Home Garden Expert Course

Become a more knowledgeable gardener or gardening expert. Covers the essentials of gardening to take your home garden to the next level. Extensive 100 hour home study course.

Course Code: AHT101
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
Get started!
Is Gardening a life-long passion for You?

If so this might be the course for you.

Once the gardening bug bites you soon discover that there is so much more to learn.

Gardeners want to know more and that is why we wrote this great course - so you can:

  • Learn practical gardening skills
  • Beautify your garden
  • Express your creativity
  • Grow your own food
  • Choose the right plant for the right place
  • Identify plants
  • Identify pests and diseases
  • Understand design concepts
Let us help you discover a whole new world of gardening and to create the stunning garden of your dreams.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Basic Plant Identification & Culture
    • Plant names-common and scientific
    • Recognising groupings of plants into families and genera
    • Planting
    • Understanding cold in the garden
    • Protecting new plantings
    • Different potting needs
    • Hanging baskets
    • How to select the most appropriate plant
    • Transplanting from pots
    • Basic planting procedure
    • Best time to plant
    • Planting bare rooted plants
    • Mulching
    • Tools & equipment.
    • How to cut with secateurs
    • Aims of pruning
    • Pruning terminology
    • When to prune
    • Pruning methods
    • Pruning in the home orchard
    • Review of 16 different plants
  2. Soils & Nutrition
    • Soil texture and structure
    • Different soils for different purposes
    • Terminology
    • Water, air, temperature of soil
    • Nutrient elements
    • Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulphur
    • Minor elements
    • Deficiencies and toxicities
    • Feeding plants
    • Factors affecting fertiliser application
    • Organic fertilisers; manures, rock dusts, seaweed
    • Ways to apply fertiliser
    • Soil chemical properties
    • Soil building
    • Improving texture, fertility, etc
    • Total salts
    • Acidity and alkalinity
    • Composting
    • Drainage
    • Review of sixteen different plants
  3. Pests & Weeds
    • Identifying problems
    • Preventative measures
    • Types of problems -parasitic and non parasitic, pest, disease, environmental etc
    • Chemical vs natural controls
    • Common problems and treatments used for them, both natural and chemical
    • Safety with chemicals
    • Plants to improve soils -cover crops
    • Biological control
    • Weed identification
    • Types of weeds
    • Types of weed problems
    • Weed control methods
    • Review of 16 different plants
  4. Landscaping
    • Types of gardens -formal, informal, natural
    • Cottage gardens, mediterranean, japanese, naturalistic, permaculture
    • History of Gardening
    • Design principles or concepts -line, texture, colour, balance etc.
    • Using paving, stone, gravel, etc
    • Selecting landscape materials
    • Moving earth
    • Using timber
    • Rockeries
    • Drainage -surface and sub surface
    • Designing a home garden, step by step, through to drawing the plan
    • Creating user friendly gardens
    • How to use colour
    • Creating a natural style
    • How to use plants
    • How to create a garden room
    • Native gardens
    • Traditional (European style) home gardens.
    • Hedges and Mazes
    • Review of 16 different plants
  5. Propagation
    • Methods -asexual and sexual
    • Equipment, cold frames
    • Seed treatments -acid digestion, stratification, scarification, etc
    • Soils, soil mixes, propagating media
    • UC mixes
    • ph
    • Types of media and components -rock, stone, synthetic, organic, soil
    • Growing plants from seed
    • Hygiene
    • How to sow into containers
    • Germination
    • Pricking out seedlings
    • Cutting propagation
    • Types of cuttings, hardwood, softwood, herbaceous, nodal, tip, etc
    • Cutting treatments -hormones, wounding etc
    • Managing parent plants
    • Cutting propagation for a range of specific plant genera
    • Setting out cuttings
    • Potting on cuttings
    • Review of 16 different plants
  6. Lawns
    • Value of lawns
    • Lawn shape and design
    • Ways of establishment -seeding, turfing, rough mowing
    • Laying a new lawn
    • Turf grass varieties -couch, fescue, rye, bent, kentucky,
    • Lawn problems -nutritional, environmental, pest, disease, weeds
    • Lawn renovation -topdressing, dethatching, aeration, etc
    • Turf maintenance practices -rolling, spiking,slicing, drilling, etc
    • Watering lawns
    • Review of 16 different plants
  7. Indoor Gardening
    • Why some indoor plants do not perform
    • Caring for plants -growth rates, dormancy
    • General rules to follow
    • Choosing the right pot or container
    • Hydroponics
    • Bonsai
    • Greenhouses
    • Shadehouses
    • Heaters
    • Other ways to grow plants -epiphytes, terrariums, water gardens
    • Selecting indoor plants for different light and other conditions
    • Hardy indoor plants
    • How to maintain indoor plants in pots
    • Problems with potted plants and solutions
    • Groups or types of indoor plants -foliage, flowering etc
    • Review of 16 different plants
  8. The Kitchen Garden
    • Getting started
    • Choosing what to grow
    • Planning a cropping program
    • Getting the best from a Vegetable plot
    • Crop rotation
    • Use disease resistant varieties
    • Timing
    • Special techniques -green manures, no dig beds, raised beds
    • Minimising water use
    • Making compost
    • Varieties and seeds
    • Raising and transplanting seedlings
    • Directory/review of how to grow most common vegetables (this is an extensive study)
    • Harvesting
    • Establishing a home orchard
    • Deciduous Fruit trees
    • Pollination needs
    • Review of common temperate and sub tropical fruits from grapes to mangoes and apples to citrus
    • Nuts -review of most common types
    • Berry Fruits -review of most common types
    • Using excess harvest -preserves etc
    • Herb cultivation
    • Review of most common herbs
    • Harvesting herbs
    • Designing a culinary herb garden
    • Companion planting
    • Using herbs -garnishes, soups, pot pouri, etc
    • Poisonous plants
    • Cultivating annual flowers
    • Review of 16 different plants

