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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Improve the environment! Learn to develop appropriate and functional roof and vertical gardens, for residential, commercial and public landscapes. 

Enrol now and take advantage of a reduced course price plus 6 free eBooks when you enrol!

Green walls and roofs are increasingly popular in landscaping and environmental management for various reasons, including:

  • Greening areas where there is lack of space for a more extensive garden.
  • Improving aesthetics of unsightly places .
  • Improving the environment (e.g. Reduce glare, modify temperature, filter air pollutants, reduce water run off and mitigate flood problems, etc).
  • Urban farming –growing crops in an urban area.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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Make the world a greener place - improve the environment and aesthetics by creating roof and vertical gardens.


Learn to develop appropriate and functional roof and vertical gardens, for residential, commercial and public landscapes. Green walls and roofs are increasingly popular in landscaping and environmental management for various reasons, including:

  • Greening areas where there is lack of space for a more extensive garden.
  • Improving aesthetics of  unsightly places.
  • Improving the environment (e.g. Reduce glare, modify temperature, filter air pollutants, reduce water run off and mitigate flood problems, etc.).
  • Urban farming – growing crops in an urban area.


There are 9 lessons in this course:
  1. Scope & Nature of Roof and Vertical Gardens
  2. Construction Functional and Appropriate Vertical and Roof Gardens
  3. Climbing Plants and Structures for climbing
  4. Plants Suited to Roof and Vertical Gardens
  5. Adaptations for Other Plants in Roof and Vertical Gardens
  6. Container Growing
  7. Maintenance –watering, pest control
  8. Applications/Landscaping –Roof Gardens
  9. Applications/Landscaping –Vertical gardens

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.


  • Discuss the nature and scope of vertical gardens and roof gardens in horticulture today.
  • Explain engineering considerations involved with the building of vertical and roof gardens, both on small and large scale projects.
  • Select appropriate materials and plan the way in which the non living components of the garden is created, in order to achieve an appropriate and sustainable installation.
  • Select appropriate climbing plants for creating vertical or roof gardens, and determine appropriate strategies to cultivate those plants, in a variety if different situations.
  • Select appropriate plants for use in vertical or roof gardens, which are tolerant of the adverse growing conditions, having natural adaptations to growing under conditions that are encountered in these gardens.
  • Select and plan the cultivation of plants that lack natural adaptations to growing on roofs or vertical gardens; but which are none the less required to grow in these adverse conditions.
  • Explain a range of container growing techniques, in a range of different roof and vertical gardens, that may be used with a selection of different types of plants.
  • Identify and evaluate problems with vertical and roof gardens, and compare options for solving those problems.
  • Plan the development of roof gardens for both small and large scale applications.
  • Plan the development of vertical gardens for both small and large scale applications.

As more and more people live in cities, and high rise living in particular has become commonplace, the impetus to grow gardens in confined and difficult places has increased.

International studies and reports have however also shown that buildings offer the largest single opportunity for reducing greenhouse gases’ and the use of green walls and roofs can be a significant contributor to that end.

Solutions to this challenge of modern living have spawned a wide variety of ideas for roof and vertical gardens.

Covering the walls or roofs of building is a significant horticultural challenge, but also an opportunity that brings with it many benefits beyond what may at first seem obvious.

Using the vertical space effectively can give much more growing room for a wide range of plants, opportunities to grow food crops, opportunities to screen, hide an existing wall or a view behind. Creating this type of garden poses aesthetic, horticultural structural challenges.


Plants that have natural adaptations to allow them to cope with the challenging conditions are better suited to Vertical or Roof Gardens.

The plants here may have to put up with long periods of dryness, heat and long periods of cold through the winter and be resilient enough to be able to survive this by going into a dormancy state, then quickly reviving and growing strongly again when growing conditions improve.

Every wall or roof is different and poses different growing conditions and microclimates to consider and so different plants are needed to meet the criteria.

Apart from climbers, mentioned in the previous lesson, other plant types that are often well suited are:

  • Epiphytes.
  • Succulents.
  • Hardy groundcovers.
  • Xerophytes (i.e. drought-tolerant plants).
Which Plants are Epiphytes?
  • Bromeliads.
  • Some cacti, including: Epiphyllium (Orchid Cactus), Schlumbergera (Zygocactus), Hatiora (syn. Rhipsalidopsis).
  • Mosses, liverworts, lichens.
  • Most epidendroid orchids.
  • Some figs (Ficus spp.), some ferns including Platycerium spp. (Stag or Elk ferns), Asplenium polyodon, Davallia pyxidata, Anthopteris.
  • Some tropical and subtropical rainforest plants - including some Impatiens, Pathos, Peperomia, Anthuriums, Syngonium, Philodendron, Monstera, Gesneriads including Columnea and Aeschynanthus.
  • Some carnivores including Nepanthes, etc.
What is a Succulent?

The group commonly known as succulents provide a wide range of plants popular in roof garden construction worldwide. Succulents often require less maintenance, one of their key features being that they store water in their leaves. There are many different genera in this group and hundreds of species. Many succulents used in roof gardens are in the Crassulaceae family; though plants from other succulent families can be equally as hardy to the extreme conditions often faced on a roof top.

What are Hardy Ground Covers?

Ground Covers are low-growing, often mat forming plants which are ideal for filling in spaces beneath taller growing plants e.g. beneath trees and shrubs in containers on roof gardens. Others may do well in containers on green walls where they may help to create a continuity of foliage cover.

