Certificate in Garden Maintenance Services (VHT036)

Become your own boss in the gardening industry!

Do you want to own and operate a garden maintenance business or maybe you are thinking about becoming a franchisee of an established business? You will learn everything you need to know to start and run a business in gardening ...

Gardening can be a lucrative business once you have established your client base and developed business connections... you can do that by carrying out excellent customer service skills and making gardens beautiful...

Learn from our horticulture experts with over 30 years experience in this industry


Module 1. Horticulture I BHT101
1. Plant Identification
2. Planting
3. Recognising plant families and identifying plants
4. Soils
5. Plant nutrition
6. Water management
7. Garden maintenance and weeds
8. Pests and diseases
9. Pruning
10. Landscaping
11. Propagation
12. Lawns
13. Arboriculture

Module 2. Weed Control BHT209
1. Weed Identification
2. Weed control methods
3. Chemical weed control
4. Weed control in specific situations
5. Safe chemical application
6. Non-chemical weed control
7. Developing a major weed control program

Module 3. Garden Maintenance VHT100
1. Introduction planning and managing a garden
2. Garden furnishings and machinery
3. Feeding plants
4. Weed control
5. Weedicides
6. Natural pest control
7. Chemical pest control
8. Turf Management
9. Irrigation 

10. Maintenance of plants

Module 4. Irrigation (Gardens) BHT210
1. Introduction to irrigation
2. Soil characteristics and problems
3. Estimaying plant needs and irrigation scheduling
4. Drainage
5. Types of irrigation systems
6. Trickle systems
7. Design specifications
8. Pumps and filters
9. Selecting the right system for a plant
10. Design and operation of systems


Machinery and Equipment
Internet Marketing
Healthy Buildings I
Healthy Buildings II
Arboriculture I
Arboriculture II
Landscaping Home Gardens
Starting a small business


Distinguish between plants in order to identify at least 120 plants on plant review sheets.
Plant out a container plant following a recommended procedure.
Sample and carry out simple tests on different soils.
Identify a range of nutrient problems in plants.
Identify a range of pest and disease problems in plants.
Demonstrate the correct procedure for pruning a plant.
Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
Determine appropriate procedures for planting according to type of plant and site.
Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants in the garden.
Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-chemical control methods to control those problems.

Identify characteristics of plant growing media necessary for healthy plant growth.
Explain the importance of organic matter in soil management.
Describe the principles and techniques of composting.
Determine nutrient problems and describe chemical and non-methods for overcoming these problems.
Identify management solutions to a range of plant problems including weeds, pests and diseases.
Explain the principles of Integrated Pest Management.
Determine appropriate water management practices applicable to plant growth.
Describe the characteristics of irrigation and drainage systems.
Describe the importance of pruning to plant growth, flowering and fruiting.
Describe safe use of chemicals.
Develop criteria for selecting suitable plants for a landscape project.
Prepare concept plans for landscape redevelopment.
Draw a concept plan for a garden redevelopment.
Demonstrate the correct procedure for taking cuttings from a range of plants.
Distinguish between different pre-germination seed requirements and techniques, for different plant species.
Determine appropriate turf species for different purposes and chosen climatic conditions.
Explain the composition of lawn seed mixes and fertilizers.
Observe and report on lawn management techniques.
Determine solutions to lawn problems.
Explain the cause and effect of common tree problems.
Determine appropriate methods for treating tree problems.


Learn When and How to Prune Plants

Different types of trees and shrubs are pruned in different ways according to the problem or aim and also according to the growth type we want to encourage or discourage.  Sometimes the way in which you prune a plant is the same for all of the members of a genus, for example all Cistus plants resent hard pruning.  On the other hand there is no one rule for all Clematis.  ‘Think twice, before you cut once” is a good mantra to avoid mistakes.     

Pruning methods and styles also vary from country to country according to the traditions of that country. Some of these may be methods handed down over centuries.

The time to prune varies between countries and climatic location. For example, in warmer tropical areas lemons can be pruned at almost any time of the year, while lemons growing in frosty regions need to be left until the danger of frosts is passed before they are heavily pruned. If it is very dry, or drought conditions prevail, then generally you only prune lightly as there is not enough moisture about to support a flush of new soft growth.  In this way, you can see that pruning for the same type of plant can vary with the season and also temperature, rainfall and frost intensity in different regions.  A good general rule is to prune when either the plant is dormant and not growing, such as in the dead of winter, or when it is able to grow fast and recover. Pruning a plant that is already under stress is not a good idea.  Anything that you can do to reduce the stress of pruning on the plant is good practice.

Pruning Trees in General
There are some basic steps to pruning which are good to know before you start to prune a tree. 

  • Firstly, you want to remove any dead growth or old unproductive growth and wood.
  • Next, take out and crossing wood that is rubbing against other healthy wood and causing injury and possible entry points for pests and diseases to take hold.
  • Then remove any sections of plants that may have an internal pest problem such as citrus stem miner, currant borer or termites.
  • Consider the overall shape of the tree and its natural habit. Look at where new growth comes from and prune so that it looks as natural as possible. For instance, some plants will shoot from the base, some will only shoot from older wood, whilst others may only shoot from younger wood.
  • Always prune to an upward and outward facing bud. Choose a healthy bud in the position you want your growth to go and prune with a sloping cut away from the bud and close enough not to damage the bud or the back of it and not so far that it leaves a long stub which will die off.
  • Make sure always you have sharp clean pruning equipment and the right tools for the job. If it is a big tree, ensure you get a tree surgeon or professional gardener in to do the job for you. They will be better able to control the position branches fall in and reduce the risk of injury. They will also be able to take away the wood that they have removed.