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify plant health problems and know treatments.
  • Know the plant naming system and how plants are classified.
  • Understand the effect of soil structure and texture on plant growth.
  • Understand plant terminology and planting methods.
  • Understand plant pruning requirements and methods
  • Know plant nutrition requirements
  • Understand soil conditions and when they require improvement.
  • Recognise a range of pests and diseases and the methods of control.
  • Recognise a range of weeds and know various control methods.
  • Know a range of garden styles and the history behind them.
  • Have knowledge of landscape construction techniques.
  • Understand the elements and processes of landscape design.
  • Understand various propagating techniques
  • Propagate plants by various methods
  • Understand the soil preparation and requirements to establish or renovate a lawn
  • Know lawn maintenance requirements.
  • Understand requirements, including environmental and nutritional aspects of growing plants indoors (including hydroponics and greenhouses).
  • Know how to select plants suited to growth indoors
  • Develop knowledge of vegetable growing procedures and requirements.
  • Have knowledge of a range of fruits and berries suited to the home garden
  • Have knowledge of a range of commonly grown herbs and flowers

What You Will Do

  • Read notes written and supplied by staff of this school
  • Watch instructional video
  • Test and name different soils
  • Mix inexpensive potting mixes
  • Make compost and explain how you made it.
  • Learn how to identify plants effectively.
  • Explain step by step how you would go about planting shrubs in your own locality.
  • Explain how to transplant and transport plants from one propertyu to another.
  • Determine the tools required to do gardening for a property, using a limited supply of money.
  • Explain characteristics of soil, including: Soil Structure, pH and Nutrient Deficiency
  • Describe how to fertilize a lawn
  • Explain how to improve drainage in a soil that is too wet for plants to do well in.
  • Explain how you would improve a specified soil
  • Identify a nutrient deficiency
  • Observe and identify different categories of pest and disease problems in growing plants.
  • Compile a weed collection with pressings or illustrations of different weeds
  • Compile a plant collection with pressings or illustrations of different weeds
  • Describe how environmental problems affect plants
  • Recommend ways of controlling different types opf problems in plants, using both natural and chemical.
  • Observe and evaluate different types of gardens.
  • Survey a garden in order to prepare a garden design.
  • Apply a systematic procedure to landscape design, in order to produce a concept plan for a garden.
  • Explain mistakes have you observe in the design and construction of different rockeries
  • Build a simple cold frame and us it to propagate plants.
  • Prepare propagating mix which would be suitable for striking most types of cuttings.
  • Propagate different plants from cuttings.
  • Prepare a plan for sowing annual flower seedlings over a 12 month period.
  • Evaluate and explain a lawn seed mix from the packaging of that mix
  • Observe different lawns and recommend their treatment
  • Explain how to establish a lawn
  • Observe and evaluate the condition of different indoor plants.
  • Recommend the treatment of different indoor plants.
  • Prepare lists of indoor plants for different applications.
  • Find an indoor plant which needs potting up & pot it up.
  • Plant a vegetable patch.
  • List fruit, nuts & berries most suited for growing in your locality
  • Observe the way in which herbs are used commercially (eg. in medicine, cooking etc)
  • Explain why crop rotation is used in growing vegetables?

