Study turf management and green keeping with this online course. A certificate that teaches more & with more skills, your career possibilities expand.

Course Code: VHT002
Fee Code: CT
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 600 hours
Qualification Certificate
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Learn to be both a Horticulture and Turf Professional 

  • one certificate covers both general horticulture and turf care
  • work as a gardener or greenkeeper
  • lay the foundation to became a highly skilled professional horticulturist
  • internationally (IARC) accredited course

The objective of the course is to:

  • provide skills and knowledge essential to the industry sector chosen (ie the selected stream).
  • understand the growth of turf species and the principles and practices used in establishment and maintenance of turf species in a range of situations.
  • develop the ability to identify, describe and control a range of common turf pests, diseases and weeds.
  • understand and operate machinery and equipment used in turf culture.
  • develop basic landscape design and construction skills as needed by a greenkeeper


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the CERTIFICATE IN HORTICULTURE (TURF) VHT002.
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 4 modules.

Note that each module in the CERTIFICATE IN HORTICULTURE (TURF) VHT002 is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Turf and Horticultural Education

An article by John Mason and Staff, at ACS Distance Education

What is needed in this industry: learning or qualifications? Much has been said about the need for Green Keepers to be trained, but all too often we assume that any training must be good training.

Does fast tracking work? Horticultural Certificates today are shorter than they once were. In the past a gardening apprentice had to attend classes one day a week for 3 years and work on the job under the instruction of a 'qualified' gardener/horticulturist for 3 or 4 years. If you think about it, that adds up to over 5000 hours of training for a certificate.

Today, it is possible for people to attend colleges for 1000 hours or less in some cases, to obtain a 'nationally recognised' diploma. Surely, common sense would tell anyone that a certificate that takes 5000 hours to earn must teach someone more than a diploma that takes 1000 or less hours.

There are two ways of looking at education:

Firstly, learn how to do a particular thing (like mow grass) in a particular place and time.

Or learn to understand a particular thing, and build a capacity to adapt to changed circumstances and situations well into the future.

If we mostly focus on the first option:

  • Education can be obtained quickly, and be relatively cheap to provide
  • A staff member can learn to mow grass today and do the job tomorrow; BUT
  • Skills learnt quickly are not necessarily retained long term
  • Skills learnt fast are not underpinned by a fundamental and comprehensive foundation that allows them to evolve properly to meet changing circumstances over time.

What then do Green Keepers and Turf Managers really need to know & how do they get to learn it? A focus on the second option reveals that to learn anything, you need to experience that thing in a variety of ways, over a period of time. The more different ways you see, hear, feel and/or do something, the more it ‘sticks’ in your memory. Knowing this, any good teacher will tell you that quality learning 'takes time'.

To manage turf properly, the skilled professional needs a very solid foundation in not just practical horticulture practices, but also science. They must understand plant physiology and anatomy, biochemistry, plant taxonomy, pathology, entomology, meteorology, genetics, mechanics, and many other things if they are to be able to understand issues that confront them.

They must be able to communicate properly with experts who might help them, and most of all must have strong skills in time, resources and risk management.
If we are going to get better turf professionals, we need longer, more comprehensive and more in depth courses.


Lifelong Education?

People sometimes talk about the need for lifelong education. The idea is that after your first course, you need to keep returning to do new courses, because things change and your first course becomes out of date.

This may be one way of looking at things; but if you look at industry leaders in any discipline, you will find that their initial training (formal or informal) was usually so good that they have developed a capacity to stay up to date. They have obtained a solid education first, then networked themselves into their industry, by joining professional bodies and subscribing to important publications. They attend meetings and conferences; and they continually encounter problems and work on the job with colleagues to solve them. They don’t need to attend more courses at TAFE or university to keep abreast of industry trends; they are actually setting the trends, and advancing their own knowledge and that of the industry as they move forward.
For someone to become an industry leader in this way though, their initial training needs to be high quality. Quality Education is an investment in the future.

Study methods and options while working - PBL (Problem Based Learning): PBL is where students are assessed on their ability to go through a problem solving process, as opposed to the traditional learning method of students learning by listening to lectures and reading, and are assessed on their ability to recall and communicate what they have learned.
Why is PBL so effective? Research shows that PBL gives the learner greater long-term benefits than traditional learning, and many successful and progressive universities around the world use it in their courses. Graduates of PBL courses advance faster and further in their careers. Other benefits of PBL include:

  • Develops critical and creative thinking;
  • Creates effective problem-solvers;
  • Increases motivation;
  • Encourages lateral thinking;
  • Improves communication and networking skills;
  • Is based on real-life situations.

What is involved in PBL through ACS Distance Education? Every PBL project is carefully designed by experts to expose you to the information and skills that we want you to learn. When assigned a project, you are given:

  • A statement of the problem (eg. diseased species);
  • Questions to consider when solving the problem;
  • A framework for the time and effort you should spend on the project;
  • Support from the school.

The problems that you will solve in your course will relate to what you are learning. They are problems that you might encounter when working that field, adapted to your level of study.


What next?

  • This course provides an excellent foundation for a career
  • Recognise that any worthwhile career takes many years to develop. Over the years, you learn more, your competence and confidence builds, you get better, and your opportunities get better accordingly. Excellence takes time to achieve -but with a good foundation, it can be achieved faster.
  • Alternatively -talk to us. Use our free careers counselling service.
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Our principal John Mason is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture

Accredited ACS Global Partner

ACS Distance Education is a member of the Australian Garden Council, Our Principal John Mason is a board member of the Australian Garden Council

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

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

Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)

Gavin started his career studying building and construction in the early 80's. Those experiences have provided a very solid foundation for his later work in landscaping. In 1988 he completed a B.Sc. and a few years later a Certificate in Garden Design. I

Bob James (Horticulturist)

Bob has over 50 years of experience in horticulture across both production sectors (Crops and nursery) and amenity sectors of the industry.
He holds a Diploma in Agriculture and Degree in Horticulture from the University of Queensland; as well as a Maste

Rosemary Davies (Horticulturist)

Rosemary trained in Horticulture at Melbourne Universities Burnley campus; studying all aspects of horticulture -vegetable and fruit production, landscaping, amenity, turf, aboriculture and the horticultural sciences.
Initially she worked with the Depart

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