Certificate in Horticulture (Grounds Management)

Learn to manage gardens and landscapes.This course prepares you for work as a groundsman - in schoolgrounds, sports grounds, gardens, parks and on commercial properties.

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method

I am studying from...

Enable Javascript to automatically update prices.

All prices in Australian Dollars.

Click on Enrol Now to See Our Payment Plans Available. No Obligation.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Garden School Grounds Managers Course -Distance Learning Course

  • Learn Practical Skills and a Career in Professional Gardening
  • Self Paced, 600 hour course

'“This is beyond what you would learn in a Trade Certificate in Horticulture. It teaches you everything a tradesman would learn about plant culture; and more science, plus more plant identification than what an average tradesperson whould know” - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Garden Author and educator.

The Certificate in Horticulture (Grounds Management) is a vocational oriented course comprising core studies (general horticulture) and stream studies in the maintenance of golf courses, parks and other large scale gardens.

The objective of the course is to:

  • develop general and broad based skills in horticultural practices and plant identification.
  • develop skills and knowledge in diagnosis and treatment of pest, disease and weed control problems.
  • develop knowledge and skills in turf selection and maintenance to a required standard.
  • develop skills and knowledge in the establishment and maintenance of ornamental trees and shrubs.
  • develop skills and knowledge in the management and improvement of soils for growing plants.
  • develop knowledge and skills about the selection and operation of a variety of watering systems suitable for the irrigation of plants and turf in amenity horticulture.

Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

*CORE STUDIES - involves around 350 hours, divided into 15 lessons, approx. half of the course.

*STREAM STUDIES - a further 350 hours of study specific to irrigation, soils, plant care, pest, disease and weed control and turf care.



Through these specialised stream studies, the student will attempt to achieve the following objectives:

  • Design a plant assessment sheet to be used in the field to record information about plant health problems.
  • Diagnose nutrient, pest, disease and environmental problems of plants.
  • Dissect, draw and label a range of pest/disease problems.
  • Explain ten alternative weed control methods including chemical and non chemical treatments.
  • Collect, press, label and mount a weed collection and a pest/disease collection.
  • Explain aeration, spiking, coring, dethatching and topdressing.
  • Describe selective weed control in turf.
  • Select turf species suitable for a range of different situations (eg: for shade, wet and windy sites).
  • Describe the steps in preparing an area for turf.
  • Demonstrate the ability to prepare for, and sow a new lawn.
  • Explain how to establish turf on a steep slope.
  • Prepare labelled sketches of three gardens created using different growing methods.
  • Review and select plants suitable for use in each situation.
  • Describe the importance of trees to humans.
  • Describe the correct procedures for the proper and safe removal of a limb from a tree.
  • Describe simply the processes of photosynthesis, respiration & transpiration.
  • List the environmental factors which affect photosynthesis, respiration and transpiration.
  • Explain compartmentalisation, and it's effect on the spread of diseases in trees.
  • Develop contact with local people involved in garden maintenance.
  • Describe maintenance procedures for a variety of different ornamental garden situations.
  • Explain soil (seedbed) preparation treatments for a range of soil types.
  • Explain soil degradation problems in terms of soil chemistry and structure, and how to deal with them.
  • Explain different ways of preparing virgin or farmland soil for treeplanting.
  • Explain different ways of treating a soil using soil ameliorants.
  • Collect samples of or literature describing products which can be used to assist with the improvement of soils.
  • Explain situations where cultivation can be used to improve a soil.
  • Explain a situation where cultivation can be detrimental to a soil.
  • Classify different soils using simple hand feel tests.
  • Explain pH and conductivity (EC) and their affect on plant growth.
  • List the comparative advantages and disadvantages of different types of irrigation systems.
  • Explain the operation of different sprinkler heads, different microjets and different drippers.
  • Explain the way water moves through soil and the mechanisms which affect the soils water holding capacity.
  • Select an appropriate irrigation system for a selected garden, and explain the reasons why it is preferred.
  • Explain the operation of a timer used in irrigation systems.
  • Design a microirrigation system.