Be Smarter about Gardening and also Save Money

Learning about gardening saves you money and helps you create the garden of your dreams.

Did you know that:

  • It can costs thousands of dollars to set up a new garden and tens of thousands over a lifetime to maintain it.
  • It's common for half of the plants planted in a new garden to die, or perform poorly.

BUT -  there are lots of benefits to understanding gardening better:

  • If you choose the right plants for the right place, they will thrive and cost will be greatly reduced.
  • If you develop your garden properly, using the right materials in the right way - the cost reduces drastically.
  • When you know what you are doing, your garden will function well and look beautiful too.  

New Gardens

It is easier to create a low maintenance garden when you are starting from scratch. The main rule to follow is "think things over carefully" before doing anything. This is far easier if you have learned the fundamental basics - as you will throughout this course.
  • Reduce maintenance by planning your garden on paper first (before construction).
  • Make a list of maintenance tasks you will need to perform routinely.
  • Study the list and see if there are ways that you can reduce tasks by redesigning or modifying your initial plan; even small changes to your design can have a major effect on how much maintenance you will have to do.

Good preparation of your site prior to planting out the garden is also a must. A little work at this stage will save a lot of work in the long term, in particular you should:

  • Provide for good drainage.
  • Improve your soil structure and fertility.
  • install an irrigation systems.
  • Prepare a proper base for paving and other constructed designed surfaces.


Old Gardens

Established gardens are sometimes quite difficult to maintain, particularly if they have been developed bit by bit with no set plan. Those who have purchased a house with an already established garden are often confronted with a legacy of poor design, or a style of garden that isn't quite what you want. The existing layout and features may be a maintenance headache, and the cost of changing or removing them may be very expensive, for example, a large old tree which drops lots of leaves, suffers from wood rot, and creates shade which makes growing other plants difficult. It can sometimes cost thousands of dollars to remove such trees if they are in difficult places.
Before attempting to change anything, look carefully at which aspects of the garden require the majority of the maintenance workload, then consider the changes which you might be able to make to reduce that maintenance requirement. For the best long term result you might need to be ruthless. Just remember, it is better to have a garden which has a little less of what you like but is well maintained than a garden which has everything you like, but is rapidly deteriorating, or is hard to maintain in good condition.
There are many ways to easily reduce the maintenance of a garden. The type of design you choose will also create or reduce the amount of maintenance and so too will choosing the right position for all sort of things like paths, clothesline compost bins garden tools, to make maintenance and jobs around the garden easier.


What will this course do for you?

Any home gardener who does this course will learn to better understand many different aspects of gardening.

If you haven't studied a broad horticulture course before; there will no doubt be gaps in your knowledge and skills that will be holding you back from your full potential.
 This course will expand your awareness of what is possible, and help you to make better judgements about what are appropriate goals for you to achieve in your home garden.

We all have limited time and money to invest in gardening, and it can be so easy to waste the time and money you have if you don't make proper choices about what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

Sometimes we miss opportunities to do things because we simply don't realize those things are an option.

Once this course is over gardening can be more efficient, more exciting and full of more possibilities than you might of ever previously considered.
  • Develop effective gardening skills
  • Encourage your creative skills
  • Save you money and time
  • Lets you be your own expert

Let us help YOU to become an expert gardener and  have the dream garden you always wanted.

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your login.training portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email acs@oamps.com.au.

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email (admin@acs.edu.au) call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with studentservices@acs.edu.au if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( admin@acs.edu.au ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Adriana Fraser

Freelance writer, businesswoman, educator and consultant for over 30 years. Adriana has written extensively for magazines including free living publications -Grass Roots and Home Grown; and has authored or co authored many books ranging from a biography to books on business and gardening. She holds formal qualifications in education, child care and horticulture and has worked with ACS Distance Education since the mid 1990's.

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 across the UK for more than three decades.
Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .

John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner.
John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.

I agree for ACS Distance Education to contact me and store my information until I revoke my approval. For more info, view our privacy policy.