opportunities for landscape designers include being employed by:

  • Horticultural businesses (eg. garden centres; landscape contractors). 

  • Planning or design firms (eg. Architects, engineers, Town planners)

  • Developers or construction companies

  • Government (eg. Parks departments)

Consultants may charge anything from low to extremely high rates for their design work. A garden design for a 500 to 1000 sq. metre property (home) may cost as much as a person’s weekly wage; or much more if designed by a well known and prestigious designer. The ability to command high fees will depend upon reputation and that will only develop over time, and if you are able to develop a unique and popular flair to your work.
Designers who are able to obtain employment (part time or full time) with others should be able to earn a professional level salary.

Advancement in this industry is most dependent upon reputation. If your work becomes famous, you will also, and your ability to charge more will increase. In some places, a good way of advancing your career as a designer is to create display gardens in a major garden show. Designers who win medals at Chelsea Flower Show (London) or MIFGIS (Melbourne) for instance, will find it easier to get work; and often be able to command higher fees.

Risks and challenges
Every job has certain risks associated with it; and even something that seems as easy going as garden design can still bring worries from time to time.
Self employed garden designers face the same problems as any other small business person (eg. Dissatisfied clients refusing to pay, not having an income when you are ill, too much work at times and too little at other times, people being slow to pay, etc).
While being your own boss can be a negative for some, others see it as a big bonus in this career. If your personality fits not only the job, but also the way of life, this could be a career you are well suited to.
Before you have developed a reputation in this industry you may initially find it difficult to get work.

How to become a Landscape Designer
A garden design career commonly starts by either:

  • Designing your own garden, and discovering you love the experience 

  • Drifting into it from working in a related field such as gardening or architecture

  • Studying a garden design course because you just love gardens or gardening.

Landscape contractors often seek to develop design skills to broaden the services they can offer a client; or to give them a less physically demanding income source they can move into as they get older. Garden writers or consultants may offer a design service, to broaden their income opportunities.
Many of the most successful garden designers are those who have specialised in a particular garden style. For a self employed designer, this is an obvious way of making yourself stand out from the competition. Consider for instance, becoming a specialist in designing modern gardens, cottage gardens, formal gardens, tropical gardens or Japanese gardens.

Some designers focus on residential designs, and others on commercial work, public parks, or even children’s playgrounds. Just think of the number of schools and pre schools that need playgrounds designed.

If you are seeking employment with someone else as a designer, you should consider the courses you study and the skills you develop. Different skills will be attractive to different types of firms (or organisations).

Professional institutes and associations in both the landscape and horticulture industries are useful to join. Many will require you to hold some type of qualification (or be a student) before joining.

Becoming active within such an association or institute will help you develop valuable contacts within the industry; and remain current with trends and developments.
If you establish your own consultancy, you should investigate Professional Indemnity Insurance and any other necessary insurances. The situation does vary from country to country (and time to time), but the issue of insurance should not be neglected.



You will develop the skills and knowledge required to work as a professional landscaper.

This course is different to many others. It is an "experiential based" learning program; designed to get you involved with the horticulture industry as you study. The industry is changing faster than ever; and will continue to change; and for ongoing success you need to become "connected" and remain "connected", so that you see and adapt to recent changes, and ongoing changes as your career moves forward.

Given that new research indicates that landscapers are among the highest paid tradespeople in Australia (with the average hourly rate being $91 per hour for some areas of Australia), it seems logical to take a look at return on investment when it comes to choosing education in this area.

Many landscapers have no formal education, but those wishing to make sure they have the right mix of knowledge and practical skill should choose a course that is well respected in industry (for example, does the course provide a solid foundation of basics like plant identification knowledge?). The next consideration is how much will it cost? Opting for a government-recognised course will more often than not mean you will be paying a high price, and that price does not necessarily mean you’ll get the right education. Paying a higher price for education means it will take a lot longer to see a return on your education investment, despite the high average hourly rate. Because ACS Distance Education doesn’t have the high overheads brought on by the high cost of maintaining accreditation, we can pass that saving on to our students with affordable but high quality education.

ACS Distance Education has been delivering horticultural education since the 70’s, and is remains prominent and well regarded in industry circles. All horticulture tutors hold at least a degree, and five years industry experience, but many also additionally bring decades of experience to ACS horticulture students. Tutors take an active interest in students’ plans for their businesses, and can offer practical advice on how to get started in industry.

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Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c
John Mason

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort
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