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

Fertilisers - deficiencies and toxicities, N:P:K ratios, salting, fertiliser programming, compost.

8.  Propagation - Seeds & Cuttings

How to propagate plants by seed or cuttings, 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.

NOTE: The Stream Studies for this course will undergo a major revision and restructuring in the near future. The new structure will cover the same content, but be upgraded to incorporate three standard ACS modules. In doing this; we will improve many aspects of this course; among other things:  students will be able to better articulate into higher level courses.

Do You Understand What Tree Is Best?

Whenever you are choosing trees, whether for a new or old garden, always consider the following:

Eventual Height
Majestic forest trees are for country gardens and parks. They can be overwhelming in a suburban garden, casting too much shade and possibly creating problems with their roots. Should they drop branches or break in the wind they can cause major damage.

Spread of Canopy
Tall narrow trees create less shade than spreading canopies. Larger trees drop more leaves.

Density of Canopy
Denser foliage means more shade. Eucalypts (most of them anyway) tend to have rather light canopies and cast filtered shade; acacias, lilly-pillies and figs (Ficus) are denser and their shade correspondingly heavier.

Some trees are more inclined to have damaging roots which lift paths, crack foundations or block pipes. Some of the worst culprits are tall eucalypts in small gardens, Ficus blocking drainage pipes, umbrella trees, the lilly-pilly (Eugenia or Syzygium).

Number of Trees
Do you already have trees growing in your garden? Remember that extra trees will increase shade in the garden. The average suburban home should only have three or four large trees (i.e. over 10m tall) and they should be kept away from buildings, pipes and pavement.

Growth Rate and Lifespan
Some trees grow very fast – most acacias and eucalypts – but may have only 20 years of life (especially acacias). Others may be slower growing but will live for a century or more. It is a matter of balancing the desire for quick effect against long term benefit; you might plant fast but short-lived trees as “nurse trees”, planning to remove them in 10 or 15 years when the slower ones are coming to maturity. This course of action is really only an option if you intend remaining in your current home long enough to see the fruits of your labours.

Try to get a variety of colours and textures in the foliage of the trees you use.

Tall trees with attractive flowers are not always a good idea. Once the tree is fully established, the flowers may be so far above the ground that you might never notice them.

Often the most visible part of a tree is its bark. As such, trees are often better selected for their attractive bark than for the flowers or foliage.

Fruits or Berries
These can be long lasting and attractive, or they may be edible. Trees with berries will often attract birds and bats into the garden. One problem with fruit or berry trees is fruit falling onto pavements and driveways and making them messy. If you want low maintenance, position a lillypilly, Ficus or Pittosporum carefully.



You will be a different person after you finish this course. That's what any good course should do for a graduate.

  • Your awareness and understanding of horticulture will be broader and deeper than it was before.
  • You will be able to identify more plants than you could before.
  • You will be able to better manage gardens, sports grounds, commercial landscapes and a whole lot more.
  • You have possibilities that you had previously not seen, to move your knowledge and career forward

You may use this learning experience to improve the way you go about a job you are already doing; or it may be a stepping stone to a whole new career or business.
Some graduates continue to grow their knowledge and skills even further through additional study (perhaps moving onto something higher); and others may grow through the work experiences that follows their course.

Need assistance?

Start Now!


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
Garden Design Part 1
This stunning full colour Garden Design ebook is full of useful tips, information and inspiration. It contains around 300 colour illustrations! It is comprised of three parts: Design, How a Garden Functions and Aesthetics (making it look good).
Getting Work in Horticulture
Find out what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse the industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion chan
Plant Pests & Diseases
Are you one of those people that kill every plant you touch? Perhaps it's not you. Perhaps it's a pest or disease. A little bit of reading might just turn your garden into an oasis. Learn how to identify pests and diseases and bring the spring back into y
What to Plant Where
A great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees an