Course CodeVHT002
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

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.

The course is divided into two parts, and involves completing all assignments and passing an exam in each of six subjects as listed below.

Part I

Horticulture I

Turf Care

Machinery and Equipment

Part 2.

Sports Turf Management

Turf Repair and Renovation

Irrigation (Gardens)

For full details on individual modules click on each above


Horticulture I

  1. Plant Identification
  2. Planting
  3. Introduction to Soils
  4. Introduction to Nutrition
  5. Introduction to Water Management
  6. Pruning
  7. Weeds
  8. Foundations of Pests and Diseases
  9. Landscaping
  10. Plant Propagation
  11. Introduction to Lawns
  12. Arboriculture

Turf Care

  1. Introduction - Turf Varieties
  2. Turf Grass Physiology
  3. Turf Establishment
  4. Soils
  5. Turf Weed Problems
  6. Turf Pests and Diseases
  7. Turf Maintenance Techniques
  8. Irrigation - An Overview
  9. Playing Fields & Bowling Greens
  10. Managing Established Turf
  11. Establishing Ornamental Turf

Machinery and Equipment

  1. Engine Operation
  2. Hydraulics
  3. Machinery Components
  4. Hand Tools
  5. Power Tools
  6. Tractors
  7. Equipment Maintenance
  8. Specific Workplace Requirements

Sports Turf Management

  1. Turf Variety Selection
  2. Mowing - selection, use and maintenance of equipment.
  3. Cultivation Techniques -spiking, coring, thatch removal and other techniques.
  4. Preparing for Play on Sports grounds - rolling, marking, etc.
  5. Preparing for Play of Greens - rolling, marking, etc.
  6. Turf Protection & Preservation
  7. Irrigation & Drainage
  8. Soil Treatment & Sprays - pesticides, fertilisers, etc.
  9. Evaluate Maintenance Facilities
  10. Develop a Management Plan.

Turf Repair and Renovation

  1. Understanding Turf Deterioration - physiological and biological responses.
  2. Repair & Renovation Equipment - use and repair of applicable equipment.
  3. Turf Cultivation Techniques
  4. Health Improvement Techniques -pest control, feeding, watering, etc.
  5. Optimising Turf Usage
  6. Replacing Damaged Turf - techniques for replacement.
  7. Renovation of Degraded Turf - techniques to repair and renovated turf.
  8. Eradicating Turf Weeds
  9. Treating Aeration and Drainage Problems - compaction, etc.
  10. Managing a Turf Nursery.


  1. Introduction to Irrigation
  2. Soil Characteristics & Problems
  3. Estimating Plant Needs & Irrigation Scheduling
  4. Drainage
  5. Types of Irrigation Systems
  6. Trickle Systems
  7. Design Specifications
  8. Pumps & Filters
  9. Selecting the Right System for a Plant
  10. Design & Operation of Systems.


Turf and Horticultural Education

An article by John Mason and Staff, at ACS Distance Education www.acs.edu.au

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.

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