Certificate in Horticulture (Plant Protection)

Study horticulture, plant health care and plant protection methods for a career, or business in plant care, garden maintenance or pest management.

Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)700 hours

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Distance Learning Course for Horticultural Tradesmen

Learn Practical Skills and a Career in Professional Gardening

'“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 trades person would know” - John Mason Dip.Hort.Sc., Cert.Supn, FIOH, FPLA, Professional Horticulturist for over 40 years, Garden Author and educator

“specialise in the treatment of pest and disease problems.- Tracey Morris Dip.Hort., Cert.Hort., Cert III Organic Farming, ACS Tutor.

The Certificate in Horticulture (plant protection) is a vocationally oriented course comprising both studies in both general horticulture and in plant protection.

Certificate in Horticulture involves the areas of work:

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

*STREAM STUDIES - a further 350 hrs of study specifically relating to plant protection

Stream Plant protection consists of

  1. Diagnosing Problems
  2. Pest & Disease Problems
  3. Nutrient & Environmental Problems
  4. Pest Collection
  5. Natural vs Chemical Controls
  6. Integrated Pest Management
  7. Application Equipment
  8. Pesticide Grouping
  9. Chemical Terminology
  10. Pesticide Timing
  11. Pesticide Dynamics
  12. Controlling Pests
  13. Controlling Diseases
  14. Controlling Pests & Diseases In Nurseries
  15. Controlling Other Factors


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; amont other things:  students will be able to better articulate into higher level courses.



If you’ve got a courtyard that never seems to look good, or is uncomfortable to be in, do something about it. Courtyards are great places to have in your garden, and it’s rare that problems cannot be overcome.

Problem: Heat

Many courtyards are heat traps. Small courtyards with solid brick walls and lots of paving are especially prone to overheating.


Create shade:

  • plant a small shade tree

  • install a shade wing
  • build a pergola and cover it with shade cloth or a climber

Let the wind through:

  • cut holes in the fence or wall

  • install a wrought iron, slatted timber or mesh gate

  • Add water: fountain, waterfall, misting irrigation system

  • Remove hot surfaces:

  • replace paving with cool grass

  • grow a plant over a brick wall

Problem: Access

Courtyards (particularly those in older homes and terrace houses) can be small and difficult to get to.


  • Widen pathways/gateways

  • Use archways to give the illusion of space if access is narrow

  • Replace steps with ramps or with a gentler gradient; if space is a problem, build a platform and corner in the staircase

  • Put a step from the house into the courtyard

  • Install a side gate

Problem: Dry soil

Buildings and trees can block rainfall, resulting in dry garden beds and lawns inside the courtyard. Dry soils may also be a result of soil compaction from construction work, pedestrians, etc.


  • Improve the soil, eg. add water crystals or soil wetters; use mulch and dig in organic matter; aerate the soil with a garden fork.

  • Install drip irrigation, and connect it to an automatic timer so that the lawns and beds are watered regularly.

  • In paved courtyards, plant small herbs between pavers to allow water through to the soil. 

  • Direct pedestrians and vehicles using paths and pavers.  This will limit soil compaction. 

  • Plant drought tolerant plants such as succulents.

Problem: Shade

Excessive shade from nearby buildings and trees can make the soil stay wet and paving may become slippery. 


  • Choose shade-loving plants, eg. Impatiens and ferns.

  • Avoid lawn or use shade-tolerant species, eg. Fescues or Dichondra.

  • Prune overhanging branches (but first get permission from neighbours or the council if the tree isn’t growing on your property).

  • Improve drainage.

  • Add a raised timber platform if the ground is waterlogged (treat the foundations to prevent rot).

Problem: Rubbish

Papers, leaves and other debris can get blow in from outside and trapped in the courtyard.


  • Place fine wire mesh or shade cloth over the top.

  • Keep the gate closed.

  • Build a fence or solid wall.

  • Talk to neighbours about where the rubbish is coming from.

Problem: Builder’s rubbish

Plaster, concrete, nails, old tins etc may be buried in the soil during the house construction. As well as being a physical obstruction to plant root growth, dumped rubbish can leach toxic chemicals into the soil.


  • Remove any visible builder’s rubbish.

  • Dig over garden beds and remove any waste.

  • Address the soil problems by adding fertiliser or organic matter.

  • Raise the garden beds.

  • Buy plants that are adapted to that kind of soil, eg.lavender prefers lime soil.

Problem: Intense Smells

Strong-smelling plants (eg. Jasmine, Gardenia) have a more intense fragrance in enclosed spaces.


  • Think before you plant; and plant fewer scented plants.

  • Ensure adequate ventilation.

  • Keep scented plants away from windows and doorways.

Problem: Glare

In sunny weather light inside the courtyard can be very bright. (Light colours and glass increase glare.)


  • Render walls a darker colour.

  • Avoid still water features (they reflect more light).

  • Plant around the perimeter of the garden.

  • Plant a small shade tree.

  • Plant a ground cover to absorb light.

  • Install blinds on windows overlooking the courtyard.

Problem:  Plants overgrow the courtyard.

Courtyards have limited space and many shrubs, climbers, and even trees can grow outwards, encroaching on that limited space, leaving you with less usable room or space to move about.


  • Use upright, non spreading plants (eg. pencil pines).

  • Use plants that have a well defined and predictable architectural shape (eg. Cordyline, Yucca, Agave).

  • Use smaller, less vigorous plants.

  • Prune frequently to stop spreading.

  • Train plants (eg. Topiary, espaliers).

  • Avoid plants that are more of a problem if brushed (eg. anything with thorns or that may cause an allergic reaction).


How Can This Course Help Me?

There are many positions where an understanding of plants and the stresses they face is of value. Like people, if plants are neglected, their health can quickly decline. Through completing this certificate course you will equip yourself with a solid foundation in recognising signs and symptoms of plant pest and disease problems, nutritional deficiencies, and environmental stressors, and be able to formulate appropriate interventions and treatment plans. It may also suit those in positions where they are called upon to advise others.

This course will be of particular value to people working in or wishing to work in:

  • Public parks
  • Public gardens
  • Botanic gardens
  • Garden maintenance
  • Nursery work
  • Retail nurseries
  • Garden centres

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Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture
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
Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,
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.
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