What is a Xerophyte?

Xerophytes are plants which have adapted to survive in harsh, dry conditions such as deserts and coastal dunes. Xerophytes often have modified parts to help the plant to reduce water loss and/or conserve water for times when it is in sparse supply. For instance they may have fewer stomata, stomata which are sunken in the leaf surface, stomata which are inside rolled leaves (some grasses), a waxy leaf coating, leaf hairs, tiny leaves, and so forth. All cacti are xerophytes, as are succulents. Other xerophytes which are not cacti or succulents include but are not limited to bromeliads, yuccas, some grasses, eucalypts, acacias and olives.


  • Our courses are written and taught by experienced professionals, so you know you can expect a high quality of teaching and support.
  • You can start the course at any time and study at your own pace.
  • Fit your studies around your own busy lifestyle - we provide full tutor support for all the time you are studying.
  • Study where you want to - online studies offer the flexibility for you to determine where and when you study.


If you have any questions, please do get in touch with us - connect with our expert Horticulture and Landscaping tutors. They will be happy to answer your questions.

Meet some of our academics

Maggi BrownMaggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades. Some of Maggi's qualifications include RHS Cert. Hort. Cert. Ed. Member RHS Life Member Garden Organic (HDRA) .
Diana Cole (Horticulturist)Horticulturist, Permaculturist, Landscaper, Environmentalist. Holds a Diploma in Horticulture, degree in geography, permaculture certificate and various other qualifications. Between 1985 and 94, Diana was a task leader with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. Since 2001 she has been chairperson of the Friends of Mellor Park (with Stockport MDC). From 2005 she has worked exclusively in horticulture as proprietor of her own garden design and consultancy business in and around Derbyshire; and at the same time as part time manager of a small garden centre. Diana has been an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable tutor with ACS since 2008.
Yvonne Sharpe (Horticulturist)Started gardening in 1966, studied a series of horticulture qualifications throughout the 1980's and 90's, culminating in an RHS Master of Horticulture. Between 89 and 1994, she worked teaching in horticultural therapy. Founded the West Herts Garden Association in 1990 and exhibited at Chelsea Flower Show in 1991. In 1994, Yvonne joined the staff at Oaklands College, and between 1996 and 2000 was coordinator for all Amenity Horticulture courses at that college. Since leaving Oakland she has been active as a horticultural consultant, retail garden centre proprietor and sessional lecturer (across many colleges in southern England). In 2000, she also completed a Diploma in Management.
Gavin Cole (Horticulturist)Landscaper, Horticulturist, Psychologist, Builder, Garden Writer. Studied construction and surveying at Bristol Polytec, B.Sc. at University of Northumbria (1988) and Psychology in Australia. He completed a Cert.Garden Design in 95. In the mid 1990's he worked as Landscape Manager and Garden Designer for the Chelsea Gardener in London and in 97 commenced his own business as a garden designer; operating at first in London, then in Australia. He has worked for ACS as a tutor, course counsellor and writer since 2001, alongside his own freelance work as a horticultural consultant and writer. Gavin has co authored many books and written hundreds of articles published in gardening magazines including Home Grown, Your Backyard and Garden Guide.

Check out our eBooks

Organic GardeningFor decades farmers have relied upon chemicals to control pests and diseases in order to produce saleable crops. In the ornamental, vegetable and fruit gardens reliance on chemical controls has also been the mainstay for many gardeners.
Garden Design Part 1The Garden Design ebook part 1 is an essential handbook for students and landscape professionals. A foundation guide to garden design, this book provides stunning full illustrations to demonstrate tips and examples on garden design, functional uses and aesthetics. Some topics that are covered in this ebook include 1/ Introduction to Garden Design, 2/ Appropriateness of garden design, 3/ Creating an impact, 4/ Designing to a budget, 5/ Choosing plants, 6/ Using the garden, 7/ Where the garden meets the house, 8/ Making the winter garden more comfortable, 9/ Gardens for children, 10/The secure home and garden, 11/ Lighting a garden, 12/ Dealing with shade, 13/ Garden Art, 14/ Pots and planters, 15/ Colour in the garden, 16/ Applications for colour and 17/ Garden furniture.
Garden Design Part 2Part 2 of the Garden Design Series is an inspiring accompaniment to the first book, but works equally well in its own right. The Garden Design Part 2 ebook is ideal for students and landscaping professionals. Brimming with ideas and practical advice for designing a wide variety of different gardens. You will learn about different styles of gardens and how to create a style to suit a site or client. Topics covered in this ebook include 18/ (Continuing on from Garden Design 1) Surfacing ideas, 19/ Garden arches, pergolas & pavilions, 20/ Dealing with confined spaces, 21/ Water gardens, 22/ Using plants in the garden, 23/ Formal gardens, 24/ Natural gardens, 25/ Rainforest gardens, 26/ Coastal gardens, 27/ Cottage gardens, 28/ Late Victorian/Edwardian gardens, 29/ Oriental gardens, 30/ Mediterranean gardens, 31/ Mexican style, 32/ Minimalist landscape design and 33/ Eclectic gardens.
Getting Work in HorticultureExplore what it is like to work in horticulture; how diverse this industry is, how to get a start, and how to build a sustainable, long term and diverse career that keeps your options broad, so you can move from sector to sector as demand and fashion changes across your working life.