Trees For Rehabilitation

Learn at home to grow trees on degraded land, to use trees for land reclaimation; land care and erosion control, through distanced education and open learning.

Course CodeBHT205
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn to choose, grow and manage the Best Tree species for a Soil Type and Situation.

  • Study from Home and work at your own pace, to save you time and money
  • Learn to incorporate soil management, tree cultivation, ecology and post planting management.
  • Learn to rehabilitate land systems.
  • Gain confidence in practical restoration and cultivation

10 Lessons each with a Set Task, 10 assignments, online and CD courses also have self assessment tests.

This course develops an understanding of environmental systems and the rehabilitation of degraded landscapes. You learn about seed collection, storage and germination, propagation, plant selection, establishment techniques, controlling pest & disease after planting. It will give you the skills required to maintain healthy rehabilitation systems.

Land restoration is a major industry of significance to our future. Don't miss out on this unique home study course. Gain a career that you believe in.

This is a course for:

  • Farmers, Landscapers, Parks Manager, Gardeners
  • Students, Teachers and Academics
  • Environmental Consultants
  • Land Managers, Soil Scientists or anyone else interested in building their understanding of how trees can be better used to improve or sustain any property, small or large.

If you want to know about rehabilitating sites without having to do a degree, this is a good place to obtain the knowledge necessary to get you up and running. It offers hands on and practical.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Approaches To Land Rehabilitation
  2. Ecology Of Soils And Plant Health
  3. Introduction To Seed Propagation Techniques
  4. Propagation And Nursery Stock.
  5. Dealing With Chemical Problems
  6. Physical Plant Effects On Degraded Sites
  7. Plant Establishment Programs
  8. Hostile Environments
  9. Plant Establishment Care
  10. Rehabilitating Degraded Sites

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.


  • Compare different approaches to land rehabilitation, to determine strengths and weaknesses of alternative options on a site to be rehabilitated.
  • Determine techniques to maximise plant development in land rehabilitation situations.
  • Explain the different ways of producing seedling trees for land rehabilitation purposes.
  • Determine appropriate plant establishment programs.
  • Develop procedures to care for plants, during establishment in an hostile environment.
  • Manage the rehabilitation of degraded soil.
  • Explain the effect of plants on improving a degraded site, both physically and chemically.

What You Will Do

  • Determine different plant cultivarsgrowing on land degradation on sites.
  • Explain different reasons for land requiring rehabilitation, including: * Salination * Erosion * Mining * Grazing * Vegetation harvesting * Pests * Reduction of biodiversity * Soil contamination * Urbanisation.
  • Compare the effectiveness of different policy approaches to land rehabilitation by different agencies and organisation, including: * Different levels of government * Mining companies * Developers * Conservation groups (i.e. tree planting bodies, landcare groups).
  • Develop a risk analysis for a specified site to be rehabilitated, by determining a variety of plant health problems which may impact on the success of plant establishment.
  • Analyse the failure of plants to grow successfully on a visited land rehabilitation site.
  • Develop a procedure to enhance the success rate of land rehabilitation plantings on a degraded site.
  • Describe the use of mulches, to maximise plant condition in a specified land rehabilitation tree planting project.
  • Explain different processes of establishing seedlings on land rehabilitation sites, including: *tubestock nursery production *direct seeding *pre-germinated bare rooted seedlings.
  • Determine factors which affect the viability of establishing five different species of plant seedlings, from different plant families; on a specific degraded site.
  • Compare the benefits of acquiring plants for a project by buying tubestock, with propagating and growing on, or close to, the planting site, with reference to: *costs *plant quality *local suitability *management.
  • Prepare production schedules for a plant species, using different propagation techniques,
    • summarising all important tasks from collection of seed to planting out of the tubestock.
  • Calculate the cost of production for a tubestock plant, according to the production schedule.
  • Estimate the differences in per plant establishment costs, for tubestock, compared with direct seeding methods, for planting on a degraded site.
  • Describe different methods of planting trees for rehabilitation purposes.
  • Describe different plant establishment techniques, including: *wind protection *frost protection *pest control *water management *weed management.
  • Describe an appropriate method for preparing soil for planting, at a proposed rehabilitation site.
  • Evaluate plant establishment techniques used by two different land rehabilitation programs inspected by you at least twelve months after planting was carried out.
  • Determine the needs of plants after planting, on different proposed land rehabilitation sites.
  • Describe different ways to cater to the needs of large numbers of plants after planting.
  • Collect pressed specimens or photographs of trees for a herbarium of suitable trees for rehabilitation, and including information on the culture and care of each tree.
  • Describe different types of soil degradation.
  • Determine the risk factors involved in soil degradation.
  • Compare different alternative methods of treating several different soil degradation problems.
  • Develop an assessment form to use for evaluating the sensitivity of a site to land degradation.
  • Evaluate a site showing signs of degradation, selected by you, using the assessment form you developed.
  • Plan a rehabilitation program for the degraded site you evaluated, including *a two year schedule of work to be completed; *list of quantity and type of materials required; *approximate cost estimates.
  • Explain the effect different plant species may have resisting soil degradation.
  • Explain how different plants can have different impacts upon the chemistry of their environment, including both air and soil.
  • Evaluate the significance of a group of plants, to the nature of the microclimate in which you find them growing.
  • Compare the appropriateness of twenty different plant species for different degraded sites.
  • Determine plant varieties, suited to each of different degradation situations.

Trees on Small Properties?

Trees that might ordinarily be too big for a small garden may still be able to be grown, but you may need to use different techniques.