Pruning Larger Shrubs
If the shrub is large, or you are trimming a large branch from a plant, make an undercut first from the bottom side up towards the top, then make a second cut downwards to meet the undercut. This prevents the branch tearing off and damaging the bark, as may happen when the weight of a large limb pulls it down if the cut is only from the top.

Pruning Tropical Plants
Tropical plants will be pruned largely according to the plant and its needs, as well as the season. It is a good idea to avoid pruning in the wet season as it can encourage rots to develop on the wound. The new young growth may be affected by the humid conditions and also damaged by rots, mildews and moulds.

Pruning Container Plants
Container plants are usually pruned to reinvigorate them, to improve the overall shape, or to strictly control the shape if they are grown as a topiary specimen. If you are dealing with topiary then regular pruning throughout the year is generally necessary to keep the plant growing into the shape you require. Sometimes gardeners use a metal or wire cage-like frame that can be placed over the plant. This makes it easy to trim the plant to the shape. It can then be removed until next time the plant needs trimming. Mesh cones and cubes are quite common frame shapes, but more elaborate ones include cockerels, weather vanes and animals.

When pruning container plants, remember the pruning tips mentioned previously and consider whether it is a plant grown for its flower, its colourful leaf tips or just its shape. It is always important to take into account the frostiness of the climate and time of the year you prune. Never prune tender growth when there is a risk of frost. If you are pruning off frost damage foliage, wait until there is little to no chance of further frosts.

It is a good idea to do pruning of container plants in conjunction with re-potting. At this time the whole plant is placed in fresh soil or into a new, larger container. If the roots need trimming then a proportional amount of foliage should be trimmed off the plant once it is re-potted. After the plant is re-potted do any pruning required and also check for damaged growth which will also need to be pruned if found.



There is a shortage of really good, knowledgeable gardeners - education can help fill that gap. Knowledge is as important to gardening as to any other profession. Too many gardeners have just 'fallen' into it as the only option after leaving school, just because they used to do a bit of lawn mowing for pocket money as kids. This has left us with multitudes of gardeners without the horticultural knowledge needed to truly undertake gardening to a high professional standard.

Knowledge is More Important than Qualifications
Having a qualification is not the most important aspect though, what you learn, retain and recall, are much more important than the piece of paper. Our courses have been written by people with years and years of industry experience – they know what you need to know, they also know what the industry wants and also how to encourage and help you to gather those important skills and fundamental knowledge.

Consider Yourself A Professional
Gardeners should not be people that just pull out a few weeds, prune a few shrubs and do a bit of weeding – often without really knowing if they are approaching these tasks correctly or not. True gardeners are professionals and should consider themselves as such.  When you can confidently approach new clients knowing that you understand the needs of their garden, you will convey a much more professional approach and are also more likely to get the work. The same applies to finding work with a garden contractor – if you are able to ‘demonstrate your knowledge’, rather than just ‘show them your piece of paper’, you are more likely to get a job.

There is Competition out there
Don’t forget that there are many other people competing for the same job – some may have higher qualifications, but if you can confidently prove your skills and knowledge and also have a qualification to back them up - then you will stand out from the crowd.

What Other Skills Should You Have?

  • To communicate effectively and efficiently: verbally, in writing and face to face interactions with co-workers, employees and clients.
  • Computer skills – today irrelevant of your work it pays to be able to have good IT skills: email, to write up contracts, or send invoices, to keep your tax records or just to inform your clients when you are able to do the work.
  • Problem solving skills – this is where we can help you our courses are written around developing problem solving skills so sought after by employers but also important if you are running your own business. Problem solving skills means you can work through all types of situations in a systematic and detailed way.
  • Efficiency – this doesn’t mean you have to do things quickly you just need know the best way to approach work. Developing problem solving skills can also help you to be efficient at whatever task you undertake because you are able to look at the situation from several angles and choose the best approach.
  • Know your industry: know who you are competing with, what the industry rates ar for the work you are doing, understand the skills required for the work you are undertaking or going to undertake.
  • Be passionate about your work – passionate people who can also drive themselves forward, are the most successful in their work. There is a difference between having a ‘passion’ and being a ‘dreamer’ though – dreamers unless they also have tremendous drive rarely do well or stick at anything for long.
  • Presentation – always present yourself in the best possible light – that may not mean wearing your ‘Sunday best’ when you are a gardener, but it will mean having a professional approach, being respectful and listening to your clients’ needs or to those of your employer or potential employer. Asking lots of questions and using appropriate language.

Do you want to study a larger course - learn more and master different practical skills? Think about studying one of our fantastic diploma's in landscaping or horticulture ... Call now and speak with a tutor who can help you decide!


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Fee Information (CT)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $3,425.51  1 x $3,114.10
B 2 x $1,848.61  2 x $1,680.55
C 4 x $996.93  4 x $906.30

Note: Australian prices include GST. 

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from anywhere in the world!

All orders processed in Australian dollars.