Starting your own landscape maintenance business or want to work in the horticulture industry, learn about ornamental horticulture with this online course.

Course Code: VHT120
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Learn Wide Ranging Skills in Garden Maintenance

Maintaining gardens well requires a solid foundation in horticulture principles and practices. Whilst many people know some gardening basics, most people don’t have in-depth gardening knowledge. There are many gardening myths and errors that can be made by the ill-informed. 

This course provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to make a successful career out of garden maintenance. From understanding soils and how to amend them, through to correct pruning techniques, and irrigation system design, this course has it all. 

Graduates of this course will have leant everything they need to take on garden maintenance work in public or private gardens, parks, grounds, or other landscapes.       

  • Operate your own garden maintenance business
  • Find maintenance work in small or large settings, in the public or private sector 
  • Start a career in gardens or property management


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN GARDEN MAINTENANCE.
 Pruning Plants SGH6
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 3 of the following 12 modules.

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN GARDEN MAINTENANCE is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


  • Identify hundreds of different plants
  • Determine differences in maintenance needs of hundreds of different plants.
  • Prune dozens of different types of plants
  • Manage soils for better plant health
  • Manage weed growth in gardens
  • Manage pest and disease problems in gardens
  • Manage watering of plants
  • Manage lawns (including mow them properly)
  • Develop a heightened awareness of how to find relevant information and solve problems encountered in maintaining gardens.

Start by Choosing the Right Tools

Any garden maintenance job can be made easier if you prepare for the job by choosing and knowing how to properly use tools and equipment appropriate to the task at hand.

There are many different tools that gardeners may choose to use occasionally, but some tools are absolutely essential to all gardeners every day they work. Essential tools may include secateurs, a spade, wheelbarror and lawn mower.


Secateurs are also sometimes called 'pruning shears' or 'hand pruners'. There are many types of secateurs available, and in most cases you get what you pay for. The cheaper models at the local hardware shop may be suitable for one or two jobs, but if you want something that is going to last, be prepared to pay a bit more.  Some manufacturers make secateurs of different sizes for different sized hands.  Some even make left-handed models.  If you have lost secateurs in the past then use cheaper makes and replace them more often.  It is just as easy to leave a good pair in the compost heap as a cheap pair.  

There are three main types of secateurs:

By-pass Secateurs 
These rely on a scissor-type action to cut through plant material. They have a sharp upper blade which cuts against a sharp lower blade to make a clean, precise cut.  These are the most difficult type of secateur to keep very sharp. Furthermore if the blades are not kept tightly aligned stringy growth can jam the blades; this is can be very annoying!  

Anvil Secateurs 
These have a sharp upper blade that cuts against a lower anvil. These secateurs can crush woody material if they are blunt but they are very easy to keep sharp and they are much less likely to jam than by-pass secateurs.

Parrot-beak Secateurs 
These have rounded blades that use a scissor-like action. Use care with these, as they can be dangerous.

Hand Saws

Hand saws are required for cutting large branches. These may have coarse, wide-set teeth and do not stick when cutting into green wood like carpenter's saws do. There are two main types of saw: bow saws and pull-saws.  Bow saws have a blade that can be easily removed by pulling back part of the handle.  This removes the tension from the blade which then comes off the fixing pins.

Some pull-saws have retractable blades that can be folded into the handle. Others have fixed blades. Pull-saws get their name form the fact that they only cut on the pull stroke and they often have a slightly curved blade making them cut more efficiently.  They are great for getting into 'hard to reach' places around the tree canopy. Select a saw with a blade made of high quality, hardened, chrome-plated carbon steel.  Also select a model of folding saw that has a good positive catch on the blade.  This will prevent the blade form folding onto you fingers, which is very painful.  You can get pull saws that attach to a pole.  These can be very useful for larger trees and avoid the need for ladder work.  As with the pole pruners, be careful not to stand directly underneath branches that you are removing.
When cutting, force the blade straight through the wood in a single action. Avoid twisting the secateurs, as this can strain the blades. Also avoid cutting through woody stems that are too large as this will likely result in a poor cut, bark injury and damage the secateurs. Instead select a more suitable tool.  There is a new type of secateurs on the market that have a ratchet mechanism that enables you to cut through much larger stems with less effort.

This course will develop a familiarity with these and other pieces of gardening equipment.

Benefits of Studying This Course

  • Learn how to properly use a range of different gardening tools and equipment.
  • Find out how to make soil amendments to improve soils for growing plants.
  • Discover trade skills for caring for plants through pruning, watering, and fertilising.
  • Gain confidence to tackle all sorts of garden maintenance jobs.
  • Use what you learn to establish your own garden maintenance or soft landscaping business.
  • Build your existing skillset and improve your employment possibilities.

Career Opportunities

  • Landscape gardener
  • Gardener
  • Grounds maintenance officer
  • Parks & gardens officer
  • Self-employment
  • Small business


Course Contributors

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

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