Buildings, pavement and walls may restrict where tree roots can grow; and for some tree species, that isn't an issue; but for others, the roots can cause damage. If you confine roots to a particular soil volume, they can be kept from invading unwanted areas. This technique will also tend to reduce the overall size of the tree. Toot control may be affected by any of the following methods:

  • Build a concrete wall under the ground
  • Woven fabrics that restrict movement of roots (eg. root control bags).
  • Thin plastic or metal barriers placed vertically down into the ground to prevent roots spreading outwards from the plant into areas where the they might be a problem (e.g. pipes, water features, paved areas). If the barrier reaches deep enough (ideally at least 50 - 60cm or more) then any roots that do go beneath the barrier are usually deep enough not to cause problems for paved areas.


Although there are many naturally weeping plants, some weeping trees are produced by grafting. Generally a tall upright growing variety will be used as the rootstock, and a spreading variety is grafted on top, at a desired height. This produces a straight upright trunk supporting outstretched and drooping branches on top. The height of weeping trees can be controlled (hence many have potential for smaller gardens). Be aware that some weeping trees can still spread a great deal, and become quite large. Weeping elms for instance might be inappropriate for a courtyard, but a weeping Acer palmatum ‘Dissectum’ may be appropriate.

Examples of plants commonly grafted as weepers include:

  • Acer palmatum cultivars
  • Cherries
  • Flowering Peach Cultivars
  • Silver Birch
  • Roses
  • Conifer varieties
  • Prostrate Grevilleas (e.g. G. ‘Royal Mantle’, G. ‘Gaudi Chaudi’, G. thelmaniana).


Standards are often developed by grafting an upright or bushy styled plant onto a more erect cultivar of the same plant genus.

Alternatively a normal plant can sometimes be trained, through careful pruning to achieve the same standard habit. The desired plant is allowed to grow as a single stem until the height is achieved where you desire branching (the ball shape) is to commence. At this point the plant is pruned. Pruning is continuous from this point onwards in order to achieve a bushy well-branched specimen. Any branches that develop below the desired point are removed immediately. The height of the standard and the size of the ball are purely subjective. In other words, you can select any dimension you desire.

Many small shrubs and trees are suitable for standards. The bushier the natural habit of the plant tends to be, the better suited to standard formation the plant generally is.


The spread of larger plants can often be contained by growing them as espaliers. This is the process of growing a plant up a wall or trellis, or similar structure, with the plant trained and pruned against the flat structure minimising its spread outwards. This can be a great way of utilising what might otherwise be a bare wall, and allow you to grow plants that might otherwise be to big. Trellising or wire stays might be used against the wall to provide anchorage points to train branches too.


Some trees that generally grow large can be kept smaller by grafting onto rootstocks that keep them smaller (eg. they may be less vigorous roots)

You need to Understand Degradation Before you can Start Rehabilitation

Water erosion will be evident at times of heavy rainfalls in areas where the vegetation cover is reduced. This can occur as a result of overgrazing or clean cultivation. The proportion of rainfall running off is higher, the greater the slope is. Soils low in organic matter or with poor structure are generally more prone to erosion. Soils which are more friable tend to absorb rain more quickly. How much water is absorbed before runoff occurs depends on the depth of soil.

Crusted or capped surface layers reduce water absorption considerably and cause large-scale surface flow. This generally takes place in the following order:

  • Raindrop or splash erosion, which breaks up surface structure, fills soil pores and seals the surface.
  • Sheet erosion, where a thin uniform layer of the topmost soil particles is removed by wide areas of shallow water.
  • Rill erosion, which occurs due to the concentration of sheet surface flow into faster flowing, deeper rills, and results in more severe soil loss where runoff accumulates.
  • Gully erosion, which prevails further down in the landscape where runoff water flows faster and removes large amounts of soil.

These gullies subsequently increase in length and depth.
Water erosion control is achieved by eliminating the cause as early on as possible, by minimising runoff and reducing the speed of flow.

There are two main types of water erosion control methods:

  • Biological or plant-based methods
  • Mechanical or earthwork methods

If the problem can be solved by an improved plant cover, expensive earthworks should be avoided.

Biological or plant-based erosion control

The greater the intensity of rainfall (mm/hour), the greater its potential to erode. In times of intense rainfall, it may not always be possible to have a good cover of growing crop. A good cover of straw (standing or surface-mulched) is an appropriate alternative in that case.

Biological erosion control involves building up organic matter, e.g. by applying animal manure or compost. Organic matter improves soil structure and aeration, and thereby increases the soil’s ability to absorb and hold water, reducing runoff and erosion. Organic matter also improves plant growth, providing a dense, protective cover.

Strip cropping in conjunction with crop rotation is another biological erosion control method. Summer and winter crops are planted in alternative strips. The aim is to achieve even crop coverage throughout the year.

Mechanical or earthwork erosion control

Mechanical or earthwork erosion control methods are based on banks and waterways which divert and control excess water flow. A graded (falling or flowing) bank is a compacted ridge of soil designed to divert water down the slope. Graded banks are positioned at regular intervals across the slope. The water should be diverted to stable waterways which run at right angles to the banks. The soil type and volume of water to be diverted determine the maximum length of banks.

Waterways must be covered with vegetation, such as grass, to stabilise the soil. The waterway grass should be kept short, as long grass may slow down water flow and catch silt. This can be achieved by slashing or grazing. Removal of weeds and silt deposits may be necessary from time to time.

In some cases, other soil conservation works may be needed, such as diversion banks and storm water banks. Diversion banks are usually built directly above a contour bank system to protect it from excess surface flow. Storm water banks are placed at strategic points to prevent excessive rainfall from damaging cultivations.

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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. J
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.,
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
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